I put my hands on all of these men’s lightweight steel toe shoes and my conclusion is this: the Caterpillar Woodward shoes are the lightest in weight (1.09 pounds per shoe) and feel just like typical low-top athletic shoes when I wear them. Remember, these athletic-style shoes are best for light-duty work. If you need a lightweight steel toe work shoe with extra abrasion resistance for more rugged work, I’d recommend the Keen Atlanta shoes on the list below.
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The list below ranks these lightweight steel toe work shoes based on weight, starting with the lightest (weight listed below is based off one size 12 regular shoe):
- Caterpillar Men’s Woodward Steel Toe Work Shoe | Weight 1.09 pounds | (click here to view)
- Reebok Work Men’s Zprint Steel Toe Shoe | Weight 1.15 pounds | (click here to view)
- Fila Memory Reckoning Work Steel Toe Running Shoe | Weight 1.21 pounds | (click here to view)
- Reebok Men’s Sublite Steel Safety Toe Athletic Work Shoe | Weight 1.25 pounds | (click here to view)
- Reebok Work All Terrain Work Low Cut Steel Toe Shoe | Weight 1.29 pounds | (click here to view)
- Skechers Work Cankton Athletic Steel Toe Work Sneaker | Weight 1.30 pounds | (click here to view)
- New Balance Men’s Steel Toe 627 V2 Industrial Shoe | Weight 1.50 pounds | (click here to view)
- KEEN Utility Men’s Atlanta Cool 2 Steel Toe Work Shoe | Weight 1.50 pounds | (click here to view)
- Caterpillar Men’s Brode Steel Toe Work Sneaker | Weight 1.53 pounds | (click here to view)
- KEEN Utility Men’s Lansing Low Steel Toe Work Shoe | Weight 1.55 pounds | (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Caterpillar Woodward Steel Toe Low Top Work Shoe (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Fila Memory Reckoning Slip Resistant Steel Toe Athletic Shoe (click here to view)
Yes, all of these are low-top lightweight steel toe shoes and weigh much less than most work boots, but as you can see above, there is a wide range of weights. Most low-top work shoes are meant for light-duty work, but some of the heavier shoes are built to handle a bit more, and may be acceptable for certain types of outdoor work.
The outdoor shoes are going to be sturdier, with more complex outsoles, and they often have extra abrasion support. This means you can expect an outdoor work shoe to have more materials, and to ultimately weigh more than most indoor work shoes. Some shoes, like the Reebok All Terrain shoes, find a nice middle-ground and can make sense both indoor and outdoor.
There are several things to consider when buying a lightweight steel toe work shoe. Do you need toe and heel overlays for extra abrasion resistance? Do you need an outsole built for outdoor terrain? Do you need a gusseted tongue to keep rocks and debris out? How much does weight matter? Does material matter to you?
As I mentioned earlier, out of the 10 lightweight steel toe shoes I tried, the Caterpillar Woodward shoes (#1 on list) weighed the least (my size 12 regular only weighs 1.09 pounds) and they have that effortless flexibility and feel just like normal athletic shoes on my feet. Here is a look at my Caterpillar Woodward shoes:
But again, most low-top athletic work shoes won’t make sense for rugged work. In fact, all low-top shoes are best for light-duty work. If you really want a lightweight low-top shoe, but need extra abrasion resistance, I’d recommend the Keen Atlanta Cool shoes. Keen work shoes have the toe overlay that wraps up and provides extra abrasion resistance and they incorporate leather into the upper:
I have pictures for all of the men’s shoes on this list and can give you a perspective on these shoes you can’t find anywhere else. Let’s take a closer look at these lightweight steel toe shoes so you can find an option that fits your needs. If you need a dress shoe, visit our article about the best steel toe dress shoes.
Disclaimer: Please understand that we reviewed these lightweight steel toe 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 steel toes are the same. Always verify the shoe meets the safety requirements of your job prior to purchase.
Weight Data for These Lightweight Steel Toe Shoes
As I mentioned earlier, I put my hands on all 10 of the men’s lightweight steel toe work shoes on this list 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.
Above are the 10 photos of me weighing these shoes. Please note that the weights are based off of one size 12 men’s shoe. If you want to see all my photos for each lightweight steel toe shoe, click the link in the table below. I also include many of the photos in this article when we discuss my favorite options later.
Here is the weight data for these 10 lightweight steel toe work shoes:
|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|
My Favorite Lightweight Steel Toe Shoes
Caterpillar Men’s Woodward Steel Toe Work Shoes
I have tried 10 different steel toe work shoes, and these Caterpillar Woodward shoes weighed the least. My size 12 men’s shoe weighed just 1.09 pounds per shoe. To put this into perspective, I also recently tried 14 different composite toe shoes, and the average weight for those 14 composite toe shoes was 1.25 pounds per shoe, so these Caterpillar Woodward shoes come in significantly lighter than the average composite toe shoe despite being steel toe shoes.
In fact, if I were to rank the weight of this Caterpillar Woodward steel-toe shoe with the weights of those 14 lightweight composite toe shoes I tried, this shoe would have ranked 6th most lightweight of the entire group. I’m saying all of this to say that these Caterpillar Woodward shoes would even be considered reasonably lightweight if they were compared to composite toe shoes.
To find a steel toe shoe that is this lightweight is really uncommon, and if you prioritize lightweight comfort, these will be your best option (I also like the Reebok Zprint shoes we discuss next). These Caterpillar Woodward shoes feel like lightweight athletic shoes when I wear them, and I want to specifically mention how flexible they are:
These lightweight steel toe work shoes bend and respond like a running shoe you can wear for work. Overall, yes, you can feel a little bit of a weight balance in the front, but it isn’t obnoxious. Again, these are perfect for those of you who just want something that is ultra-lightweight and won’t feel like a brick on your foot (my favorite flexible safety shoes).
This is the current price of these Caterpillar Woodward lightweight steel toe shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shoes are very breathable and have anti-microbial treatment to the liner to help prevent odor.
Regarding the under-foot comfort, I found these shoes to be quite comfortable, but I actually thought the Skechers Cankton shoes, Reebok Zprint shoes, Fila Memory Reckoning shoes, and Reebok Sublite shoes all offered just a bit more underfoot comfort. Why? Well, these Caterpillar Woodward shoes are comfortable, but the other four shoes all use memory-foam insoles, which I think provide the most under-foot cushioning.
Like most low-top athletic work shoes, these Caterpillar Woodward shoes are built for light-duty work. These types of shoes are made with textile uppers cemented or glued to foam midsoles, and therefore aren’t built for heavy-duty work. These Cat Woodward shoes do have a gusseted tongue which helps prevent debris from entering the foot, but overall I would recommend these for indoor use, or outdoor us on a smooth surface like concrete or packed dirt.
But if you are looking for an ultra lightweight steel toe shoe for work, these weigh less than any other shoe that I have tried, and feel just like an athletic shoe on my foot. These shoes will not feel like bricks on your feet and will be a nice option for those of you who spend long days on your feet.
Click here to buy these Caterpillar Woodward lightweight steel toe work shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these Cat Woodward shoes fit true to size.
Skechers Work Cankton Athletic Steel Toe Sneaker
If you are basing your search for a steel toe work sneaker based solely on weight, then I would probably stick with either the Caterpillar Woodward shoes or the Reebok Zprint shoes that we discuss next. But, in my personal opinion, these Skechers Cankton work shoes are the best low-top steel toe shoes on the market today.
These shoes provide the most under-foot comfort I’ve ever felt in any low top work shoe (I’ve tried approximately 30 different shoes for steel, composite, and soft toe). I was absolutely shocked at how comfortable these shoes were.
If you’ve read any of my articles detailing Reebok work shoes, you know that I love them because they are always lightweight and have great comfort under the foot. Well, these Skechers Cankton shoes have even more under-foot comfort than the Reebok work shoes that I have tried.
These are steel toe shoes with memory foam insoles that cushion all parts of the foot. I love all types of memory foam insoles, but these are the best I’ve ever tried. In the video below, I tried to capture just how soft and forgiving these insoles are:
If you are someone who stands on your feet all day and need some relief, these are a great option. Again, out of all the low-top work shoes I’ve ever tried, these are the most comfortable. The memory foam reduces the impact stress both under my toe pad and under my heel.
This is the current price of these Skechers Cankton shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shoes also have a lot of padding around the tongue and collar, which adds comfort but does reduce breathability to some extent.
What is the drawback to a shoe like this? Well, first of all, this shoe is a bit bulkier than other options on this list. Out of the 10 steel toe work shoes that I have tried, this shoe ranked 6/10 in weight (1.30 pounds per size 12 shoe). And this shoe definitely isn’t as breathable as the Reebok and Caterpillar lightweight steel toe work shoes on this list.
But the extra weight can be a good thing for some of you. I’ve found these shoes to be a bit sturdier than some of the other lightweight, athletic-style shoes on this list. Although these shoes are low-top, they don’t feel like flimsy running shoes and they have a wider, more relaxed fit. But they are still very flexible like an athletic shoe:
Overall, this is just a great work shoe, especially for those of you standing on concrete all day long who need some relief. The under-foot comfort for these shoes is not match by any other shoe on this list. Although these shoes are sturdier than running shoes, this is still a work shoe best used on smooth surfaces for light-duty work.
Click here to buy these Skechers Cankton shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these Skechers shoes fit true to size, and have a more relaxed, wider fit than some of the other shoes on this list, so if you have wide feet, these might be your best option.
Reebok Work Men’s Zprint Lightweight Steel Toe Shoes
Finally I get to talk about some Reebok shoes. No, Nike steel toe shoes do not currently exist, but if you have ready any of my material on low-top work shoes, you will know that I am a huge fan of Reebok work shoes, and consider the Reebok Sublite Shoes to be the best composite toe work shoes on the market today.
Although I think the Skechers Cankton shoes are the best steel toe work shoes on the market today, these Reebok Zprint shoes were a close second, and I think there are some situations where these shoes make more sense.
First of all, these shoes are lighter in weight than the Skechers Cankton shoes. These Reebok Zprint shoes were the second lightest in weight out of all the steel toe shoes that I tried (they weigh 1.15 pounds per shoe for a men’s size 12 regular).
What also jumps out about these shoes is the breathability. If you are working in a hot climate and need something that won’t trap heat, I think these are your best option. In the picture below, I tried to capture just how breathable these shoes are. When I hold them up to the light, you can see through these shoes:
And not only are these very lightweight and breathable, I thought these shoes had the second best under-foot comfort out of all the shoes I tried (second behind the Skechers Cankton shoes from above). They have a flexible design with foam midsoles that do a great job at absorbing shock.
What I really like is the memory foam insoles (Reebok calls this insole “MemoryTech Massage”) that have groove pods which help relieve stress off the bottom of my foot. In the video below, I tried to capture just how soft these Reebok MemoryTech Massage insoles are:
This is the current price of these Reebok Zprint lightweight steel toe shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Overall, these shoes have the comfort and flexibility you’d think of in a running shoe.
If you are looking for a lightweight, ultra-breathable shoe that has great under-foot comfort, these are your best option. I think only the Skechers Cankton shoe had more under-foot comfort, and only the Caterpillar Woodward shoe weighed less, and these Reebok Zprint shoes are more breathable than the Skechers Cankton and more comfortable than the Caterpillar Woodward in my opinion.
What is the drawback here? Like most types of lightweight steel toe work shoes, these are not built to take a beating. Yes, these shoes have a toe overlay for abrasion resistance, but the lightweight, flexible design won’t be a good fit for rugged work, and overall I felt like the Skechers Cankton shoes were better reinforced.
These shoes are for those of you who are working on smooth surfaces in hot environments and need something ultra-breathable and lightweight. They have a flexible design that will remind you of an athletic shoe.
Click here to buy these Reebok Zprint lightweight steel toe shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these Reebok shoes fit true to size, but do have a narrow fit common of athletic shoes. If you have wide feet, I’d recommend ordering wide sizing.
KEEN Utility Men’s Atlanta Cool 2 Steel Toe Work Shoe
Okay, one major drawback to low-top, lightweight steel toe shoes is they aren’t made to take a beating. For those of you who work indoors this isn’t much of an issue. But if you work in an environment where abrasion resistance is important, it’s nice to have a work shoe that is built to take on more of a beating.
That’s the strength of these KEEN Atlanta shoes in comparison to other low-top steel toe shoes. The outsole wraps up and acts as an overlay across the toe for extra bang protection on the front of your shoe. The leather used on the upper also helps add durability to this shoe.
Now, to be clear, this shoe just like all low-top work shoes is best used for light-duty work. But this shoe definitely has more toughness than the running-style shoes on this list. And, of course, because of that this shoe does weigh more. But I found the flexibility to still be very good even with this added durability:
This is the current price of these Keen Atlanta work shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). This shoe is good for active work in areas that demand more toughness out of a shoe than simple athletic-style work shoes can offer.
Think of this shoe as a nice compromise between a hiking boot and an athletic shoe. It has a low-top design and breathable mesh panels that increase air flow and help keep weight down. But it also has the extra durability that we discussed, which separate it from other athletic shoes on this list.
This shoe might make sense for someone like a landscaper who does deal with rocks, dirt, and small foliage and is concerned that some of the other lightweight shoes on this list might be too flimsy. But if you are working indoors on a factory floor, I’d probably stick with either the Caterpillar Woodward, Skechers Cankton, or Reebok Zprint shoes we discussed earlier, which provide more lightweight comfort than these shoes.
One unique design detail about these Keen Atlanta shoes is the laces are not normal tie-down laces. These shoes have pull-tight laces that make it quicker to get your shoes on and off. Just be sure this doesn’t add a safety hazard when mixed with your working conditions.
Overall, this is a nice option if you are looking for a lightweight steel toe work shoe that still has some durability and toughness. Again, no, these still can’t take on heavy-duty work like a leather work boot can, but these shoes will hold up better than other low top work shoes.
Click here to buy these Keen Atlanta 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 shoes.
Other Lightweight Steel Toe Shoes to Consider
- Fila Memory Reckoning Work Steel Toe Running Shoe – I was actually shocked at how much I liked these Fila shoes in relation to their price point. The memory foam insoles on these shoes are very comfortable, and this shoe had the 3rd lightest weight out of all the shoes I tried (1.21 pounds per shoe). Overall, this is a very nice option and has a flexible, athletic design that won’t weigh you down. Best for indoor jobs or outdoor light-duty work. Click here to view these Fila Memory Reckoning work shoes at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Reebok Work All Terrain Work Low Cut Steel Toe Shoe – As I’ve said throughout, I’m a big fan of Reebok athletic-style work shoes. They all have lightweight, comfortable designs. What I really like about this shoe is it’s a type of work shoe that you can use both indoors and outdoors. No, it can’t take on heavy-duty work like a work boot can, but the outsole is designed almost like a trail shoe which makes it better equipped for outdoor work than other athletic-style work shoes. Click here to view these Reebok All Terrain work shoes at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Caterpillar Men’s Brode Steel Toe Work Sneaker – If you prefer more of a low-top sneaker casual steel toe shoe, these will be a nice option for you. Overall, I found the build of these shoes to be a bit more durable in comparison to some of the athletic work shoes on this list, and that is reflected in the weight. These shoes weigh 1.53 pounds per shoe. These shoes have a nice, casual design that transitions easily off the clock. Click here to view these Caterpillar Brode lightweight steel toe shoes at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- *Women’s* Caterpillar Woodward Steel Toe Low Top Work Shoe – If you are shopping for women’s lightweight steel toe shoes, these Caterpillar Woodward shoes will be a nice option. These shoes have a lightweight, flexible design that is typical of a running shoe, and have slip-resistant outsoles to give you dependable traction on the job. Click here to view these Caterpillar Woodward women’s lightweight steel toe work shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
5 Things to Consider When Buying Lightweight Steel Toe Work Shoes
For many jobs, it is important that your lightweight steel toe 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 (but not all) of the options on this list have abrasion resistance on both the toe and heel.
For example, here’s what the toe overlay looks like on my Reebok Zprint steel toe shoes:
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 many of the indoor work shoes on this list have a gusseted tongue.
Attached Lace Eyelets
Some lightweight steel toe shoes will attach lace eyelets so they don’t have to punch holes in the shoe. Fewer holes means a less chance that water or debris can slip through. If you are worried about debris, you might want to make sure the shoes you choose have attached eyelets.
For example, the Keen Lansing shoes on our list have attached eyelets:
One issue with wearing low-top, lightweight steel toe work shoes is these shoes are built with flat outsoles that don’t have a raised, square heel. Although flat outsoles can be more comfortable, for some jobs the raised heel can provide extra slip resistance, and can be very important for those of you who climb ladders all day.
If you work in construction and climb ladders and need that raised heel, it might be best to stick with a work boot that has the type of squared-heel that you need.
Yes, lightweight steel toe work 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 reduce weight, but they won’t hold up long term like leather will.
On these types of shoes the upper 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 lightweight steel toe work shoes, and just make sure they make sense for your job. If you work in a rugged environment, these types of textile shoes are not always a great option. Lightweight steel toe shoes are best used for light-duty work.