Regardless of the evolution of technology, and the existence of highly intricate equipment, construction sites, farmlands, police operations — still require the contribution of well-built men to complete most of the heavy-duty tasks.
However, for that to happen smoothly, protective equipment is necessary to shield our bones and flesh which can be easily broken or damaged in an accident. If you work in construction or do welding jobs, you know one mistake, in some cases, can lead to a serious injury.
As a result, having the right equipment for your specific work environments is truly important.
Unfortunately, a lot of the heavy-duty equipment (especially gloves and boots), tend to be made from leather, so if you want to find vegan work boots or shoes, you have to dig deep in order to find them, especially the ones that are high-quality.
Within this blog post, we have included a selection of vegan work boots to better protect your feet, and also to provide you with a certain level of comfort, while also taking into account different work environments and their respective hazards.
The 6 Best Vegan Work Boots
Bogs Vegan Rancher Forge Steel Boots
These Rancher Forge Steel boots by Bogs are a remarkably rugged pair featuring a very sturdy construction and a safety-rated steel toe.
They are built from hand-lasted natural rubber that’s laid over a four-way stretch bootie made from flexible seven-millimeter Neo-Tech insulation.
This technology is designed to offer you a pair of warm boots that can tackle muddiest work conditions while keeping your feet cozy and dry.
On top of that, the rubbery fabric is very soft, providing you with enough stretchiness and comfort to move around freely.
Taking a look inside, you got a completely removable insole that provides you with underfoot cushioning, comfort, support, and antimicrobial odor protection that keeps your feet from getting drenched in sweat and developing infections.
In addition, you have a sticky and durable chemical slip-resistant non-marking rubber outsole that meets the slip and chemical resistance standards.
The boots are available through sizes 7 and 18 and they weigh roughly 6 pounds per pair.
Dr. Martens Vegan Black Combat Boots
While these aren’t your typical work boots, they are an excellent choice if you’re looking for highly protective, and long-lasting boots that keep things simple.
They are made from 100% synthetic materials and have a really sleek appearance, while also being suitable for both men and women.
Now, although they look like simple boots, their multi-layered Goodyear Welt construction sets them apart from most boots.
This type of construction is what shoots up the price of the boots. Goodyear Welt constructions are known for their sturdiness and overall quality, given that the construction follows a more complex, and comprehensive approach. It also allows you to replace the outsole in case of damage, which is something that is either impossible or expensive with other constructions.
At the same time, what you will find is that this construction isn’t as flexible, so you may notice an early stiffness during the wear-in process. However, when you move past this point, you’re left with a pair of steel-toed boots that are long-lasting, strong, comfortable, and may very well outlive you.
According to the majority of users, the boots do not take long to break in— becoming very comfortable past that point. In addition, the soles are not only air-cushioned, but they also boast of excellent traction, providing you with slip-resistance against oil and fat.
Rock Fall Vegan Safety Boots
Unlike the previous contestants, the Rockfall Safety Boots are low-cut boots.
They’re made from 100% synthetic and non-metallic materials, making them an optimal option for heavy-duty workers in environments with magnetic and electric hazards.
The toe cap is made from fiberglass and covered with an injection-molded scuff cap for added protection and durability.
Furthermore, the structure of the materials is lighter so it provides you with more mobility than steel-toed boots which are generally heavier.
On top of that, the uppers are crafted using Sympatex Climate Control Technology that provides you with optimal foot temperature, the highest levels of breathability, and a decent level of water-resistance. Though, keep in mind, they’re not waterproof.
The composite midsole is flexible and penetration resistant, which is a useful feature to have if you’re constantly banging, scraping and dropping things on top of your boots.
On the downside, although the boots come with a cushioned EVA insole, some of the reviews suggest that the insole doesn’t offer good padding.
These boots are available from size 7 through 14, but you don’t have any width or half-sizes.
Carhartt Vegan Steel Toe Boots
Carhart is a brand known for creating durable workwear— which is exactly what they’ve done with these vegan steel toe boots. These boots are available in sizes 8 through 15, and you can find a few half-sizes, as well as two types of widths: medium and wide.
Unlike the Doc Martens boots, these are built with a cement construction, which is usually a type of construction that results in a more flexible and comfortable sole.
However, when it gets damaged beyond repair, you cannot replace it with a different sole because the upper and sole only have a layer of glue between them.
For the upper, we have a non-stitched nylon mesh and synthetic fabric combined with a FastDry lining that keeps the feet dry by wicking the moisture away. Inside the boots, there is a cushioned polyurethane footbed with arch support and an anti-slip top layer that keeps your feet stable and comfortable with each stride.
These boots also meet the electrical hazard standards and can resist contact with circuits up to 18,000 volts. On top of that, they are heat and abrasion-resistant and have a slip-resistant outsole that keeps you on your feet no matter what.
Fugu Sa-Me Japanese Vegan Mid-Calf Boots
Do you want a pair of mobile, yet highly durable boots? The Fugu Sa-me are japaned-styled work boots made from breathable canvas and recycled rubber.
They’re best described as Converse All-Stars with steel toes, which is exactly how they look like according to some of the users.
They’re extremely comfortable, and their toe box is wider than general steel-toed boots. Therefore, you have a lot of wiggle room, which you can counter by using thicker socks.
The Fugu Sa-me boots also come with velcro straps that can be easily adjusted, making it super easy to slip-in or off the boots. And if you want to take it even further, you can pull down the ankle sleeves, and wear the boots in a low-cut fashion.
This is especially useful if you (1) want more freedom to move, and (2) want more airflow in situations of excessive heat. These are not your typical work boots, but according to many of the reviews, they are a rather pleasant surprise when it comes to getting through an entire day of work.
How To Choose Vegan Work Boots
For most outdoor and labor-intensive jobs, the importance of being fully protected cannot be underestimated. What you will find is that most men and women working in high-risk environments are likely to have different pairs of boots for different occasions, with features that enhance their protection depending on the type of project they are working on.
Quite frankly, there isn’t one pair or one brand of boots that suits all. In fact, that’s actually true for many disciplines, whether you’re riding a bike or you’re climbing boulders. If you truly value your safety, you should keep in mind that when selecting boots, you must consider what type of environment or situation you will be dealing with.
Work boots should be equipped to deal with different hurdles in work scenarios, these potential hazards may be: electric hazards, slippery floors, heavy objects, sharp objects, uneven terrain, and sometimes even extreme temperatures.
Here are some of the things you should consider before buying work boots:
More Importantly: Vegan Leather
Regular leather is obtained from the hide of animals. Needless to say, if you’re vegan, that’s a type of material you don’t want to be using because it’s as cruel as slaughtering animals for meat.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to regular leather, and they’re becoming more and more common across different industries.
One of the most utilized alternatives when it comes to working equipment is PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which although are vegan alternatives, they’re not necessarily the most sustainable. Other alternatives include rubber, microfiber, nylon, and waxed canvas.
Also, there are some companies that rely on recycled materials (such as recycled PU and PVC) and re-use them to create brand-new boots. This is always better than buying non-recycled PU boots because you’re not contributing to the creation of a material that takes decades to degrade.
Types Of Safety Toes In Work Boots
According to the EN ISO 20345:2004 standard for safety footwear, toe protection should be able to withstand 200 joules of impact, and it should also be able to carry 2000lbs of resting mass.
In the work environment, the toes are one of the most protruding parts of your body, and you’re likely to bump against or trip on objects or let heavy items fall on them.
As a result, most work boots have sturdy toe boxes, but we also must recognize the difference between the different materials used to construct the toes.
Steel toes boast of the most compact and heavy properties, being considered the traditional choice for any heavy-duty worker looking for protective toe caps. If you want your toes to be truly protected, steel toes can go above and beyond the call of duty.
On top of being extremely durable, they can bend under pressure without falling apart. At the same time, steel toes conduct temperature more easily than other safety alternatives, so they may not be the best choice for environments with extreme temperatures.
On top of that, they’re also metallic and magnetic, so keep that in mind if you work in an environment where those characteristics may interfere with your job.
Composites toes are typically made from plastic, carbon fiber or Kevlar, and they also comply with ANSI/ASTM safety requirements. While they’re essentially the same as steel toes, they are lighter.
What’s great about composite toes is that they do not conduct heat or cold to the user, so they can be used in scenarios of extreme temperature. They are also ideal in environments where steel toes are not suitable because they’re very conducive.
For example, in environments with electric hazards, composite toes are very useful.
Alloy toe caps offer the same level of protection as steel toes. However, they weigh half as much, so they’re a great alternative for people that want protection and nimbleness all in one.
These toe caps are used in situations where you require more mobility but also need the same level of protection of steel toes. Alloy toes also bend under pressure without breaking.
Protective shoes are certainly essential in most cases. But you cannot deny that protective shoes can take away from your mobility and comfort, especially in low-risk environments.
For instance, if you’re shoveling sawdust, or you’re clearing an area from liquids, then you don’t require tough toe caps. Instead, you should be looking for slip-resistant boots.
Sole and Heel
Toe protection is important, but it becomes useless if your soles and heels are unprotected. As such, there are features that are extremely important to ensure your feet are shielded sides:
Sharp objects such as glass, debris, and nails are typically present in every construction environment. As a result, having work boots that incorporate steel, aluminum or Kevlar midsoles that provide you with a high level of protection against sharp objects is paramount.
In most cases, you want boots that have a resistance of up to 1100N of penetration force.
No matter the environment you’re in, you don’t want to slip or fall. That’s why you should always ensure your boots have excellent traction and a sole that is slip-resistant.
This is even more important for construction workers that work on scaffolds, where slipping can mean death. And it’s also important for people working in wet areas such as slipper warehouses or garages where oil slicks are rather common.
Learning about the different methods used to construct boots can help you choose a pair that is durable, protective and grippier. The technique used to create the boot can sometimes determine the overall quality of the boot, or even highlight an outstanding feature the boot has.
As the technology evolves, you’re bound to see brands innovating construction methods. As a result, it becomes increasingly common to find a blend of durability and comfort in footwear, whereas, in the past, you would have to sacrifice one for the other.
These are the three most common type of constructions:
Often referred to as direct attach, the cement construction typically involves sticking the upper part to the sole using a special type of cement. This results in a construction that is flexible and lightweight boots that are highly comfortable.
This is also the cheapest, fastest and most common method of attaching the sole of a shoe. In hindsight, it affects the durability of the connection between upper and sole, also making it impossible to do any resoling in the future.
Once the upper begins to separate from the sole or the sole itself becomes damaged, you have to replace the shoes, as they cannot be repaired.
Because this construction is simple, it’s also less expensive than a construction that is as complex and labor-intensive as the Goodyear Welt construction.
A single stitch attaches everything together, and unlike the cement construction, this one allows for resoling when the outsole wears off or gets damaged. But while it can be resoled, it requires a specific blake machine, making it more expensive than resoling with a Goodyear Welt.
Having fewer layers than a Goodyear Welt makes it more flexible, but at the same time, it allows water to wick up through the sole and begin to pool more quickly and easily.
This is the oldest, most labor-intensive and most durable of the three methods of construction. It can be done by hand or using a machine, and it involves several steps.
First, the insole is prepared for stitching. This is done by creating a perpendicular gap that runs across the sole— some shoemakers create that gap by cutting and sculpting the insole, while others use a supplementary linen tape.
The second thing shoemakers do is to last the shoe. They do this by stretching the outsole over the last and attaching it along with the insole. Welting is the final part of the process and it involves sewing the thread through the welt, upper and insole rib. Using a separate lockstitch, the outsole is attached to the welt, preventing the shoe from breaking down at any particular point.
Because of the additional materials and the more labor-intensive process, boots or shoes with this construction are more expensive. On top of that, the extra layers make it less flexible.
Naturally, if you’re wearing work boots all day, you want something that fits just right and provides you with the right amount of comfort to get through the day.
Too tight a fit and you may develop blisters, corns, and even ingrown toenails. However, if your feet are rather loose, then there’s a higher probability you may sprain your ankle or even develop heel injuries. In addition, having your foot rub against the insole is rather uncomfortable.
That’s why you should always try the footwear before actually parting with your money.
Even though heavier boots are fairly more durable, they can become a problem if your job involves walking long distances or moving about all day. Heavier boots, in theory, tend to be built for protection, so they completely shield your feet from any potential outside danger.
This also means they may be less breathable, so if you have to spend an entire day inside heavy boots, it can become rather uncomfortable. If you can, go for lighter boots, but make sure they’re appropriate for the environment you’ll be working in.
Waterproof & Insulation
Does your job involve working in the rainy season where mud, gravel or even snow can affect the way you work? If so, working in damp and wet conditions means you may get your feet soaked, which consequently may lead to pruning, dryness, itchiness and even blisters that may cause you some level of discomfort and pain because they need to be removed.
In this case, you want boots made from materials that have waterproof properties that not only prevent water from coming in but are also insulated enough to the point where they can keep your feet warm in the coldest of conditions.
On the other hand, if you work in a rather hot environment, then perhaps you want to look for work boots that are more breathable. In hotter environments, having airflow is important to avoid excessive sweating which can lead to bad odor and even infections.
However, keep in mind that shoes or boots that are breathable are usually not waterproof, so steer clear of wet floors if you want to avoid having soaked feet.
As vegans, we don’t need to compromise on features and the overall quality of the work boots in order to wear something that is more ethical and in line with our principles.
Whether you want boots that are 100% waterproof and keep your feet warm in cold temperatures or boots that are puncture-proof and can hold well in extreme heat, I’m sure you can find a fitting pair among the five boots we’ve mentioned.
Anyway, we hope you found this guide useful and let us know if you found the right boots for the type of work you’re intending to do. Feel free to leave us a comment as we would love to hear your opinion! Also, don’t forget to share!
*We’ll continually update this blog post with more options so keep an eye out. 🙂
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through these links. See my full disclosure here.