8 Best Athletic Steel Toe Running Shoes for Work Safety


I recently tried 10 low top steel toe work shoes to evaluate them on weight, comfort, flexibility, and purpose. Many of those shoes were athletic-style steel toe running shoes. My conclusion was this: the Reebok Zprint steel toe shoes offer the most breathability and comfort similar to that of a running shoe. They are great if you are looking for an athletic steel toe shoe for work.

The Caterpillar Woodward shoes are also a great option. They were the lightest in weight. My size 12 men’s Caterpillar Woodward athletic steel toe shoes only weighed 1.09 pounds per shoe (average weight was 1.34 pounds per shoe). These Caterpillar Woodward shoes might be perfect if you hate heavy work shoes.

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

  1. Reebok Work Men’s Zprint Steel Toe Shoe (click here to view)
  2. Caterpillar Men’s Woodward Steel Toe Work Shoe (click here to view)
  3. Reebok Work All Terrain Work Low Cut Steel Toe Shoe (click here to view)
  4. Fila Memory Reckoning Work Steel Toe Running Shoe (click here to view)
  5. Reebok Men’s Sublite Steel Safety Toe Athletic Work Shoe (click here to view)
  6. *Women’s* Reebok Work Women’s Zprint Athletic Steel Toe Shoe (click here to view)
  7. *Women’s* Caterpillar Woodward Steel Toe Low Top Work Shoe (click here to view)
  8. *Women’s* Fila Memory Reckoning Slip Resistant Athletic Steel Toe Shoe (click here to view)

As I said at the top of the page, I actually tried 10 different low-top steel toe shoes. The thing is, not all of them were technically running-style shoes, so I didn’t include all of them in this list (some were heavier duty).

But it is worth mentioning that my favorite steel toe work shoe was actually the Skechers Cankton. Although it is a low-top athletic style, it is bulkier than typical running shoes, so I left it off this list. The thing I love about the Skechers Cankton shoe is the under-foot comfort. It has a thick memory foam insole which is perfect for those of us who spend long days on our feet.

Click here to view the Skechers Cankton shoes available at Amazon if you think they might be a good fit for you (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). If you want to read more about them, visit my article about Skechers Cankton work shoes.

In this article let’s take a closer look at the best steel toe running shoes so you can find an option that fits your needs. Let’s start by discussing the weights I took from these these athletic steel toe shoes so you will have a better idea of how heavy they might be on your feet.

Disclaimer: Please understand that we reviewed these 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 safety shoe meets the safety requirements of your job prior to purchase.

Athletic Steel Toe Shoe Weight Data

As I mentioned earlier, I put my hands on all of these steel 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.

steel-toe-running-shoes

Below this table are the photos of me taking these real weights of these athletic steel toe shoes. Please note that the weights are based off of one size 12 men’s shoe. In the table below, I also linked to all of my photos for these low top steel toe shoes. Here is the weight data:

ShoeWeight (lbs)Photos
Caterpillar Woodward1.09View My Photos
Reebok Zprint1.15View My Photos
Fila Memory Reckoning1.21View My Photos
Reebok Sublite1.25View My Photos
Reebok All Terrain1.29View My Photos
caterpillar-woodward-weight
reebok-zprint-weight
fila-steel-toe-shoe-toe-weight
reebok-steel-sublite-weight
reebok-all-terrain-weight

My Favorite Steel Toe Running Shoes for Work

Reebok Work Men’s Zprint Athletic Steel Toe Shoes

These Reebok Zprint shoes are my favorite steel toe running shoes for work. Out of all the athletic-style running shoes that I tried, I thought these shoes provided the best combination of lightweight comfort and breathability.

This is the current price of these Reebok Zprint athletic 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 (best flexible steel toe 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 might jump out the most about these shoes is the breathability (most breathable steel toe shoes). 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:

reebok-zprint-breathability

And not only are these very lightweight and breathable, I love the under foot comfort of these Reebok Zprint steel toe shoes. They have a flexible design with foam midsoles that do a great job at absorbing shock.

As I have mentioned throughout, I prefer 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:

If you are looking for a lightweight, ultra-breathable shoe that allows your foot to breathe in a hot work environment, then I think these are your best option.

What is the drawback here? Like most types of athletic steel toe 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.

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 running shoe.

Click here to buy these Reebok Zprint steel toe running shoes available at Amazon (paid 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.


Caterpillar Men’s Woodward Athletic Steel Toe Shoes

If you are looking for an ultra-lightweight athletic steel toe shoe, this will be your best option. As I mentioned earlier in the article, out of the 10 different steel toe shoes that I tried, and these Caterpillar Woodward shoes weighed the least. My size 12 men’s shoe weighed just 1.09 pounds per shoe.

This is the current price of these Caterpillar Woodward steel toe running 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.

To put the weight of these shoes 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, despite being steel toe, come in significantly lighter in weight than the average composite 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 comp 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. These Caterpillar Woodward shoes feel like lightweight athletic shoes when I wear them, and I want to specifically mention how flexible they are:

caterpillar-woodward-flexibility

These steel toe running shoes bend and respond like a traditional running shoe. 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.

Regarding the under-foot comfort, I found these shoes to be quite comfortable, but I did think that the Reebok Zprint shoes from above offered more underfoot comfort.

caterpillar-woodward-outsole

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.

The main takeaway is this: 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 standing on the job.

Click here to buy these Caterpillar Woodward athletic steel toe shoes available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these Cat Woodward shoes fit true to size.


Reebok Work All Terrain Athletic Steel Toe Shoe

As I mentioned earlier in the article, one drawback to steel toe running 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.

I think these are the most versatile athletic steel toe shoes on the market today. They have a lightweight, breathable design that makes them great for indoor jobs, but they also have a more advanced outsole that allows them to take on certain outdoor terrains as well.

That outsole is what really differentiates these Reebok All Terrain Shoes compared to the Reebok Zprint breathable steel toe shoes we discussed first. If you are working on gravel, dirt, and mud, and want an athletic-style work shoe that can handle that type of terrain, these shoes will be the better option.

I also love the under-foot comfort in these shoes. They use Reebok’s “MemoryTech” memory foam insoles that provide a soft cushioning under all parts of my foot. If you have read any of my content about work shoes, you know that I love memory foam steel toe work shoes.

I think memory foam provides the most under-foot comfort and provides relief for those of us spending our whole days standing on a hard work surface. In the video below I tried to capture just how soft and forgiving the insoles are on these Reebok All Terrain shoes:

The overall weight of these Reebok All Terrain steel toe running shoes is still reasonably lightweight, but it is fair to point out that these shoes do weigh more than the Reebok Zprint Shoes we discussed first. My size 12 men’s shoes weigh 1.29 pounds per shoe.

These have an ultra-flexible design and truly feel like an athletic shoe when you wear them. They have a light-duty toe overlay for some extra abrasion resistance, and they can handle outdoor terrain, but these shoes are still best used for light-duty work.

Click here to buy these Reebok All Terrain athletic steel toe 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.


Fila Memory Reckoning Work Steel Toe Shoe

I was actually a bit shocked how much I like these Fila athletic steel toe shoes. If I’m honest, I’d say I had very low expectations for these shoes before I tried them in part due to the lower price point that I bought these at, and also because Fila is not a major workwear brand.

But after trying them, I came away thinking that I could definitely see myself wearing these shoes everyday. I think the thing that shocks me the most is the amount of under-foot comfort these Fila steel toe running shoes have.

I was expecting a cheap insole that felt stiff and uncomfortable. These shoes actually use memory foam insoles that are extremely comfortable to wear and provide nice underfoot comfort. In the video below I tried to capture how soft and forgiving the memory foam insoles are for these shoes:

My point for comfort is this: for the price point I bought these at, I am honestly shocked that these Fila athletic steel toe shoes offer as much comfort as they do. Not only do they have the memory foam insoles, but overall this was also one of the most lightweight shoes I tried.

This shoe weighs 1.21 pounds per shoe for a men’s size 12 shoe. It is very flexible, and feels like an athletic shoe on my feet.

fila-steel-toe-shoe-flexibility

Another thing that jumps out about these shoes is the slip-resistant grip. Now, to be fair, I haven’t put these through scientific testing for slip-resistance, but I feel like the grip of these shoes is better than most.

But it’s also fair to remember that the lower price point of this shoe means production costs were likely lower, which may affect the long-term durability. Don’t expect these shoes to take a beating like a pair of premium work boots. Over time, I expect the memory foam insoles will begin to lose their responsiveness, just like many other types of memory foam insoles.

These Fila steel toe shoes do have toe and heel overlays to provide some additional abrasion resistance, but I still recommend using these mainly as indoor shoes, or for light-duty outdoor work on a smooth surface. Factory floor, yes I’d use these shoes. Landscaping on rough terrain, for me, no I would not use these shoes.

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with the total package of this shoe, when you take into account comfort, performance, weight, flexibility, affordability, and comfort.

Click here to buy these Fila steel toe running shoes available at Fila.com (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). To read more about my experience with these shoes, visit my article about Fila Steel Toe Shoes.


Reebok Sublite Athletic Steel Toe Shoes

These Reebok Sublite shoes weighed 1.25 pounds per shoes, which means they weighed less than the average steel toe shoe that I tried. These shoes are made with leather uppers and will offer more abrasion resistance than the shoes that just use textile uppers.

The flexibility of these shoes is very good and they feel like an athletic shoe on my foot. These are best used for indoor work or light duty outdoor work.

These Reebok Sublite shoes use an injected EVA insole which provides shock absorption, but I personally did not like the underfoot comfort of these shoes as much as the Reebok Zprint and Reebok All Terrain because these Reebok Sublit shoes did not use memory foam insoles like the other two Reebok shoes.

But these will be a very nice option if you prefer leather. Not many athletic steel toe shoes are made with leather. This is the current price of these Reebok Sublite steel toe running shoes available at ReebokWork.com (paid affiliate link takes you to ReebokWork.com).


7 Things to Consider About Steel Toe Running Shoes for Work

Industrial Style

Flexibility is a huge selling point for steel toe running shoes (does Nike make steel toe?). These types of athletic steel toe shoes are very responsive, which not only helps improve comfort, it also makes you quicker on your feet.

For example, you can see below just how flexible my Reebok Zprint shoes are:

reebok-zprint-flexibility

But flexibility might not make sense for all jobs. In some industrial workplaces, a sturdier shoe might make more sense. I like the New Balance 627 Steel Toe Industrial Shoes because even though they are industrial shoes, they still have an athletic design.

I didn’t include these New Balance shoes on this list because they don’t have a true running-style design, but you can read more about them by visiting my article about steel toe shoes. These New Balance shoes are sturdier and offer more support, but won’t be as flexible as a steel toe running shoe may be.

As you can see, they have a sturdier design and don’t bend and flex as easily:

new-balance-steel-toe-shoe-flexibility

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 from slipping through the laces down into the shoe.

If you plan to wear your steel toe running shoes outside, this can be an important feature to help protect rocks from sliding down into your work shoe.

Memory Foam Insoles

As I’ve said throughout, I prefer memory foam steel toe 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 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. Buying steel toe running shoes that have insoles that are removable and replaceable might be a good idea so you can replace as needed.

Steel Toe Alternatives

Do you absolutely need a steel toe running shoe? Ultimately, the safety requirements of your job will dictate whether or not they are absolutely necessary. If your job allows you to wear a composite toe shoe, switching from steel toe to composite toe is another way to find extra comfort. Composite toe shoes usually weigh less than steel toe.

If you might be interested in a composite safety toe, you can read more by visiting our article about the best best composite toe shoes for work.

Steel Toe Running Shoe Scuff Guard

As I discussed earlier, one drawback to many types of athletic steel toe shoes is they don’t offer a lot of durability. Most shoes will offer a small amount of toe reinforcement.

For example, here’s what the toe overlay looks like on my Reebok All Terrain shoes:

reebok-all-terrain-toe

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 Lansing shoes:

keen-lansing-low-toe

Raised Heel

One issue with wearing athletic steel toe 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.

Durability of Steel Toe Running Shoes

Yes, steel toe running 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 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 wearing athletic steel toe shoes for work, and just make sure these types of shoes make sense for your job. If you work in a rugged environment, steel toe running shoes are not always a great option. These shoes are almost always best used for light-duty work.

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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