Composite Toe vs Steel Toe: Which One is Best for Your Safety?

comp toe vs steel toe boots and safety shoes

comp toe vs steel toe

When it comes to choosing safety shoes, one of the most important decisions you'll need to make is whether to go for composite toe or steel toe. Both offer excellent protection for your feet, but there are a few key differences you need to consider before making your choice.

You may find yourself asking all sorts of questions when it comes to the different types of safety toes. We hope we did a good job answering those in this article.

Feature Steel Toe Composite Toe
Material Steel Composite material (such as carbon fiber, Kevlar, or fiberglass)
Weight Heavier Lighter
Conductivity Conducts heat and electricity Does not conduct heat or electricity
Metal detection May set off metal detectors Does not set off metal detectors
Impact protection Higher level of impact protection Lower level of impact protection

What are Composite Toe Shoes?

Composite toe shoes are made from a combination of materials, such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, or plastic. They're designed to offer the same level of protection as steel toe shoes, but with a few added benefits.

  • Lighter weight: Composite toe shoes are much lighter than steel toe shoes, which makes them more comfortable to wear for long periods, especially if you're walking or standing for most of the day.
  • Non-metallic: Composite toe shoes are non-metallic, which means they won't set off metal detectors. This makes them ideal for workers who need to go through security checkpoints, such as airport employees or government workers.
  • Northside Work Shoes: At Northside, we aim to provide boots and shoes at inexpensive costs. These include composite toe, steel toe and nano toe shoes. You can view our NWS collection here: Northside Work Safety Shoes

What are Steel Toe Shoes?

Steel toe shoes, as the name suggests, have a steel toe cap that protects your feet from heavy objects or falling debris. They're the most traditional type of safety shoe and have been around for decades.

  • Superior impact and compression protection: Steel toe shoes offer superior protection against impact and compression. They're ideal for workers who are exposed to heavy machinery or tools, such as construction workers or factory employees.
  • Typically less expensive: Steel toe shoes are typically less expensive than composite toe shoes. This is because steel is a less expensive material than the materials used in composite toe shoes.
  • Metallic: Steel toe shoes are metallic, which means they'll set off metal detectors and aren't suitable for workers who need to go through security checkpoints.


Is Composite Toe the Same as Steel Toe?

Steel toe and composite toe boots are both designed to protect the feet from impact and compression injuries. However, there are some key differences between the two types of boots.

Steel toe boots are made with a steel cap in the toe area. Steel is a strong and durable material that can withstand a high level of impact. However, steel toe boots can be heavy and can conduct heat, which can make them uncomfortable to wear in hot weather. Steel toe boots can also set off metal detectors, which can be a problem for workers who need to pass through them regularly.

Composite toe boots are made with a composite material, such as carbon fiber, Kevlar, or fiberglass. Composite materials are lighter than steel and do not conduct heat or electricity. This makes them a good choice for workers who need to wear boots in hot weather or who work around sources of electricity. Composite toe boots are also less likely to set off metal detectors.


Both steel toe and composite toe boots meet the safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Ultimately, the best type of boot for you will depend on your specific work environment and needs. If you need a boot that can withstand an extreme level of impact and you don't mind the weight, then a steel toe boot may be a good choice. If you need a boot that is lightweight, comfortable, still withstands impact and does not conduct heat or electricity, then a composite toe boot may be a better option.

You may ask yourself, is composite toe as good as steel toe? Well, we put together a quick table to shoe you all of the differences to help you make an informed decision. 

composite toe shoes vs steel toe


What is a nano-toe?

Something new that has caught the attention of a lot of people is something introduced as a "nano-toe" which is basically a carbon fiber safety toe. 

They are somewhat new to the market, but extremely durable and still pass every ASTM safety standard. We have just introduced our version of a nano-toe.

Featuring a Goodyear welt, and every other bell and whistle you could think of. 

Check it out here: Akron Nano Toe Work Safety Boot


Which One is Right for You?

Now that you know the key differences between composite toe and steel toe shoes, you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

  • If you're looking for a lighter, more comfortable shoe that won't set off metal detectors, then composite toe shoes are the way to go. They're ideal for workers who are on their feet all day, such as warehouse employees or delivery drivers.
  • However, if you're looking for the ultimate in protection against heavy objects and falling debris, then steel toe shoes are the way to go. They're ideal for workers who are exposed to heavy machinery or tools, such as construction workers or factory employees.

Other factors to consider:

  • Warranty: Many manufacturers offer a warranty on their safety shoes. This warranty typically covers defects in materials and workmanship. It is important to read the warranty carefully before purchasing a pair of safety shoes. Grabbing a pair like Northside Work Safety ensures a 90-day trial.
  • Durability: While steel toe shoes are better for extreme impact, both composite and steel toe are very durable and will protect your feet meeting ASTM safety standards.

You can also use our comprehensive guide to help you choose just click here

At Northside, we offer a wide range of safety shoes, including both composite toe and steel toe options. No matter what your needs are, we have the right shoe for you.

composite toe vs steel toe safety shoes

A Few of Our Favorite Composite Boots:

The Garner MidNon slip, full leather composite toe workboot with a puncture resistant outsole

The Axson Mid Also Non-Slip, more rugged, and both feature electrical hazard ASTM certification. Composite toe and puncture resistance. 

The WalcotNon slip, Rubber work boot, great for hunting as well, never cracks. Check out an article with information on it: FLEX-TUFF Rubber Hunting Boots

Choosing the right safety shoe is important for your overall safety and comfort at work. Whether you go for composite toe or steel toe, make sure you choose a shoe that meets all of your needs and provides the necessary protection for your feet.

At Northside, we're committed to providing the highest quality safety shoes for all of our customers. If you have any questions or need help choosing the right shoe, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We're here to help!


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