[2020 Picks] Best Welding Boots | Lace-Up & Pull-On

No time? I’ve got you covered! My pick for the best welding boots are the Dr. Martens – Men’s Ironbridge Met Guard Heavy Industry Boots.

Any ol’ pair of work boots won’t cut it for welders. Your craft is far too specialized. You need boots that are not only heat resistant, but also flexible and comfortable enough to last you throughout the day.

Down below you’ll find my reviews on the following lace-up welding boots & pull-on welding boots:

 

Why Regular Work Boots Won’t Cut It For Welders?

Regular work boots are tough and built to withstand high temperatures. But only to a point. It’s a completely different ball-game, when you’re talking about welding. At this level, you’re regularly exposing your boots to dangerously high temperatures.

Heat Resistant Materials:

There are different grades of leather and many regular work boots do use a quality leather. But for a solid welding boot, you need to use the highest grade – premium leather. What’s different about this top notch leather is that it undergoes further treatment to make it even more heat resistant. Regular work boots, even quality ones, don’t usually undergo this costly second step.

The sole of a welding boot is also a bit different from regular work boots. It’s still rubber, but has heat-resistant material like neoprene built into them. This will keep you safe at temperatures that reach 500 °F (260 °C). Not sure if your boots have heat-resistant material built into them? You’ll know right away because a non-heat resistant sole will start to break & buckle in no time at all.

Heat Resistant Construction:

How you put together the sole and the upper (the leather part) makes a difference for welders. For goodyear welt construction it’s important that Kevlar thread is used. At high heat regular thread doesn’t do well; it breaks more easily. Kevlar thread is different. It costs more, but it’s extremely durable and has no problem standing up to the high temperatures that welders work in.

Heat Resistant Design:

The profile of a welding work boot looks different from a regular work boot. Put side-by-side and you’ll notice that the welders boot has less nooks & crannies. This is intentional. You’ll also notice that the tongue is a bit shorter and the eyelets (loops for laces) use sturdier material. Solid welding boots won’t use those cheap plastic eyelets that tend to break off. These different design features are in place in case molten materials lands on your foot. It makes it less likely for melted spills to drip into a hard to reach crevice.

Laces or No Laces?

To pull-on or lace-up? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. But it boils down to whether you’d prefer the convenience of pull-on or the custom fit that lace-up provides.

Lace-Up Welding Boots:

Folks using a lace-up boot will have better support. The custom tightening that comes with laces cannot be matched with a pull-on boot. Your feet, ankles, and legs will feel more supported throughout the day. It’s also the better choice for those suffering from plantar fasciitis or arch problems.

The biggest downsides to a lace-up style are the hassle factor of “lacing-up” and the burn risk. There’s not much you can do about the extra time it takes to put on, but there are a few options for burn risk. Tucking away your laces or wearing Kevlar made laces are a good practice. A better approach is wearing a boot that comes with a metatarsal guard. This guard will protect the laces from catching on fire and it’s built to negate heavy impacts. It’ll also guard from molten material spills seeping into a nook or cranny.

Pull-on Welding Boots:

For those folks preferring a pull-on, I have to agree, it’s hard to beat that no-hassle factor. Strap and go, no need to deal with messy laces when you’re only half awake.

Pull-on boots also are a lot easier to clean and they often do better durability wise. There are less moving parts and even if molten metal drops on your foot, there are no crevices to have to worry about.

Having said that, pull-on boots have a few disadvantages too. The obvious is that they lag in the support category. The less obvious is the issue of breathability. Pull-on boots generally don’t breath as well as a lace-ups do. Over time you can also expect pull-on boots to stretch out and lead to that dreaded “loose boot feeling.”

Features that the Best Welding Boots Have:

Heat & Burn Resistance

Heat resistance is the most important factor for a welding work boot. I’ve gone into more detail above, but here’s a quick recap:

The leather used must be of a premium quality with heat-resistant treatment. This not only protects you but you’ll find your foot feeling a lot cooler too. This is especially important if you’re regularly working long days on the job. Sub-par & untreated leather doesn’t shield the heat well. You’ll be able to feel the difference right away.

If the boot uses a goodyear welt construction, you’ll also want Kevlar thread for the stitching. Kevlar is a tougher material (they build bulletproof vests from it) and heat resistant. Unfortunately, because Kevlar is costly, most regular work boots don’t use it. Instead, they opt for regular stitching material which isn’t rated for higher temperatures.

For those opting for lace-up boots, you’ll want Kevlar laces and have a metatarsal guard in place . This will protect your boot from any loose sparks that might set your laces on fire. It’ll help with impact resistance. And, you’ll be better protected from molten metal accidentally dripping into a nook or cranny.

Durable Sole

Like most work boots you want a thick quality sole to absorb shock. Quality means, you should not be able to feel the hardness of the ground coming through even when brand new. It should be thick but also flexible. As a welder you want a sole that allows for a wide range of motions (ex: squatting, taking a knee, etc).

The sole should also be rated for high temperatures. Manufacturers will often blend in a material like neoprene into the sole. This will not only increase the life-span of the boot, but you should feel cooler while working in these. In case of an accident, you’ll also have the piece of mind that neoprene is rated for up to 500 °F (260 °C).

For the bottom of the sole, you’ll want an aggressive tread pattern. How aggressive will depend on how slick of an environment you are working in. At very least look for a semi-aggressive tread pattern to help you keep standing upright.

Safety Toe

Many job-sites require a safety toe of some kind – steel, composite, or alloy. Even if your workplace doesn’t require them, I’d urge you to get one anyways. There are too many toe crushing hazards at a job site – heavy machinery, tools, etc.

For commercial welders who rely on their body for a living, they must protect your feet. The risk of career-ending injury doesn’t outweigh a lighter work boot.

Comfort & Support

Breathability is always an issue. But it’s an even bigger issue for welders. Working next to high temperatures all day long can leave you with sweat soaked socks. Wearing work boots designed for welding can help with the heat level. Due to its specialized materials & construction, welding boots do a much better job of deflecting and sidelining heat.

Whether you want to go with a lace-up or a pull-on style is a matter of personal preference. Both have advantages of disadvantages.

For better support, you’ll want to go with lace-up style boot. Even though pull-on is more convenient, it can’t beat the custom fit you get from lacing-up. I would also swap out the stock insole for a quality aftermarket one. They tend to last longer and you can pick the correct arch height that your foot needs. For those working long days, wearing the right arch height often leaves your legs feeling fresher.

welder working on thin metal strip close to the ground

Review of Welding Boots:

I’ve split my top choices between lace-up welding boots [Lace-Up] & pull-on welding boots [Pull-On]. For the lace-ups I’ve specifically chosen ones that come with a metatarsal guard (metguard). It may seem like overkill, but it’s a small precaution to take when you depend on your body for a living.

Dr. Martens – Men’s Ironbridge Met Guard Heavy Industry Boots [Lace-Up]

These Ironbridge series are as comfortable as you can get with heavy duty welding boots. Right out of the box they’ll feel good on your feet. They are well-padded, giving a snug but still roomy feeling. They breathe well. And the rubber sole is soft, flexible, and even comes with an electrical hazard (EH) protection. On the bottom you’ll find aggressive treads which will have no problem keeping you upright, even on oily surfaces .

As far as durability, it’s better than most but not built to be tough as nails. The comfortable and flexible sole comes at a price. You’ll need to put in a bit more effort in taking care of them if you are seeking a longer life-spanned boot.

For the metatarsal guard, Dr. Martens did a solid job of designing them. The outward facing side is stiff and protective while the inner side is well padded. The stitching to the boot is sturdy, making it difficult to rip off too. No issue on the sizing either. It’s large enough to cover your boot, but small enough to not get in the way. If anything this is one of the more stylish looking metatarsal guard boots I’ve seen.

These feature rich boots unfortunately do come with a few downsides. First, I’ve noticed that they feel a tad bit heavy. Even on the steel-toe spectrum, regular users will notice that it’s on the heavier side. It’s not the heaviest boot in the world but definitely not the lightest either. Second, I’m not a fan of the stock laces that come with these. The eyelets themselves are okay. But the laces are short. Finally, I wasn’t a big fan of the toebox design either. It felt a bit tight to me. For wider toed individuals you’ll probably need to size up a notch.

Pros

  • Very comfortable to wear with little break in time – sole is soft & flexible
  • Inside is well padded and supportive – snug but still roomy feeling
  • Metatarsal guard designed well – tough on the outside and well padded underneath
  • Good gripping treads – nice aggressive tread pattern
  • Comes with Electrical Hazard (EH) rating

Cons

  • A softer & more comfortable sole means mediocre durability – can’t abuse them outright
  • Weighs on the heavier side
  • Toe box is tight – wider toed individuals might need to size up
  • Laces are short

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Iron Age Men’s Ground Breaker IA5016 Work Boot [Lace-Up]

The Ground Breaker’s are a great budget boot. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more affordable steel toe welding boot at this quality. On the safety front, it checks all the features you need. They come with goodyear welt construction that uses Kevlar stitching. An electrical hazard protected sole. And a working metguard that’ll protect you from molten metals.

As far as durability and comfort goes, they are adequate. They run on the heavier side and do take a while to break in. I also found the heel construction awkward and tends to rub quite a bit.

The sole is relatively durable and falls on the stiffer side. Like most boots, you tend to get what you pay for. For those welding all day everyday, if you have the budget, I’d consider upgrading to a more comfortable pair.

Overall a very functional and decent pair of budget welding boots. The sizing for Iron Age brand is a bit tricky, so do keep that in mind when ordering them. They tend to run much larger than other welding boots.

Pros

  • Great budget boot – hard pressed to find a more affordable boot at this level of quality
  • Check all safety boxes – steel toe, metguard, electrical hazard protection, and Kevlar threading
  • Relatively comfortable but takes a while to break in

Cons

  • You get what you pay for – adequate comfort & durability
  • Heel construction is awkward – tends to rub on heel
  • Tough to wear if working long hours everyday – I would recommend swapping out the insole for a quality aftermarket one
  • Sizing for Iron Age brand is weird – will likely to need to significantly size down for proper fit

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Timberland PRO Men’s 53530 8″ Metguard Steel-Toe Boot [Lace-Up]

These Metguard Timberland boots are serious boots. They’re built tough and can withstand high impact. These are not hobbyist boots, but rather meant for high hazard working professionals. The exterior is waterproof. The sole comes with electrical hazard protection. And you’ll find boot uses kevlar threading in the goodyear welt construction. As for the bottom side, the treads do not disappoint either. They come with an aggressive pattern fitting of a tough boot like this.

The waterproofing, while a plus, expectedly puts a dent in the overall breathability of these boots. If you don’t need the waterproofing I’d strongly urge you to go with water-resistant only.

As for the metatarsal guard, I found it to be mediocre. The guard itself was well constructed, but I took issue with the stitching. The way it’s attached to the boot isn’t designed well and you run the risk of it ripping off. When wearing them, you’ll need to be a bit more careful not to get the guard snagged.

The biggest downside to these steel-toe boots have to do with the weight. They are heavy. Among all the metguard boots I’ve tried, these rank near the top.

In terms of comfort, I also found them to be in the middle to bottom half of the pack. There’s not much “bounce” from the sole or insole of the boot. Fortunately the steel toe cap is plenty roomy enough that you’ll be able to switch out to a better pair of aftermarket insoles.

Pros

  • Built tough and can withstand high impact – meant for high hazard professionals
  • Comes with quality craftsmanship – goodyear welt stitching using Kevlar thread
  • Superb safety features – electrical hazard rated, aggressive treads, and waterproof
  • Steel toe cap is roomy & comfortable

Cons

  • Boot is heavy – tradeoff for added durability
  • Feels stiff with not much bounce – for added comfort swap to a quality aftermarket insole
  • waterproofing makes them less breathable
  • metatarsal guard built solid but not stitched on well

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Dr. Martens – Men’s Icon 2295 Steel Toe Heavy Industry Boots [Pull-On]

The Dr Martens 2295 series comes with a thick leather casing that’s mounted on a quality sole. The leather is durable but surprisingly pliable. Combined with the inside ankle padding, they work well to give a rather supportive feel to the overall boot profile.

These steel toe welder boots have little break in time. This is thanks largely to the springy and flexible sole. You’ll have no problem wearing these even if you’re working all day long.

Safety wise, they’ve got their bases covered too. The sole is heat resistant and comes with an electrical hazard (EH) rating. The treads are plenty aggressive and you’ll be able to keep your balance even on slick surfaces.

The durability of these boots are excellent; with one exception. I found the toebox region to be slightly lacking. This area tends to get cut up the most, but these boot don’t have any reinforced leather atop of it. If cosmetic holes bother you, you’ need to be a bit more careful when wearing these.

This boot is not meant for all leg & foot types. The toebox is narrow and so is the opening of the boot. Those with wide feet and/or thick calves need to look elsewhere. I’d also like to point out that, like most pull-on boots, these don’t breathe that well. For those prone to sweaty feet, I’d recommend going with the lace-up style instead.

Pros

  • Quality sole – comfortable to wear with short break in period
  • Thick leather casing with padded ankle inside – supportive but does not restrict your movement
  • Comes with steel toe, electrical hazard (EH) rating, and an aggressive tread pattern

Cons

  • Doesn’t breath well – characteristic of most pull-on boots
  • Toe box is narrow & tight around calves – not for wide feet and/or thick calves
  • Leather on toe box is not reinforced – easier to get a hole with safety toe poking through

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Caterpillar Men’s Revolver Pull-On Steel-Toe Boot [Pull-On]

The Revolver is a solid all-rounder when it comes to a pull-on boot. The full-grain leather is thick. It comes with a solid goodyear welt construction. And it’s durable yet flexible enough to allow for a wide range of motions. These steel-toe boots do take a while to break in, but will feel relatively comfortable thereon out.

On the safety front I like how the grip feels on these. The tread pattern is aggressive and will do a solid job of keeping you from slipping. The sole is tough and is also EH rated. For how thick the sole feels, the weight of the boot is surprisingly light. A definite plus for those of us working on our feet all day long.

The profile of this boot is narrow. Even on the wide sizing, I found both the footbed and toe box to be skinny. For those wide footed welders it’ll be a tight squeeze to get your foot in. I would also recommend adding in your own insole on these boots. The stock ones aren’t the best and while relatively comfortable overall, adding an extra comfort layer wouldn’t hurt.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the liner. A mediocre liner means the breathability of the boot is mediocre too. It’ll get the job done, but it’s nothing to write home about. If you’re used to how pull-on boots breathe, you’ll be just fine in these.

Pros

  • Solid all-rounder pull-on boot – durable yet also flexible allowing a ride range of motions
  • Comfortable and lightweight without compromising on durability
  • Solid construction – uses goodyear welt construction
  • Checks all safety boxes – aggressive treads, EH rating, and steel-toe

Cons

  • Profile of boot & toebox is narrow – even on wide sizing
  • Takes a while to break in – but comfortable thereon out
  • Liner is mediocre – making for a mediocre breathing boot

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Timberland PRO Men’s Powerwelt Wellington Boot [Pull-On]

What I like about these steel-toe boots is how comfortable they feel. There’s minimal break in period and are feel light to the touch. This is surprising because the construction of the boot is top notch and you’d expect them to feel heavier.

The craftsmanship on these Wellington style boots are excellent. The casing is made from a thick full grain leather. While the sole is both heat-resistant and electrical hazard rated too. Unsurprisingly, Timberland uses a goodyear welt construction to bind the different layers. On bottom you’ll find an aggressive tread pattern that’ll keep you upright.

There a couple of features I wasn’t a huge fan of. The first is the waterproofing. In the beginning, the waxes & coats layered onto the boot do a fine job keeping you dry. But over time you’ll notice that the waterproofing won’t work as well. The occasional rain won’t hurt, but you’ll find your boot treading water more often.

I’m also not a fan of the liner that comes in the Powerwelt series. It’s mediocre at best and it wears down rather quick. Pull-on boots have a hard time keeping your foot ventilated as is. A worn down liner will only hinder the overall breathability of your boot.

As for the sizing, I found that the toe box to run a bit narrow on the regular width. Luckily, Timberland does offer a wide size. In this size, the footbed & toe box is larger, which should be plenty even the wide-footed welders.

Pros

  • Comfortable out of the box – minimal break in period
  • Surprisingly lightweight but does not compromise on durability
  • Quality craftsmanship – thick full grain leather with goodyear welt construction
  • Aggressive treads, heat resistant soles, electrical hazard protection

Cons

  • Waterproofing is mediocre – better to think of these as water resistant
  • Liner is mediocre too – tends to wear down & compromise breathability
  • Toe box is small on regular width – bigger on the wide width

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

 

Putting It All Together

Any one of these boots will serve you well as a welder. They have the protection and the comfort you need to get you through the day.

That said, my personal favorite is the Dr. Martens – Men’s Ironbridge Met Guard Heavy Industry Boots. In my mind, these not only check all the boxes, but go above and beyond. The leather is top notch and the sole is superb. It comes with a steel toe, electrical hazard protection, and nice gripping treads. The metatarsal guard is well designed and will keep you safe without hindering you.

I also like how these boots keep your feet breathing. This signals to me that the heat resistance mechanisms work well. But my favorite feature is the well designed shock absorbing systems. The padding, sole, and cushioning combine to give a supportive & comfortable experience. The stock insole it comes with is okay. But if you have the budget, I’d recommend swapping out to a quality aftermarket one. Picking the right arch height & rigidity will help to keep your legs feeling fresher throughout the day.

Overall a very solid welding boot. Like I said before, these are about as comfortable as you get without compromising on safety.

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