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Best safety boots 2024: Lightweight, comfortable foot protection from £40

Best safety boots

Keep your ankles, feet and toes protected with our guide to the best safety boots to buy

If you’re a construction worker or someone who does a lot of intensive DIY, you really do need a good strong pair of the best safety boots with steel toe-caps, sturdy puncture-resistant soles with excellent grip in all weathers, tough uppers and ankle padding. After all, you don’t want to rue the day you elected to construct a new outer wall wearing just a pair of flimsy plimsolls.

Safety boots come in a range of styles and prices, from ridiculously affordable to eye-wateringly expensive. And thankfully, they are all exempt from VAT. To save you time and hassle we’ve collated this handy guide to the best safety boots by selecting only the top boots the industry has to offer.

How to choose the best safety boots for you

What features do I need to consider?

Impact protection
Given that one of the most common accidents when working on a construction site is a falling heavy object, a pair of sturdy boots with steel toe-caps is a key consideration. Reinforced toe-caps are designed to protect the toes from a variety of impact and compression injuries. All reinforced toe-caps must conform to the European standard EN ISO 20345:2011 and be robust enough to protect the toes against a 200 joule impact.

Most work boots use steel for the toe-caps which provides the best protection at the expense of a little extra weight and reduced comfort in hot weather.

If the area you’re working in is suitable, you might also wish to consider boots fitted with lighter weight aluminium or even carbon fibre caps. Just be aware that aluminium and carbon fibre don’t provide the same level of crush protection as steel. And if you work in the electrical industry, composite toe-cap materials like carbon fibre or Kevlar are a good choice since both materials are nonconductive and nonmagnetic.

Slip resistance
If you work in construction, agriculture or manufacturing, it’s advisable to go for a pair of boots with slip-resistant soles. Though these are hard to distinguish from standard ones, they tend to have a softer type of tread that provides better traction on slippery surfaces. Most models will mention “slip resistance” in their specs.

Puncture resistance
Puncture-resistant midsoles are designed to protect the feet from puncture injuries caused by stray nails or screws. They are especially useful for workers in construction and agriculture where there’s an increased risk of stepping on sharp objects.

Water resistance
Given that most construction work often continues in wet conditions, waterproofness is of prime consideration. After all, chances are that any rainwater gathered on your clothing will soon make its way towards your feet, and you can bet that at some point you’ll slosh through a deep puddle of water.

What you need is a good quality full leather or “Action leather” model with a waterproof rating. The description should say “waterproof” and not just “water resistant” or some dampness may sneak in and ruin your day. Waterproof boots are also essential for working in agriculture, landscaping, forestry and land management.

All the tech in the world means nothing if the boots you’re wearing are uncomfortable and clunky. Work boots should be comfortable to wear for very long periods and made of materials that breathe well and provide good arch support.

If possible, visit a shop to try on various different designs and walk around the shop for ten minutes – just as you would’ve done before online shopping became the norm.

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What size do I need?

It’s not always possible to try on boots these days, so as a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to order a half to a whole size bigger (than your normal size) to allow for thicker socks. If they turn out to be too big, return them and opt for a half or whole size smaller.

How we test safety boots

For this test, the writer had access to a new housing development he’s shooting for a promotional video. It was the perfect environment to test these boots in: the ground was uneven, muddy and wet.

The first step was to inspect the materials used in the boots. This included checking the upper material (leather, synthetic materials, etc) and the flexibility of the soles.

Fit and comfort is crucial for workers who wear safety boots for extended periods so we wore these boots for 30 minutes at a time and walked all over the site, including the roughest parts, to check each one’s ankle support and decide whether the soles flexed too much.

The next test involved impact resistance, so we dropped a hollowed breeze block and a standard brick on the front of the boot to see how well the toe-caps performed. Our tester is happy (and relieved) to report, they all passed with flying colours.

For the puncture-resistance test, we tentatively stepped on a small upturned nail to see if it would penetrate beyond the outer sole, but thankfully the steel plates fitted to all of these boots did the job they were designed for.

Our final test was to see how well their waterproofing properties performed with the help of a hosepipe. All except the models listed as just “water resistant” performed exceptionally well, especially the Wellingtons, which is hardly surprising.

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The best safety boots you can buy in 2024

1. Stanley FatMax Stowe: Best for ruggedness

Price when reviewed: £50 | Check price at ToolStation

best safety boots Stanley FatMax Stowe

This fully waterproof safety boot from popular tool manufacturer Stanley features a heavy-duty leather upper with ankle scuff caps on both sides, soft ankle padding, a rubber outsole with EVA foam midsole for a spring in the step, a removable insole and a fully waterproof boot insert that surrounds the foot while providing a degree of breathability.

This boot feels more chunky than others in this roundup and, as a result, they look and feel more robust than the norm. Also, there’s so much rubber protection around the toe area that they are unlikely to scuff too easily when kneeling. The heavy tread, slip-resistant sole ensures excellent grip in all conditions, too.

If you’re in the market for an especially sturdy safety boot for heavy duty construction work, the Stanley FatMax Stowe makes a well-rounded choice.

Key specs – Uppers: Leather; Steel toe-caps: Yes; Steel midsole: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Slip resistant: Yes

Check price at ToolStation

2. Site Marble: Best value construction boots

Price when reviewed: £33 | Check price at B&Qbest safety boots Site Marble

If you don’t want to spend too much on working boots but need a pair that conform to all the right safety standards, consider this budget-priced model from Site, a brand that was only available exclusively through Screwfix. You can find them at a wider range of retailers now, though.

The Site Marble features a firm puncture-resistant sole with excellent outer cushioning and hundreds of tiny star-shaped protrusions that help meet SRA safety requirements for slip resistance.

Despite their penetration-resistant steel midsoles and 200J steel toe-caps, these boots are surprisingly comfortable and supple enough even when used in a crouched position. These boots are listed as “water resistant” which means they aren’t fully waterproof near the top of the lacing area.

Like many outdoor shoes and boots, including school shoes and most sneakers, this model is fashioned out of Action leather, which is essentially a thin type of fibrous suede that’s been coated in a transparent water-resistant polyurethane.

Action leather products aren’t as robust as the real thing, but who’s complaining at this price? Moreover, given that they look a little like Dr Martens, these boots won’t look too out of place down the pub.

Key specs – Uppers: Action leather; Steel toe-caps: Yes; Steel midsole: Yes; Waterproof: No, water resistant; Slip resistant: Yes

Check price at B&Q

3. DeWalt Titanium S3: Best technical boots for style and durability

Price when reviewed: £98 | Check price at Amazon

best safety boots DeWalt Titanium S3

For sheer technological innovation, the DeWalt Titanium is a tough boot to beat. Available in honey, black or tan, these boots cover all aspects for use in tough working environments, including full grain leather uppers with Hydroguard lining, a padded tongue, an internal “bootie” that’s both waterproof and breathable, shock absorbing insoles, steel midsole plates and injection-moulded TPU outsoles for pliable comfort straight out of the box.

Though the word “Titanium” features in the name, these boots are fitted with standard steel toe-caps with a pressure rating of 200J – enough strength to shrug off a dropped breeze block with ease.

The Titaniums feel very comfortable and supportive without being too rigid to work in. And if you opt for the honey-coloured option you can pretend you’re wearing a pair of more expensive Timberlands. Sturdy choice.

Key specs – Uppers: Leather; Steel toe-caps: Yes; Steel midsole: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Slip resistant: Yes

4. Dunlop Purofort Rigpro Fur Lining Wellington: Best for cold wet weather

Price when reviewed: £68 | Check price at Amazonbest safety boots Dunlop Purofort Rigpro

When the temperature drops and you’re working in inclement weather on the site or farm, you need a good strong pair of wellies. But not any old wellies.

The calf-height Dunlop Purofort Rigpros come fully lined for warmth and are equipped with cut-proof Dunlop Purofort technology for warmth and lightness. Purofort is a unique material that’s comprised of millions of tiny air pockets that create very effective thermal insulation while being 35% lighter than normal wellies.

Naturally, you wouldn’t want to wear a pair of these on a summer’s day, but come winter you can guarantee a level of warmth and supreme waterproofness unmatched by much of the competition.

Given that Wellingtons can suffer from heel creep you’ll be pleased to learn that these boots are constructed using Dunlop’s Snugfit geometry tech for excellent heel grip. They are also equipped with certified steel toe-caps, steel mid-sole plates and rugged SRC-certified anti-slip treads as standard.

Key specs – Uppers: Purofort; Steel toe-caps: Yes; Steel midsole: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Slip resistant: Yes

5. Stihl Worker S3: Best ankle boots for horticultural work

Price when reviewed: £122 | Check price at Garden Machinery Directbest safety boots Stihl Worker S3 Boots

German manufacturer Stihl is one of the most respected brands for outdoor machinery like chainsaws and mowers, but it also produces a range of boots and gloves for working in the rough. Take these water-resistant and very breathable working boots for example.

Available in UK adult sizes 7.5 to 13, the Stihl S3s come with supple, perforation-proof Nubuck leather uppers and textile lining married to cushioned steel midsoles for comfort and strength when working on uneven terrain.

For added protection, they also feature steel toe-caps and oil and fuel-resistant treaded soles that meet the EN ISO 20345 S3 standard.

With their generously padded high ankles and cushioned puncture-resistant soles, these boots are a great option for arborists, landscapers, gardeners, farmers and light construction applications. Just bear in mind that, like many outdoor boots and shoes, they are sized to allow for slightly thicker socks.

Key specs – Uppers: Leather; Steel toe-caps: Yes; Steel midsole: Yes; Waterproof: No, water resistant; Slip resistant: Yes

Check price at Garden Machinery Direct

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