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These 11 Best Shoes for Factory & Construction Work Will Make You Smile [April 2023 Update]

Who wants a pair of big chunky heavy work safety boots in the summer? Or maybe, you are not comfortable at all with the old-fashioned ones- even if it’s fall, winter or spring. In construction jobs, guys try to find more and more flexible shoes or boots which are cushy, sturdy and obviously slip resistant. Factory workers prefer safety over anything else and there are reasons behind this. Here comes the best safety shoes for construction and factory work.

After going through 1,900 work shoes, we have chosen 900 worth your attention. What then? From 900, we had to pick the best 350. From those 350 pairs, you get only 11 pairs in here. Chosen carefully, suggested with caution.

(Anyways, you might want to look at the all-category best work boot article.)

We did not merely pick 11 pairs for your construction or factory work. Rather, there are much more, carefully classified…

April 2019 Update:

You know what? We DID NOT go for Amazon’s choice in the first place. We went for the omnipotent class and see where we ended up! Many of our recommendations now match “Amazon’s choice” and let me tell you something, I did not care for that choice thing up until March 2019 when I saw a fabulous thing in this choice category.

Lucky me! Now the updates:

There’s no major change. I would just like to remind you that if durability is your prime concern, try Keen Detroit or Atlanta Cool, their comfort level is okay as well.

On the flip side, do you crave unmatched comfort? Are you overweight? Do you have diabetes? If you have certain foot, ankle, knee or back problems, try Timberland Powertrain.

Reebok Work Sublite shoes are still awesome.

If safety toe bothered you by rubbing your toes, Wolverine Falcon Comp Toes are one of the best shoes for you.

Timberland PRO Powertrain Sport

Most comfortable, best selling

You know what? This is the very best work safety shoe that is popular. Period.

Timberland’s official clip:

Comfort rush.

If you compare all other shoes and these Powertrains, maybe, some other shoes are closer to them. And you will definitely find comp/carbon toe shoes lighter than these ones, but these are lightweight as well. There are nearly better shoes, yet to be widely accepted. However, if you count on the expert opinions, popularity, user satisfaction, and available options- Powertrain is the sovereign monarch of workshed.

Where would you find these options to choose from:

Available Variations of Powertrain:

Men’s

Alloy Toe EH (Most Popular)

Awesome user satisfaction (and they’re not meant to be durable as hell).

Soft Toe SD+ 

Slip On Alloy Toe SD+

Mid Alloy Toe EH (Amazon’s Choice)

“It’s a game changer!” selling even well in 2019.

Met Guard Alloy Toe 

The legacy continues in 2019.

Women’s

Alloy Toe SD+ (Amazon’s Choice)

Most popular women’s Powertrain this year.

Soft Toe SD+

Very good user ratings.

Slip On Alloy Toe SD+

Average popularity in 2019.

Mid Alloy Toe

Met Guard

Better for: ANY work.

Whether you need a safety toe, soft toe, slip, or met-guard- everything is there for you. Yes, these are the best for construction and industrial jobs. Having said that, a teacher can wear them, a medical professional can and if you are in the food industry, they will make you happy. You can use the soft-toe ones for physical exercise and even for some athletic purposes. You can wear them casually with jeans or a khaki. That’s why we call them the all-time best work shoes.

Features Present: ESD (static dissipative), EH (electrical hazard), safety/soft/met guard, slip-abrasion- heat- and oil-resistant thick synthetic outsole.

Essential Features Absent: You may want leather or comp toe. These are not waterproof. Synthetic fabric resists water to some extent. If you ask me, waterproofing is somewhat needed for construction sites, so, it is an essential feature. You can try them on, wear the new ones for a month or so, then you can apply the best waterproofing oil/spray. If you are in factory work, don’t bother, waterproofing does not matter in most instances.

Special Features & Benefits:

  1. These are in fact, flagship shoes. Yet, super affordable compared to other flagship work boots.
  2. Lightweight compared to other work footwear. They weigh only 2.5 pounds or even less.
  3. Extremely comfortable and soft. You will be hard-pressed to find a more comfy shoe that is suitable for work.
  4. Cushy, bumpy. You will feel like you are sinking.
  5. Unexpected fitting.
  6. Constant best sellers compared to other premium work boots and shoes.
  7. Immensely praised, popular, and recommended by experts.
  8. Very flexible compared to the so-called mainstream work footwear.
  9. Super breathable mesh uppers.
  10. Very stylish compared to old-style work footwear. These will give you a sporty look.
  11. Anti-fatigue technology returns energy as you walk. This results in less fatigue and less sore feet.
  12. Tons of options to choose from, a big upper hand.
  13. Timberland PRO 30-day comfort guarantee.
  14. Anti-microbial odor control treatment.
  15. Abrasion-resistant cutting-edge screen print.
  16. Good, durable laces.

Limitations:

  • Obviously, you would not expect them to last very long. They are not made of leather, they are not welted, and they are not even harder. Want supreme unparalleled comfort? Gotta sacrifice the wear time. However, compared to tennis shoes or sneakers, they are durable enough. You should expect a 6-10 month all-day wear time, all the way comfy. They are very good for walking all day and yet you can wear them for less time, less than heavy tank-type work boots.
  • The insole is not that thick and cushy. That’s because you do not need very cushy ones for the Powertrain. It is self-sufficient. You might want to get your special insert if there is any.
  • There are no narrow Powertrain Sport shoes, they only come in medium and wide.
  • The uppers might catch up with grease.
  • The outsoles are unnecessarily bright. They might look a bit dirty over time, especially if you work in muddy or oily environments.

Level of Recommendation: Very, very high.

Why did we recommend it? No question about that. Why would we not? If you are like us, raised wearing soft, flexible, easy sports shoes like tennis shoes, sneakers, or running shoes- there is no way you can ignore Powertrain. Your feet will kind of sink within them, the material will instantly mold around your feet and they will bump as soon as you start walking. So tame, as though you have a pair of little soft pets with you!

Better or similar shoes: We don’t mean to confuse you, and yet we, the ShoeAskers are option freaks! If you somehow think that comp toes would have been lighter, thus better, go for Timberland PRO Ridgework.

KEEN Utility Detroit Low Work Shoe

Most durable

Can’t rely on sneaker-like shoes? Want something more sturdy, more professional? Do you like the ‘boot feelings’ in a pair of shoes? These hybrids are the champs. Keen Utility Detroit Low are superb shoes from a superb brand and product line. Lots of options, a number of colors.

Available Variations:

Steel Toe for Men

In style this year, as of April 2019. 

Steel Toe for Women

Update: They still rock. 

Soft, protective Toe ESD

Met Guard Steel Toe

You’ll be hard-pressed to find such suitable metatarsal guard shoes.

Better for: Up and down, in and out jobs- walking and rushing with things on your hands. Better ones for working on the manufacturing floors, building construction sites, and more. Going Hiking? Doing Something Rough? A pair suitable for multiple uses is a pair worth an investment.

Features Present: Slip- oil- abrasion-resistant solid durable outsole. Met guard/steel/soft toe. Steel toes are waterproof. Leather, EH, Dual-density footbed.  

Essential Features Absent:

Some of us like full-grain leather over everything else. These are nubuck, however, they are heavy and durable.

Special Features & Benefits:

  • Lightweight, fits well, solid, very good material.
  • There is no question about comfort. You will find a number of comfy footwear, but will not find more comfy ones in this genre.
  • They look, feel, and serve like an extra durable pair.  
  • All of the toes are extra protective which means they themselves will minimize some impacts. They will also protect the toe box from puncture, wear, and tear which is great. Keen does a fabulous job in protecting toes whether these are steel toes or not.
  • Another biggie, their steel toes are anatomical.
  • The leather is of the best quality. Specially treated.
  • Keen. Dry waterproofing meets premium standards.
  • The footbed is metatomical. This is awesome.
  • Torsional Stability Shank.

Limitations: The soft toes are not waterproof. If you ask me, yes, this can be a real downside. What if you do not need waterproofing? Go for it.

Level of Recommendation: Very high.

Better or similar shoes: Keen Utility has an array of shoes similar to these ones.

Reebok Work Sublite Cushion Industrial & Construction Shoe

Best all-purpose, most stylish

How do they look? Well, they look exactly like super stylish Reebok athletic shoes with a weird twist of alloy toes. People would not recognize them as safety shoes unless they already know.  

Available Variations:

Men’s Alloy Toe (Amazon’s Choice)

A variety of designs and colors. Selling more in 2019.

Women’s Alloy Toe

All 5 star ratings in 2019! Insane design.

Men’s Mid SD

These man-made shoes are one of a kind.

Better for: Outdoor non-muddy work in warm and blazing sunny days, hot and humid industrial complexes, supervisors. You can wear them casually anywhere. You can even attend a conference or give a speech on stage wearing them.

Features Present: Metallic non steel lighter yet harder alloy toes, EH, non slip.

Essential Features Absent: Can they be waterproof? Nope, they can’t. You don’t expect WP features from a pair of sporty running shoe. However,Sublite Cushion will let you stay dry to some extent, if rain falls all of a sudden.

Special Features & Benefits:

  1. Surprisingly light, just 350 grams per shoe.
  2. Extremely comfortable, super flexible, glued construction, super breathable
  3. No break in time, fitting well, suits out of the box.
  4. “MemoryTech Massage footbed” molding around your anatomy.
  5. Cushy sublite foam midsole
  6. Protective forefoot abrasion resistant padding
  7. It frees your ankles which is savvy.
  8. The outsole is sort of self cleaning and that is made in such a way so that you can retain unimaginable flex.

Limitations:

  • Can’t pass metal detectors for sure (titanium toes may pass).
  • Can’t get waterproofing.
  • Too flexible to climb.

Level of Recommendation: Very high.

Better or similar shoes: Are you a lightweight freak? Or maybe you like the cutting edge nano carbon toe? Wolverine Jetstream CarbonMAX shoes are there for you.

PUMA Safety Metro Rio Aluminum Toe SD

Puma is an adorable brand. How does Metro Rio look? It’s a fusion between classic work boot and modern flexy breathy sneakers.

These will fit as expected or somewhat larger. But you know, Puma needs you to wear the size they say, so that you get more room around the toes which is very important.

Better for: You like tennis shoe type safety shoes and you think “they better be a bit more like work boots”- these are for you. Metro Rio is presumably more sturdy than Powertrain, Reebok work or jet stream.

Features Present: aluminum toe, slip resistant outsole, SD.

Shop now, check price or discover more

Essential Features Absent: Insert is not comfortable, you will need to buy.

Special Features & Benefits:

  1. Exceptionally durable compared to other ‘running safety shoes’.
  2. Very good consumer reports up until April, 2019.
  3. You will find much more suede leather which is rare for a meshy-looking sneaker.
  4. More abrasion resistance than other lightweight work shoes.
  5. Comfortable enough, just consider a pair of insoles.
  6. BreathActive ensures that they remain breathable.
  7. evercushion® pro footbed.
  8. EVA cushioned heel area.
  9. Metro Protect outsole.

Limitations:

  • A bit heavier than other athletic work shoes (and I think this is obviously a plus-point, as you get sturdy ones). Obviously, they are not as light as Puma running shoes.
  • As the materials are durable and protective, you may need to take some time before properly breaking in.
  • The insole is modest. You may want better inserts.
  • Sizing is a bit confusing for a number of users. Just go for your size and if they seem bigger, change the size after a few days.

Level of Recommendation: High.

Why did we recommend? More durable and more sturdy. Looks good.

KEEN Utility Atlanta Cool ESD Work Shoe

Best SD shoes

Want a Keen Utility shoe with more mesh? These feel like enclosed slippers.

Available Variations:

Steel Toe Men’s (Amazon’s Choice)

Good ratings, good fitting report.

Steel Toe Women’s (Amazon’s Choice)

Soft Toe ESD Men’s

Soft Toe ESD Women’s

Better for: Those who want more air into their shoes. Do you walk around a lot? Maybe air conditioning can not catch you always. Why wouldn’t you love them as they are fit for street, factory, building sites, rough terrain or even the shores!

Features Present: Steel/soft toe, slip- oil resistant, non marking rubber outsole, waterproof, cement construction.

Essential Features Absent: They are not welted. Shoes this sturdy, sometimes come with welt construction.

Special Features & Benefits:

  1. More mesh than other keen shoes. Too many porous mesh windows here and there.
  2. Exceptionally durable. If you are not too unlucky, count on them for 1 to 2.5 years which is anything but disappointing.
  3. They weigh around 1.5lbs which is very good for a sturdy pair like Atlanta Cool.
  4. Comfortable, nicely fitting, does not need much break in period. You can use Keen Insoles suiting your needs.
  5. Wider, specious, asymmetrical steel toe caps
  6. Keen protective toe.
  7. Dual density EVA midsole
  8. Easy slip on and off features.
  9. Stylish lacing system
  10. Odor protection by Cleansport nxt

Limitations:

The leather is waterproof, but the mesh is not! They can’t be. Here’s the fun part, the mesh is hydrophobic, which means they love anything but being soaked into water.

You can never get way too roomy steel toe shoes which happen to be light. This is not logical at all. You might want to migrate to the compor carbon nano toed shoes.

Level of Recommendation: Very high.

Why did we recommend? Durability, exceptional breathability, brand faith.

Timberland PRO Branston Moc Toe Slip On ESD Industrial Shoe

Best for contractors, best formal-industrial combo

Available Variations:

Alloy Toe ESD- Men’s

Soft Toe- Men’s

There are very good Branston Oxfords as well, we are not discussing them here.

Better for: Sky is the limit. You can wear them to work and then start using Branston for casual or formal daily life. Multipurpose shoes are always time, money and effort savers. You just can’t use them in electric hazard workspaces.

Features Present: Premium full grain leather, waterproof, alloy /soft toe, ESD,  oil- and slip resistant outsole, cushy collar, PU midsole, cement construction, fiberglass shank.

Essential Features Absent: Not really. You may have wanted comp toe and welt construction for lighter weight and grippy sturdy more durable pairs.

Special Features & Benefits:

  • Suitable as dress, casual and work shoe in brown or black.
  • Durable
  • Comfortable,30 day comfort guarantee
  • Moderately stain resistant
  • Fitting well, moderate break in time

Limitations:

  • You may want more breathable shoes, especially if your feet sweat a lot or if there is a stink tendency.
  • The toe box and the overall structure is roomy enough, but you may find them a bit rubby/tighter in some cases.
  • There are some dissatisfactions on waterproofing and stitching.
  • These tend to be more on the work boot side, a bit heavier than lighter work shoes.

Level of Recommendation: High.

Why did we recommend? Better shoes from a better class brand. They could be more consistent though.

Better or similar shoes: If you would like to explore more loafer like shoes, Rockport Works Sailing Club RK6737 Slip On Boat Shoes are somewhat similar, not necessarily better.

Red Wing Heritage Men’s Weekender Oxford Work Shoe

Best classic work shoe, Amazon’s Choice

Better for: These shoes are entitled to work, but people do not usually wear them to work, rather they use them as nostalgic, class attire. However, you can wear them at work as a taste changer or in order to look in control.

Features Present: Goodyear Welt construction and ComfortForce footbed. Leather is water, stain and perspiration resistant.

Get it, check the deals or explore

Essential Features Absent: No safety toes, no EH, ESD, waterproof or strong slip resistance.

Special Features & Benefits:

  1. Good in 2019.
  2. Flexible and lightweight for a wedded pair
  3. Attractive, classic, stylish, looks and feels natural. Looks vibrant with jeans or khakis.
  4. “Solid, heavy duty rustic leather”
  5. Recraftable, which rare nowadays.
  6. Comfortable once you break them in.
  7. Extra toe box wiggle room.

Limitations:

  • Heritage Weekender is true to Red Wing size, which means you must get 1-2 size down. Have wide feet? Normal size may work for you.
  • As all RW does, they may take 1-2 week to completely break in.
  • Comparatively thin leather. They do not say whether it is full grain or suede. It looks suede though.
  • Not so breathable, you may face sweat problem if wearing them constantly.
  • Not meant to be formal shoes.

Level of Recommendation: Very high, as a taste changer pair. Not recommended as the primary daily wearing shoes.

Why did we recommend? Who does not want to change the regular look?

Dr. Martens Gunby Steel Toe Shoe

Best sturdy, heavy-duty, better user ratings

Note: I actually liked these shoes more this year. They’re now in an upper position.

 Here comes the good old classic stereotype work footwear that satisfies your eternal definition of work shoes and boots. They look like hard working men’s shoes, feel like those things as well.

Better for: Jobs where you need to wear steel toe.

Features Present: Leather, steel toe, slip resistant, water resistant, padded collar, wooden shank (yes, I know, it’s a surprise.)   

Buy now or check the latest price

Essential Features Absent: Not waterproof.

Special Features & Benefits:

  • They mostly fit as expected. You Might find them a bit larger in some cases.
  • Tough Grizzly leather.
  • Moisture wicking lining helps keep your feet dry and smell free.
  • Antimicrobial lining for odor control
  • “Shock-absorbing, slip-resistant PVC soles”
  • They look good, feel good.
  • Durable enough, may last 8-15 months.

Limitations:

  • They could have made a thinner sole but Doc Martens has a signature- that’s thick, high outsoles.
  • These are somewhat heavier than mainstream work shoes.
  • Might take a while to break in. That’s a Doc Martens signature.

Level of Recommendation: Very high.

Why did we recommend? Dr. Martens is an old, trusted brand. They did lose some of their buyer faith though. However, we want to give you something similar to work boots.

Wolverine Falcon Comp Toe EH Safety Shoe

Widest toe box

Yes, they do not look as sweet, but they look somewhat decent. We better forget it. Have you ever suffered from big or pinky toe rubbing problem? In these boot like shoes, that’s not going to happen. An overall roomy, flexible Oxford shoe. No metal to stop you through detectors.

Available Variations:

Slip on for Men

Oxford EH for Men

Better for: You can wear them instead of any work boot in high risk work spaces. Very good for airports. Electricians can rely on them.

Features Present: Full grain durable, well treated leather, EH, comp toe,  removable cushy insert, flexible nylon shank, compression molded EVA midsole.

Essential Features Absent: Not waterproof.

Special Features & Benefits:

  1. They fit as expected, no significant break in period, wear them easily out of the box.
  2. Surprisingly lightweight despite having the chunky look. Non metal protective toe does the magic here.
  3. Flexible enough, comfortable.
  4. Comparatively less pricey.
  5. Antimicrobial mesh sock lining.
  6. Breathable mesh lining keeps your feet dry.
  7. Hand sewn construction.
  8. Abrasion resistant toe tip.

Limitations:

  • No preloaded inserts are very good. These inserts may become less comfortable after a couple of months. If you need arch support or any other specialization, go for your desired pair of inserts. A cheaper yet better insert for them would be Dr. Scholl’s Work.
  • Not very durable which is somewhat disappointing, but we have to live with that unless Wolverine thinks about it.
  • You might have wanted waterproofing.  

Level of Recommendation: Very high if you are not that concerned for ultra durability.

Why did we recommend? Check this out:

“I spent years looking for the perfect boot for my foot, i have tried probably 100 different boots up until i found these and i’ve been wearing this style now for about 4 years. I do go through around 2 pair a year and they don’t seem to last like some red wings I’ve tried, but the composite toe is wide and that is my main discomfort area of all other boots. ”

Caterpillar Argon Lace-Up Work Shoes

Better mid-priced options

Available Variations:

Comp Toe- Men’s

Soft Toe- Men’s

Comp Toe- Women’s

Soft Toe- Women’s

Better for: Any high risk work that does not require a metatarsal guard.

Features Present: Leather and synthetic, comp/soft toe, non slip, EH, cement construction,

Essential Features Absent: Shoes are not waterproof, boots are.

Special Features & Benefits:

  1. Very good fitting.
  2. Comfortable enough.
  3. Tough, abrasion resistant material.
  4. Superb design with vibrant color options. Damn stylish as a work shoe.
  5. Caterpillar ERGO means: 
  6. Dual Density Insole, 
  7. Sculpted Midsole, 
  8. Shank Stabilizer and more.
  9. SRX Slip Resistant Outsole with Heel Clefts. 
  10. Flex Grooves and Ergonomic Tread.
  11. The non metal toe reduces weight

Limitations:

  • They are moderately durable. You would probably expect more wear time.
  • Not waterproof, can’t use the shoes in wet conditions.
  • They may look worn out after a few months.
  • A number of users report holes in the leather which is good in no sense. Some even suffer from disconnected leather from the sole after a few days or in a couple of months.
  • There are some slipping issues on oil or evening muddy areas.
  • Needs a little break in period.

Level of Recommendation: High if you like CAT and if you are okay with the moderate durability.  

Why did we recommend? Despite some limitations, people love CAT and workers tend to rely on Argon. 

Caterpillar Brode Steel toe Work Shoe for Men & Women

Better for: Industrial, construction, kitchen and hospital. Easy to drive.

Features Present: Leather, steel toe, slip and oil resistant, water resistant, cement construction.  

Shop now, check price or discover more

Essential Features Absent: Not waterproof, not EH rated.

Special Features & Benefits:

  • They fit as expected. If you are unlucky enough, they might run small.
  • Comfortable, flexible, stylish, lightweight.
  • Cheaper than most of the premium ones.
  • Suitable in all seasons, especially every season other than snowy days.

Limitations:

  • Thin outsole compared to other steel-toe shoes. Might wear out pretty quickly.
  • Require a moderate break-in period.
  • Not extremely durable. Not fragile either.
  • Small shoes with smaller toe boxes.

Level of Recommendation: High, as these are cheaper and popular.

Why did we recommend it? Popular brand and product, significantly lower price, moderately durable and stylish.

Additional shoes from other lists

Reebok Work Leelap Safety Shoe

Did you love the picks? We had to spend hundreds of hours for this tiny piece of advice. After digging for so long, tired and kind of pissed off- here we are! We loved curating this top pick and we will keep updating it.

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