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Updated Oct 20, 2022 11:13 AM

Pull-on work boots offer advantages over their lace-up cousins. In addition to being easier to take on and off, these boots, sometimes called Wellingtons, are ideal for wet work environments. Whereas lace-up boots have a large opening on the front of the boot that water can infiltrate, a pull-on boot has no such opening, making them ideal for stomping through muddy environments. 

Pull-on work boots are also typically made from soft genuine leather, which offers natural durability and weather-resistant qualities while remaining flexible enough to keep your feet comfortable over a long day at work. In keeping with workplace safety requirements, most pull-on work boots have either a composite or steel reinforced toe that provide protection from heavy machinery and other objects that can crush feet. And unlike lace-up boots, whose utilitarian look limits their use to the workplace, many pull-on boots have Western look that makes them stylish enough for a night out. Read on if you’re in the market to find the best pull on work boots for you. 

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Pull On Work Boot

Toe

Work-boot toes come in steel, composite, and soft-toe varieties. If your line of work involves heavy machinery that can potentially crush or even impale toes, you’ll want to go with a steel or composite toe. Of the two, steel offers the most protection. The average steel-toe boot can withstand up to 2,500 pounds of weight. Composites aren’t as strong but still satisfy most workplace requirements for toe protection. Composites don’t conduct cold and heat like steel toes nor will they set off metal detectors. Keep in mind that hard-toe work boots aren’t as comfortable as soft-toe boots, as they typically don’t flex as well as soft toe boots do to the shell that covers the toe box. If your work really doesn’t present potential toe crushing hazards, it might make sense to choose comfort over protection. Check out this guide from Construction Informer to help deicide if you need the added protection of a safety toe.

Comfort

A boot’s comfort is mainly determined by its inner sole. The best pull-on work boots will have cushioning in the footbed in the form of high-density foam or gel, which provides shock absorption that prevents the soles of the feet from getting tired or developing such painful foot problems as plantar fasciitis. High-density foam typically provides better pressure relief and rebound than gel, which does a better job of absorbing impact. The footbed is typically supported by a shank that provides rigidity and stability, especially for wide pull-on work boots. Many work boots also have heel caps that hold the foot in place, preventing the foot from pronating inward or outward, which can affect the hips and knees.

Water Resistance

If you’re working outside, the boot’s ability to resist water is key. Since pull-on work boots lack the tongue opening of a lace-up boot, they do an excellent job protecting feet from wet conditions. While genuine leather is naturally water-resistant, it’s also porous and will succumb to water in very wet conditions. With that in mind, many boot manufacturers design their boots with waterproof liners that surround the inner part of the boot to make them waterproof. The membranes in waterproof pull on work boots are also breathable, allowing water vapor from the foot to escape to prevent sweat from building up inside the boot. Waterproof boots are also equipped with rubber soles that will keep the feet dry even while tromping through muddy and wet environments.

Shaft

The boot-shaft height is measured from the arch to the top of the boot. Most work boots’ shafts are around 11 inches high. The shaft height determines how much coverage and therefore protection the boot provides to your ankle and lower leg. This is crucial in outdoor environments where mud and water may splatter onto your legs. A taller shaft provides better protection but may also inhibit freedom of movement more than a boot with a lower shaft. The size of the boot opening determines how easy or hard the boot is to take on and off.

Boots are the foundation of success at work, but they’re not the only thing you’ll need to get through the day. Check out our roundup of the best pocket knives so you can be prepared no matter what your workplace looks like.

Best Overall: Ariat WorkHog Wellington Waterproof Composite Toe Work Boots

Best Overall

Ariat WorkHog Wellington Waterproof Composite Toe Work Boots ARIAT

Ariat WorkHog Wellington Waterproof Composite Toe Work Boots ARIAT

Why It Made the Cut: With their genuine leather construction and air-cushioned innersole, this set of boots is the best all-around pull-on work boots I could find. 

Key Features 

  • Boot Opening: 12 inches around
  • Sizes: 7-14
  • Waterproof

Pros

  • Built on Ariat’s ATS ATX Max platform 
  • Genuine leather construction
  • Waterproof

 Cons 

  • Expensive

Yes, the Ariat WorkHog work boots are among the most expensive you’ll find, but if you’re serious about getting a high-quality work boot that will keep your feet dry and comfortable all the livelong day, they’re a great choice. Ariat pours a lot of R&D into its boots and they show with the WorkHogs. The innersole incorporates the ATS ATX Max platform, which stabilizes the foot to prevent over pronation that can negatively impact hips and knees. High density foam in the midsole absorbs shock, a must for working on unforgiving concrete floors. With they’re waterproof full-grain leather material and Goodyear Welt construction, they’re an ideal choice for jobs that require you to tromp through muddy conditions. Though, you may be reluctant to drag these boots through the mire given how good they look. A composite toe makes them suitable for work around heavy machinery and objects as well as in work environments that require metal detectors.

Best Waterproof: Dr. Martens Men’s Icon 2295 Steel Toe Heavy Industry Boots

Best Waterproof

Dr. Martens Men’s Icon 2295 Steel Toe Heavy Industry Boots Dr. Martens

Dr. Martens Men’s Icon 2295 Steel Toe Heavy Industry Boots Dr. Martens

Why It Made The Cut: A welted sole coupled with genuine leather construction and an air-cushioned inner sole upper makes these boots ideal for outdoor work.

Key Features 

  • Boot Opening: 15 inches around
  • Sizes: 4-14
  • Waterproof

Pros

  • Waterproof welted sole
  • Genuine leather construction
  • Air cushioned sole

 Cons 

  • Heavy boot. 

Dr. Martens Icon boots check all the boxes for our roundup of best pull on work boots. Doc Martens uses welted construction, which attaches the outer sole to the shoe upper with a thick bead. This gives the boot excellent waterproof qualities while making it easier to resole in the future. This durable construction does add to the weight of the shoe and lengthens the time it takes to break them in. 

Their soft genuine leather construction makes them comfortable over long days on your feet. The inner sole consists of a high-density foam footbed atop an air-cushioned PVC sole that absorbs shock while providing good rebound. Padded ankles add additional support while a steel toe provides necessary crush protection for working in certain environments. Doc Martens aren’t just known for their durability and comfort, but also their style, and the Icons certainly fit the mold. 

Best Steel Toe: Wolverine Men’s Floorhand Steel-Toe Wellington Boot

Best Steel Toe

Why It Made the Cut: Features that include rubber midsole and full-cushioned footbed make these Wellington-style boots one of the more comfortable steel-toe options.

Key Features 

  • Boot Opening: 15 inches around
  • Sizes: 7-14
  • Waterproof

Pros

  • Cushioned footbed models to the feet
  • Moisture wicking mesh lining
  • Rubber midsole and rigid shank provide support and shock absorption
  • Light weight

 Cons 

  • Waterproof liner can fail, allowing water to pass through

While steel-toed boots play a valuable role in protecting your toes from heavy objects and machinery that could crush them, they get a bad rap when it comes to comfort. That steel box takes up valuable room in the toe box, adds weight to the boot, and also conducts cold and heat. But if you have to wear them you could do a lot worse than Wolverine’s Wellingtons. The full cushion footbed molds to the feet for all day comfort and there’s also a moisture wicking mesh lining that helps keep feet dry and cool. A rubber midsole and nylon shank absorb shock while providing rebound that helps prevent leg fatigue on long days of standing or walking. The outsole consists of slip resistant rubber for added safety. 

With a shaft that measures nearly 11 inches from the arch, these boots also provide ample support. Plus they’re surprisingly lightweight for a steel toe boot. The dark brown genuine leather also makes these one of the better-looking work boots you can pull on your feet.

Best for Cold Weather: Carhartt Men’s Waterproof Safety Toe Wellington

Best for Cold Weather

Carhartt Men’s Waterproof Safety Toe Wellington Carhartt

Carhartt Men’s Waterproof Safety Toe Wellington Carhartt

Why It Made the Cut: With aluminum sheeting that reflects body heat back into the boot, these work boots are well equipped for working in winter weather. 

Key Features 

  • Boot Opening: 11 inches around
  • Sizes: 8-15
  • Waterproof

Pros

  • Insulation keeps feet warm in cold weather
  • Lining wicks moisture away to keep feet dry
  • Achilles flex joint for freedom of movement

 Cons 

  • Not suitable for use in warmer weather

A set of boots with a comfortable sole, genuine-leather construction, and waterproof liner might be great, but they aren’t going to keep your feet warm in sub-freezing temperatures. Leave it to Carhartt, which specializes in gear for those who work outdoors in rugged environments, to produce a boot that will keep your feet comfortable, dry, and warm throughout the work day. 

Carhartt’s version of the popular Wellington pull-on work boot comes equipped with the company’s 400 LiteFire technology, which consists of aluminum sheeting lines that reflects body heat back into the boot, keeping your feet warm even in freezing conditions. And, when the weather is warm and your feet start to sweat, the breathable liner allows water vapor to escape, keeping your feet dry.

Since being outdoors in the cold often means trudging through snow and ice, the Wellingtons are also waterproof. Carhartt’s Wellingtons come equipped with a heavier tread that provides better traction in icy conditions. A TPU heel with an achilles flex joint that provides stability for the ankle, a must when working on uneven surfaces, while remaining flexible enough to allow for a natural range of motion. A steel toe provides crush protection.

Best for Women: Ariat Terrain Women’s Western Leather Work Boot

Best for Women

Ariat Terrain Women’s Western Leather Work Boot ARIAT

Ariat Terrain Women’s Western Leather Work Boot ARIAT

Why It Made the Cut: A cowboy boot design married to a hiking boot style outer sole for all day comfort.

Key Features 

  • Boot Opening: 11 inches around
  • Sizes: 5.5-11
  • Waterproof

Pros

  • Western cowboy boot design and stitching
  • Hiking boot like tread for added traction
  • Gel footbed with heel stabilizer in the insole adds stability and comfort

 Cons 

  • Expensive

Ariat has a reputation for being able to make Western style work boots that can perform in the workplace and look good while doing it. Its Terrain Women’s Western work boot is a great example of this dual purpose. The body of the boot consists of a full-grain leather layer and suede upper with a distinct cowboy style design. The tread; however, borrows from hiking boots, equipping them with a Duratred sole that provides ample traction, whether on rocky or smooth surfaces. 

Similar to other Ariat work boots, this model employs ATS technology that combines a cushioned gel footbed with a heel stabilizer to provide shock absorption, rebound and stability. The calf-high shaft is high enough to provide support and protection from muddy conditions while still allowing for enough freedom of movement. And, with its  impermeable waterproof construction, you won’t have a problem slogging around in the mud. Western stitching on the top of the foot and a decorative seam cut between the shaft and foot keep this boot firmly rooted in cowboy style.

How I Made My Picks

A work boot needs to hold up to heavy use all day every day week after week, providing protection while keeping your feet comfortable. Keeping that in mind, I made my selection from boots made by the most reputable manufacturers in the business using the following criteria to create my list:

  • Protection: First and foremost, the work boot needs to protect the wearer’s feet from injury, so I chose mainly boots with steel or composite toes that cover the safety requirements of most workplaces
  • Comfort: Most people who wear work boots are on their feet walking and standing on hard unforgiving surfaces or wet muddy ground all day long. Keeping that in mind, I looked for features that include ample padding with high density foam and shanks and heel caps that will keep the foot well supported. 
  • Materials: I sought boots made with genuine leather, which has excellent durability and natural water-resistant qualities. The boots I chose also have rubber soles, which are more durable and water tight than leather soled-boots. 
  • Value: There are plenty of affordably priced boots on the market, but they lack the comfort and durability of a high quality work boot. While the boots I selected may be on the expensive side, you’ll get more life out of them than you would a budget-priced work boot. 

FAQs

Q: How much do pull on work boots cost?

Work boots vary in price but expect to pay between $100 and $200 for a pair of good pull on work boots.

Q: Should I size down for pull on boots?

Most manufacturers design their pull on work boots to fit true to size while still allowing the wearer to slide them off and on easily. There’s no need to size down or up when purchasing a pair of pull-on boots from a quality manufacturer.

Q: Should pull on work boots fit tight or loose?

Comfortable pull-on work boots should fit more loosely than lace-up work boots. The looser fit provides enough space to get the foot in and out of the boot without having to struggle to get them off. If the boot is too easy to slip on, then it’s probably too large. If you have to ask for help to get them off, they’re too small.

Q: How do you break in new work boots fast?

If the work boots are made of genuine leather, they’ll take a while to break in before you’ll want to wear them all day at work. Begin by wearing them in the house and walking around for about 15 or 20 minutes a couple of times a day. Also, wear them over the weekend for short times. Walking around outside up and down stairs or over different terrain will also help break them in. You can also bend the boot at the midsole with your hands to loosen up the leather, or use leather conditioner to make the boot more flexible.

Final Thoughts

Ariat has a reputation for making some of the best Western-inspired work boots, so it’s little wonder why its WorkHog and women’s Terrain work boots are some of the best pull-on boots on the market. The company puts a lot of research into its innersole, which is why its boots are as comfortable as they are nice to look at. Doc Martens Icon work boots are some of the most durable as well as comfortable, thanks to an air-cushioned footbed.