Best Ironworker Boots

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ironworking is the 7th most dangerous job there is. Exposing individuals to unique workplace hazards and dangers, working as an ironworker requires special protection and gear to guarantee an injury-free shift. So, whether you’re just starting out on your new ironworking job or if you’ve been navigating those steep steel structures for a while now, an optimal work outfit is something you shouldn’t take for granted.

Probably the most important part of your entire work outfit is your footwear. Giving you the confidence to walk on dangerous steel rigs hundreds of feet above the ground, the right pair of ironworker boots like the Thorogood American Heritage 8” Moc Toe Boot can give you the protection and safety you need in order to leave work scot-free every day.

Based on my knowledge of the many different work boots I’ve encountered, the Thorogood Moc Toe Boot has to be the best one for ironworkers. They’ve got the robust build and superb structure required for those dangerous days at work.

So if you’re wondering whether they deserve to be on your list of work-day essentials, this comprehensive review should tell you why they are.

Thorogood American Heritage 8″ Moc Toe Boot

Let’s admit it – the Thorogood Moc Toe Boot is a pretty good looking shoe. Of course, for ironworkers that might not be a top priority. But with aesthetics like this, it’s hard to overlook the fact that these Thorogood boots don’t disregard appearances.

The full-grain leather upper is stiff and stubborn. So boots’ feel when you first try them on will likely be the way they feel even after years of use. The same goes for the synthetic sole that’s built to withstand even the toughest of work environments.

Along the front of the boot is an extensive lacing system that uses reinforced lace cables. The eyelets turn into lacing hooks towards the top of the shaft. At the top most edge of the boot, the hooks again turn into a single eyelet for added lacing stability.

Aggressive Bite for Superior Confidence

The first and most important feature to look for in an ironworker boot is traction. Remember, working from heights of hundreds of feet above ground requires lots of balance and grip. The slightest slip or misstep could send you crashing down from fatal heights.

That said, the Thorogood boots offer superior traction against slippery steel material. The synthetic soles are designed to bite firmly against such materials, and are engineered to resist oil to prevent slipping.

The soles also feature a unique textured pattern that creates pockets of air between the treads as you step. This was incorporated to prevent your foot from skidding across smooth steel surfaces. Connected to the uppers via industry standard Goodyear welt construction, the sole is guaranteed to stay secure against your boot even after many years of daily use and abuse.

Tight Fit for Superb Ankle Support

Another reason why the Thorogood Moc Toe Boots take the cake as the best ironworker boots is because they fit snugly around the foot. The stubborn leather uppers hug your foot, ankle, and leg closely. This was intended to prevent your ankles from inverting or everting – a common hazard for people who work in the ironworking industry.

Image of the Thorogood 814-4201 Men's American Heritage 8

This also makes it possible for you to know exactly how your foot will fall as you navigate those tall steel structures. Ultimately, the shoe feels more like a tight fitting second skin that gives you greater awareness of the environment surrounding your feet.

For some users, the leather might feel a little stubborn and unmoving, especially with the inclusion of a reinforced composite shank. That is – it won’t bend or fold too readily to your movements. Of course, this might make you feel conscious of your steps, but isn’t that beneficial when you’re high above the ground? Plus, this also helps guarantee that the support and security you get out of your boots won’t change eve after daily use.

Durable Construction for Demanding Work Environments

So yes, the Thorogood Moc Toe Boot is a winner when it comes to fit, form, and traction, but how does it hold up against demanding work environments? After all, no one wants to spend on a pair of boots that might just give up on them a few months after use.

With the Thorogood 8” Moc Toe Boot, that shouldn’t be a problem. The footwear features triple stitching and reinforced adhesives all over the entire surface of the upper. This design helps keep all the different upper components tightly and securely connected for superior hold against wear and tear.

The threads themselves are waxed and treated, so they won’t give in to corrosive materials that you might encounter as you go about your day.

Pros of the Thorogood American Heritage 8” Moc Toe Boot

  • Ultra durable construction features generous three-stitch design that keeps all parts of the shoe securely fastened against each other.
  • Extensive lacing system allows users to tighten the boot to their preference, keeping it snugly in place during hazardous work tasks.
  • Superior traction thanks to the synthetic sole.
  • Super thick leather uppers keep your feet safe from mild trauma and chemical exposure.
  • Superb ankle support, thanks to the leather’s stubborn structure that prevents exaggerated movements of the ankles.

Cons of the Thorogood American Heritage 8” Moc Toe Boot

  • Not as comfortable as it could have been.
  • Doesn’t use a waterproof leather material.

Alternative Work Boots

No doubt, the Thorogood American Heritage 8” Moc Toe Boot is a great pick for most ironworkers. In fact, lots of those who have been in the industry for a while vouch for the quality and protection that the brand’s line of work boots provides.

If you’re not too interested in getting yourself a pair of Thorogood’s though, there are a number of other suitable options that might fit your standards and preferences. Find out more about my bets for 3 runner-ups in this list of the best work boots for ironworkers.

Timberland Pro Pitboss 6” Steel-Toe Boot

If you felt the Thorogood was lacking in the robust department, then the Timberland Pitboss is for you. Its ultra sturdy build makes wearing it feel almost like having an impervious shield wrapped around your foot. The uppers are made from leather, but they feel super reinforced. This gives you the confidence to move around the workplace without worrying about injuries.

In terms of comfort, they’re also really top quality. The plush pads and cushions inside the shoe and around the collar make them extra comfortable for long periods of use. However, the trade off is that with such a reinforced and heavily padded structure, the boot tends to feel a little on the heavy side. So they’re not as easy to move in.

Pros of the Timberland Pro Pitboss 6” Steel-Toe Boot

  • Extra durable build that just breathes and exudes protection for your feet from all angles.
  • Secure lacing system makes sure your foot doesn’t slip out of the boot during use.
  • Comfortable insoles and cushioned collar to prevent blisters and bruises.
  • Steel toe prevents injuries caused by falling objects and trauma.

Cons of the Timberland Pro Pitboss 6” Steel-Toe Boot

  • Weighs a little more than ideal, causing some difficulty with controlling and manuevering your steps.
  • The toe area is a little loose, so your foot may move around inside the boot during use.

Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot

Caterpillar is yet another popular brand in the market of work boots. These carefully engineered boots were designed to keep your feet safe in the workplace. They basically give your feet a sturdy shell that prevents injuries and accidents. Much like the Timberland Pitboss, the Caterpillar Second Shift features a stubborn leather upper that resists movement. The difference is that the Caterpillar is a little more forgiving, and may even break-in after a few months of use.

The outsole is oil resistant and slip-proof so you can walk around the field with confidence. The deeply spaced sole treads are perfect for keeping your feet firmly planted on slippery steel surfaces for utmost safety and accident prevention. Plush padding lines the inside of the boot, and a reinforced lacing system with speed lacing eyelets around the shaft make it easy to wear and securely fastened against the feet.

Pros of the Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot

  • Robust build gives your feet the necessary protection it needs for ironwork.
  • Sole treads are ideal for keeping your feet firmly in place as you navigate dangerous iron works.
  • Leather breaks in after some time so you can enjoy a more comfortable fit.
  • Steel toe insert helps prevent a number of accidents and injuries caused by falling objects.

Cons of the Caterpillar Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot

  • Ventilation is non-existent, so your feet may start to feel a little warm after some time.
  • Lacing system doesn’t tighten as much as some users would prefer as the tongue can prohibit further tightening.

Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger 6” Boot

How could I make it through a review about ironworker boots without mentioning the iconic Red Wing Heritage line? Their best contender for this category of work boots is the Iron Ranger 6” Boot – a heavy duty boot that’s significantly more lightweight than the other mentioned choices.

The Iron Ranger boot is much easier to break-in compared to all the other boots I’ve listed, and features a thinner leather upper for greater comfort and movement accommodation. The boot also features a tightly spaced sole pattern that makes it less likely to slip and skid across slippery steel structures.

Pros of the Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger 6” Boot

  • Light weight and breathable compared to other work boots for ironworkers.
  • More forgiving when it comes to permitting movements of the ankles and feet so you don’t feel too restricted when using them.
  • Gives ample traction in a number of different settings to prevent accidents and injuries.
  • Ages nicely, giving the boot a worn out look that gives it character and personality.

Cons of the Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger 6” Boot

  • Not as resistant to wear and tear
  • May not be able to effectively prevent exaggerated and injurious movements of the ankle.

Georgia Men’s 8″ M Wedge Work Boot

The Georgia Boot Men’s 8 Inch Wedge Work Shoe offers all the benefits of a traditional work boot at an affordable price.  The shoe sports excellent shock absorption and a slip-resistant design so you can be confident in your walk.  We like the Georgia for its stylish look and rich feature set.  The wedge outsole and removable insole make the shoe comfortable and useful.

Pros of the Georgia 8″ Wedge Work Boot

  • Affordable
  • High Quality
  • Slip-resistant
  • Goodyear Welt Construction
  • Steel Shank

Cons of the Georgia 8″ WEdge Work Boot

  • Lesser known brand
  • Not Waterproof

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Boot for Ironworking?

We believe that the slip-resistant and steel toed Thorogood American Heritage 8” Moc Toe Boot work boot is the best option on the market for ironworkers.  The full leather exterior and the synthetic sole improve safety up to minimum acceptable levels for this dangerous occupation.  It is important to consider the durability and quality of your work boots, but with the Thorogood brand, you needn’t worry.  Thorogood has outstanding quality in their boots, and their work boots are known to last for long periods of hard work.  

The safety toe on the Thorogood Heritage is more than sturdy enough to sustain the brunt of many different natural safety hazards an ironworker might find on the job.  

Is the Thorogood Heritage Moc Toe a Good Work Boot?

Thorogood makes excellent work boots that even the most astute boot fanatic can approve of.  The high quality steel toe helps prevent those work accidents that are all too common.  The durable leather increases longevity and looks good to boot.  It’s important on the job to have sure footing and to be able to walk confidently without fear of slipping, the slip-resistance of the Thorogood should accomplish just that.  Thorogood American Heritage 8” Moc Toe Boot is designed for the common worker in mind, if you’re in need of a new boot we can easily recommend this work shoe.  

Are Iron Rangers a good work boot?

The Iron Ranger 6” Boot is a high quality work boot from Red Wing.  The 6 inch design is less bulky than other work boots, which can help if you’re moving often or need to scramble on the job.  The lightweight design also helps in this regard, making it a more dexterous work boot.  The slip-resistant design also helps for those who are constantly on the move and need to maintain sure footing throughout their work. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re asking me, all three of these boots are great picks for people in search of a reliable ironworker boot. But if you’re in search of something that will really protect your feet and last you a lifetime, the Thorogood American Heritage 8” Moc Toe Boot is my personal recommendation.

These boots go above and beyond standards when it comes to keeping you safe at the workplace. And with a job like an ironworker’s, that’s something you shouldn’t compromise.


  1. Psychosocial Risk Factors and Musculoskeletal Symptoms among White and Blue-collar Workers at Private and Public Sectors,