Metatarsal Vs Steel Toe Boots – Which One Should You Choose?

Footwear brands have several options like steel toe boots, composite toe boots, and metatarsal boots in their work shoe collection for heavy-duty workers. As footwear technology is advancing each day, brands incorporate newer protective features to minimize the risk of accidents as much as possible. However, when it comes to deciding between metatarsal vs steel toe boots, what should you choose? When you are investing in life-saving boots, you must always select the most competent option. 

Talking about personal protection at the workplace, choosing the proper footwear is vital to remain safe and work without meeting grave injuries from unforeseen accidents. People working in transportation, warehousing, linework, mining, construction, engineering, etc., work under several threats of accidents that can often be fatal or gravely injurious. Most of these accidents can severely damage the feet, as it’s one of those body parts which are most vulnerable in these risky jobs. 

Going by the metatarsal boots definition, it’s the all-encompassing form of protection you can provide to your feet at the workplace. In this article, you shall come to know the significant reasons for choosing metatarsal boots over regular steel or composite toe work shoes and how to tell if boots are metatarsal.

What Are Steel Toe Boots?

As the name suggests, steel toe boots are work boots that have steel toe caps placed over the toe box area to save the toes from getting crushed under pressure. These steel toe caps are inserted under the top layer of the shoe and cannot be seen externally. The steel toes sit firmly sandwiched between the inner lining of the boots touching your toes and the leather body outside. Whenever you drop any heavy object on the toes, it resists the impact, keeping the feet safe. However, steel toe boots may make the work boots slightly bulky. 

best steel toe work boots for men

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, when you buy through links on our site, as an Amazon Associate we may earn an affiliate commission. This adds no cost to our readers.

What Are Metatarsal Boots?

Metatarsal boots amplify the protection to a different level by protecting the entire instep region instead of just the toes. The word ‘metatarsal’ implies the bones in your feet, starting from the toes to the ankle. If you touch the top part of your feet, you can feel the five bones from your toes connecting and joining with the ankle. 

According to the metatarsal boots definition, these are work boots with steel, composite, or aluminum plates that protect the metatarsal bones by providing complete protection. These metatarsal attachments extend from the base of the steel toes to the top of the ankle. The metatarsal bones are pretty fragile and prone to fractures very easily. They can easily get crushed under sudden impact or high pressure. Thus, the metatarsal boots cover the entire top part of the feet to resist impact and compression and prevent any injury to the feet. 


For full review of the Most Comfortable Metatarsal Boots read here.


How To Tell If Boots Are Metatarsal?

If you are not familiar with protective work boots, you must be wondering how to tell if boots are metatarsal. Firstly, you must go through the specifications carefully and enquire from the brand if you have queries. Besides mentioning a steel toe cap, it should be specified whether the boots have an external metatarsal guard or an internal metatarsal guard. 

Moreover, you are physically checking out boots, hold the shoe in your hand and feel the top part carefully. If you find the entire top portion having a hard and protective layer inside, it indicates that there is an internal metatarsal guard stitched within the shoe. External met guards are easier to notice and are encased in leather pockets and fixed atop the metatarsal region of the boots. Some of them are also detachable and can be fastened or laced up whenever you need them. 

Why Are Metatarsal Boots A Better Choice?

Both steel toe boots and metatarsal meet the ASTM standards necessary for workers involved in hazardous jobs. They are approved to be used in these professions to protect the feet from being crushed by heavy objects. The only difference between the two is the area covered and the range of protection offered. 


Protection from fractures

When you have to choose between metatarsal vs steel toe boots in terms of protection from fractures, always go for the former. 

The feet stick out beyond the body and are, thus, more prone to accidents due to heavy objects rolling or landing on the feet. For instance, if an iron rod or a heavy bar of steel collapses in front of you, there are high chances that it may fall on your feet. The metatarsal bones in the feet are soft and may suffer multiple injuries in such cases because there isn’t much flesh or layer of skin or fat to cushion these bones. This is exactly the reason why you feel more pain when you press hard on your feet and not much when you hit your calf or thigh. Thus, the feet are very fragile zones of the body, and fracturing the midfoot can takes months or even a year to heal completely. 

Steel toe caps can prevent fractures, but they are only limited to the toes. When something heavy lands on your feet from a height, it may hit the toes, but also affect the instep or the mid-foot. Therefore, steel toe caps are incapable of providing complete protection to the feet during such accidents. 

On the other hand, metatarsal guards are additional attachments that function along with internal steel toe or composite toecaps to cover the metatarsal bones with a protective shield. Even if you drop a heavy object anywhere on your feet, the impact resistance feature negates the compression and does not let your bones succumb to it.

Saves the feet from sharp objects

Besides getting fractured by heavy objects rolling or crashing on the feet, you may accidentally drop something like a sharp-edged tool like a saw on the feet. Sometimes, only a leather body isn’t hardy enough to resist being pierced by the sharp edges of an object. Metatarsal guards covering your entire mid-foot can also resist sharp objects from penetrating inside the shoe’s body and prevent them from injuring the feet. It saves you from deadly accidents that may even partly sever a part of the feet if you forget to protect them.

Protection from heat and flames

Apart from protection from metatarsal fractures, work boots must also cover other aspects of workplace safety. Workers in risky professions often have to deal with extreme heat and flames. Steel toe boots cannot offer as much protection from heat and flames as metatarsal boots do. These boots come with tough heat and fire-resistant leather covering on top of the internal met guards or have external met guards encased in such protective leather flaps.  

Protection from electrical hazards

Both steel toe boots and metatarsal boots come with an electrical hazard rating and are considered safe enough for the workplace. But, since the metatarsal boots have a wide coverage area, they obviously offer better protection from electrical shocks.

Protection from chemical spillage

Similarly, chemical spillage at the job site can often be dangerous and burn the feet if they reach inside the shoes by damaging the leather body. With metatarsal guards covering the top layer of the shoes, they can resist chemical spillage from getting inside and provide utmost security. So metatarsal boots are one of the best chemical work boots we can say.

Metatarsal Vs Steel Toe Boots Recap:

To easily understand the range of protection given by both the kind of work boots, here is a table comparing the features between metatarsal vs steel toe boots.

Comparison Between Metatarsal Vs Steel Toe Boots

FeaturesMetatarsal bootsSteel toe boots
Protection from impactYes Yes 
Protection against metatarsal fractureYes Only the toes
Protection from chemical spillageYes No 
Protection from sharp-edged objects piercing the bootsYes Partly
Protection from electrical shocksYes Partly
Protection from flames and heatYes No 
WeightDepends upon the material used.
May be bulky in some cases,
though the modern varieties are
AppearanceInternal met guards are discreet and
do not hamper the appearance.
External met guards may be unappealing,
even though modern designs have taken
care of that.

Final Words  

After going through all the pros and cons, it may be easier for you to decide the type of work boot to choose. Go through the features and the range of protection discussed for both types of boots, and choose what suits your profession. Making a wise decision is the key to defending yourself with the best form of protection at the workplace.

If you are not particularly involved in hazardous jobs and can do very well with light protective features in your everyday work boots, steel-toe cap boots would suit you pretty well. You may not need to invest in metatarsal boots for such jobs unnecessarily.

However, if your job has the risk quotient on the higher side, you should better choose a metatarsal boot for complete protection. A steel toe wouldn’t be enough for fool-proof safety. It would be foolish to leave any part of the feet unprotected in such hazardous jobs, prone to accidents all the time. Instead of suffering mishaps that may leave you crippled forever, or deplete your savings in treatment, invest in metatarsal boots and work safely every day.

Read More




4 thoughts on “Metatarsal Vs Steel Toe Boots – Which One Should You Choose?”

Comments are closed.