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
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 environment.
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 ideal choice.
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 non-metallic.
There are two things you must know when shopping for either steel
toe boots or composite toe boots: impact rating and compression
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
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
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 decision.