In a hurry? If so, I’d recommend the Danner Vicious 4.5 Inch Non Metallic Toe Work Boots as the best work boots for concrete.
Working on concrete all day everyday is one of the toughest scenarios you can draw up. It’s a hard surface with absolutely no give whatsoever. Each step you take forces upon your body a raw and concentrated dosage of impact. Wearing a better designed work boot can help to take off much of this load.
I’ll be reviewing the following boots to help you pick the right one for your situation:
- Danner Men’s Vicious 4.5 Inch Non Metallic Toe Work Boot
- Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot
- KEEN Utility Men’s Pittsburgh Steel Toe Work Boot
- Wolverine Men’s Raider 6″ Contour
- Timberland PRO 6″ TiTAN Composite Safety-Toe Work Boot
- Muck Boots Chore Classic Tall Steel Toe Men’s Rubber Work Boot
Why Working on Concrete is Different
Our bodies were never designed to walk on a surface like concrete. It’s too hard. It’s too smooth. And it’s always unforgiving. On other surfaces, like asphalt or dirt, the ground absorbs some of the shock. With concrete, it’s up to your body and footwear to absorb almost all of it.
What specific problems you may have will vary. But common pains associated with working on concrete include:
Unfortunately, the best “cure” for many of these problems is to stay off of your legs as much as possible.
For those of us whose livelihood depends on being on our feet, this is a problem. We may not have the luxury of taking time off. We’ll need to keep working even while still in pain. Under this familiar scenario, the road to recovery becomes longer and much more difficult.
This is why prevention, or addressing the problem before it happens is important. Good footwear habits and routines will help avoid a full blown case of something nasty.
Working ON-Concrete and Working IN-Concrete:
Working ON-Concrete All Day
For those working on concrete floors all day, your concern is about reducing the load on your legs. The unforgiving nature of concrete compounds the shock your legs have to bear. You’ll need to stack on as many layers of shock absorption defenses as possible. These include:
- Wearing a better designed a boot
- Using aftermarket insoles
- Incorporating stretching & footcare habits (elevation, icing, etc).
You’ll also want to regularly replace worn down insoles & boots too. Failing to do so will shift the brunt of your force back to your body, putting you back to square one.
Working IN-Concrete All Day
For those working in wet sludgy concrete or pouring concrete, you have very different needs than most. The main element you are looking for is waterproofing and length.
No matter what they claim, a traditional leather work boot mounted on a sole isn’t going to be waterproof. Submerged long enough and it will take on moisture.
Rubber is the only true 100% waterproof material. But it isn’t without its downsides. It doesn’t breathe (if at all) and isn’t as protective as leather. Even if it comes with a safety toe, it doesn’t protect as well against punctures or deep scratches.
Length is important to provide protection. If you’ve ever had chemical burns from cement, you’ll know what I mean. Besides a good boots, you want to have good gloves and clothes to avoid direct contact with cement.
Qualities to Look for in Work Boots for Concrete:
Thick & Quality Sole
The key to working on concrete is to mitigate as much of the shock as possible. Think of your outsole as the first line of defense. You want a thick and quality sole. It’ll not only absorb more impact, but will last longer, and more uniformly disperse the load.
A cheap or worn down outsole will do the opposite. It’ll pass more of the impact onto your legs in concentrated manner. In each step you will feel the hardness of the ground coming through.
The bulk of arch support comes from your insole. Unfortunately the stock insoles that come with your boots aren’t always top notch. They’re often too flimsy and don’t always match to your foot’s arch height.
For other surfaces the stock insole might work just fine. But for an unforgiving surface like concrete I’d urge you to consider an aftermarket insole.
Aftermarket insoles tend to be of better quality. When done right, they’ll reduce the load on your foot and keep your gait aligned properly. Your legs should feel lighter and springier throughout the day.
A smooth & level surface like concrete often makes for terrible footing. Especially when wet. You’re almost entirely reliant on the treads and lugs on your boot
Most quality work boot manufacturers do a good job of building in slip resistance. If you find yourself working in wetter and on slicker concrete, you’ll want to pay more attention to this part. You may need treads and lugs designed to better disperse water.
All things equal, I’d recommend a lace-up boot over a slip-on or pull-on boot. On other surfaces you can get away with either. But on concrete you want the custom fit that lace-up boots give. Your foot and boot should feel like a unit working in unison. Not loose or disjointed.
This will depend on your individual situation. How often you work in rainy conditions. And how much actual wet concrete gets on your work shoes.
Traditional leather work boots are not 100% waterproof. No matter what they claim, they’ll eventually leak water if submerged long enough. For those working in concrete day-in and day-out, you’ll need rubber boots. These are the only true waterproof material.
Keep in mind that rubber boots for concrete work don’t breathe well (if at all). They run the highest risk of becoming puddle filled (sweat) and stinky.
The lighter the boot, the less energy you expend with each step. This may not seem like a big deal for some. But for those working 8-10 hours everyday, you know what I’m talking about. An ounce saved off each step will add up quickly and make a huge difference at the end of the day.
The traditional safety toe work boot comes with a steel-toe. If your workplace allows it, I’d recommend the lighter composite toe or alloy toe. They are just as protective and can be up to 30% lighter.
Best Work Boots for Concrete:
Safety Toed Work Boots for Working ON-Concrete
The following boots represent my picks for the best work boots for concrete. They all have safety toes, slip resistance treads, and come with thick quality soles. I’ve also made sure to include different price points and features for your unique situation.
For other surfaces you can get away with the stock insoles, but for concrete it’s a whole other ball game. I’d urge you to consider upgrading to a quality aftermarket insole.
Safety Toed Work Boots for Working IN-Concrete
In this category, you’re much more limited. There aren’t a whole lot of reputable brands that make a rubber safety toed work boot. The only one that I’d feel comfortable recommending is the Muck Boots Chore Classic Tall Steel Toe Men’s Rubber Work Boot. You can find more details about what I like about these steel toe rubber boots in this article.
The Danner Vicious series feels comfortable right out of the box. The dual density EVA cushioning works well to absorb shock and they feel good even on a hard surface like concrete.
For how durable they are, they feel light. Which is a big plus in my books because it’s often hard to strike that right balance. You want them strong and comfortable without weighed down by extra materials. Part of the secret is from the use of a composite toe and nylon shanks. Equally as strong as steel but much lighter in comparison.
No issues on the traction. The treads work well and do a good job of keeping you steady even on wet or oily conditions. I also like that the ventilation does a good job of keeping your feet dry. Unfortunately this means that the waterproofing doesn’t work as well. It claims Gore-Tex waterproofing but it’s likely closer to Gore-Tex water resistance.
Keep in mind, that the shoe is sleeker with a narrower profile. This means the the toe box may feel cramped, especially if you have wide feet. There is a wide option but even on that sizing the toe box is a bit more narrower that I would like.
- Extremely comfortable on concrete – minimal break in time
- Slip & Oil resistance – great grip
- Composite toe & nylon shank – lighter boot
- Durable and well built
- Narrower build – not ideal for wide feet
- Smaller toe box – may feel cramped for some
- Not waterproof – claims Gore-Tex waterproofing when functions like water-resistance
For the money you can’t get better than these. The Caterpillar Second Shift series are comfortable on concrete, even on those 10-12 hours days. They are surprisingly stylish (as much as a work boot can be) with zero issues on the traction front. The regular size may feel a bit narrow for flat footed people, but it comes in a wide sizing option too.
The biggest complaint about these steel-toe boots are the durability of them. You tend to get what you pay for and these are no exception. They will stand up fine for average use. But for those needing something tougher, you’ll need to look elsewhere. As for waterproofing, it’s lacking. They may claim water resistant but it’s minimal at best.
- Best budget pick – great value for price
- Comfortable steel toe work boots for standing on concrete all day
- Traction works well – even on slick concrete
- Durability is lacking – you get what you pay for, doesn’t last as long as other work boots
- Steel toe – heavier in comparison to composite toe
- Water resistance is mediocre at best
The Keen Utility is an excellent choice if you must have a steel-toe and not a composite toe. Like most other Keen boots, these feel like a reinforced hiking boot. They are very comfortable work boots, even on concrete, with excellent treads that grip well. It comes with the patented Keen.Dry technology which repels water well.
I’m also a fan of the asymmetrical toe box. This gives shifts the shape of the toe box towards your bigger toe, which makes for a roomier feel inside. Sizing wise, the regular sized footbed is wide. They even offer a wide selection which will accommodate any wide sizing needs.
Unfortunately the Pittsburgh work boot is lacking on the durability. It will start to come apart if used regularly under harsh conditions. Out of the box, these boots will not feel comfortable. They need time to break in.
- Very comfortable steel-toe work boots for walking on concrete all day – almost like a reinforced hiking boot
- Asymmetrical toe design – toe box feels wider
- Comes with Keen.Dry technology – Waterproofing works well
- Slip resistance – excellent grip
- Steel toe – heavier than composite toe
- Durability is mediocre – not built to last
- Initially very stiff – need time to break them in
The Raider’s are a solid steel-toe boot for standing on concrete all day. The sole works well at absorbing shock making for a comfortable feel even on concrete. No complaints on the grip. The treads are designed well giving control even when facing smooth oily surfaces. My favorite part of this boot is the ankle support. Wolverines manage to gets the right amount of support without it being overbearing.
There’s a few things that I didn’t like about the Raider series. To begin, the boots feel a bit heavier than I would like. I also felt that the toe box feels a bit skinnier on the regular width. It comes in a wide option which has a bigger box and feels okay. But my chief complaint rests with the durability. These boots don’t last long under tough conditions.
- Very comfortable – feels good even if you’re walking all day
- Non-Slip work well – plenty of grip
- Right amount of ankle support
- Runs on heavier side
- Skinnier toe box
- Durability is mediocre – not built to last
- Steel toe – heavier than a composite toe
The Titan series are a lightweight and comfortable composite toe boot. The shock absorption mechanics work well. They feel comfortable on concrete even for long stretches of time.
I’m a huge fan of shedding every ounce that I can. I love that these come with an alloy safety toe, which is lighter in comparison to a steel-toe.
No issues on the treads. They give plenty of grip even on slick surfaces.
Like most other Timberland’s these are built to stand up to tough working conditions. The only exception is the plastic eyelids. The biggest annoyance with these boots are that the plastic eyelids tend to come apart and/or break. For a work boot I’d like to see metal eyelids that stay in place when lacing up.
Also to note is the ventilation. The ventilation works well at keeping air flowing into your boot. But this means that The Titan series will take on water easily. Treat these as water-resistant at best.
- Great shock absorption – comfortable for long days on concrete
- Alloy safety toes – makes for a lightweight boot
- Slip resistance work well
- Durable – built tough (except for eyelids)
- Plastic eyelets for laces come unglued – real nuisance for lacing up
- Not waterproof – a tradeoff for better ventilation
As I mentioned before, I’d be comfortable recommending any one of these boots for working or standing on concrete all day. They all have great shock absorption, get good grip, and come with a safety toe.
But there is one boot that stands above the rest in my mind. If I had to choose only one, I’d go with the Danner Men’s Vicious 4.5 Inch Non Metallic Toe Work Boot as the best work boot for concrete.
The Vicious line checks all the boxes for me. The shock absorption mechanics in place work well. It comes with a dual-density EVA sole with an enhanced heel cup. It also comes with a lightweight composite toe and nylon shanks. No issues on the durability or the treads. You’ll have plenty of grip even on slick surfaces.
Remember, whichever boot you choose, I’d still recommend upgrading to an aftermarket insole. This is the one of the most overlooked but “best bang for your buck” footwear practices you can do.