Best Shoes For Factory Work

14 Shoe Models Featured

After testing 36 pairs of shoes and boots, we choose two KEEN products – the San Jose boots (men) and the Seattle boots (women) – as the best shoes for factory work.

We spoke to dozens of factory workers through Reddit, Facebook and Quora. They included light industry welders, electricians and machinists – and heavy industry workers from steel factories. We made sure to talk to warehouse workers too. We asked them to list features that make factory work safe and easy on the feet. Features that came up consistently included foot protection, ankle support, cushioning, a rugged rubber outsole, and a few other things. You can find the full list (and explanations) in the Buyer’s Guide.

We also asked these folks to recommend their favourite shoes and boots. We used their recommendations to make a shortlist, then went out and tested the products on it. Our top picks are listed below.  

Both the KEEN San Jose and KEEN Utility Seattle boots offer safety toes and are electrical hazard safe. They ensure you stay on your feet with excellent non-slip outsoles. And deliver exceptional comfort with ergonomically designed insoles. 

Those might be our top choices but there are situations where other shoes are more suitable. If you don’t need a host of safety features, sneakers like the Skechers Bendon or Ghent are a great choice.

Or you might find yourself wanting some premium boots. In this case, the Red Wing Iron Ranger or the female fit Red Wing Rover might be more suitable. Sure, they’re expensive but the build quality means they’ll last much longer than the competition. 

To see which work shoes are best for your factory and situation keep reading. 

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Table of Contents

Best Boots for Factory Work (Men)

editors pick

100/100

Our Score

editors pick

KEEN Utility Men's San Jose

KEEN Utility Men's San Jose

Why this product?

The San Jose work boot provides both protection and comfort. Its oil and slip-resistant outsole is first-rate. The shoe stabilizes and supports the ankle. 

100/100

Our Score

Our favourite men’s boots for factory work are the KEEN Utility San Jose Work Boots. 

Made from 100% leather, these boots are durable. The stitching is high quality. The boot is double and even triple stitched in spots that get the most wear. The leather is treated to ensure the boots remain waterproof. Consumers report it can last years.

A moisture-wicking, breathable leather lining allows air to circulate around your feet. It’s treated with KEEN’s CleansportNXT technology. This uses natural enzymes to prevent the build-up of odour causing bacteria. This combination of breathability and odour control is rare for any boot, let alone a waterproof work boot. The metatomical footbed cradles your feet to prevent them from moving within the boots. It’s removable and can easily be replaced should it start to wear out. It provides strong arch support, reducing foot fatigue and discomfort. Factory workers report it makes standing and walking for long periods easy.

The Luftcell midsole is made using special air injection technology. Every square centimetre of the midsole is full of thousands of tiny air bubbles. These provide excellent shock absorption and cushioning. These protect your feet and joints from the impact of being on your feet all day. It’s the kind of tech you expect in a running shoe; not a work boot. Our testers were surprised at how athletic it feels.

KEEN have included their proprietary KEEN.Grip rubber outsole on these boots. It’s oil and slip-resistant. It offers reliable traction no matter what you’re walking through. It’s bouncy enough to provide added cushioning. It can be resoled easily, extending the life of the San Joses. Workers recommend Vibram outsoles as replacements for their flexibility and cushioning.

The boot is 6″ tall, with high eyelets that stabilize and support the ankle. The thick leather means the ankle has some protection from impact, liquids and chemicals. The boots come with an aluminium toe cap. It’s strong but lightweight. It protects your toes from impact but allows plenty of room for them to move and flex. The toe section is reinforced with an extra layer of leather, in front and around the sides.

The boots are rated as electrical hazard safe. If you were to step on a live circuit, these boots would keep you safe. However, they do have an alloy toe cap so be careful. If the leather wears out and exposes the alloy, you’ll need to repair or replace the boot. 

Cons

The laces on these work boots are not as robust as the boots themselves. Prepare to replace them after a few months. 

The sizing of the San Jose boots can be inconsistent. We advise trying them through Prime Wardrobe to ensure you get the right fit.

Pros

  • Stitching provides long-lasting durability
  • Waterproof
  • Strong arch support
  • Outsole has outstanding traction
  • Lightweight, resilient toe cap

Cons

  • Sizing could be an issue if ordering online
  • The boots will last years – the laces may not

Best Boots for Factory Work (Women)

99/100

Our Score

KEEN Utility Women's Seattle

KEEN Utility Women's Seattle

Why this product?

The Seattle boot by KEEN is durable but bouncy and stylish. The boot is designed for a woman’s foot. It’s breathable, with removable insoles. 

99/100

Our Score

The best factory work boot for women is the KEEN Utility Seattle. The boot comes with an alloy toy that’s tough enough to withstand 75 pounds of impact. The toe section itself is nice and roomy, giving you lots of wiggle room. The boot is 6″ high, with high eyelets and a padded ankle collar for gives you a snug, comfortable fit. The ankle is well-protected in these. The boot is double-stitched all over and holds up well through years of use.

The leather is nice and thick. It does a good job protecting feet from impact and damage. The multiple overlays keep the shoe flexible enough for comfortable walking and standing. The leather is sustainably sourced, meaning it has no environmental impact.  The tongue is also made from leather meaning the entire upper is durable and will protect you from knocks or burns. It’s also waterproof, meaning it’s spill-proof and good for working outside. Worn with thick cotton socks, it’s a good winter option.

The nylon stability shank also helps keep your feet well supported. It’s lightweight and flexible, but firm and durable. You’ll notice the most benefit when climbing stairs, ladders or clambering around large machinery. It gives the shoe a bit of springiness and improves weight distribution. The rubber sole is springy and bouncy too, providing quality cushioning. It has an aggressive, multidirectional lug pattern. This delivers consistent traction across a range of surfaces, even when water and oil are involved. 

These boots offer electrical hazard protection. The thick soles will keep you safe should you come into contact with a live circuit. The moisture-wicking lining is breathable and treated with CleansportNXT technology. It prevents bad odours by killing off any bacteria before it has a chance to breed. This is a rare boot that smells good after a long day’s work.

These boots are built with KEEN’s typical wide style. They’re designed for a woman’s foot and allow plenty of room for air to circulate. The insoles are removable. If they wear out, they’re easy to replace. The workers we spoke to rate it highly for foot support. The shoe’s roomy fit means you can use high-volume orthotics in them. 

If the shoes are too big for you, you can always grab premium insoles. As mentioned, the insoles are removable, so there’s no fuss when it comes to finding your perfect fit.

Cons

The leather around the alloy toe cap is very thin. If you work on your hands and knees a lot, you’ll wear through it quickly. 

Pros

  • Durable upper and sole
  • Lightweight flexibility
  • Suited to year-round wear
  • Quality cushioning

Cons

  • The leather around the toe is on the thin side

Best Safety Sneakers for Factory Work (Men)

97/100

Our Score

Reebok Men's Sublite Cushion

Reebok Men's Sublite Cushion

Why this product?

The Reebok Men’s Sublite has a reinforced toe but looks and feels like a tennis shoe. It provides excellent traction. The midsole is comfortable and soft. 

97/100

Our Score

Warehouse workers and testers both recommend the Reebok Men’s Work Sublite Cushion. It may look like a tennis shoe but is actually a safety model. Made from a tough mesh and microfibre upper, these shoes are lightweight and breathable. There are reinforced sections around the safety toe and the heel – areas that suffer the most wear and tear. 

A moisture-wicking, nylon mesh lining keeps your feet dry and cool. Even when working in hot conditions. The extra-wide toe box allows air to circulate. It also prevents your toes from rubbing against the hard composite material. The semi-rigid overlays on the side and heel area of the shoe go over the mesh. They extend the shoe’s lifespan and protect the foot. The composite toe cap protects against heavy objects damaging your toes. It also weighs much less than steel or alloy toe caps. It’s reinforced with a rubber overlay for durability and protection.

The outer sole is made of durable rubber. It’s resistant to oil, heat and chemicals, and provides excellent traction. It features full flex grooves which allow your feet to bend and flex naturally. It’s slip-resistant and electrical hazard safe. This makes it good for most work environments. The midsole is Sublite foam. It’s strong, stable and delivers long-term comfort. There are additional rubber pads on the heel and forefoot to help with shock absorption. These protect your joints from the impact of walking on hard concrete floors all day. 

The removable insole is made using Reebok’s own MemoryTech Massage footbed. Small dimples cover the surface which offer top-end comfort. They also massage your feet when you walk. This prevents foot fatigue and discomfort. The footbed also provides decent arch support. All in all, this is a top slip resistant shoe with impact and electrical hazard protection.

Cons

These shoes fit a little narrow. They do come in wide and extra-wide, but try on in-store or with Prime Wardrobe before making a final decision. 

Pros

  • Mesh upper is breathable
  • Flexible mid and outer soles
  • Composite toe cap protection

Cons

  • Narrow fitting – be sure to order the correct size for you

Best Safety Sneakers for Factory Work (Women)

97/100

Our Score

Reebok Work Sublite Cushion

Reebok Work Sublite Cushion

Why this product?

The breathable upper and lightweight sole perform strongly on any factory floor. The protection offered in the safety toe and ankle support should not be understated.

97/100

Our Score

Our favourite low work shoe for women is the Reebok Women’s Sublite Cushion. With a knit mesh upper, these shoes are lightweight and breathable. They’re durable too. Reinforced sections around the toe box, mid-shoe and heel ensure these shoes can handle the rigours of factory work. 

The safety toe is composite and conforms to the standards required for most factories. It’s lightweight compared to steel and less obtrusive than many other composite toe shoes. The shoes also offer electrical hazard protection, being completely free of metal.

The slip-resistant outsole is durable, provides reliable traction and is lightweight. It’s resistant to heat, oil and chemicals. This makes these shoes ideal for factories where hazards are commonplace. The outer sole is lined with full flex grooves which promote your foot’s natural range of motion. The midsole is made using Sublite foam. It offers comfortable cushioning for very little weight. It features rubber pads on the forefoot and heel for extra stability, shock absorption and traction. 

The insole is made with Reebok’s MemoryTech Massage technology. Covered in small dimples, this material moulds to the shape of your foot. It also promotes healthy circulation by massaging your feet gently with each step. It offers good support for the arch and surprisingly solid ankle support (via improved foot posture). If the insoles wear out over time, they’re easy to replace. 

Cons

These shoes run about half a size small. They’re also a narrow fit. If you are unsure which size to get, we advise trying them on in store or using Prime Wardrobe before making your purchase. 

Pros

  • Balanced durability and performance
  • Slip-resistant outsole
  • Arch and ankle are well supported

Cons

  • It’s worth trying on to ensure the correct sizing

Most Comfortable Boots for Factory Work (Men)

95/100

Our Score

Dr. Martens Winch Steel Toe Boots

Dr. Martens Winch Steel Toe Boots

Why this product?

They don’t make them any more rugged than the Dr. Martens Winch boot. Soft, contoured insole provides all-day comfort. 

95/100

Our Score

When it comes to comfortable manufacturing boots for men, the Dr. Martens Winch Steel Toe Boots are your best choice. Unlike most Dr. Martens, these Winch boots have a padded collar and thick, cushioned tongue. This ensures they grip your feet and provide top end comfort. Your ankles are secure and supported within these boots. The collar also provides extra insulation to protect you against electric charges. 

The boots are lined with a soft feel, moisture-wicking material. This is breathable and prevents a build-up of moisture around your feet. This protects you from blisters, fungal infections and bacteria growth. It keeps the shoe smelling fresh, too. It offers a lot more comfort than Doc Martens fashion boots.

The Winch Light Industry Boots come with a steel toe cap. It conforms to all required safety standards and will protect you against crush or cutting injuries. We specifically like it for light industry work. An alloy toe may be light and tough, but for moving parts, there’s no beating steel. The extra thickness creates extra separation between your foot and sharp, moving bits.

The non-slip PVC outsole is resistant to fats, oils, acids and even petrol. It’s also flexible. Allowing your foot to move through its natural range of motion. This adds to the comfort levels and reduces foot fatigue. It can even prevent long term injuries associated with constricted feet. 

The anatomically contoured insole is made from a soft EVA foam. It cradles your feet, providing great support and comfort. When it wears out, it can be removed and replaced easily. The heel feels heavenly, which is the case with most Doc Martens. It’s a good choice for walking, heel pain and problems like plantar fasciitis.

With their good looks, rugged durability and unparalleled comfort, the Winch Steel Toe is an make excellent boots for factory work. This model is the best in this class.

Cons

Once broken in they’re some of the most comfortable shoes you can buy. But as with all Dr. Martens boots, these are made with stiff leather. It can take a long time to break-in.

You will need to wear them for just a couple of hours at a time to start with. Otherwise, you risk nasty blisters.

Pros

  • Moisture-wicking inner
  • Cushioned tongue and ankle to give a cosy fit
  • Steel toe cap for utmost protection
  • Flexible, non-slip sole

Cons

  • Stiff out of the box, these boots can take some time to break in

Most Comfortable Boots for Factory Work (Women)

96/100

Our Score

Dr. Martens Women's Work Construction Boot

Dr. Martens Women's Work Construction Boot

Why this product?

These Dr. Martens boots are not only durable, comfortable, and supportive, but also offer ultimate protection and stability. They allow your feet to breathe, prevent odour, and are easy to take off.

96/100

Our Score

The comfiest factory boots for women are these Dr. Martens Construction Boots. The upper is made using industrial tumbled leather. It’s even more durable than your standard Dr. Martens. It takes a while to break in, so we recommend wearing it at home to begin with. The model we tried on was definitely a little rigid. Once broken in, though, the leather is soft and comfortable. The vamp is made in one piece that goes from toe section to mid-foot. This prevents creasing. The rear and front sections are triple-stitched together for incredible durability.

The steel toe cap is rigorously tested and meets all the necessary safety standards for factory use. It offers a wider area for your toes than most women’s safety toe boots. This allows air to circulate. It also prevents rubbing and blisters. The slip-resistant, bouncy sole is comfortable and stable. It uses air pockets to cushion your footfalls and protect your feet from walking on hard concrete floors all day. It’s resistant to oils, fats, acids, alkalies and petroleum-based liquids. One word of warning though: it does not do well on snow and ice. Be careful when wearing these out in the winter.

A SoftWair insole provides extra cushioning and support. The heel is particularly well-cushioned. The footbed has a raised grid pattern that forms to the shape of your foot and allows air to circulate beneath it. It’s moisture-wicking too. This prevents moisture and bad smells while ensuring all-day comfort. A side zipper makes these boots quick and easy to put on and take off. The first time you put these on, you’ll need to tighten the laces to how you want them. After that, you can use the zip to get them on and off. A cool, unique feature we liked.

Cons

As with all Dr Martens, these boots take a long time to break-in. Don’t expect to take them out of the box and wear them for an entire shift. You’ll need to go through the break-in process just a couple of hours at a time. 

They also run a little narrower than the unisex Dr Martens. If you have owned unisex Dr Martens before, be prepared for these boots to be tighter.

Pros

  • Incredibly durable
  • Steel toe cap offers ultimate safety
  • Prevent rubbing and blisters
  • Comfortable and well-cushioned
  • Keep moisture and bad smells away
  • Easy to get on and off thanks to a side zipper

Cons

  • Take a while to break in 
  • Don’t do well in winter
  • Narrow fitting

Best Waterproof Boots for Factory Work (Men)

100/100

Our Score

Thorogood Men's 1957 Series​

Thorogood Men's 1957 Series

Why this product?

These tough boots are not only waterproof but also slip and electric shock resistant. They’re durable, roomy, well-cushioned, breathable, and provide maximum stability.

100/100

Our Score

The best waterproof factory boots for men are the Thorogood 1957s. These boots have it all: comfort, durability, safety, cushioning and more. They’re also extremely waterproof. They have a moc toe design, offering a little more room around your toes than a classic round toe boot. This allows more room for your toes to wiggle and reduces the chance of rubbing during a long shift.

The X-Stream waterproof membrane keeps water out. At the same time, it’s breathable and won’t cause your feet to overheat. It’s also capable of preventing blood born pathogens from getting through. An important factor if your factory deals with hazardous or medical waste. The thick leather is water-resistant (we tested it in-store), although not marketed as such.

Made from full-grain leather, these boots are tough. The durability is almost unmatched when it comes to protective footwear. Workers have reported going through multiple outsoles – the shoe can be resoled – before the upper wears out. The double and triple-stitched parts aren’t an accident. The leather lasts so long regular single-stitching wouldn’t do for those areas.

The boot features a steel safety toe. The footbed is made from memory foam. It excels at absorbing impacts and cradles your foot within moments of putting the boots on. Out of the box, these are some of the most comfortable boots we’ve seen. The MAXwear outsole is slip-resistant, even when used on wet or oily surfaces. It’s also one of the most durable materials available on the market. Thorogood claim it’s 30% more durable than any of the competition. 

There’s a fibreglass shank to ensure maximum stability. This is most noticeable when climbing stairs and ladders or clambering across an uneven surface. As well as being comfortable, durable and offering incredible traction, the Thorogood 1957 boots are electric shock resistant.

The boot’s available in 6″ and 8″. Workers report the 8″ is good for working in deep water and thick snow.

Cons

These are some of the heaviest boots we’ve tested. It can take some getting used to wearing them all day. The comfort and support features help, but still.

They can also run a little small if you get the model with the waterproof membrane. It’s advised to order half a size up.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Water and electric shock resistant
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Prevent rubbing
  • A steel safety toe
  • Slip-resistant
  • Offer excellent traction

Cons

  • Very heavy – take some time to get used to
  • Run small

Best Waterproof Boot for Factory Work (Women)

98/100

Our Score

Caterpillar Women's Echo

Caterpillar Women's Echo

Why this product?

These boots can handle work in any conditions, even in deep water or snow. They offer excellent protection and support for regular work, and are incredibly durable.

98/100

Our Score

For women, the best heavy manufacturing boots we tested are the Caterpillar Echo. They’re comfortable, rugged and offer incredible support. They’re waterproof thanks to a proprietary Caterpillar membrane. It’s breathable, allowing moisture to escape but not letting water in. This ensures your feet remain dry, no matter your working conditions. Combined with the boot’s 8″-high shaft, they make it easy to work anywhere. Deep water and snow are no problem for this boot. If you’re working under heavy rainfall, the triple-padded collar will seal the foot and ankle off and make sure they stay dry.

The safety toe is made of steel. It’s roomy and offers better safety than alloy or composite toes. The boots are electrical hazard safe. They’ll keep you protected if you accidentally come into contact with a live circuit. These safety features make the boot good for regular work that doesn’t involve liquids.

With a 100% leather upper, these boots offer good protection against knocks and scrapes. The padded ankle collar and tongue grip your foot and deliver a high level of support. Some of the inside of the shoe is padded too, giving you a snug fit and lots of comfort. Parts of the shoe are double and triple-stitched for durability.

The rubber outsole has a deep tread pattern. It’s anti-slip, preventing you from falling at work. It also absorbs the shock of walking exceptionally well, protecting your joints and back from injury. It has decent foot support too.

Unfortunately, you can’t resole these shoes. The upside is that they come in a variety of attractive colors. Testers and factory workers both report that the shoe runs a little narrow. Make sure to try the regular and wide sizes before buying. We also recommend you try these on in your regular work socks to make sure they’re not too tight.

Cons

These boots have a big stitch running down the inside of the heel. Before it softens up with use, this can cause nasty blisters before broken in. To prevent this, you’ll need to wear thick socks while breaking the boots in.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Electrical hazard safe
  • Great for work anywhere, even in deep water or snow
  • Excellent protection and support
  • Comfortable
  • Anti-slip
  • Come in a variety of colours

Cons

  • Cannot be resoled
  • Run narrow
  • Need some time to break in. Be sure to wear socks to prevent blisters

Best Moc-Toe Boot for Factory Work (Men)

98/100

Our Score

Thorogood Men's American Heritage

Thorogood Men's American Heritage

Why this product?

This stylish Thorogood boot is perfect for work with powerful machinery. It provides maximum safety and keeps your feet comfortable all day.

98/100

Our Score

The American Heritage is another Thorogood boot. It’s the best moc-toe model we’ve tested. Our tester was especially fond of the black version. Apparently, it looks like a fashion or biker boot and stands out for its style.

Being made with full grain leather, the Heritage is durable, comfortable and breathable. The leather is thick but not rigid. It gets more comfortable as time goes on and is so tough the boot can be resoled repeatedly. The padded ankle collar means the boot is snug and comfortable, with strong ankle protection. The extra-wide base also improves stability, as does the fiberglass shank. It’s virtually impossible to roll an ankle in these.

These boots have a steel safety toe, which protects your feet while at work. With the moc toe design, you get a larger foot box than in regular safety toe boots. This prevents rubbing and helps keep you comfortable. Despite having a steel toe, these offer electric shock protection. This is possible because of the thick, rubber soles and thick leather. Perfect if you work with powerful machinery all day. 

The MAXwear wedge outsole is slip-resistant and well-cushioned. It offers great traction, especially on uneven floors. The insole is a Poron comfort cushion footbed. It offers first-rate shock absorption, preventing foot, leg and back pain. It’s also known to reduce shock-induced headaches. It’s removable, meaning it can be replaced once worn out.

The insole is treated with an antimicrobial coating to prevent bad odours. This is a rare feature for a work shoe, and is popular with factory workers. These boots are a solid choice for any factory job. They’re comfortable, durable, look great and are comfortable straight out of the box. 

Cons

These boots have very little insulation to them. If your factory is cold or requires you to spend time in cold areas, it’s advised that you wear thick socks. 

The supplied laces come undone quite easily. Consider replacing them with something less slippery if you don’t want to tighten them every hour or so.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Anti-odour treatment
  • Slip-resistant
  • Roomy and comfortable
  • A steel safety toe
  • Electric shock protection
  • Can be resoled

Cons

  • Lack insulation
  • Slippery laces

Best Moc-Toe Boot for Factory Work (Women)

99/100

Our Score

Danner Women's Bull Run Moc-Toe

Danner Women's Bull Run Moc-Toe

Why this product?

These women’s boots promise excellent protection from the dangers of factory work. They allow your feet to breathe, keep them comfortable, and prevent foot fatigue and injury.

99/100

Our Score

The Danner Bull Run boots are our favourite moc toes for women. They are a spin on the classic Danner boots, reimagined using a modern understanding of biomechanics. They combine outstanding walking and standing features with strong safety ones. Let’s start with the full-grain leather. It’s sturdy enough to cope with factory work. Its supple nature allows your foot to flex with each step. It’s stitched differently from most shoes. The heel area and vamp are double stitched together with a separate shaft section. This really gives the foot and ankle lots of freedom of movement.

The leather is oiled, which gives it some water resistance. It’s durable enough to last through years of regular use. It’s thick, meaning it’s effective at protecting the foot and ankle from impact and burns. The shoe can be resoled if the sole wears out before the upper does. The ankle collar is padded for comfort and a better fit. A steel toe cap and electrical hazard protection keep you safe from the dangers of working in a factory. The steel toe cap is made to fit the moc toe, meaning it’s roomy and chafe-free. The shoe doesn’t come in wide sizes but is wide with a relaxed fit to begin with.

The Danner Wedge soft rubber outsole offers first-class shock absorption and traction. Even on slippery surfaces, these boots deliver reliable grip. The Ortholite footbed is made using three layers of varying density PU. This creates and stable and breathable platform for your feet. It’s comfortable too. Whether you spend your days standing, sitting or walking, these boots cradle your feet to prevent foot fatigue and injury. 

Cons

They’re not waterproof. Although they have a level of water resistance, they’re not suitable if you’re likely to come into contact with a lot of spills. 

The soft sole is one of the least durable we tested. It provides excellent grip but is not designed for long term use on rough concrete or tarmac. It’s much more suited to sealed concrete or wooden floors.

Pros

  • Roomy and comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Can be resoled
  • Great safety thanks to a steel toe cap and electrical hazard protection
  • Excellent shock absorption and traction

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • The sole isn’t very durable

Best Soft-Toe Boots for Factory Work (Men)

100/100

Our Score

Red Wing Men's Iron Ranger

Red Wing Men's Iron Ranger

Why this product?

Iron Rangers offer unparalleled protection compared to other non-safety toe boots. They feature a 100% leather upper and a leather footbed which moulds to the feet perfectly. They’re anti-slip and oil-resistant, and ensure stability, even on wet surfaces. 

100/100

Our Score

If you’re willing to pay a premium for a comfortable work boot, these Red Wing Iron Rangers are for you. They’re some of the most comfortable and reliable boots we’ve ever tested. In fact, they’d give our top pick a run for their money if they had a safety toe. As is, they have a roomy toe cap reinforced with a double layer of leather. While this is in no way a safety toe, it adds an element of protection unseen in non-safety toe boots. Good for administrative work and warehouse work.

The 100% leather upper is durable and supportive. It’s triple stitched, quadruple in some places. This high-quality workmanship means the boots won’t fail you. No matter what you put them through. The soft leather lining is breathable and moisture-wicking. It helps keep your feet dry and allows air to circulate. The footbed is also made of leather. It’s unusual to find this in work boots but it’s part of what makes these boots so special. 

Once broken in, the leather footbed moulds perfectly to your feet. It’s one of the most supportive and comfortable insoles we’ve ever experienced. It helps prevent foot pain and fatigue, even after a long day walking on hard floors. The sole is made by Vibram so you can be sure it’s top quality. We recommend Vibram sole for factory workers. They’re non-slip and resistant to oil. They’re also durable enough to stand the test of time. The mini lugs offer great traction even if you’re walking across a wet floor. 

Cons

These boots take a long time to break-in. Even longer than Dr. Martens. You’ll need to put in the time and effort to get the most out of them. To start with, wearing them for more than a couple of hours at a time can be a painful experience. 

Initially, the leather sole feels very tough. It takes a long time for this to match the contours of your foot. 

These Red Wing boots tend to fit large. You’ll need to size down when ordering. It’s best to try them on in store if you can. Or via Prime Wardrobe before committing to the purchase.

Pros

  • Very comfortable and supportive
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking
  • The leather footbed moulds to the feet
  • Anti-slip and oil-resistant
  • Durable
  • Good traction

Cons

  • Take a lot of time to break in
  • Expensive
  • The lather sole takes time to match the foot
  • Tend to run large

Best Soft-Toe Boots for Factory Work (Women)

100/100

Our Score

Red Wing Heritage Women's

Red Wing Heritage Women's

Why this product?

The tanned leather upper on this shoe features double and triple stitching to prevent wear. The Traction Tred outsole is slip-resistant and offers outstanding durability and comfort.

100/100

Our Score

The best premium boots for women we tested are the Red Wing Heritage leather toe boots. These are made with the same eye for detail as all Red Wing boots. The tanned leather upper is double stitched – triple stitched in places that receive the most wear. It’s water and stain-resistant too. This makes these a great option if you are working in a messy factory. 

With an interior lining made of a leather and textile mix, these boots are cool and breathable. They have a moc toe design. This offers more wiggle room around your toes than an average work boot. The breathability and freedom of movement help prevent rubbing and blisters. 

The Traction Tred outsole is slip-resistant. It also offers outstanding durability and comfort. It’s flexible and has excellent shock-absorbing properties. The tread pattern offers good grip levels even on hard, slippery surfaces. The insole is leather lined. It takes a while to break in but once there, is one of the most comfortable insoles we’ve reviewed in women’s boots. It perfectly hugs the contours of your feet and creates a stable base for each step.

Cons

As with all Red Wings boots, these take a long time to break-in. It might be months before you get the most from these boots. They also have no reinforced toe so may not be suitable for many factories.

Pros

  • Water and stain-resistant
  • Breathable
  • Slip-resistant
  • Prevents rubbing

Cons

  • Take a while to break in
  • No reinforced toe

Best Shoes for Factory Work (Men)

97/100

Our Score

Skechers Men's Flex Advantage Bendon

Skechers Men's Flex Advantage Bendon

Why this product?

Lightweight, breathable, and comfy sneakers that deliver good traction and support if you’re on your feet all day. They’re water and stain-resistant and allow your feet to move naturally preventing injury.

97/100

Our Score

If you need a comfortable non-slip sneaker rather than a safety shoe, the Skechers Flex Advantage were the best we tested for men. They’re lightweight, comfortable and have an excellent non-slip outsole. The mesh upper is water and stain-resistant. It’s breathable, allowing air to circulate and ensuring you don’t overheat when on your feet all day. 

The non-slip outsole delivers reliable traction, even on wet or oily surfaces. It’s covered in flex grooves. These allow your feet to bend in their natural manner, preventing injury and allowing your foot strength to increase over time. A nice change as most shoes we test actually prevent your feet from getting stronger. 

The memory foam insole protects you from the impact of walking on hard concrete floors all day. It’s also removable and is easy to replace when it wears out. The midsole is well cushioned and compresses a lot when you’re walking.

These sneakers are the perfect choice if you don’t need the protective features of the other shoes we’ve discussed.

Cons

The sizing of these shoes can be a little inconsistent. Use Prime Wardrobe or try them on in store before making your purchase.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Water and stain-resistant
  • Breathable
  • Good traction, even on wet surfaces
  • Prevent injury but allow the feet to get stronger
  • Removable memory foam insole
  • Comfortable and well-cushioned

Cons

  • Confusing sizing – try them on before buying
  • Lack protective features

Best Shoes for Factory Work (Women)

97/100

Our Score

Skechers Women's Ghenter Srelt

Skechers Women's Ghenter Srelt

Why this product?

This comfy non-slip work sneaker is quick and easy to put on and helps your feet handle walking on hard floors all day. They’re breathable, roomy, and water-resistant.

97/100

Our Score

This work sneaker has a water-resistant mesh upper. It makes the Ghenter Srelts lightweight and breathable. Ideal if you are rushing around the factory running errands all day. Skechers have forgone traditional laces on these shoes. Instead, they’ve opted for a bungee closure system. This makes them quick and easy to put on or take off. They also include a pull tab on the heel which speeds the process up even more. The bungees grip your feet all day and rarely need tightening. 

A slip-resistant sole makes these shoes great for messy jobs. It’s built to cope with water, oils, fats and other fluids, creating reliable traction for your whole shift. Flex grooves line up along the sole. These allow your foot to move throughout its natural range of motion. This prevents injury and foot fatigue. 

A memory foam footbed provides high end cushioning. It helps protect your feet from the impact of walking on hard floors all day. It’s removable and can be easily replaced should it wear out. These shoes have a relaxed fit. They’re great if you have wide feet but also super comfy if you usually wear standard width shoes. 

If you require a comfortable, non-slip shoe that doesn’t have all the safety features of a safety boot, these Skechers are a solid choice. 

Cons

Although these sneakers are water-resistant, they’re not fully waterproof. If you are likely to spill water or other fluids on your feet, you might want to consider a waterproof shoe.

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Reliable traction, even on wet floors
  • Prevent injury and fatique
  • Removable memory foam
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Lack safety features

Buying Guide

1. Toe Protection

Heavy objects and powerful machinery can be a real threat to factory workers. To keep you safe, your factory may require that you wear hard toe shoes. Even if they don’t, you might decide you want a pair for extra peace of mind.

When buying hard-toe shoes, you’ll need to decide which material toe cap is best for you and your job role.

  • Steel

The original hard toe shoes used steel toe caps. Even today, it’s the most popular choice of toe protection. It’s strong, resistant to cutting as well as crushing and relatively cheap. 

The most obvious downside of steel toe caps is their weight. They’re by far the heaviest option available. They weigh almost twice as much as the lighter alternatives. 

Steel is a strong conductor of heat and electricity. Steel toe cap boots are not recommended for people working with electricity or in cold environments.

  • Alloy

Alloy toe caps are lighter than steel. They offer the same level of protection but the metal used is thinner. This makes it easier to move around the factory and means you have more room for your toes. 

The alloy is generally made of lightweight metals such as aluminium or titanium. They protect your toes against crushing just as well as steel. However, they do not offer quite the same level of protection against cutting or grinding. 

Much like steel, alloy toe caps conduct heat and electricity. They’ll also set off metal detectors in the same way. The biggest downside of alloy toe caps is their price. They are significantly more expensive than steel. This is why alloy toy boots aren’t as common as steel toe work boots.

  • Composite

Composite toe caps are made using materials like kevlar, fibreglass or carbon fibre. They’re lighter than steel and do not conduct heat or electricity. This makes them a good choice for electricians or if you are working in a cold environment. 

To offer the same level of protection, composite toe caps tend to be thicker than steel. Although they are easier to walk in, they’re more conspicuous. 

Composite toe caps don’t offer as much protection against cutting or grinding as steel. They’re not as effective if you are working with heavy machinery or cutting tools. They’re a good choice for a warehouse shoe with toe protection.

  • Soft toe

Some types of factory work require no toe protection. If this is your situation, no need for a safety toe boot or shoe. Just get a soft toe model instead. The workers we spoke to recommend a relaxed-fit moc toe boot. This will give you wiggle room and keep your feet energized through long days of standing and walking.

2. A Tall, Non-slip Outsole

Factory floors tend to be hard and smooth. Throw in the potential for grease, oil and other liquids to spill, and they can get very slippery. This can lead to foot injury, falling with heavy objects in hand, etc.

Footwear with a non-slip sole will keep you upright in this environment. Thick, non-slip rubber soles are best because they last longer. A deep tread is also good; it tends to last longer. It will also protect by separating your feet from anything that could hurt or burn them.

3. Ankle Support and Foot Protection

Factory floors can get slippery. Factory objects – moving machinery, hot liquids, chemicals – can fall down. A high boot that protects your ankle from injury and damage is best for most factories. It’ll fix the ankle joint in place and protect you from moving parts, falling objects and spilled liquids.

One notable exception is warehouse work. If you’re in a warehouse, you’re a lot less likely to walk on slippery floors. You may also work with sealed boxes instead of moving parts and liquids. If this is your situation, a low-cut boot or shoe could be better. They tend to weigh less and can have better arch support.

4. Cushioning

Most factories have hard concrete floors. Walking or standing at work all day can have negative effects on your body. Especially on your feet, knees, hips and back. To protect yourself from repetitive impact injury, you’ll want well-cushioned shoes. 

Inside the shoe, a memory foam insole is preferable. This will mould to your foot over time and offer support as well as cushioning. Plantar fasciitis and heel pain are common in factory work, so look for extra cushioning around the heel.

Outside the shoe, a rubber outsole and midsole are best. They have natural cushioning and shock absorption. Most manufacturers’ synthetics can’t compete with them. If you can find a boot that uses EVA, though, get that. EVA foam, especially for the midsole, offers an excellent blend of cushioning and support.

5. A Heat Resistant Upper

Cheap materials or construction methods may cause your shoes to fall apart as soon as the temperature rises. Likewise, certain synthetic materials will melt or become disfigured if they get too hot. 

Leather is much better at handling heat than many synthetic materials. It won’t melt but will insulate your feet – keeping you safe and more comfortable for longer.

6. A Waterproof Upper

When working around liquids, you’ll want to ensure your shoes are waterproof. Walking around with wet feet all day is not only unpleasant, it’s unhygienic and can cause blisters. 

Treated leather or mesh will provide a high level of water resistance to your work shoes. But you’ll also want to look out for shoes with waterproof membranes. These will often mean your shoes remain completely waterproof.

7. Foot Support

The degree of foot support you need will vary greatly. If your work mostly involves sitting, you may not need much. If you’re walking or standing for long hours or all day, you’ll need a high degree of support.

If you have collapsed arches or experience regular foot fatigue, check out our article on best insoles for standing all day. Replacing your shoes’ original orthotics with a gel or memory foam insole could offer short and long-term relief.

8. Electrical Hazard Protection

If you’re going to be around live currents often, you’ll need electrical hazard protection in your shoe or boot. This usually means a rubber sole and an alloy or composite toe.

Conclusion

Our top picks for factory shoes are the KEEN Utility Seattle boots for women. And the KEEN San Jose boots for men. Both these safety boots offer toe protection, non-slip properties and are electrical hazard safe. 

Both contain proprietary technology that helps protect you against instant hazards as well as long term injuries. Best of all they’re comfortable enough to wear all day at the factory. 

To get your hands on a pair of our favourite boots today, visit….

Writer:

Tim Ashdown

Last Updated:

May 4, 2022

Tim Ashdown

Tim is an avid hiker, self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie and lover of all things outdoors. He spends long hours researching the best equipment for every adventure. 

“Whether it’s hiking through Europe, white water rafting in the Amazon basin or lazing on a beach in Southeast Asia, having the right gear can make or break a trip. Time spent researching is time well spent!” 

Although Tim’s a big proponent of barefoot shoes, he won’t be pigeon-holed. His current shoe collection includes Supra skate shoes, Merrell walking boots, Vivobarefoot hiking shoes and of course, the obligatory classic Vans.