I recently put my hands on 24 of the most popular low-top safety toe work shoes (10 steel toe, 14 composite toe) to evaluate them on several things, including comfort. Wearing comfortable safety shoes on the job can be very important for those of use that spend long days on our feet.
Most of the 24 shoes I tried had a comfortable, athletic design. However, some stood out from the rest. My conclusion was this: The Skechers Cankton shoes were my favorite steel toe shoes and the Reebok Sublite shoes were my favorite composite toe shoes. These two soft sole safety shoes had the most total comfort in large part due to the memory foam insoles.
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*STEEL TOE* These are my choices for the most comfortable steel toe shoes:
- *My Favorite Steel Toe* – Skechers Work Cankton Memory Foam Steel Toe Shoe (click here to view)
- Most Lightweight Steel Toe – Caterpillar Men’s Woodward Steel Toe Work Shoe (click here to view)
- Most Breathable Steel Toe – Reebok Work Men’s Zprint Steel Toe Athletic Shoe (click here to view)
- Best Outdoor Steel Toe – Keen Utility Men’s Atlanta Cool 2 Steel Toe Work Shoe (click here to view)
- Best Women’s Steel Toe – Skechers Work Bisco Memory Foam Steel Toe Shoe (click here to view)
- Best Women’s Lightweight – Caterpillar Woodward Steel Toe Work Shoe (click here to view)
- Best Women’s Outdoor – Keen Flint Low Steel Toe Non Slip Work Shoe (click here to view)
*COMPOSITE TOE* These are my choices for the most comfortable composite toe shoes:
- *My Favorite Comp Toe* – Reebok Men’s Sublite Cushion Comp Toe Work Shoe (click here to view)
- Best Outdoor Comp Toe – Keen Utility Flint 2 Low Top Composite Toe Shoes (click here to view)
- Thickest Memory Foam – Skechers Greetah Composite Soft Sole Safety Shoe (click here to view)
- Best Lightweight Comp Toe – Reebok Sublite Cushion Comp Toe Work Shoe (click here to view)
- Most Breathable Comp Toe – Reebok Fusion Flexweave Athletic Work Shoe (click here to view)
- Best Women’s Comp Toe – Reebok Sublite Cushion Comp Toe Work Shoes (click here to view)
- Women’s Outdoor Comp Toe – Keen Flint 2 Sport Low Comp Toe Shoes (click here to view)
These soft sole safety shoes are mostly made up of lightweight, athletic style work shoes. If you need something a bit more durable, the Keen shoes listed above will be a good option. In the sections below, let’s take a look at the most comfortable safety toe shoes so you can find an option that works for you. Click here to jump ahead and see the full list and photos of the 24 shoes that I tested for this article.
Most Comfortable Safety Shoes [Steel Toe]
Skechers Cankton Steel Toe Shoes
The Skechers Cankton shoes are my choice for best steel toe shoe. These soft sole safety shoes use thick memory foam insoles that provide nice relief and comfort under the foot. Here I am wearing mine:
Out of all the steel toe shoes that I tried, these Skechers Cankton steel toe shoes use the thickest memory foam insoles. In the video below, I tried to capture just how soft and forgiving these insoles are:
Another thing I like about these shoes is although they have an athletic style, they are more durable than many of the other shoes on this list. For example, the toe area has a triple layering of material to keep it from wearing out:
What’s the drawback to these shoes? The bulkiness of these shoes adds weight. Still, don’t expect these shoes to be heavy, but they are heavier than some of the ultra-lightweight shoes we discuss next. My size 12 Skechers Cankton shoes weigh 1.30 pounds per shoe:
If you prefer an ultra-lightweight shoe that still uses memory foam insoles, the Reebok Zprint shoe we discuss next might be a better option. But if you prioritize comfort under the foot, these Skechers Cankton are the best option.
Click here to buy these Skechers Cankton comfortable safety shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). The Skechers Cankton are men’s shoes, but the Skechers Bisco is a similar women’s option that uses the thick memory foam. Click here to view the Skechers Bisco women’s steel toe shoe.
Reebok Zprint Steel Toe Shoes
The Reebok Zprint Steel Toe shoes have a very athletic design and the two things that stand out the most about these shoes are the breathability (they were the most breathable steel toe shoes that I tried) and the soft memory foam insoles. Here I am wearing these shoes:
As I have mentioned earlier, I prefer soft safety shoes that use memory foam insoles. These Reebok Zprint shoes have unique memory foam insoles that also have groove pods that help relieve stress off the bottom of my foot (Reebok calls this insole “MemoryTech Massage”).
In the video below, I tried to capture just how soft these Reebok MemoryTech Massage insoles are:
Although I liked the Skechers Cankton steel toe shoes more and thought they were the most comfortable safety shoes if you need steel toe, these Reebok Zprint shoes were a close second. And there are several reason why you might choose the Reebok Zprint over the Skechers Cankton:
- The Reebok Zprint weighs less
- The Reebok Zprint feels more like a running shoe than the Skechers Cankton
- The Reebok Zprint is much more breathable and flexible
But, if you are searching for the most comfortable safety shoes and prefer a soft sole safety shoe, I think the Skechers Cankton steel toe shoes have a slight edge on these Reebok Zprint shoes because the Skechers Cankton uses a thicker memory foam (but both are very comfortable under my foot).
My Reebok Zprint weighs 1.15 pounds for a size 12 shoe:
These shoes have a very breathable design which makes them great for hot weather. When I hold mine up to the light, I can see light passing through the shoe:
What is the drawback to these shoes? Like most low-top comfortable safety shoes, these shoes are not built for rugged work. Yes, they have a thin toe-overlay to provide some extra durability, but these shoes are built for light-duty work on predictable terrain.
The outsole is very similar to a running shoe, which adds comfort and flexibility, but they won’t make sense for rugged terrain or for workers that climb ladders all day.
Click here to view the current price of these Reebok Zprint shoes available at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these shoes fit true to size.
Caterpillar Woodward Steel Toe Shoes
What makes these Caterpillar Woodward steel toe shoes stand out from other options? These weigh less than all the other steel toe shoes that I tried. They are ultra-lightweight for a steel toe shoe. My size 12 shoe weighs only 1.09 pounds per shoe.
These comfortable safety shoes feel like lightweight running shoes on my foot. However, they don’t have thick memory foam insoles like the Skechers Cankton and Reebok Zprint, so if you are looking for a soft sole safety shoe, those two options may be best. Still, these Caterpillar Woodward shoes are very comfortable to wear.
These shoes are available for both men and women. This is the current price of these Caterpillar Woodward shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these shoes fit true to size.
Reebok All Terrain Steel Toe Shoes
As I mentioned earlier, one drawback to soft safety shoes is most options are built for indoor, flat surfaces. These Reebok All Terrain steel toe shoes are a bit different. They have more complex outsoles that can handle a wider range of terrains (still, they aren’t made for ultra-rugged terrain).
These shoes are very breathable, flexible, and lightweight for a safety shoe. And, yes, these are soft sole safety shoes that use Reebok MemoryTech memory-foam insoles that are very comfortable under my foot.
Click here to buy these Reebok All Terrain steel toe comfortable safety shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these Reebok All Terrain shoes fit true to size. To read more, visit my article about the Reebok All Terrain Steel Toe Work Shoes.
Keen Utility Steel Toe Work Shoes
Most soft safety shoes are not built for outdoor work. These Keen steel toe shoes are better built to handle outdoor work. Because they are more durable, they do weigh a bit more (but still have nice comfort and flexibility).
One thing I like about these shoes is the thick toe overlay which adds extra bang protection to the shoe and helps them last longer. I think these shoes are very comfortable, but not as soft under the foot as the options we have discussed above. But these shoes are very breathable, and much more durable.
The best option for men is the Keen Atlanta Steel Toe and the best option for women is the Keen Flint Steel Toe. Click here to buy these Keen Atlanta work shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
Most Comfortable Safety Shoes [Composite Toe]
Reebok Sublite Composite Toe Shoes
Out of the 14 low-top composite toe shoes that I tried, these Reebok Sublite shoes were my favorite composite toe shoes. These shoes are very lightweight and are also very comfortable to wear. Here I am wearing mine:
Not only do they feel like running shoes on my foot, they also use memory foam insoles that have groove pods which help relieve stress off the bottom of my foot while I work. In the video below I tried to capture just how comfortable the insoles are on these soft sole safety shoes:
These Reebok Sublite shoes weigh in at 0.94 pounds per shoe for a size 12 M, which makes them the lightest in weight out of all the composite toe shoes that I tried. These shoes use microfiber and mesh uppers in combination with foam midsoles to achieve this lightweight design.
They are very flexible just like an athletic shoe. As you can see below, the outsole has flex grooves which helps reduce weight. I think these are the best composite toe shoes if you prioritize flexibility and comfort.
Click here to buy these Reebok Sublite comfortable safety shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these soft safety shoes fit true to size. This shoe is also available in a women’s version – click here to view the women’s version (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
Skechers Greetah Composite Toe Shoes
There is a lot to like about these Skechers Greetah shoes. These shoes have an athletic design, but unlike most other athletic, comfortable safety shoes, these low-top shoes are waterproof composite toe and built for outdoor work.
Yes, these are soft safety shoes that use very thick memory foam insoles. I actually like these insoles slightly better than the Reebok Sublite shoes we discussed above.
Again, these shoes are waterproof and also a bit more durable than other athletic-style work shoes. Here is a look at the material on my shoes:
What is the drawback for these shoes? The Skechers Greetah does weigh quite a bit more than the Reebok Sublite we discussed first. No, I wouldn’t describe these shoes as heavy, but they are bulkier than the Reebok shoes. My size 12 weighs 1.60 pounds (my Reebok Sublite weighs 0.94 pounds):
But the comfort under the foot of these shoes is extremely soft, and the waterproof barrier and the added durability is a bonus. If you are looking for an outdoor composite toe shoe, these are one of you best options.
Click here to buy these Skechers Greetah comfortable safety 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 shoes.
Reebok Fusion Flexweave Composite Toe Shoes
These Reebok Fusion Flexweave shoes were the most breathable composite toe shoes that I tried. To give you an idea of how breathable this shoe is, when I hold mine up to the light I can see light passing through the shoe:
I would have had these higher on my list for composite toe options, but I do not think the insoles in these Reebok Fusion Flexweave shoes are as comfortable as the Reebok Sublite and the Skechers Greetah composite toe shoes we discussed above.
These shoes, however, are ultra-lightweight and if you are working in hot weather and need breathability, these are your best option. Click here to buy these Reebok Fusion Flexweave composite toe shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Wide sizing is available for these soft safety shoes.
Keen Utility Composite Toe Shoes
As I said throughout, most comfortable safety shoes are best used indoors for light-duty work. If you are working on gravel, or more rugged terrain, and looking for a comfortable composite toe shoe, then these Keen Flint 2 shoes will be a nice option.
As I discussed earlier, one thing I like about Keen shoes is the thick toe overlay which adds extra bang protection to the shoe and helps them last longer. I think these shoes are very comfortable, but not as soft under the foot as the options we have discussed above. But these shoes are very breathable, and much more durable.
Click here to buy these Keen Flint 2 composite toe safety shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Wide sizing is available for these shoes. To read more, visit my article about Keen safety shoes.
What to Consider When Buying Comfortable Safety Shoes
Lightweight Comfortable Safety Shoes
As I mentioned earlier, I put my hands on 24 of the most popular soft sole safety shoes so that I could evaluate them on things like comfort and weight. Below is the actual weights of these 24 safety toe work shoes. I also linked to my photos of each shoe.
Steel Toe Shoe Weight Data
|Caterpillar Woodward||1.09||View My Photos|
|Reebok Zprint||1.15||View My Photos|
|Fila Memory Reckoning||1.21||View My Photos|
|Reebok Sublite||1.25||View My Photos|
|Reebok All Terrain||1.29||View My Photos|
|Skechers Cankton||1.30||View My Photos|
|New Balance 627||1.50||View My Photos|
|Keen Atlanta Cool 2||1.50||View My Photos|
|Caterpillar Brode||1.53||View My Photos|
|Keen Lansing Low||1.55||View My Photos|
Composite Toe Shoe Weight Data
|Shoe Name||Weight (lbs)||Photos|
|Reebok Sublite Cushion||0.94||view my photos|
|Rockport Truflex||0.94||view my photos|
|Reebok Astroride Strike||0.99||view my photos|
|Reebok Fusion Flexweave||1.01||view my photos|
|Timberland PRO Drivetrain||1.03||view my photos|
|Danner Run Time||1.15||view my photos|
|Kodiak Ramble||1.25||view my photos|
|Caterpillar Streamline||1.26||view my photos|
|Carhartt Force Nano||1.28||view my photos|
|New Balance 589||1.32||view my photos|
|KEEN Utility Flint 2 Low||1.38||view my photos|
|Skechers Greetah||1.60||view my photos|
|Caterpillar Argon||1.62||view my photos|
|Kodiak Quest Low||1.69||view my photos|
As I’ve said throughout, I think the most comfortable safety shoes use memory foam insoles. These types of soft sole safety shoes are important for those of us spending long days on our feet. 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 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 shoe you choose. Also, this is one reason I like the Skechers shoes – I feel like their memory foam insoles are thicker than the memory foam insoles in other shoes.
Durability of Soft Safety Shoes
For many jobs, it is important that your work shoes 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. Most safety shoes have abrasion resistance on the toe.
For example, here’s what the toe overlay looks like on my Reebok All Terrain shoes:
Yes, that overlay helps protect the toe of the shoe against light-duty scuffs, but obviously it can’t take a beating like a work boot. If you need maximum abrasion resistance, I’d recommend Keen work shoes. They often wrap the outsole up over the toe to provide a thick abrasion guard. For example, here are my Keen shoes:
Yes, comfortable safety shoes may be appealing because they help relieve some stress off your feet during a long day of work, but as I mentioned earlier, expect these types of shoes to lack durability. Textile uppers reduce weight, but they won’t hold up long term like leather.
On these types of athletic work shoes the upper is attached to the outsole using a glue or cementing material. This helps reduce weight and provide flexibility, 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 wearing athletic-style soft sole safety shoes. Make sure these types of shoes make sense for your job. If you work in a rugged environment, these soft safety shoes are not always a great option. These comfortable safety shoes are almost always best used for light-duty work.