8 Best Athletic Composite Toe Running Shoes for Work Safety


I recently tried 14 different low-top composite toe shoes to evaluate them on many things, including weight, comfort, and flexibility. My conclusion was this: the Reebok Sublite athletic composite toe shoes were the lightest in weight, provided the most comfort under the foot, and are my favorite composite toe running shoes to use on the job.

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These are my choices for the best composite toe running shoes for work:

  1. Reebok Sublite Cushion Comp Toe Work Shoes (click here to view)
  2. Danner Men’s Run Time NMT Running Work Shoes (click here to view)
  3. Reebok Astroride Strike Work Composite Toe Shoes (click here to view)
  4. Reebok Fusion Flexweave Athletic Composite Toe Shoe (click here to view)
  5. Caterpillar Men’s Streamline Comp Toe Work Shoe (click here to view)
  6. *Women’s* Reebok Work Sublite Composite Toe Shoes (click here to view)
  7. *Women’s* Danner Run Time NMT Safety Running Shoes (click here to view)
  8. *Women’s* Reebok Work Fusion Flexweave Comp Toe Shoes (click here to view)

As I said at the top of the page, I recently tried 14 different low-top composite toe shoes, but not all of these shoes were running-style shoes, so I did not include them all. If you want to check them out you can by visiting my article about my favorite composite toe work shoes.

The Reebok Sublite shoes (#1 on list) were my favorite running work shoes to wear for indoor jobs based on the lightweight design and great under-foot cushioning. These Reebok Sublite safety running shoes weighed the least out of all the shoes I tried. My size 12 regular only weighed 0.94 pounds.

reebok-sublite-comp-toe-weight

But the underfoot cushioning is what I love most about these Reebok Sublite athletic composite toe shoes. Reebok uses unique memory-foam insoles that are grooved in a way that helps relieve stress off the bottom of my foot:

reebok-sublite-comp-toe-insole

Another shoe I wanted to mention strictly due to its versatility is the Caterpillar Streamline shoe. This shoe incorporates the athletic, flexible design (my favorite flexible safety shoes) that we all want in a work shoe, but added in a a specific detail you don’t see in any other athletic composite toe shoes. This shoe has a low-profile squared heel that can help provide slip protection while climbing a ladder:

caterpillar-streamline-composite-toe-raised-heel
caterpillar-streamline-composite-toe-side

I have pictures for all of the men’s safety running shoes on this list, and can give you a perspective on these safety running shoes you can’t find anywhere else. Let’s take a closer look at these composite toe running shoes so you can find an option that fits your needs on the job.

Disclaimer: Please understand that we reviewed these composite toe running shoes to get an accurate understanding of weight, comfort, and features. We did not test the crush resistance of any of these shoes. Because we do not know your job, we cannot guarantee that these shoes will meet the safety demands of your job. Not all safety toes are the same. Always verify the safety running shoe meets the safety requirements of your job prior to purchase.

Athletic Composite Toe Shoe Weight Data

As I mentioned earlier, I put my hands on all of these men’s composite toe running shoes so that I could take down real weight data and try these shoes myself to get a feel for comfort, durability, and what type of application the shoe made the most sense for.

composite-toe-running-shoes

Below this table are the photos of me taking these real weights of these athletic composite toe shoes. Please note that the weights of these running work shoes are based off of one size 12 men’s shoe. Here is the weight data:

Shoe NameWeight (lbs)Photos
Reebok Sublite Cushion0.94view my photos
Reebok Astroride Strike0.99view my photos
Reebok Fusion Flexweave1.01view my photos
Danner Run Time1.15view my photos
Caterpillar Streamline1.26view my photos

My Favorite Composite Toe Running Shoes

Reebok Sublite Cushion Composite Toe Shoes

I have tried 14 different comp toe work shoes, and these Reebok Sublite Composite Toe Shoes are by far my favorite based on comfort. The memory foam insole they use on these shoes (Reebok calls it “Memory Tech Massage”) provides a level of comfort under the foot that none of the other composite toe shoes I tried could match.

This is the current price of these Reebok Sublite composite toe running shoes available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these safety running shoes:

These athletic composite toe shoes weigh in at 0.94 pounds per shoe for a size 12 M, which made them the lightest out of all the shoes I weighed (lightweight comp toe shoes). You might notice in the photos above that the outsoles have flex grooves to help reduce weight.

The insole is made with memory foam and provides a noticeable cushioning under all parts of the foot, and has small groove pods that relieve stress off the bottom of my foot. The thick foam midsole helps absorb shock and provide comfort. In the video below I tried to capture just how soft the memory foam insoles are:

In my opinion, these are the best indoor shoes, especially if you stand on your feet all day. These shoes do have a gusseted tongue which helps hold out debris, but it is important to understand that like most lightweight work shoes, these shoes aren’t built for heavy-duty rugged work. These shoes have a minimalistic design that prioritizes lightweight comfort.

The main takeaway here is lightweight comfort. This athletic composite toe shoe was the lightest in weight and, in my opinion, it also provides the best underfoot comfort. If you are looking for maximum comfort that won’t weigh your feet down, these are my favorite option.

Click here to buy these Reebok Sublite composite toe running shoes available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Wide sizing is available for these safety running shoes. This shoe is also available in a women’s version – click here to view the women’s version (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).


Danner Men’s Run Time NMT Shoes

Danner is well-known for making both work boots and hiking shoes, so it is no surprise that they offer athletic composite toe running shoes. These are NMT shoes (non-metallic toe) that can also function as trail-running shoes. They have a lightweight design made with textile uppers.

This is the current price of these Danner NMT running work shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience these shoes fit true to size. Wide sizing is available for these safety running shoes.

In my opinion, these Danner Run Time shoes had more of a running-style design than some of the other low-top athletic composite toe shoes that I tried. If you are looking for a traditional running-style design, these are a great option.

danner-nmt-shoes-flexibility

My size 12 men’s shoe weighed 1.15 pounds per shoe, which does make it a bit heavier than the Reebok composite toe running shoes on this list. Like the other shoes on this list, these are best used for indoor work and other types of light-duty work and won’t stand up to rugged work well due to the lightweight design.

Ultimately, the flexibility and design of this shoe just reminds me of a traditional running shoe, and I think this is a great option for those of you who prefer to wear running shoes as your normal, everyday work shoes. This shoe has a nice toe overlay to help protect the front of the shoe from scuffs and scrapes.

Click here to buy these Danner NMT shoes available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience these shoes fit true to size. As we discussed earlier, wide sizing is available for these safety running shoes.


Reebok Astroride Strike Athletic Composite Toe Shoes

Noticing a trend? This is another Reebok composite toe work shoe. Reebok, in my opinion, makes the best athletic running work shoes on the market today. When I tested both composite toe and steel toe, they were consistently at the top of both groups regarding weight and comfort for all of their options.

This Reebok Astroride Strike Work Athletic Composite Toe Shoe is actually a new and improved version of their original Astroride shoe. This shoe is designed, among other things, to offer more breathability than the original. This composite toe running shoe is made using a lightweight, breathable mesh upper with a responsive, flexible foam midsole. It is best used for light-duty work.

Just like the Reebok Sublite composite toe running shoes we discussed earlier in the article, these Reebok Astroride Strike Shoes also use comfortable memory foam insoles. In the video below I tried to capture just how soft these MemoryTech memory foam insoles are:

Out of the 14 low-top composite toe shoes that I tried, these Reebok Astroride shoes were the third lightest in weight (0.99 pounds per size 12 men’s shoe). Overall, I felt like this shoe was very similar to the Reebok Sublite composite toe running shoes from earlier, but those Reebok Sublite shoes had groove pods on the memory foam insoles, which I liked better. Both are great options for safety running shoes.

Click here to buy these Reebok Astroride Strike athletic composite toe shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these safety running shoes fit true to size. Wide sizing is available for these shoes.


Reebok Men’s Fusion Flexweave Composite Toe Work Shoe

When I tried 14 different low-top composite toe shoes to evaluate them on weight, comfort, breathability, and purpose, these Reebok Fusion Flexweave Athletic Composite Toe Shoes were clearly the most breathable. Yes, most types of lightweight, composite toe running shoes have a breathable design, but these shoes were clearly more breathable than the rest.

To give you an idea of how breathable this running work shoe is, when I hold it up to the light you can actually see through the shoe:

reebok-material

This is the current price of these Reebok Fusion Flexweave athletic composite toe shoes available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These safety running shoes have a slip-resistant rubber outsole.

The lightweight textile uppers have a specially designed “Flexweave” that allows the shoe to be both breathable and lightweight, but still have enough toughness to survive as a work shoe. These shoes had noticeably better airflow than all the other low-top composite toe shoes that I tried.

reebok-fusion-flexweave-comp-toe-weight

This is a lightweight shoe, but I was a little bit surprised that it wasn’t the most lightweight running work shoe I tried. Not only does this shoe have that breathable upper, it also has a specially designed foam midsole (called “Floatride”) that is lighter-in-weight than traditional foam. Altogether, I was actually expecting this shoe to measure as the most lightweight, but it did not.

Regardless of the fact that these Reebok Fusion Flexweave shoes weighed a little bit more than a few other options, I felt like these shoes were clearly the most breathable due to that specially-designed, weaved upper that allows air to pass through. And these shoes still feel very lightweight on my feet – they feel just like an athletic shoe. They are very flexible and responsive:

reebok-fusion-flexweave-comp-toe-flexibility

If you are working in a hot environment, and need a breathable composite toe shoe that won’t trap heat around your foot, this Reebok Fusion Flexweave Shoe is my favorite option.

So what is the drawback? I personally thought the underfoot comfort was better in the other two Reebok athletic composite toe shoes we discussed above. Yes, these Reebok Fusion Flexweave shoes are comfortable, but I just like the memory foam insoles in the other Reebok shoes better.

Click here to buy these Reebok Sublite Cushion composite toe running shoes available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these safety running shoes fit true to size. Wide sizing is available for these shoes. This running work shoe is also available in a women’s version – click here to view the women’s version (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).


Caterpillar Men’s Streamline Comp Toe Shoes

I really like these Caterpillar shoes. I have them lower on the list because they might not meet the exact standard you have for a composite toe running shoe because they have a unique outsole design compared to other safety running shoes.

One huge problem with athletic composite toe shoes is most all options don’t have a raised heel. Instead, they go for an athletic design to maximize comfort and minimize weight.

For many jobs, that might be fine, but for those of us who spend all day going up and down a ladder, the raised heel can be an added layer of protection against slipping. That’s why I like these Caterpillar Streamline Shoes. Here’s what the low-profile raised heel looks like:

caterpillar-streamline-composite-toe-raised-heel

Obviously, a raised-heel work boot gives you even more ladder protection, but these shoes offer this low-profile raised heel, which separates them from other athletic composite toe shoes on the market today. Yes, they still have a lightweight design that can be used indoors, but I applaud the versatility of these shoes.

To be clear, this is still a low-profile raised heel – we aren’t talking about an inch heel like you would find on many work boots. So, no, this shoe won’t provide as much slip protection on a ladder that a work boot might, but for some jobs, a squared heel helps, and these Caterpillar Streamline Shoes provide you a raised-heel option that you don’t find in many work shoes.

This is the current price of these Caterpillar athletic composite toe shoes available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these shoes fit true to size. Wide sizing is available for these shoes. To read more, visit my Cat Streamline Review.


6 Things to Consider When Buying Composite Toe Running Shoes

Abrasion Resistance of Safety Running Shoes

For many jobs, it is important to have shoes that have extra abrasion resistance on the toe and heel to not only provide a little extra protection to your foot, but also to help the material of the shoe hold up over time to scrapes and scuffs. Most running work shoes have this abrasion resistance to help reinforce the toe of the shoe.

For example, here is the toe overlay on my Reebok Sublite athletic composite toe shoes:

reebok-sublite-toe

I have mentioned through that these running work shoes are best used for light-duty work. Although these shoes have toe overlays, those overlays will just help will simple scrapes and scuffs. If you are working in a rugged environment, a running shoe won’t last long.

If you hate work boots and want a low-top shoe that can handle a more rugged environment, I’d recommend a KEEN work shoe. For example, I like the KEEN Flint composite toe shoes because they have an extra rubber overlay over the front of the toe for extra scuff protection:

keen-flint-2-comp-shoe-toe

This is the current price of these KEEN Flint composite toe shoes available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). If you want to read more about these shoes, visit my article that discusses KEEN work shoes.

Yes, athletic composite toe shoes may be appealing because they help relieve some stress on your feet during a long day of work, but these types of shoes will lack durability. Textile uppers used on composite toe running shoes help reduce weight, but they won’t hold up long term like leather will.

The upper on these types of shoes is attached to the outsole using a glue or cementing material. This also helps reduce weight, but don’t expect glue to hold up forever. Lightweight foam midsoles also reduce weight, but won’t offer long term comfort like a leather or rubber midsole you’d find in a premium work boot.

I say all of that to just remind you that there are pros and cons to running work shoes, and just make sure they make sense for your job. If you work in a rugged environment, perhaps a comp toe hiker boot might make more sense.

Gusseted Tongue

A gusseted tongue is a tongue that is attached to the shoe not only at the base of the tongue, but also on the side of the tongue. This helps prevent debris and water from slipping through the laces down into the work shoe.

Obviously this is a bit more important for outdoor work, but even most of these composite toe running shoes will use a gusseted tongue to help keep out debris. To learn more, visit my article: What is a Gusseted Tongue?

Other Safety Running Shoes

Obviously, composite toe running shoes are a bit easier to wear than steel toe shoes because steel toe often weighs more. But certain jobs require steel toe. If you are interested in steel toe, visit our article linked below:

Memory Foam Insoles

As I’ve said throughout, I prefer memory foam work shoes. I think memory foam insoles provide the most under-foot comfort. But one thing you do have to consider is these types of insoles will eventually flatten out and lose their responsiveness.

This can be a problem because your safety running shoe may feel very comfortable for the first few months after purchase, then begin to lose that under-foot comfort as the memory foam insole wears out. What can be done about this?

Some insoles are removable and replaceable, so that may be an option depending on what safety running shoe you choose. Also, this is one reason I like the Reebok Sublite athletic composite toe shoes – I feel like their memory foam insoles last longer than other memory foam insoles I have tried in the past.

If you prefer Nike as a brand, and want to read about options, visit our article that discusses Nike composite toe shoes.

Weather

Composite toe running shoes may help relieve stress and make us more responsive on the job, but they won’t make sense for all situation. Weather can play a large role in whether or not safety running shoes make sense for you.

Obviously, if you work inside, running work shoes make sense practically year-round. But outdoor in cold and wet environments, these athletic composite toe shoes don’t always make sense. For hazardous weather, consider our articles linked below:

Raised Heel

I discussed this throughout, but one issue with wearing athletic composite toe shoes for work is many styles are built with flat outsoles that don’t have a raised heel. Although flat outsoles can be more comfortable, for some jobs the raised heel can provide extra slip resistance.

caterpillar-streamline-composite-toe-raised-heel

No, you can’t find safety running shoes that have large, inch-sized heels like work boots, but there are some shoes (like the Caterpillar Streamline shoes on our list) that have a low-profile raised heel that offers some slip protection. If you are looking for a composite toe running shoe to wear for a construction job, this Caterpillar Streamline Shoe might be a nice option.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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