Both steel toe
boots and composite boots are designed to protect the
feet. You may be wondering how you are supposed to
choose between them. In order to make the best decision
between purchasing steel toe boots and composite boots,
you must first understand the difference between them.
Steel toe boots, as their name suggests, contain a piece
of steel in the toe area of the boot for immense
protection. Naturally, steel toe boots meet the ANSI
safety requirements. After all, they are designated to
protect the feet of electricians, construction workers,
and other workers who function in a hazardous
Unfortunately, some of these workers must regularly
pass through security which may entail metal detectors.
The metal within the steel toe boots can set off the
metal detectors causing some annoyance and possibly
wasting some time (if you have to be individually
checked for instance). Therefore, if a worker does not
have to pass through detectors, steel toe boots are an
Composite toe boots are lighter than steel toe boots
and do not contain any form of metals in them. Instead,
they contain a composite material in the toe portion of
the boots. Composite materials include, but are not
limited to, Kevlar, plastic, and carbon fiber. Composite
toe boots also meet the ANSI safety requirements for
shoes intended to provide the feet with added protection
in comparison to boots without a safety toe.
However, composite toe boots are typically more suitable
for people who have to pass through metal detectors,
such as nuclear workers, security personnel, and airport
workers. This is because composite boots do not set off
metal detectors like steel toe boots because they are
There are two things you must know
when shopping for either steel toe boots or composite
toe boots: impact rating and compression rating.
The impact rating is a number that informs you of the
amount of pounds of impact the shoes will protect
against. For example, an I/75 impact rated pair of boots
can withstand an impact of 75 pounds. The test done to
determine the impact rating is done by dropping a weight
from a certain height at a specified speed onto the
boots. If the boots can withstand the 75 pound weight,
they are labeled as I/75. The minimum impact rating for
safety toe boots is I/50.
The compression rating
is the number of loads the shoes can withstand before
cracking or breaking. For example, a C/75 will guard
against compressive loads of up to 2,500 pounds. A C/50
pair of boots can protect against compressive loads of
up to 1,750 pounds.
In conclusion, when it comes
to choosing between steel toe and composite toe boots,
the major determining factor will be your job. Will you
have to regularly walk through metal detectors? What
dangers will you face on the job? How heavy is the
equipment around you that could fall on your feet? What
level of protection do you feel most comfortable with?
Answering these questions can help you make the right