composite toe vs steel toe

Composite Toe Vs Steel Toe

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Buying work boots can be tedious if you want a quality safety-toe boot. The proper safety-toe boots are vital if you are working in a hazardous environment. If you are aware of the difference between composite toe vs steel toe boots, you will make a wise judgment on which one is best to protect your feet.

Composite toe vs Steel toes are the two significant boots toes that are known to be safe. Most people, however, do not understand what makes them different. To make you understand the difference, we did all the legwork testing on the two to know which of them is better and that will meet the needs of your working environment.

Composite Toe Vs Steel Toe Comparison

Composite Toe Work Boots

composite toe work boots for men

These are boots that have a composite safety toe that is made from non-metal composite materials that have been combined. Such materials include plastic, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar. These non-metals composite material is light and ideal for some specific works.

The composite toe is non-magnetic and non-metallic, something that is a big plus to some work areas. The composite toe provides more insulation against cold weather. The overall weight of the composite toe boot reduces fatigue, and when combined with rubber, they are durable.


  • They are lighter
  • Resistant to electric
  • Do not dent or shatter
  • Better insulation against cold weather
  • Has a reduced fatigue level


  • They lack puncture protection.
  • Seem to be expensive

Steel Toe Work Boots

best steel toe work boots

Steel toes are the classic protective boots that feature a piece of steel in the toe area to protect your toe from a number of hazards in the work area. The midsole or toe box is made of steel plates that provide extra protection against dangerous work.

They offer the highest heavy impact and puncture protection and also electrical conductivity protection. The steel toe work boots are shatter-resistant, and this makes them strong enough to withstand a hazardous environment. The steel toe dent rather than shattering provides additional safety to the toe and keeps them protected from heavy object fall.


  • They are flatter and much spacious
  • The boot is abrasion resistant
  • They do not break or shatter
  • Affordable


  • The boot seems to be heavy, and you get fatigued easily
  • Not good with electrical work
  • The design is bulkier

The Difference Between Steel Toe vs. Composite Toe

Summary Table

  Composite toe Steel toe
Material Carbon, fiberglass, plastic Steel
Weight Lighter Heavier
Comfort More comfortable Less comfortable
Price Expensive Less expensive
Cold weather Does not conduct cold Conducts cold
Protection good More protective
durability It decreases after accident More durable
Set off metal detector Do not set off Yes, only in some cases

To understand the difference in these boot toes, one must dig deep into them on how they work and the material used. The differences are experienced in,


Steel toe caps are made of old steel. In contrast, composite toe caps are made of a combination of different non-magnetic and non-metallic materials like Kevlar, carbon fiber, Thermoplastic polyurethane, or fiberglass. Steel toe, therefore, sets off metal detectors as opposed to composite toe.

Heavy Impact and Puncture Protection

Compared to the composite toe, steel toe provides heavy flat protection and this means that they are ideal for serious work. They can withhold larger loads without breaking as opposed to composite toe. Steel toe boots are recommended in doing heavy hazards or a dangerous tool like chainsaws.

Steel toe is also good when it comes to puncture resistance. According to ASTM standards, composite and steel toe can withstand the pressure exerted on them. However, if the pressure is too heavy, the composite toe will break and shatter.

Comfort and Style

Due to the non-metallic material in the composite toe, they are 30 percent lighter than a steel toe. This makes the composite toe boots ideal for those people that stand and walk for long hours. Despite that they are heavy, steel toe developers have recently used high technologies that have made them lighter.

The recent composite toe boots are heavy because they use thick non-metallic material instead of a single steel layer that meets the safety standards. There are a few ranges of styles that come from the composite toe. Steel toe boots will look nicer to men and women who want to look stylish.


Composite toes don’t conduct heat or cold to the boot as the steel metal toe does. This means that steel toe boots are uncomfortable if exposed to extreme temperatures, especially during the cold season. This makes the composite toe better at keeping your feet warm in cold seasons than the steel toe. If you are carrying work in an environment with extreme weather conditions, use a composite toe.

Electrical Conductivity

Lack of electrical conductivity in composite toe boots is a big plus; it makes them ideal for handling high-risk electrical components like electricians. The composite toe does not feature metallic components around them, making it perfect for live wires.

Despite having a metallic component, steel toe boots have met the electrical Hazard ASTM testing standards. They have an HZ feature that can withstand voltage of up to 18000V at a dry condition.


With durability, both steel toe and composite toe are durable. However, due to the steel material nature of the steel toe cap, they are a bit durable in case of continuous compression due to the heavy load. This is because the composite toe is non-metallic and cannot withstand high compression like steel toe.

The composite toe can save your toe when a heavy load falls on it, but with time it will crack. It, therefore, needs to be changed once this happens. But with the steel toe, there is no need because it can’t crack or break. But generally, the two are durable, although steel toe is more durable.

Metal Detector

Because composite is made of non-metallic, they do not set off detectors as steel toe does. This makes composite toe boots ideal for workings that work in security checks, airports, and nuclear stations. The modern steel toe is, however, designed to pass metal detectors. But know that there is some risk associated with steel toe passing the metal detector test.


Many people believe that a composite toe is better for electrical hazard protection than a steel toe. This isn’t true because even steel toe is met in that they meet the ASTM safety standards of electrical hazard protection. The hardness of the material is another protection factor to check.

Of course, being made of steel material, steel toe provides better protection to any falling object than composite toes. The danger here is that the steel toe is heavy and that if heavy loads fall on, it may break and cut off your toes, something that isn’t experienced in composite toe.

The Cost

The composite toe vs. steel toe also differs in the amount they cost. Steel toe boots are cheaper compared to composite toes.

Final word

To decide on which of the two is better than the other is difficult because they have similar features. However, steel toe is a somehow heavy and cheap option that is ideal for those working in heavy-duty works like mining areas, etc. however, and they cause fatigue, but good enough for such jobs.

On the other side, the composite toe is a bit expensive but has the best features that can protect you. They have a reduced weight that doesn’t get fatigued quickly. It is resistant to electrical hazards and provides some versatility to your job. Those workers who interact with their metals daily or airport employees are the best boot they need to use.

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