3 Best Ironworker Boots (+ Why Ironworkers Wear Wedge Sole Boots)

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by  Jon Wadsworth | Last Updated: 

If you’re looking for a pair of ironworker boots but aren’t sure of what features to look for, you’re in luck, as I’ve found three of the best ironworker boots available.

Covering three price ranges and ensuring that protection, comfort, and durability are paramount, I’ve made sure you can find the perfect ironworking boots.

Best Value
  • Superb protection
  • Hand-crafted in the USA
  • Insanely comfortable
Upgrade Pick
  • Customizable to the extreme
  • A thicker leather is used in crafting for outstanding protection
  • Single piece vamp, which makes them more water-resistant
Best on a Budget
  • The price is fantastic
  • Available in wide and medium fits and half sizes for those hard-to-size feet
  • Lightweight yet excellent protection is afforded by the alloy safety cap

A pair of boots that you can wear all day at work and even be able to wear casually isn’t something you find every day. 

But when it comes to ironworker boots, you get the best of everything, comfort, durability, style, and an excellent level of protection for your feet. 

Take the Thorogood Steel Moc Toe, for example, an ironworker boot that will keep your foot in great shape; they’re even electric hazard resistant. The Thorogood is my top pick for ironworker boots; read on to find out why. 

How Did I Come Up With My List?

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It’s taken me days of in-depth research to come up with what I believe are three of the best ironworker boots on the market. 

After looking at well over 50 styles, I finished with a final list of three choices, which wasn’t easy. 

Finding three boots that offer superb protection, are built to last, and are comfortable enough to wear all day long, and still look smart enough to be a casual boot was surprisingly tricky. It took serious research skills, years of combined boot experiences, and a lot of review reading to come up with what I believe is a list of three phenomenal boots. 

We even found boots at each end of the price spectrum, and our final list comprises our top overall pick, a high-end upgrade, and a fantastic budget selection. Let’s dive in; I can’t wait to show you what we came up with.

3 Best Boots for Ironworkers

Best Overall: Thorogood 8-inch Steel Moc Toe 

1.
Thorogood Steel Toe Moc
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Fewer and fewer boot manufacturers are still making their boots in the USA; it’s a sad trend that doesn’t look like changing any time soon. 

Luckily, Thorogood still makes some of their boots in the USA, and the Thorogood Men’s American Heritage brand is one of those boots.

I like, no, I love, that this fantastic-looking boot is one of the last remaining boots still made on US soil. 

I’m not often cynical or prone to bouts of nostalgia; outsourcing to countries where manufacturing is cheaper makes economic sense for a business, but there’s something good about a homemade, hand-stitched ironworker boot.

Thorogood boots are built by the Weinbrenner Shoe Company, a Milwaukee-based manufacturer that’s been producing boots since 1892. With a superb pedigree, the company supplied US troops through two world wars and even donated 500 pairs of work boots to ground zero after the September 11th attack.

What I Like

  • Premium full-grain leather makes the Thorogood quick to break in.

  • A 2” heel adds an excellent shock absorber, perfect for wearing them all day long.

  • The Thorogood Men’s American Heritage 8” Moc Toe comes with comfort at the forefront of its design and has a removable Ultimate Shock Absorption footbed on a Poron cushioned insole. You can wear these ironworkers for days and still feel like you’re floating on air.

  • The synthetic sole is highly durable and protective.

  • Stiff upper leather gives you great ankle support.

What I Don’t Like

  • Prices vary from retailer to retailer, so check around for the best prices.

  • Some wearers may find the reinforced fiberglass shank uncomfortable.

  • Not completely waterproof.

What Other Reviewers Say

Buyers of the Thorogood 8” Moc Toe say this boot offers excellent protection; they feel comfortable after a long day wearing them, and are built to last. The bonus of US-made boots can’t be overstated either; each Thorogood American heritage boot has a tag stating it’s made in the USA.

A rugged boot that’s great for all-day use, the Thorogood is great for those whose feet are wider than average; in fact, many reviewers over several sites stated they were overjoyed at how accommodating the boot was.

The Verdict

Finding a  comfortable boot that will offer you the protection you need and the durability that can last for years is a tough ask, but the Thorogood American Heritage 8” Moc Toe carries it off in style. I had to give this excellent boot the number one spot for best overall value; the price is right, the product is impressive, and they’ll last for years.

Best Overall
Thorogood Steel Toe Moc
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Upgrade Pick: Nick’s Boots Moc Toe

2.
Nick’s Boots Moc Toe
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An absolute Rolls-Royce of an ironworker boot, the Nick’s Moc Toe, available at Nicks Boots, is a fully customizable ironworker boot that has been styled on the 6” Wedge Moc Traveler boot. This boot comes in the 1964 leather color and, like the Thorogood Men’s American heritage boot, is made in the USA. 

With a Vibram sole, the Nick’s Moc Toe has a much higher tolerance for wear and tear; several boots I researched had issues with the soles quickly wearing out; you’ll not have this issue with these beauties.

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Nicks Boots have added more customization options to this pair of boots than many new cars come with, which offers incredible peace of mind. Yes, you’re paying a premium for the Moc Toe Wedge, but you’re getting what you paid for; sheer quality.

What I Like

  • The upper leather on the Moc Toe Wedge is thicker than on many other brands of ironworker boots; it makes them feel sturdier and more robust and offers excellent ankle protection. This is an incredibly well-put-together boot with leather that’s 3.3mm thick. 

  • The Moc Toe Wedge has leather insoles, leather midsoles, a thick leather upper, and a one-piece leather vamp; there are literally cows walking around with less leather on them.

  • The toe box is crafted from one piece of leather and pinched together to give the Moc Toe look. Not only is this the most durable method, but it’s also the most water-resistant. Due to the thicker leather, this also makes it feel like your boot is bulletproof.

  • Where many ironworker boots aren’t too waterproof, the Moc Toe Wedge has an inner lining that’s not stitched to the Moc Toe, meaning these boots are much more water resistant. 

  • Customizable fitting methods, boot length, boot width, leather style, edge color, and even matching accessories makes this boot one of the most personalized boots I’ve ever seen.

What I Don’t Like

  • The advice is to expect these uber boots to take up to 200 hours to break in; a sizable investment but worth it.

  • The wait times for this boot are heartbreaking; Nick’s Boots does have an up-to-date page giving expected lead times, but it can be 16-24 weeks. You can find the current lead times here.

  • They’re not the cheapest by a long shot, but in fairness, if you’re considering buying these boots, it’s because you’re after premium quality; and quality costs.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviews for the Nick’s Moc Toe are all positive from what I can see, as you’d hope to see from a premium boot like this. The thick leather, coupled with the hand-crafted boot, offers supreme protection and durability. These boots look amazing – because they are amazing. 

Several reviewers stated that the breaking-in period was a little challenging, though they knew beforehand that it would take time due to the thicker leather.

The Verdict

It was impossible not to place this as our upgrade pick; if it’s a superior boot you need, this is it. The manufacturing is second to none, the leather is thicker than the competition, and the customizable options make this boot impossible not to like; I’ve rarely been so impressed with a pair of boots.

The Nick’s Moc Toe is a pricy pair of boots but something you should consider an investment; the quality indicates these could be on your feet for years to come. They’re just at home on your feet in a social setting as they are in a rougher work environment and do both jobs superbly; A champion boot that has to be our number one upgrade choice.

Upgrade Pick
Nick’s Boots Moc Toe
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Budget Pick: Timberland Men’s Barstow 62 Alloy Toe Work Boot

3.
Timberland Men’s Barstow 62 Allow Toe Work Boot
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One of the most enjoyable things about researching boots is finding a pair that’s over-performing its price range. I’ve found an incredible Timberland boot that’s both comfortable, hard-wearing, and superbly priced, and it’s called the Timberland Men’s Barstow 62 Allow Toe Work Boot.

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A lightweight boot with an alloy safety toe, the Barstow 62 boot is crafted from full-grain leather, is electrical hazard protected, and looks as good as a boot in a much higher price range. The Timberland comes with anti-fatigue technology; essentially, a molded foam footbed that absorbs shocks and increases comfort. 

And if you don’t believe the claim, there’s a 30-day comfort guarantee, so if you don’t find them an upgrade on comfort, just keep hold of your receipt, and you can request a refund. You do need to buy from Timberland.com or an authorized retailer.

What I Like

  • The lightweight alloy safety toe is a great feature; it doesn’t impact the toe box shape and offers great protection while minimizing weight.

  • Timberland soles are crafted from Pro Rubber, which is heat-resistant and reduces slips.

  • The price is superb, you can find cheaper, but I’m less confident that you’ll find better, especially from a reputable company such as Timberland.

  • They don’t look or feel like a budget option at all and look good enough to be worn casually and for working in. 

  • The Timberland Men’s Barstow 6” Allow Toe Work Boot comes in both medium and wide fitting, as well as in half sizes, which makes finding the right size for your foot a breeze.

What I Don’t Like

  • At 6”, I would have preferred a slightly taller boot shaft; the reviews I chased up mainly were incredibly positive, but for working in, perhaps Timberland could have pushed these up to an 8” shaft.

  • One color is all you get; if you’re after a customizable boot or want to accessorize an outfit, you’re limited with the Barstow.

What Other Reviewers Say

The Barstow 6” Alloy Toe Work Boot is comfortable, incredibly long-lasting, and is perfect for wearing at work when the jobs are tough and the surfaces are grimy. 

Comfort is one of the buzzwords for the Timberland Barstow; reviewers love the feel of these boots, and there seems to be a lot of repeat business; if you’ve bought them once, you’re probably going to rebuy them. 

The Verdict

My goal for this article was to find three of the best ironworker boots on the market, a premium choice, an all-rounder with everything you’d need, and a pair for those on a budget. The Timberland Men’s Barstow 6” Allow Toe Work Boot is a great budget pick that covers price, comfort, protective capabilities, and looks.

The Thorogood Steel Moc Toe is superior, and I had to share the Timberland Men’s Barstow boots with you, given the price you can source them at. 

They tick every feature I was looking for and do it for an affordable price, with a history of reviews almost as comforting as the standard anti-fatigue technology these boots are equipped with. 

Best on a Budget
Timberland Men’s Barstow 62 Allow Toe Work Boot
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Why Do Ironworkers Wear Wedge Boots?

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Ironworkers and those that work with metal generally wear ironworker boots to protect their feet from harm. In a busy factory or warehouse setting, they’re looking for comfort and protection, as well as something lightweight enough to wear throughout the day. But what exactly are the benefits of a boot with a wedge for an ironworker?

What are the Benefits of a Wedge Boot?

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A wedge boot offers much more traction than many other types of safety boot; the sole is non-slip and often has excellent grip. The wedge shape is flat on the sole, meaning a greater surface area makes contact with the floor; you’ll rarely see someone slip in ironworker boots.

An ironworker boot can repel anything from oil or chemicals to heat and electricity; many, such as the Barstow 6” Alloy Toe Work Boot, have a steel or alloy safety toe to increase protection. When it comes to electrical hazard resistance, ironworker boots are the safest option on the market; the shock-absorbing qualities of the sole are unrivaled.

How Comfortable are Ironworker Boots?

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Standing up all day in work boots can be uncomfortable, but not in a pair of Ironworker boots. The Thorogood Steel Moc Toe is one of the most comfortable boots around. With superb protective features and an 8” shaft, you can wear these boots all day long.

Nearly every review I could find for the Barstow 6” Alloy Toe Work Boot mentioned the superb level of comfort, and many of those who reviewed these great boots couldn’t help but mention just how many hours a day they wore them. Overtime will be a doddle in the Timberland Men’s Barstow boots.

What Makes a Good Boot for Ironworkers?

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First and foremost, the main attribute an ironworker looks for in a boot is protection; can they be worn in an environment that’s dangerous and do the required job? Secondly, they look for comfort; they could wear their boots all day, often in unforgiving work environments. 

And finally, they look for durability; how long will their boots last? Good boots can be expensive, so it’s in their interest to buy a pair that can stand the pressure. If you’re paying for a pair of Nick’s Moc Toe boots, you need to know they will take the punishment you’re going to hand out. 

Are Ironworker Boots up to the Job?

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Every ironworker boot in our guide offers everything an ironworker looks for in their boots; we’ve checked for comfort, protection, and durability, and all three of our picks come way ahead of the curve. You’ll not find better ironworker boots than these; we’ve covered every base with a selection of premium, the best value, and budget.

The fact that each boot looks good enough to wear casually is a huge bonus but incidental; these boots are perfect for ironworkers.

Conclusion

That’s it; after an exhaustive search, we’ve got our top picks for the three best ironworker boots, and it’s a great final list. When it comes to protection, comfort, and durability, my top pick is the Thorogood Steel Moc Toe

Best Value
Thorogood Steel Toe Moc
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It beats the Nick’s Moc Toe into second place, and the excellent Barstow 6” Alloy Toe Work Boot comes in third place. 

Upgrade Pick
Nick’s Boots Moc Toe
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The Thorogood American Heritage, for its price as much as its features, is a phenomenal boot; the Moc Toe Wedge is a prestige item on my fantasy list, but for value, it just loses out to the Thorogood. The Barstow 6” Alloy Toe Work Boot is my budget pick, a cost-effective yet feature-packed boot that’s well worth a look.

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FAQs

Why do ironworkers tuck their pants into their boots?

In a dangerous working environment, ironworkers tuck their pants into their boots to minimize the risk of tripping. Wearing ironworker boots with excellent grip is pointless if you’re tripping up over your pants.

Why do ironworkers wear flat bottom boots?

Flat soles distribute the weight of the wearer, making them more comfortable and less prone to slip. These benefits are key when working in a hazardous environment. For ironworkers, flat soled boots are a must due to the dangerous work their occupations often entail.

Should I size up for steel toe boots?

Most ironworker boots have a steel or alloy safety toe, and your toes should have enough room inside the toe box to be able to move freely. Having your toes pressed against the safety toe will cause rubbing and serious discomfort. Sizing up a half or full size is an option, but you should always check the fit of the boot you play on buying first, as that may be enough to be a true fit.

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