What are the Best Winter Work Boots in 2020? [Safety Toe Edition]

If you’re in a hurry and just want to know what the best winter work boots are, then I would recommend the Timberland PRO Men’s 6 Inch Boondock Comp Toe WP Insulated Industrial Work Boot.

“You’re only as good as your tools.” Especially so when it comes to warm work boots.

A good pair will will keep your feet nice and toasty. A bad pair means tired and swollen feet at the end of the day. And the wrong pair will send you running to the tool shed every half hour to get your feet warm (everybody knows)!

In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following insulated work boots:

How are Winter Work Boots Different From Regular Work Boots?

Man cutting tree with chainsaw in wintery conditions.

More Heat Less Weight

Winter boots use a specialty synthetic insulation instead of an all purpose insulation. This specialized material is able to trap heat at a fraction of the weight. You’ll have warmer feet and lighter steps!

More Grip

Insulated work boots for winter come with treads that lock into the floor better.

If you use regular work boots your legs will have to work harder for the same level of steadiness. Instead of “locking” into the ground, you’ll have to press deeper to get good traction.

It might not seem like a big deal to some, but it’ll start adding up over the day.

Regulates Moisture

Winter footwear allows sweat to evaporate while blocking moisture from coming in.

Normal boots have a harder time of keeping your feet dry. Moisture builds up and you’ll end up with a miserable case of cold soggy feet.

As a double whammy, left untreated and you’ll end up with problems like trench foot.

Key Points To Look For In Cold Weather Work Boots

Person using snowplay to cut path in mountain of snow

Insulation

The insulation material used is either natural or synthetic. I prefer synthetic materials as they are much lighter and better at keeping your foot dry. There are natural insulation material like wool, fur, or sheepskin but tend to be harder to clean & more expensive.

The most common synthetic insulation is Thinsulate & Thermolite. Either one of these is a good choice. They both do well at trapping body heat while allowing moisture to escape .

You can tell how warm it will be by how many grams per square meter of insulation is used. It’ll say something like 200g or 400g. The higher the number the warmer it will be.

Composite Safety Toes

Regular steel-toe-work boots can’t keep up with temperature drops. The steel absorbs the cold and it’ll feel like your toes are pressing against a steel freezer. Repeated long enough and you risk getting frostbite.

It’s also important to know that not all winter work boots come with safety toes. Many are only soft toe ones.

Nylon, Fiberglass, or Kevlar Shanks

Nylon, fiberglass, and Kevlar shanks are great alternatives to steel in the wintertime. They do not transfer the cold and work well in providing stability & support.

Waterproofing

Not all winter work boots are waterproof. Many are only water resistant. As a rule of thumb, water resistant boots breathe better than the waterproof boots. Choosing which one to get will depend on your environment:

Cold and Wet:

If you’ll be in rainy or snowy conditions waterproof boots are the better choice for you. Dry feet = warm feet. The ease of moisture getting in isn’t worth the extra ventilation.

Keep in mind that waterproof doesn’t mean zero water. Only a 100% non-breathable rubber boot can do that (you don’t want non-breathable!).

Waterproof means you can expect dry feet in back-to-back rainy days. If you need boots to work in waist deep snow or big puddles of water, consider waterproof insulated logger boots.

Cold but Dry:

If it’s cold weather with little moisture (snow, ice, or rain) go with the water resistant instead.

The added ventilation will better help sweat to evaporate without heat escaping. Your feet will feel more comfortable and feel dryer for longer.

Other Features to Consider

Person riding in heavy machinery during wintery conditions

6” vs 8″

I recommend the 8” if you need extra support or work in deep snow. For everyone else, the 6” should be fine.

If you’re lugging your boots around for 10-12 hour days cutting every ounce of weight is important!

How Many Grams of Insulation Do I Need?

Not too hot and not too cold. You want it just right. Otherwise you’ll have frozen toes or a mini sauna on your hand. If your feet are constantly cold or sweaty think about trading up or down a notch.

200 Grams Insulation:

This is the default amount of insulation for winter boots. It’s intended for the average winter with high activity. Not for long hours in a lot of snow. If you run cold go with the 400g instead.

400 Grams to 600 Grams Insulation:

Think freezing temperatures. 400g is good when working hard even with some snow around. But not recommended for blizzards! If you’re outside for long hours and not moving much, go with the 600g.

800 Grams to 1000 Grams Insulation:

Think freezing temperatures with ice & snow everywhere. You’d only want this range if you’re stuck outside in miserable temperatures. You should not be moving much or at all for hours on end.

2000 Grams Insulation

Work boots usually don’t come with this much insulation. Something of this warmth you’d want for an activity like ice-fishing all day. Long periods of extreme freezing temperatures with little to no activity.

Cement and Goodyear Welt Construction

These two terms have to do with the way your boot is put together – either cemented or stitched. Both are signs of good craftsmanship and work well to keep moisture out.

The goodyear welt stitching does give the option of resoling your footwear. You see this a lot with expensive dress shoes.

For extreme cold weather work boots it’s less common. If the sole is coming apart, the rest of the boot is likely worn down too.

Sizing

As a personal tip, I tend to go with 1/2 a size bigger. This extra space helps when wearing thicker socks. It also helps a bit with ventilation.

My Picks for Best Cold Weather Work Boots

The points I talked about earlier will help you choose comfortable warm winter work boots. Don’t worry. These top rated boots I’m recommending below all hit the important criteria:

  • Insulated
  • Built with a safety toe
  • Waterproofing.

If you don’t need a safety toe, consider just a soft toe or moc toe option.  Something similar to this one. If you need something tougher, I’d recommend giving insulated logger boots a try.  You can get them with or without safety toes.

 

Keen Utility Men’s Davenport 6″ 400g Ct Waterproof Industrial and Construction Shoe

What I like about Keen is their reputation for building extremely comfortable footwear. These insulated work boots live up to their brand.

The treads perform well. You get good traction even in slick environments. To me, they almost feel like a sturdier hiking boot. I’m also a huge fan of Keen’s proprietary “Keen.Dry” & “Keen.Warm” technology. I don’t know how they do it but they repeal moisture well.

The major downside with this boot is its durability. If you’re working long hours in tough conditions they don’t seem to last as well. I’m also not a fan of the plastic eyelets holding the lacing in place. Flimsy plastic is often the first to go, especially when temperatures drop.

Features

  • 400g Keen.Warm insulation – just as good as Thinsulate
  • Composite toe
  • Waterproofing – Keen.Dry technology
  • Proprietary Keen construction – quality construction
  • Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) shank – nonmetal shank

Pros

  • Very comfortable – almost no break in period
  • Treads do very well in snowy or slick conditions
  • Waterproofing is superb – built with Keen.Dry technology
  • Keeps warm & breathes well – uses Keen.Dry technology

Cons

  • Not as durable as other winter work boots.
  • Plastic eyelets holding the laces in place – likely to break.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Skechers for Work Men’s Radford Boot

This is my favorite budget winter work boot. If need something temporary or you’re not doing serious backbreaking work, this is a great choice. But if you’re working in harsh conditions day in and day out, plan to buy more serious boot.

I would also recommend these if you need to be light on your feet. They feel more casual than other work boots, almost like a sturdier gym shoe.

It needs repeating that even though Sketchers makes these, they won’t feel like sneakers. They are work shoes after all and must be durable by design.

Features

  • 400g of Thinsulate insulation
  • Composite toe
  • Waterproofing
  • Likely cement construction

Pros

  • Great value for an insulated winter work boot
  • Comfortable and feels more casual – almost like wearing a sturdier pair of gym shoes
  • Great if you need to be light on your feet
  • Keeps warm & dry as promised

Cons

  • Not durable like other warm workboots – not meant for everyday backbreaking work
  • Traction isn’t that great in slicker environments
  • Metal hooks holding the laces are flimsy and tend to break
  • Laces are slippery and tend to break too.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Carhartt Men’s Ruggedflex Safety Toe Work Boot 8”

Another well constructed 8” pair of thermal work boots. Properly cared for and it will last a long time.

There is a longer break in period to these boots. The sole feels hard and will get even harder under low temperatures. But once broken in, they’ll be a true mold to your feet and will feel very comfortable.

It’s rated for 400g of 3M insulation but the truer feel is closer to 300g or 250g. If you tend to run cooler you’ll need need warmer socks when temperatures drop.

The waterproofing is average. They will eventually start to take in water in repeatedly wet environments. If you’re not working in inches of water everyday, you should be fine.

Features

  • 400g of Thermolite insulation
  • Composite toe
  • Cement construction
  • Composite shank
  • Waterproofing

Pros

  • Very comfortable after broken in
  • Great ankle support and traction
  • Reliable and built well
  • Breathes well and great at keeping feet dry

Cons

  • Long & uncomfortable break in period – sole is very hard
  • Doesn’t feel like 400g of insulation – truer to 300g or 250g
  • Lace are slippery and tend to break quickly

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Timberland PRO Men’s 6 Inch Boondock Comp Toe WP Insulated Industrial Work Boot

A very solid pair of 6” boots. Durable, well constructed, and breathable. Timberland’s proprietary anti-fatigue cushioning helps reduce exhaustion.

What’s interesting about this model is the changes they’ve made to the toe section.

  • On the inside – the toe cavity is slightly enlarged which allows for better ventilation.
  • On the outside – Timberland added an extra rubber toe cap on top of the composite toe. This helps protects the leather from cuts, making them last longer.

The drawback is that the extra room in the front takes getting used to. When you put them on it’ll like you’re feet are getting swallowed in. They also make you look like you have clown feet because of the larger front.

As far as waterproofing goes they are pretty average. Like most waterproof boots, water will start to seep in after many days in rain. Unless you’re in waist high snow or working in the rain for weeks on end, you’ll be fine.

Features

  • 400g of Thermolite insulation
  • Composite toe
  • Welt & cement construction
  • Fiberglass shank
  • Waterproofing
  • Comes in 8” model too – click here to view

Pros

  • All around well made boot – great craftsmanship
  • Built with Timberland’s Anti-Fatigue cushioning making it very comfortable to work in
  • Breathes well and is insulated well – keeps feet warm & dry without overheating

Cons

  • Takes getting used and will feel like your feet get swallowed in
  • The extra room in the front makes looks like you’re wearing “clown shoes”

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Timberland PRO Men’s 95567 Endurance Pr Workboot 8″

Another well built boot by Timberland. It has the same features as above, but there are a few differences.

The first major difference is that this one runs heavy. It’s made with a steel toe, which adds to the weight. Even so compared to other steel toed winter boots this one feels heavier.

My biggest gripe is the soles. For most cases it works fine, but when temperatures drop it hardens up. They become much harder to get traction on making it easier to slip and fall.

Features

  • 400g of Thermolite insulation
  • Composite toe
  • Cement construction
  • Fiberglass shank
  • Waterproofing

Pros

  • Well made boot – great craftsmanship.
  • Built with Timberland’s Anti-Fatigue cushioning making it very comfortable
  • Good insulation and decent ventilation

Cons

  • Feels heavy to walk around in
  • Is a steel toe winter boot instead of composite toe winter boot
  • Harder to get traction when temperatures drop – makes it easier to slip

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Final Thoughts:

If I had to choose just one, I’d go with the Timberland PRO Men’s 6 Inch Boondock Comp Toe WP Insulated Industrial Work Boot as the best winter work boots. First of all, it hits all the requirements I’m looking for in a winter boot.

  1. It’s lined with synthetic insulation (Thermolite).
  2. It steers away from cold absorbing steel and uses composite & fiberglass instead.
  3. The waterproofing is good too, especially with a welt & cement construction of the boot.
  4. And finally it uses Timberland’s Anti-Fatigue cushioning technology. It helps a lot, especially when first breaking in your boot.

But what sets its apart, in my mind, is the modification to the toe region. A roomier toe means better ventilation and a drier foot. Dry Feet = Warm Feet!

Timberland also put on extra rubber protection on top of the leather/composite toe. This prevents deep cuts to the leather and helps to make them last longer.

Having said that, these are all quality boots in their own right. They will better prevent injury and keep you comfortable for longer. After all, the last thing you want are soggy and swollen feet at the end of the day!

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