In the market for a new pair of work boots, but don’t want to compromise your ethical beliefs in the name of your safety?
There are still plenty of options for the vegan worker out there, you just need to know what you’re looking for!
We’ve picked out five of the best options available to you right now, as well as presenting a handy Buyer’s Guide that clarifies everything you need to know about picking out the right pair of boots for you.
Any last minute queries can be directed to our Frequently Asked Questions section, the result of copious internet research to provide answers to the most common asks from fellow vegans looking for suitable work footwear.
Need New Boots Now? Here’s Our Top Pick:
OUR TOP PICK
Made from 100% synthetic materials from toe to sole, this powerful pair of boots from Timberland were created for professionals by a manufacturer you can trust, which is why they’re our top pick of the whole bunch.
Thanks to a durable upper with ghillie-style lacing and an alloy safety toe, shaped on TiTAN last, they offer the ultimate barrier for your feet to provide protection and a superior fit, with a wide range of sizes that customers advise are a true fit.
Using a mesh lining with antimicrobial treatment, you’ll also find these boots provide not just a comfortable wear all day, but are also odor-free and sweat absorbing, to avoid any unpleasant side effects a hard day’s work can generate.
A conductive polyurethane midsole is an excellent safety feature, providing consistent static-dissipative performance to give the wearer peace of mind even in the most electrical of working environments.
- Protective AND athletic - a lightweight performance that lasts
- Thick tread pattern for non-slip wear
- Sturdy and stylish with the markings of a quality manufacturer
- Secure ghillie-style lacing that stays tight all day
- May require some breaking in
An asymmetrical left and right safety toe produced from uniquely anatomically correct aluminum, steel and composite offers both protection and maximum comfort when you opt for these Logandale work boots from Keen Utility.
Their patented metatomical footbed design curates an internal support mechanism that has been anatomically engineered, ensuring it provides excellent arch support by cradling the natural contours of your foot for a perfect fit.
Meeting all ASTM testing standards, the KEEN.Web-Tech offers exceptional resistance to abrasion in common chafe areas, as well as still managing to offer plenty of breathability to prevent excess sweating.
Not only this, Keen.Dry technology, AKA a proprietary breathable membrane that still manages to remain waterproof, is lined with hydrophobic and hydrophilic 2 zone layers for even more comfort on the go.
- American built in Portland, Oregon
- Minimal waste design with the finest materials gathered worldwide
- Medium duty - suitable for construction, energy, landscaping etc
- Consciously constructed beyond industry standards
- Pricier than other options we’ve suggested
A stylish pair of lace up combat boots, they might not be suitable for heavy-duty work, but these explicitly vegan shoes from beloved brand Dr. Martens will certainly stand up to the rough and tumble treatment.
The iconic Doc Martens air-cushioned AirWair sole offers more than enough support to your feet, even when you’ve been stood on them all day, as well as offering good abrasion and slip resistance for those messy outdoor jobs.
Not only are they both oil and far resistant, they are flexible and sturdy enough to rival a leather shoe without using animal byproducts, whilst also boasting a significantly reduced break-in period to your typical pair of Docs.
As they’re 100% synthetic, dirt wipes away quickly with a damp cloth; they can be shined back up to their former glory using a clear, wax based shoe polish as desired, if your boss prefers a shiny boot!
- Classic, recognizable boots you know you can trust
- Wipe clean, comfy and resistant to most materials
- Pliable and tough enough to mimic leather
- Stated and certified as vegan footwear
No steel toe cap
The longest boots on our list, closer to wellingtons than work shoes but absolutely tough enough to do the job, these rubber Rancher work boots from Bogs are perfect for outdoor workers looking to stay toasty, dry and safe.
No matter where you are or what work you’re doing, the steel reinforcement will keep your toes safe from harm, and an antifungal, odor resistant lining promotes cleanliness whilst keeping things stink and sweat free.
As they’re also made from 30% neoprene, you’ll notice they’re nice and flexible, whilst the 70% of rubber is super sturdy; designed to keep you comfortable in even sub-zero temperatures, you’ll regret not buying them sooner!
Ideal for working out on the oil rigs, many customers report they are superior and offer better traction and comfier insoles than rival boot producers. Not only will you bust them out on rainier days, but they might just become your go-to shoe!
- Great arch and ankle support despite being a slide-on boot
- Huge range of sizes to support smaller and larger than average feet
- Insulated, warm and waterproof, with odor and sweat protection
- Less well known but able to compete with the bigger brands
- Available in whole sizes only - tends to run small
Another well-known manufacturer popular amongst workers worldwide, these Carhartt boots are 100% synthetic with FastDry technology; they may be promoted as hiking boots but they offer far more shielding and support than your average pair.
Created from 120,000 3D foot scans, the onsite engineered, advanced footbed delivers an unmatched form and comfort, whilst the synthetic Ax Suede top cover offers 30% more grip to minimize fatigue and chances of slipping.
Two separate foam layers offer rebound and compression that keep your feet comfortable even after prolonged wear, as well as wicking away excess moisture to ensure you stay cool and dry all day.
Offering secondary protection against electrical circuits of 18,000 volts or less (in dry conditions), they also meet ASTM regulations 2413-11 EH, which offers peace of mind that the protection they promise is legitimate.
- Water-resistant, fast drying and moisture wicking
- Designed after scanning thousands of feet for a perfect fit
- Multiple layers of foam for comfort and safety
- Electrical protection (only when dry)
- Only available in sizes eight and up
Best Vegan Work Boots Buying Guide
Vegan Boots: A Quick Definition
Whilst most work boots are typically made from 100% leather or suede, these materials are obviously animal byproducts, which mean they aren’t suitable footwear for those following the vegan lifestyle. No, they aren’t made of vegans.
You’ll find leather replicas are produced using polyurethane or PU, a common plastic material that is fused to cotton backing; in lieu of a leather sole, they will likely utilize resin and recyclable cardboard for their inners, as is standard in the industry.
Some of the boots we’ve listed are ‘accidentally’ vegan, which means they weren’t produced to bea free of animal byproducts, but don’t utilize any in their manufacturing process and are therefore vegan-friendly as a result.
Others will boast the vegan-friendly icon, which is usually a V in a circle or an oval with leaves in, commonly on the label found beneath the tongue of your boot, which usually also says ‘vegan-friendly’ in text, too, making it easier to spot.
Safety Regulations for Protective Footwear
Most typically, your employer will likely follow the ASTM International standards for food protection (F2412-18a and F2313-18 specifically) which outlines the safety guidelines your shoes must adhere to in order to be site-appropriate.
You’ll find these standards include ratings regarding Compression (C), Impact (I), Metatarsal (Mt), Electrical Hazard (EH), Conductive (Cd), Puncture Resistant (PR) and Static Dissipating (SD) amongst other requirements.
Following these regulations is imperative, not only for protecting your precious feet and reducing the risk of injuries, but to improve your productivity and keep you on you moving for longer with less strain, as well as for legal reasons of course.
We’ve picked out a real mix of boots that may or may not meet the guidelines for footwear established by your employer, so be sure to triple-check they are satisfactory before you hit add to cart - don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Other Features to Consider:
Your shoes being vegan might be the most important deciding factor personally, but just because they’re animal friendly, doesn’t mean they’ll be good boots!
You need to think about the other characteristics.
Comfort should be highest on your list - after adhering to those safety guidelines, of course! - because hey, you’re going to be wearing these boots all day every day (we assume), and you’ll find it difficult to work at your best in shoes that don’t feel good.
Fitting properly is also imperative, as whether they’re too big or too small, you’ll experience painful side-effects as well as being more susceptible to falling and potentially unsafe should a heavy object land on your toes!
If you work in poor conditions or things get messy, waterproof boots could be a good idea for you, as this will make maintenance and upkeep much easier and also keep your feet nice and dry whilst you work.
The brand you go for is also worth thinking about: more reputable companies like Doc Martens, Timberlands, Carhartt, Caterpillar and Harley Davidson, to name a few, are your best bet, as they are tried and tested amongst tradespeople worldwide.
A non-conductive boot is going to be necessary to eliminate any possibility of electrocution, so if you’re working as an electrician, this is likely to be higher up on your needs if you don’t fancy a humongous shock out of the blue!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best work boots for bad knees?
If your knees aren’t what they used to be, you’re going to want a pair of work boots that offer even more support than usual, working to minimize any existing issues and prevent further strain where possible.
You want your boots to be plenty flexible near your toes, allowing for a natural movement without compression, and proper pronation (the rolling of the foot as we walk, which can occur inwardly or outwardly, causing your knees to do the same).
Likewise, enough arch support is going to help you avoid aches and pains at the end of the day, without the boots being so firm and stiff that pressure is placed on your knees because of restricted movement.
If your boots are too high or too low, they can also apply too much pressure to the front or the back of your knee respectively, so ensuring you opt for the perfect fit is even more important than you first thought!
Furthermore, proper traction from a well-made sole is also imperative, as slipping and sliding around on uneven surfaces adds unnecessary pressure to the joints in your knees when your body naturally rights itself.
Should work boots be tight or loose?
Shockingly, you’ll find the best fit for a workbook is somewhere in between tight and loose, leaving your feet room to breathe whilst securely staying laced up without compressing your delicate bones, which ranges from inconvenient to dangerous.
You want to avoid loose boots as this will make your footing uneven and insecure, the exact opposite of what you need when working on a building site! You also don’t want to trip because your boots are so tight it hurts, though!
Make sure you always try on your boots with the appropriate socks, because these will obviously add some bulk to your feet and alter the fit, and sacrificing your socks is a one way ticket to rubbing, blisters, sweat and a whole myriad of other problems.
Can steel toe boots cause foot problems?
No, steel-toe boots will not naturally cause issues themselves. However, an poorly-fitting shoe that features a steel-toe cap can cause injuries, deformities and long-term pain as a result, which is why that correlation occurs.
Too small, and your poor tootsies will be cramped up and bent against the steel, which is of course very uncomfortable but can also cut off circulation and increase your risk of injury if you trip or something heavy lands on your foot.
Additionally, because steel-toe boots aren’t traditionally very flexible, they can also cause problems by chafing and rubbing at your Achilles tendon amongst other fragile skin spots, which is unpleasant and can result in infection if untreated.