Pressed for time? If so, my pick for the best mechanic boots are the KEEN Utility Men’s Milwaukee 6″ Steel Toe Work Boots.
Good boots for mechanics are hard to come by. They have to be comfortable when walking but flexible when squatting. You also want protection from slick oily surfaces and open electrical circuits. But above all, you want them durable enough to stand up to tough jobs.
I’ve reviewed the following boots and I cover what I like & don’t like about them:
- KEEN Utility Men’s Milwaukee 6″ Steel Toe Work Boot
- EVER BOOTS “Protector Men’s Steel Toe Industrial Work Boots Safety Shoes Electrical Hazard Protection
- Timberland PRO Direct Attach 6″ Steel Safety Toe Waterproof Insulated Boot
- Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot
- Thorogood Men’s GEN-FLEX 6-Inch Lace-Toe Composite Work Boot
Key Elements that Top Mechanic Boots Have:
All Day Comfort
As a mechanic, you’ll be on your feet all day. But it’s different from other crafts. You have to do a lot more bending down, squatting, or even crouching. Your boots have to be comfortable for all day use but also flexible enough to allow for this wide range of motion. Let’s take a look at the different parts of comfort to focus on:
This is one of the most overlooked areas that can return the biggest yield on comfort. The stock insole your boots come with, usually aren’t that great. They’re too flimsy and generally won’t provide the support your arch needs. I’d recommend, if at all possible, upgrading to a quality aftermarket insole. They are better quality and you can match to the correct arch height of your foot.
The rubber sole must be durable but also have some give to it. Even while new, it should flex with relative ease. Avoid the boots that feel extremely stiff when brand new. These tend to stay rigid even after you’ve worn them for weeks on end.
Avoid pull-on or slip-on boots. For a mechanic you want the customizable tightening that laces can give. I know it’s a pain to lace-up. But, you’ll save yourself from unwanted blisters & that “loose-boot” feeling.
Make sure that there’s a thick set of padding surrounding the ankle area. This will help to keep your foot better locked into the boot. It’ll protect you from rolling your ankles. You’ll also notice that the shock absorbing mechanisms will work better too.
Safety Toe Protection
The best mechanics keep their toes protected. And there’s a reason for that. Without your toes you’d have a hard time balancing or even walking around. That’s why, even if your workplace doesn’t require them, I’d still opt for some kind of safety toe – steel, composite, or alloy. Which material you choose is personal preference, but there are a few differences.
Steel toe is the traditional way to go but it’s a bit heavy. A better alternative is a composite toe or an alloy toe. It’ll protect your toes just as well, but you’ll notice that the boot weighs less. Less weight means your legs won’t have to work as hard. They should feel fresher and springier throughout the day.
One important note about a soft toe. A lot of work boots come with a soft toe, but these are not safety rated boots. They will not protect your feet from impacts or crushes. It’s better than nothing, but it’s a risk I wouldn’t recommend for a mechanic.
Electrical Hazard Resistance
It doesn’t matter if you’re an automotive mechanic, diesel mechanic, or aircraft mechanic. Working as a mechanic means working with electronics. At some point in your career you’ll run into loose wires of some kind. If you’ve encountered this already, you know how quickly it all happens.
To keep you protected, look for boots with the EH (Electric Hazard) designation. This rating will protect you from 18,000 volts at 60 hertz for one minute. This will buy you enough time to react during an accidental electrocution.
I’ve never seen a work floor without some hint of grease or oil residue. So, as far as traction goes for mechanics, the more aggressive the treads the better. Bare minimum, I wouldn’t wear anything less than a semi-aggressive tread pattern. This will help keep you oriented even on slick oily surfaces
How much water resistance you need will depend on what type of work environment you are working in. For those working in mud or constantly wet rainy days, you’ll need to go with waterproof boots. For everybody else, I’d recommend sticking with water resistance only.
Water-resistance boots breathe better than waterproof boots. The added ventilation will help keep your feet dry. No more sweat filled and stinky boots for you!
Mechanic Work Boots Review:
The Milwaukee boots take a while to break in. But once you’re over that hump, they’ll feel extremely comfortable thereon out. It’ll feel almost as if you’re wearing a reinforced hiking boot. This is in part thanks to a well built sole. But also, because there’s plenty of support & cushioning all the way around. When you put them on, you’ll find your foot locking into place. Your ankles will feel supported but still allowing for that range of motion you need.
I’ve always been a fan of KEEN’s asymmetrical safety toe design. They’ve shifted the toe box towards the big toe. This makes for a feels roomier feeling without having to enlarge the actual boot.
I also like the fact that Keen added in an extra layer of rubber on top of the steel-toe. This front area is most prone to small cuts. Protecting it helps to keep the leather in tact for longer. And thus, prolonging lifespan of your boots altogether.
No issues on any of the other safety fronts. The treads are aggressive and grip well. It comes with an EH (Electrical Hazard) resistant. And as a bonus, KEEN designed the outsole to be heat resistant.
Overall it’s a very durability built boot. It weighs a bit heavier than other brands, but that’s likely due to the extra features they’ve added. The only part of this boot I do not like are the eyelets. These have a tendency to break or pop off after some damage.
- Very comfortable after broken in – feels like a reinforced hiking boot
- Steel toe is guarded with an extra layer of rubber – helps to increase lifespan
- Asymmetrical toes – toe box feels roomier without having to enlarging the toe box
- Durability built boots – overall boot is very durable and will stand up to tough jobs
- Take some time to break in – will not feel comfortable out of the box
- Heavy – feels heavier in comparison to other boots
- Eyelets sometimes break or pop off
EVER BOOTS “Protector Men’s Steel Toe Industrial Work Boots Safety Shoes Electrical Hazard Protection
For a basic & functional safety boot, the Ever Boots come in as a great budget option. It’s built durable and check all the boxes on the safety front. It has a steel toe, EH (electrical hazard) rating, and semi-aggressive treads. It’s surprisingly light and comes with some padding. The Ever boots sole is semi-flexible and I’ve noticed that there’s little to no break in period.
That said, you tend to get what you pay for. Comfort wise it’s mediocre. They’ll get you through the day, but you might want something else for long hours or everyday usage. I also found that this boot doesn’t breathe as well as I would like. For being a water-resistant boot I would have expected it to breathe a bit better.
Durability wise it’s again, mediocre. I wouldn’t recommend these for tough jobs daily. I’ve noticed that the eyelets (lace hoops) tend to break after usage too. It’ll either break in place or in some cases, it’ll rip off completely.
- Great budget option – solid basic functional work boot
- Checks all safety boxes – steel toe, electrical hazard rating, and semi-aggressive treads
- Lightweight with little to no break in period
- Comfort is mediocre – you get what you pay for
- Durability is mediocre – won’t stand up to tough jobs
- Breathability is disappointing – should breathe better for being a water resistant only
- Eyelets may break or fall apart
The Direct Attach is a solid choice for mechanics during the wintertime. It comes with 200 grams of insulation and is waterproof. For most mechanics, 200 grams will keep you plenty warm when moving around. You won’t overheat and end up with sweat filled boots.
This boot takes a bit of time to break in. But after a few weeks, they’ll remain comfortable for the rest of their lifespan. Like most Timberland boots, the sole is well constructed. It’s built to absorb shock without being too rigid. You’ll be able to go through a full range of motion without them holding you back.
These Timberlands hit all the safety features you need as a mechanic. They have a steel safety toe, oil resistant treads, and electrical hazard protection. No issues on any of these.
I have noticed that the soles are not as tough as I’d like them to be. Although, flexible, and comfortable, they don’t stand up to everyday tough jobs. I also found that the profile of the boot is a bit narrow; this includes the toe box. It does come in a wide option but even then I found that the toebox is a bit skinny for my liking.
- 200 grams insulation & waterproof – will keep you warm in the winter without overheating
- Sole absorbs shock & is flexible – allows for a wide range of motions
- Safety features in place – steel toe, oil resistant treads, and electrical hazard protection
- Soles don’t last long – not built as tough as other Timberland boots
- Takes time to break in – but comfortable afterwards
- Narrow profile with small toe box – even on wide size toe box feels a bit cramped
The Second Shift series are another pair of solid budget boots. These hit most of the checklist items you’d want as a mechanic – a steel toe, EH (electrical hazard) rating, and they feel comfortable after breaking them in. I also like that it’s well padded and it does a good job supporting your ankle.
For fit, I found the profile of the boot to be narrow. Even in the wide size, a true wide feet mechanics will have a hard time wearing these boots.
In the durability category, it falls in the middle of the pack. For everyday jobs you’ll be fine, but for tough jobs you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Last, I wasn’t a huge fan of the treads. They aren’t as aggressive as I’d like them to be. On slick or oily surfaces I had a hard time keeping my balance. Mechanics that are always working on slick surfaces need to find another boot.
- Solid budget safety boot – comes with steel toe and EH (electrical hazard) rating
- Padded ankles – supportive and prevents ankle from rolling
- Comfortable after you break them in
- Narrow build – not great for wide feet
- Durability is mediocre – not meant for tough jobs
- Poor slip resistant – treads not as aggressive as I’d like them to be
The Thorogood Gen-Flex take little time to break in and ranks as a solid “A” in the comfort category. The reason for this comfort lies in the soles that the the Gen-Flex series come with. They not only do a good job of absorbing shock, but it’s the flexibility of them that feels different. It’s much easier to go through a wide range of motions in these.
I like that these boots come with a composite toe. It makes them feel a bit lighter which is always a plus in my books. It’s also EH rated (can withstand 18,000 volts at 50 hertz for 1 minute) with solid traction underneath. The multi directional lugs it comes with does a good job of protecting you even on oily or wet surfaces.
A couple of other nice touches they’ve added are the reflective strips and rubber toe protector. You’ll be better illuminated at night and the extra layer of rubber helps to prolong the life of the boot. The rubber acts as a shield to protect from small scratches.
My biggest complaint about these Gen-Flex series have to do with the durability. They look, feel, and wear well. But they aren’t built tough. For those working day in and day out, they won’t last as long as you want them to.
I also wish that the toe box was a bit bigger. On the wide size it’s fine. But on the normal size it feels a big tight to me.
- The Gen-Flex sole makes them light, comfortable, and flexible
- Ankle support is well padded and supportive – comfortable but not overly stiff
- Composite toe, EH Rated, water resistant – checks all the safety boxes for mechanics
- Durability is lacking – won’t last as long for those needing a tough work boot
- Toe box run a bit small – but comes in a wide option if you need a bigger toe box
Putting It All Together
Any one of these boots will work great if you’re a mechanic! Which one you choose really comes down to what your budget & specific needs are. If you have the means, I’d always recommending upgrading to an quality aftermarket insole. It’s one of the best “bangs for your bucks” things you can do to add more comfort everyday.
As for which one I’d choose to wear, I’d go with the KEEN Utility Men’s Milwaukee 6″ Steel Toe Work Boot. In my mind, they include a number of different features that make them the best work boots for mechanics. It not only hits all the safety features you want – safety toe, electrical hazard resistance, and oil resistant treads. But KEEN has managed to make it comfortable and durable at the same time. This is a hard thing to do, as comfort and durability usually are at opposite ends. To find a boot that does both is a rare feat!