Difference Between Composite and Steel Toe

Workplace safety is an important factor and, there are many measures used to implement it efficiently. Workplace boots are often the last resort when it comes to workplace safety after various other important methods. It is often used to prevent foot injury possibly caused by something falling onto it, rolling through it, or scenarios in which the blades of any equipment lead to a foot injury.

Composite vs Steel Toe

The main difference between composite and steel toe work boots is the material of the toe cap of the boots. In a composite toe work boot, the toe cap is made up of non-metal materials like plastics, fiber-glass, plastics, etc. The toe cap of a steel toe work boot is made from steel. Both provide the same level of protection from hazards.

Composite Vs Steel Toe

Composite-toed safety shoes are relatively new and were manufactured much later than their predecessor, the steel toes safety shoes. They are much almost 30% or sometimes even more light than their traditional counterparts. It is made up of different non-metals, which offer greater strength and resistance when molded together to form another compound.

Steel-toed safety shoes were invented a long time ago and were the top choice for work boots until the invention of composite toe boots. It got its name because the toe cap of the shoes is made from steel to prevent the foot from getting injured. It weighs around 1.2 to 2 kg.

Comparison Table Between Composite Toe and Steel Toe

Parameters of ComparisonComposite ToeSteel Toe
ComfortComposite-toed safety shoes tend to be more comfortable to wear because of their lighter weight.Steel-toed shoes are less comfortable than its counterpart because it is comparatively higher.
Weather-friendlyComposite ted shoes are the best work shoes for the cold as it provides better insulation.Therefore, it offers no insulation as it is made from metal, hence is not ideal for cold weather.
PriceComposite-toed shoes are expensive compared to steel toes.Steel-toed shoes are less expensive compared to composite toes.
AppearanceComposite toed shoes are bulky because it provides more room in the toe box.Steel toes shoes are less bulky but, it provides less toe box room.
Electric ResistanceSince it is made up of non-metals, it offers great electrical resistance.Since it is made from metal, it provides poor electrical resistance.
Metal-friendlyComposite toes shoes are made up of non-metals. Hence, it doesn’t set off metal detectors. Steel toes shoes are made from metal. Hence, it sets off metal detectors.

What is Composite Toe?

Composite tie shoes were invented because the traditional steel-toed shoes had their faults. Steel toe work boots were heavier and had less room in the toe box. Composite toe boots are more than 30% lighter than their steel counterpart, making them a clear winner when it comes to the category of the comfort of the wearer.

The toe cap was made of non-metals like plastics, carbon fiber, fiberglass, etc. It made the shoe lighter and made them security-friendly as the shoes don’t set off metal detectors. However, some composite-toed shoes set off metal detectors due to the steel shank present in some shoes.

Since it has non-metal components, it offers poor electric and thermal conductivity. These factors make it perfect for handling electric equipment due to its high electric resistance and makes it comfortable to wear in the cold weather due to the proper insulation offered by the shoes.

It looks bulkier than steel toe safety shoes because of a roomy toes box. Although it is more expensive than steel-toed shoes, it is vastly gaining popularity because of the many other benefits it offers.

What is Steel Toe?

Steel toe shoes were the popular choice for workplace safety boots before their more comfortable and beneficial counterpart, the composite toe shoes, took the market by storm. Steel toes shoes consist of a toecap which is made from steel, as the name suggests. These toe caps act as a protective reinforcement to prevent any injury to the foot.

The only area where steel toe boots are ahead of composite boots is that it provides great puncture protection compared to composite toe shoes. Puncture protection of safety shoes is its ability to protect the feet from sharp objects that can puncture them. However, composite shoes have a lot more to offer than the traditional steel toes boots and hence, are more expensive.

Steel toe shoes are generally not preferred in workplaces with metal detectors such as airports or nuclear work environments, as the steel toe cap sets it off. It provides poor electric and thermal resistance since its toe cap is manufactured in metal. Since it is heaviest, it may cause fatigue to the joints of feet and legs.

Main Differences Between Composite and Steel Toe

  1. Composite-toed safety shoes tend to be more comfortable to wear because of their lighter weight than steel toe shoes. Steel-toed shoes are less comfortable.
  2. Composite ted shoes are the best work shoes for the cold as it provides better insulation than steel toe boots.
  3. Composite-toed shoes are expensive compared to steel toes.
  4. Composite toe shoes are bulkier when compared to steel toe shoes because it has more room in the toe box than its steel counterpart.
  5. Composite toes shoes offer great electrical resistance since it is made up of non-metals. Steel toe boots offer poor electric resistance since it is made from steel, a metal.
  6. Composite toes shoes are made up of non-metals. Hence, it doesn’t set off metal detectors. However, steel toes shoes are made from metal and set off metal detectors.


It is safe to assume that composite toe safety shoes are better than their steel counterpart. It has incorporated most of the things desired in a workplace safety boot. But they are more expensive, and some prefer steel-toe work boots precisely because of this. The protection offered by both of them is more or less the same. So one can buy the boots according to their workplace environments.

Always buy your workplace footwear after assessing the environment and the type of work the employee has to do. Always make sure to check that the footwear you select aligns with the standards of safety measures prescribed. There are certain safety footwear codes to follow when it comes to safety in the workplace. Make sure you select footwear according to that.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169814197000747
  2. https://search.proquest.com/openview/da033ffc7f8e3d044fc8dc8d898eb4f7/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=47267
  3. https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/informit.281786442964211
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