Is Composite Toe as Strong as Steel?

Safety toe tactical boots come with composite, steel, or alloy toe box. They are a requirement (and rightly so) in some professions.

Different toe boots are often compared and contrasted like everything else with an alternative on earth or beyond.

This article will wade into one of the many comparisons in the safety toe boots space. We ask, “Is composite toe as strong as steel?”

No. Steel toe boots are made from steel. They can withstand higher impact than composite toe boots, which are made from kevlar, plastic, and carbon materials. Naturally, steel-toe boots are stronger than composite-toe boots.

Fiber glass
Fiber glass – one of the materials used to make composite caps

Despite being stronger and cheaper, steel-toe boots can’t compare to composite-toe boots.

What makes composite-toe boots more popular? What are the main differences between the two types of safety boots?

Read on to find out more!

What Makes Composite Toe more Popular than Steel?

Though they both offer impact protection (one more effective than the other), people are more inclined to composite toe.

The inclination may have been buoyed by several myths about steel toes. Yes, myths! Some have faded with time, while others still hold strong.

‘Steel toe amputation’ spurred people away from buying steel-toe boots. Despite being proven otherwise, it is clear we love our toes too much to find out the truth for ourselves.

Yes, steel toes can cut off toes. However, the impact needed to achieve that would flatten your toes in any type of toe boot. Much less a steel-toe boot.

~Darren Finlay~

Nonetheless, the features of steel-toe boots are mainly why most of us prefer composite toes. Below is a comparison of steel-toe boots and composite toes with respect to the features that make the latter favorable:

Steel ToeComposite Toe
Heavyweight and bulkyLightweight
Good electrical conduction. An
electrical hazard for electricians
and builders
Poor conduction of electricity
Great thermal Conduction. Feet will
bake in the summer and freeze during
Poor thermal conduction. Feet feel
comfortable in both summer
and winter seasons
A hustle passing through metal detectorsWhat hustle?
Tabular comparison of steel and composite toes!

The above comparisons don’t suggest that a composite toe is better than a steel toe. There is no better toe. You’ll find that steel and composite toes are suited to varying situations and professions.

For instance, in professions that deal with heavy machinery, steel-toe boots are a requirement. They provide better protection against heavy impact.

The protections include; loggers, construction workers, mechanics, heavy machinery operators, etc.

construction workers
Construction workers are likely to use steel caps boots.

On the other hand, composite-toe boots will serve you best in errands that will have you on your feet for extended periods. Such professions include; welders, plumbers, engineers, architects, etc.

The above occupations may necessitate little to no protection from impacts. Hence, the composite toes.

What Advantages do Steel Toes have over Composite Toes?

Yes, we will be fair to steel toes. Our preferences aside, what do steel toes have over composite toes? Stuff that would make one choose them over the other!

Below is a list of benefits of getting yourself steel-toed boots;

  • Better Protection – the most obvious benefit and one we can’t leave out. We use steel toes for maximum protection. You can’t hate something for doing its job.
  • More Durable – it comes with its toughness. Steel toes are tougher and heavier than composite toes. What they lack in lightness, they make for in durability.
  • Affordable – steel toes are very cheap compared to composite or alloy toes. Personally, it is counter-intuitive. How do you get better protection and durability for less money?
Is composite toe as strong as steel?
Boots with steel toe/caps

How Strong is a Composite Toe?

Though Steel toes are clear winners, composite toes hold their own quite well.

Is it strong enough to take a bullet? Well, technically, no. But it’s certainly strong enough to keep your feet safe while you’re out in the field.

how strong is composite toe?
What you thinking? How strong is composite cap?

A composite toe can withstand up to 75 pounds of pressure. A person would have to stand on the toe of the boot with 75 pounds of force before the boots would give way.

There are a couple of factors that affect the strength of a composite toe. The first is the type of composite material used to construct the toe.

The second factor is how much force it takes to break or bend the toe. A boot with a lighter, less robust toe may break or bend more easily, while a stronger and heavier one may not.

The third factor is the thickness of the composite material used in the toe construction. Thicker material means more weight and bulk, increasing its resistance to breaking or bending.

Finally, there’s also how durable and resistant to wear-and-tear a composite toe is made; this depends on how long it takes before any damage starts to show through.

Is composite toe OSHA Approved?

In the United States, every occupation is regulated by federal, state, and local laws. The goals of this complex system are to protect the public from avoidable dangers and to ensure that all employees have a safe working environment.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is the primary regulator for workplace safety standards and regulations in the United States.

Safety and health standards are mandatory goals for protecting employees from hazards in the workplace.

They do not apply to every industry or occupation; they only apply to workplaces where employees are exposed to certain hazards.


Safety footwear must be approved by OSHA and comply with ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials).

Composite-toe boots are approved by OSHA and comply with ASTM F2412-11 & ASTM F2413-11 guidelines.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is carbon toe the same as composite toe?

A. Yes. Carbon fiber is one of the many materials we use to make composite caps. Therefore, carbon toes are essentially composite.

Q. How long does it take to break in composite toe boots?

A. It depends on how you go about it. It can take less than a week or as much as a whole month.

Q. How do you break in composite toe boots?

A. Check out my article for a comprehensive guide on breaking in boots!

Q. Will composite toe boots set off a metal detector?

A. No, composite-toe boots will not set off a metal detector. Composite toes are made of anything but metals.

Q. Can you wear composite-toe boots on a plane?

A. Yes, you can!

Q. Can you wear steel-toe boots on a plane?

A. Yes, that is according to TSA (Transportation Security Administration). Here is more on from the horse’s mouth (well… Link). Steel caps will set off metal detectors. You can take them off while going through.

Q. Is carbon fiber as strong as steel toe?

A. Since carbon caps are composite and non-metal, they are not as strong as steel caps.

Final Thoughts

A composite toe boot is made from synthetic fiber materials. It’s stronger than steel-toe boots but much more expensive to produce.

In contrast, a steel toe boot is made from steel. It’s stronger than composite-toe boots and cheap to produce.

Both are best suited to varying situations or environments. There’s no edge; whatever you go for will depend on your intended activities.

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