Best Boots For Ironworkers: Choose Footwear That Fits Your Job Requirements

You probably know what the Golden Gate Bridge is. It’s that bridge that gets either blown up, flown under, fought on top of or a vehicle drives off of in every movie it’s ever been featured in. (Saving the documentary, The Bridge of course.) Without ironworkers, there’d be no Golden Gate Bridge.

What then would movie makers blow up to show you that the threat is serious? The Eiffel Tower is likely the second most often destroyed famous landmark in movies. Thank ironworkers for that too. It is because of the ironworkers that we have most buildings and bridges. It is because of ironworkers that modern civilization as we know it even exists.

best boots for ironworkers

What to Look for in a Pair of Ironworker Boots

There are many ways to get hurt on this job and most of those injuries can be prevented by wearing the right kind of boots. Here are the features that will protect you from the most common injuries on the job.

  • Certification: As you will be working in a perilous environment, you must wear boots that are certified by the relevant safety body where you live. CSA is one of the most popular certification bodies.
  • Electric Shock Resistant: Iron conducts electricity so this is vital. Add to this the fact that electrical equipment on this job is becoming more ubiquitous. Look for that omega symbol!
  • Slip Resistant Soles: Bad weather can make many ironworkers just call it a day. (Referred to as being “blown out”.) But some might soldier on if it’s just some leftover puddles from yesterday or the odd gust. You don’t want to take a fall from twenty stories up!
  • Comfort: This almost goes without saying. No one wants to wear uncomfortable boots anywhere for any length of time. This is especially true when you need to concentrate on something difficult and dangerous.
  • Durability: With boots, you generally get what you pay for. In the long run, it’s less expensive to buy quality brand durable boots than to keep replacing cheap boots that are always falling apart at the seams.
  • Raise: No, not the kind you want from your boss! This refers to how tall the boots are. Boots with a high raise cover and protect your feet and a good part of your calf and shin. You can tuck your pants in them for extra protection.

The Reviews:

Looking for a pair of boots that has everything you need for your job can be tough. Fortunately, there are boots out there that fit all the criteria listed above. Let’s compare them and see which one works best for you.

1. Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot

Caterpillar Men's Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot, Dark Brown, 10.5 W US

Caterpillar started out making heavy equipment needed for modern farming and construction industries and branched out into work clothing at first just for marketing purposes. But even here Caterpillar’s integrity and dedication to hard work drove them to create boots they would be proud to put their name on. The brand has since evolved and now creates boots as rugged and hardworking as the people who wear them.

Features and Benefits:

The nylon mesh lining is breathable. The patented Climasphere insole makes for a drier and more odor-resistant environment. The Goodyear® welt construction offers superb durability and flexibility.

The rubber outsole is slip-resistant. The steel toe meets ASTM F2413-11 I/75 C/75, EH standards. The sole insert is removable for convenience. The heavy-duty stitching makes for a solidly built boot.

What We Like:

  • The fit is true to size.
  • The traction is great.
  • The shoes are water-resistant.
  • The boot is warm, yet breathable.
  • The leather is thick yet flexible and does not crack.

What We Don’t:

  • The sole needs to be better connected to the boot.
  • The laces are weak.
  • The toe box is a bit narrow.

2. Irish Setter Men’s 83606 6″ Aluminum Toe Work Boot

Irish Setter Men's 83606 6" Aluminum Toe Work Boot,Brown,13 EE US

Here’s a boot renowned for working hard and looking good while doing it. This particular type was designed to protect your feet from anything the job site could throw at it. Since 1950 Irish Setter has been providing workers and hunters with their trademark russet red leather boots that combine durability and ruggedness with style. This particular model is lightweight yet can get you through a heavy workday.

Features and Benefits:

The Electrical Hazard sole will prevent the wearer from experiencing electrical shock. The soles are heat resistant up to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. The safety toe footwear conforms to ASTM F2413-11, I/75C/75 standards for impact and compression. The waterproof design keeps the feet dry.

What We Like:

  • The contrasting cross stitching makes a solid yet attractive boot.
  • The shock-absorbing cushioning keeps the foot in full comfort.
  • The removable footbed is convenient
  • The contoured vinyl midsole molds itself to the shape of the feet
  • The padded collar with pull up tab is comfortable and convenient.

What We Don’t:

  • The soles tend to crack easily.
  • The boots run on the large side.
  • The tongue does not stay in place.

3. Timberland PRO Men’s 6″ Pit Boss Steel-Toe Work Boot

Timberland PRO Men's Pitboss 6" Steel-Toe Boot, Black , 14 D - Medium

Timberland has gotten a reputation as a brand preferred by certain subcultures that wear work boots for fashion. But the truth is that Timberland is first and foremost a boot for serious workers.

They’re a relative newcomer to the industry, having only been established in 1973 but they have quickly risen to the top as the number one choice of people looking for a durable yet comfortable work boot.

Features and Benefits:

Anti-microbial odor control keeps the boots from smelling bad. The Comfort Suspension technology supports the arch and cushions every step, reducing foot fatigue. The boots conform to ANSI and ASTM F2412-11, ASTM F2413-11 and ASTM F2892-11 safety standards. The boots also come with slip-, oil- and abrasion-resistant outsoles for traction. The padded top collars add to the comfort. The asymmetrical-shaped toe cap keeps toes safe yet comfortable.

What We Like:

  • The boots are very comfortable.
  • The fit is true to size.
  • There are plenty of safety features including a steel toe.
  • The sole is anti-slip.

What We Don’t:

  • They are not waterproof, only water-resistant.
  • The boots are a little on the heavy side.

4. Thorogood Men’s American Heritage 6″ MAXwear Wedge Safety Toe Boot

Thorogood 804-4200 Men's American Heritage 6" Moc Toe, MAXwear Wedge Safety Boot, Tobacco Oil-Tanned - 11 D(M) US

Thorogood is a brand used and trusted by many workers across the United States due to the innovative technology and premium materials that have been selected from only the highest quality providers.

One thing that sets Thorogood above most other work boots does not only look good but also it keeps on looking good. Dirt just doesn’t seem to show easily on these and they are quite rugged.

Features and Benefits:

The outsole is slip-resistant. The soles have EH protection up to 18,000 volts. The footbed provides great shock absorption and is easily removable for convenience. The steel toe protects the foot. The shank is fiberglass for extra support and stability. The memory foam pad makes the boot comfortable.

What We Like:

  • The design is durable and stylish.
  • The leather stretches well.
  • The EVA midsole adds to the comfort.
  • The shoes are lightweight

What We Don’t:

  • There is a bit of a break-in period.

5. Red Wing Men’s Iron Ranger 6″ Boot

Red Wing 8084: Heritage Men's Iron Ranger 6" Vibram Black Harness Boot (10 D(M) US Men)

Ask people in construction what shoes they’d get if money wasn’t an issue and they’ll probably sing the praises of Red Wings. Red Wing Iron Ranger is among the best of boots for outdoor work.

They’re comfortable and long-lasting. These are boots that can be worn anytime, anyplace and in any situation. These boots are comfortable, hardworking and it doesn’t hurt that they look good.

Features and Benefits:

The wing is constructed from fine and thick leather coated with an oil-resistant outer sole. The cork midsole will keep the wearer’s foot comfortable even after hours of wear.

To add extra comfort, the shoes have a double-layered toe that will guard the wearer’s feet from injury. The bump toe gives more room in the front. The durable welted heel prevents the ankle from rolling on uneven surfaces.

What We Like:

  • These boots are made of high-quality leather that is resistant to water, oil, and heat.
  • The boots are EH certified.
  • The sole is attached via the “Goodyear welt” technique.
  • The stitching is both strong and handsome.

What We Don’t:

  • The sole has poor traction.
  • The break-in period can last as long as two months.
  • This boot runs on the large side.

What an Ironworker Does

An ironworker’s job is to erect the metal skeleton of a structure. No other work can be done on this structure until the framework is ready. This structure could be a bridge or an overpass. It could be anything from a skyscraper to a school, hospital, grocery store or just a little house for someone to live in.

This is a highly respected trade devoted to building society’s infrastructure. There is a lot of welding and steel erection involved. The work also consists of structural steelwork, heavy rigging and sometimes even window installation. It’s a great job for people who like a metal shop.

This job is not only important, but it can be perilous. Even if the ironworker is working on a small one-story building, there is still a risk of fatal injury. Many ironworkers celebrate the end of their part on a project by a “topping out” ceremony.

Have you ever passed a construction site and wondered why a certain beam had a Christmas tree on it? They were probably celebrating that the skeleton was nearly finished. Flags and banners are also involved. The final beam may be painted white and autographed by the whole crew to celebrate a job well done.

How to Become an Ironworker

While one of the requirements of the job is good physical strength and stamina, it’s not something just any brute can do! It requires a steady hand, a good sense of balance, an ability to read blueprints a head for numbers and often a head for heights!

There is a method of putting a structure together so that it will stand soundly. The ironworker must know how to work as a team, how to communicate effectively and how to work safely. Problem-solving and visualization skills are a must. Equipment operation is becoming an increasingly needful skill.

This is dangerous work that may be barred for people under eighteen. Most places will require a high school diploma before taking someone on for a three-or-four-year apprenticeship anyway. It is good to prepare for the apprenticeship by excelling in mathematics and shop class.

If the student can get a class on welding and reading blueprints; that would be great but that can all be learned that during the apprenticeship. A fresh apprentice, often known as a “Punkin” will mostly be around for fetch and carry tasks and will learn through observing.

In this program, the apprentice will learn both reinforcing and structural ironworking as well as skills such as measuring, cutting and laying rebar. The use of tools is also learned. Any skill that may be useful including safety and first aid is taught in the apprenticeship. When the apprenticeship is up, this student is now a journey worker who needs less guidance.

The History of Ironworking

In the 1880s, steel had replaced wood and stone as a load-bearing structural material. This created a demand for a whole new type of construction worker. This also meant the development of new tools and the skills to use them. It was a risky job, but there were young men with the pioneering spirit ready to take on the task and become “the cowboys of the skies.”

On February 4, 1896, the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers of America was formed to ensure safe and fair working conditions for the ironworker. The International Union of Ironworkers kicked things off by establishing how to recompense widows and disabled workers. The decision was $50 for the widow to cover expenses and $5 a week for a worker disabled on the job.

The immigration wave in the early 1900s brought with it a lot of eager workers. Capping immigration quotas caused the ironworker job to be in higher demand. The Great Depression caused the average ironworker’s salary to dip by ten percent- relatively low compared to other professions of the time.

At this time, many ironworkers were either recent immigrants or Mohawk Native Americans. After World War II, demand for ironworkers (and their wages) steadily increased over the next few decades, peaking during the Cold War. The Civil Rights Act saw an increase in people of color becoming ironworkers.

Today, ironworking is a job that is becoming more automated, which just means another tool to learn how to use. Job security in this job is volatile, particularly in election years. Still, it is rewarding to look at something large and impressive and to know you had a hand in it.


Ironworkers are the ones who build the cities. Their work is not only dangerous but physically exhausting. A good pair of boots can be a big help in keeping these people both comfortable and safe. Hopefully, these reviews can help you sort out which boot would be best.

Related Posts:

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top