Composite, Steel or Alloy Toe: Which One Is The Best?

One of the first decisions you’ll make when choosing your next pair of work shoes or boots is whether they will have a steel, composite, or alloy toe - essentially a cap at the toe of the boot that safeguards the foot from falling objects or compression. It is also paired with a plate that protects the sole from punctures from below.

While all three offer great protection, and safety benefits – each material comes with its own pros and cons.

Composite steel or alloy toe which one is the best

Here are some of the key differences between each and some of the industries they’re perfect for!

Composite Toe:

Over the last decade composite toe boots have increased in popularity due to their lightweight design and comfort for workers who spend long periods outdoors. In the safety shoe industry, composite toe caps are often created with a combination of non-metal materials like Kevlar, carbon fiber, plastic, or fiberglass. They do, however, meet the same CSA safety requirements as a steel toe. 

composite toe

Because they don’t contain any metal, composite toe boots are ideal for workers who continually have to pass through metal detectors like airport workers or security personnel.


  • Lighter weight making the boots more comfortable to wear for longer periods
  • Metal-Free
  • Prevent Sparking
  • Thermal Insulation


  • Bulkier than alternatives

Steel Toe:

Introduced more than 80 years ago, steel toe boots have been the safety standard for workers in construction, manufacturing, and material transportation for decades. It is best priced option, the most popular, and highly rated for protection from accidents.

steel toe

However, they can tend to be heavy, causing workers to wear down physically as the day goes on. They also can conduct electricity so they can be an issue for workers who work with metal and high voltages.


  • The strongest toe protection available
  • Toe is thinner than composite creating a less bulky boot
  • Less expensive to manufacture


  • Heavy – While it is just a few grams more, steel is heavier than either composite or Alloy
  • Can Dent
  • Colder in Winter
  • Conducts electricity – so not ideal for workers in the electrical field
  • Set off metal detectors

Alloy Toe: 

Alloy toes are made from lightweight materials such as titanium, aluminum or a combination of other light materials. They have recently gained in popularity due to their lighter, more comfortable design.

alloy toe


  • Thinner than steel toe
  • 30 to 50 percent lighter than steel toe
  • More toe room


  • More expensive than steel toe
  • Not as strong as a steel toe
  • Conducts electricity – so not ideal for workers in the electrical field
  • Set off metal detectors

Which material is right for you?

The final choice depends on your budget, occupation and work conditions.  

For more information, visit one of our stores to have an associate show you our best options or shop our collection now!


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How do I make sure to get the right size?

To measure your feet:

  1. Get a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a tape measure.
  2. Stand with one foot on the piece of paper, and have most of your weight on your foot to simulate walking.
  3. Holding the pencil perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the paper, mark a line at the back of your heel and at the tip of your longest toe. Also mark a line along each side of the widest part of your foot.
  4. Measure length and width to the nearest 16th inch and subtract .20 to .25 inches, or .50 centimetres, to account for the width of the pencil.
  5. Find your corresponding size in the charts below.

A couple of tips to get the perfect fit:

  • Measure your feet later in the day as feet normally swell and can become up to half a size bigger in the evening.
  • Measure both feet and use the measurements of the biggest foot. Many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Wear the same type of socks you will generally be wearing on the job when you measure your feet.

Here are some general guidelines to assess fit once you’ve received your new boots:

  • Try on new boots towards the end of the day.
  • Walk around in a clean environment for a couple of hours to make sure the boots are comfortable.
  • Try boots on both feet, as many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle when laced.
  • The inner side of the boot should be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.
  • The boot should grip the heel firmly.

Measuring apparel for proper fit

Size X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large 2X-Large 3X-Large
Neck - Inches 13-13.5 14-14.5 15-15.5 16-16.5 17-17.5 18-18.5 19-19.5
Neck - Centimetres 33-35 36-37 38-39 41-42 43-44 45-47 48-50
Chest - Inches 30-32 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 50-52 54-56
Chest - Centimetres 76-81 86-91 97-102 107-112 117-122 127-132 137-147
Waist - Inches 27-28 29-31 32-34 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50
Waist - Centimetres 68-71 73-78 81-83 91-96 101-106 111-116 121-127

Hint: For the most accurate results, measure yourself in your undergarments.

  • Neck: Measure around the base of your neck, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your neck to allow ease in fit.
  • Chest: Measure around the fullest part of your chest, keeping tape firmly under your armpits and around your shoulder blades.
  • Waist: Measure around your waist, slightly below your natural waist, where you normally wear your pants. Insert your forefinger between the tape and your body to allow ease in fit.
  • Sleeve length: Bend your arm slightly. Measure from centre back neck, across your shoulder, down to your elbow, down to your wrist.
  • Hip: Measure around the fullest part of your hips, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your hip to allow ease in fit.
  • Inseam: Measure a similar pant that fits you well. Measure along the inseam, from the crotch seam to the bottom of the hem.

Between sizes?

If your measurements are in between those listed in the size chart, pick the next larger size.