When selecting the best ANSI approved boots, it’s important to be aware of the latest changes to the collective safety footwear standards. The old ANSI Z41 standard has been superseded by ASTM International standards F 2412, Test Methods for Foot Protection, and F 2413, Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective Footwear. While this may sound overly complicated, there’s a couple of reasons it’s not.
First, there are only two key differences between the original 1967 ANSI standard and the latest ASTM International standards. The new standards removed the following sections regarding impact & compact compression requirements:
- Type II Static Dissipative
- Class 30
Second, what does this mean? It means that mostly all previously approved ANSI footwear complies with the updated ASTM standards, which makes it more of a window-dressing change than a major change.
According to ASTM International:
Furthermore, new ASTM approved work boots should be labeled as complying with ASTM F 2412-05 and F 2413-05 rather than the now-defunct ANSI Z41 1999.
Now that you’ve considered those key points, let’s check out an overview of our Top 5 picks before moving on to the reviews of each boot.
Top 5 ANSI & ASTM Certified Work Boots
|#1) Wolverine I-90 Durashocks Waterproof 8” Work Boots|
|#2) Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot|
|#3) Ariat Workhog Steel Toe Work Boot|
|#4) Irish Setter Ashby Leather Safety Toe Boot|
|#5) Carhartt Traditional Welt 6″ Brown Steel Toe|
ASTM/ANSI Appoved Steel Toe Work Boot Reviews
Now that you’ve checked out an overview of the five boots in this guide, let’s go over one quick point before the reviews. When shopping for ASTM approved boots, there are two types of protection to consider:
- Electrical hazard protection
- Compression & impact protection
Both forms of protection are governed by ASTM F2413, however, there are different ratings for each type of protection. For example, the Caterpillar boots in the chart above carry an ASTM F2413-18 1/75EH rating for electrical hazard protection and an ASTM F2413-18 1/75 C/75 rating for strength against impact and compression.
Always be sure to check with your manager, a PM, or Super to see which protection is required on-site. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to check for both ratings to ensure the boots are compliant on all job sites.
#1) Wolverine I-90 Durashocks Waterproof 8” Work Boots
My personal favorite work boot is Wolverine Durashocks. These aren’t only the most comfortable work boots I’ve ever worn, but they also provide the highest level of protection. When you strap these on, you’ll immediately notice the cloud-like feel and the utmost confidence that your feet will be protected at all times.
Additionally, you may prefer the longer shaft for more ankle support and protection that comes higher up past your ankles. The Durashock shock-absorbing compression molded into the outsoles is no joke. If you work on concrete and/or other hard surfaces, these provide all-day comfort, and the best part is they almost never get too hot.
As far as other materials, the leather is of top-notch quality in the durability department. The sole has a gummy feel to it that grips slick surfaces well. Lastly, these boots are ASTM certified for both electrical hazards and toe protection.
- The most comfortable steel toe work boots on the market
- Excellent for a wide variety of applications
- A good winter work boot
- Waterproof construction
- Most people get years of heavy use out of a single pair
- The insulation doesn’t get too hot during warm months
- ASTM compliant on all job sites
- May help to prevent foot pain when working long-hour workweeks and overtime
- Several durability issues in the latest models
- Men with wide feet may need to order a size up or go for the extra-wide
- No longer made in the USA
#2) Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot
The most economical option in this guide for people on a tight budget or who occasionally wear work boots is the Second Shift model by Caterpillar. Second Shift boots check all the boxes as far as OSHA, ANSI, and ASTM approval for safe use around electrical hazards and for toe protection.
These are also great for people who prefer lower ankle-cut work boots as opposed to the long-shaft Wolverine boots above. Design highlights include a Climasphere breathable insole to help prevent sweating, a T3 rubber outsole to prevent slipping, Goodyear Welt construction for enhanced durability, and a steel shank for added support.
All in all, these give you the most bang for your buck, and if you’re someone who’s tired of wearing out expensive work boots too quickly, choosing these may help you save money in the long run. The biggest drawback is the comfort level is not on par with Wolverine Durashocks.
- The best affordable steel toe work boots
- 4 colors to choose from
- A good choice for people who wear out boots quickly and want to save money
- They perform well on all types of surfaces and terrains
- Approved by users with flat feet for use without insoles
- Durable soles that stand the test of time
- Short break-in period
- Not as comfortable as premium work boots
- Not the best choice for slick surfaces
- More likely to run into durability issues
- The laces will most likely need to be replaced
#3) Ariat Workhog Steel Toe Work Boot
Ariat is certainly one of – if not – the best pull-on steel toe work boot money can buy. I became familiar with Ariat work boots on my first major project in Atlantic City. The construction manager recruited several guys from Mississippi, and one of them swore by these boots. Similar to Wolverine Durashocks, Ariat Workhog boots deliver ample shock absorption.
The 5-layer sole features an EVA midsole and gel-cushioned footbed for shock absorption. The other layers are a moisture-wicking footbed, an extra-wide shank with forefoot & heel stabilizers, and Ariat’s oil & slip-resisting Duratread outsole. What we like the most about Ariat boots is the level of durability. More often than not, Ariat boots stand the test of time, and they’re perfect for people who want to skip the laces.
One final highlight is assurance for folks with wide feet or high arches who are concerned about entering the boot. Ariat’s U-Turn Entry System provides just enough give in the back of the shaft to ensure all foot types enter with ease. Lastly, be sure to choose style ARIA69610 to get the ASTM F2413-11 M/I/75 C/75 EH-rated safety toe.
- Comparable comfort and shock absorption to Wolverine Durashocks
- Substantial tread for excellent slip-resistance
- A short break-in period for western-style boots
- Easier to pull on and off than you might think
- Heavy-duty enough to stand up to tough working conditions
- Very unlikely to leak
- Approved by users with wide feet
- The western-style certainly isn’t for everyone
- Sizing can be tricky, be sure to consider current info
- Complaints about a drop in quality in recent years
- May scuff easily
#4) Irish Setter Ashby Leather Safety Toe Boot
Red Wing Shoes Irish Setter Ashby boots are the real deal when it comes to comfort. For people who work on hard surfaces for 10+ hours a day, these are in the conversation for the most comfortable work boot. When I first started working in construction management, I noticed that this boot was popular among the veteran union managers who were making money hand over fist before the 2008 housing crisis.
Those guys weren’t wearing these for no reason. Ashby boots are amazingly comfortable and sport a more professional appearance than most brands. However, the high level of quality also means a higher upfront cost. For people with foot problems, these are the best steel toe work shoes for plantar fasciitis of the five pairs in this guide. You may find that you’re able to ditch the insoles if you’re currently using them.
The last point we want to highlight is the level of professionalism by Red Wing customer service. Red Wing backs this boot with a 6-month warranty against defects in craftsmanship, and the company always has a solution to any problem you may have with their boots.
- Meets ASTM standards for fire hazard and toe protection
- HRO heat-resistant outsole tested to resist melting at a minimum of 475º Fahrenheit
- The quality of the Trout Brook Leather is second to none
- Noticeably more comfortable than cheap steel toe work boots
- Approved by users for standing 10+ hours daily
- A good choice for flat feet
- Approved by plantar fasciitis sufferers
- People with pronated feet may require an insole to avoid uneven wearing
- High upfront cost
- Issues with the stitching
- Minimal insulation
#5) Carhartt Traditional Welt 6″ Brown Steel Toe
Last up is another good budget ANSI approved work boot. You’ll find that this Carhartt work boot has a very similar build to the popular Caterpillar Second Shift boot. Like the Second Shift, the Carhatt Traditional is ASTM-compliant for both electrical hazard and toe protection.
Of the boots in this guide, the Carhartt Traditional Welt boot is made for taking a beating more so than for comfort first. For people who want a boot that can take a beating before needing to be replaced, these are a good budget choice that won’t break the bank each year.
A couple of design highlights are the PU Cushion Comfort Insole and FastDry linings that wick away moisture during the summer months. Lastly, the leather is of high quality and not likely to tear or crack even when exposed to moisture. Overall, these and the Caterpillar Second Shift boots give you the best value for the money of ANSI-approved work boots.
- Very comfortable after the short break-in period
- 1+ years of heavy use
- Excellent support
- High-quality leather for the money
- The rubber outsole grips all surfaces well
- Problems with the heel separating from the leather
- May require insoles for added arch support
- More durability issues than Caterpillar Second Shift boots
The best ANSI approved work boots comply with ASTM F2413-18 for electrical hazard and toe protection. All of the boots in this guide feature steel toes that comply with the current ASTM standards. Two of the key ingredients we look for when choosing boots for our guides are comfort and durability.
If you value comfort, Wolverine, Ariat, and Red Wing boots all deliver a superior level of comfort even when standing for 10+ hours daily on the job. In our experience, Wolverine Durashocks deliver the perfect blend of comfort & durability, and for this reason, we ranked them #1.
Finally, it’s important to consider that not all work boots stand the test of time for everyone. For example, people with pronated feet often require insoles to avoid uneven wear. The key is to consider your working conditions, type of foot, and preferred style before buying a boot. Also, we always use mink oil right out of the box to protect our boots against the elements.
By following the tips in this guide and considering the ASTM standards governing foot protection in the workplace, you’ll land on the right pair and keep your feet protected for the long haul.