Work boots are typically made of out leather, but here’s the truth: they don’t need to be. In this post, I’ve pulled together 10 excellent vegan boot and safety shoe options, each of varying styles and price points.
Honestly, ten years ago, the market for vegan work boots was pretty limited. But that has changed. In this list, you’ll find steel-toe, slip-resistant, and durable work boots without any leather or animal products.
Along with proper “work boots,” I’ve also included some work shoes and multipurpose boots below that I really like, too, in case they meet your specific criteria.
Best Overall Vegan Work Boot
Dr. Martens Men’s Calamus Non-Metallic Electrical Hazard Composite Toe 7-Eye Boot
Talk about a sturdy work boot. This Dr. Martens work boot (Amazon link) means business. Made from mesh, synthetic fabrics, and rubber, this boot provides additional protection from electrical hazards and was made with a long day’s work in mind.
- Additional Comfort Elements: This boot was certainly made with comfort in mind. It has a padded tongue and collar to ensure that the boot won’t chafe all day.
- Lightweight: Many work boots can be super heavy thanks to steel toes, but this vegan work boot won’t feel like you’re wearing boots at all.
- Added Insulation: The additional insulation in this Doc Marten boot is what prevents electrical charges from being hazardous to the worker. This also helps to keep the feet warm—bonus!
- No Steel Toe: Unfortunately, this boot doesn’t contain the steel toe element that’s crucial for certain job sites.
- Stiff at First: These boots need some time to be worked in before they really become comfortable. However, that’s not unusual for this type of boot.
Best Multipurpose Boot
Carhartt Men’s Lightweight Hiker (CMH4251)
This Carhartt hiker boot (check current price on Amazon) also moonlights as a vegan work boot. It comes with a rubber sole, a steel toe, and impressive fast-dry technology. It is made of black mesh and synthetic materials.
- Steel Toe: This is extra important for the man or woman on a construction site. This is the best kind of protection against loose debris.
- Advanced Shape Technology: Carhartt put in the extra time and money to perform 3D scans of the typical footbed to create a form-fitting and comfortable shoe bed (it’s supposed to help avoid chafing and blisters).
- Weather Proofing is Up for Debate: While Carhartt boasts a weather impervious shoe, some people say their feet have still gotten wet in these boots.
Best for the Money
TICCOON Steel-Toe Safety Shoes
I know you were waiting on pins and needles for the camo style work boot. Look no further than these vegan, unisex, steel-toed work shoes.
I couldn’t believe how insanely affordable these shoes are (check exact current price on Amazon). And they come in eight different styles (they’re not all camo).
- Steel Toe: A cool-looking shoe with a steel toe.
- Customizable: I love options, and these TICCOON work shoes offer a variety of styles to choose from.
- Affordable: Can’t decide between bright red or camo? These vegan work shoes are so cheap you could literally purchase both for the price of one pair of another brand.
- No Ankle Protection: It’s a vegan safety shoe, not really a full boot. These TICCOON’s provide a steel toe, but they provide little in the way of protecting your ankles.
- Certain Styles Out of Stock: This is a rather popular work shoe option; thus, some styles are not always in stock.
Best for Comfort (and money)
WZSSSS Unisex Steel-Toe Work Shoes
Of all the shoes on this list, this pair scores the highest in comfort. And they’re comfy for your wallet, too—check exact price on Amazon here.
They have a rubber sole and are made of lightweight, knitted fabrics. Your feet can breathe easy in these sturdy, cushy, cruelty-free work shoes.
- Customizable: This cool-looking work shoe comes in ten different customizable color options.
- Unisex: Made for both men and women (women work on construction sites too!)
- Impenetrable: These bad boys are puncture-proof thanks to their steel midsole and fortified steel-toe. The Amazon page includes a demo video of someone wearing these shoes and having a car run over their toes—just fine.
- Inexpensive: It’s pretty hard to beat a shoe this cheap that can boast all of the most necessary features of a sturdy work boot.
- Only Somewhat Water Repellent: The materials of this shoe make it breathable and comfortable. However, some customers recommended adding an extra layer of water repellent, as it would appear they’re lacking in that department.
Best for Style
Will’s Vegan Shoes: Men’s Dock Boots (Chestnut)
If you think these vegan dock boots by Will’s (Amazon link) are the coolest work boots you’ve ever seen, then my work here is done. Made from Italian vegan leather sourced from mother nature (i.e., plants).
If that wasn’t cool enough, the specific plant they harvest their vegan leather from is a cereal crop from Northern Europe, where they have developed an organic oil from a “carbon-neutral process.”
- Coolness Factor: I’m aware that a work boot does not need to be cool. But these boots are just so cool that I would be remiss not to mention this as a pro (because it is.)
- Breathability: While this Will’s boot may look stiff, it is actually made to be breathable and water repellent.
- Ankle Support: These boots will 100% protect your ankle as they rise well above the ankle line.
- No Steel Toe: Try not to drop a slab of concrete on your toes while wearing these.
- Too Nice to Get Dirty? These boots may be so attractive that you find yourself not wanting to get them dirty.
- Small Sizes: These boots max out at size 12. Sorry, my size-14 friends!
- Pricy: It’s vegan suede made from a super-cool futuristic technology. You can’t expect it to be that cheap!
Will’s Vegan Shoes: Women’s Dock Boots Made from Vegan Suede (Tan)
Will’s Vegan Shoes have done it again, folks! These are basically the vegan Timberlands you’ve always wanted. Click here to check the price on Amazon.
- Good Looking: Will’s makes some excellent looking boots. And while that may not be some people’s priority for work boots, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
- Ecolabel: This means Will’s vegan shoes have been certified as vegan suede (i.e., cruelty-free)
- Fancy: Made in Italy, baby!
- Free Returns: You’ve got a year to decide whether or not these are the work boot for you. And if they’re not, Will’s guarantees free returns & exchanges
- Grippy: Unlike the kind of clinginess that sends you running in your love life, this grippiness is more than welcome. This boot has durability and ultra-flex ideal for hiking.
- Ankle Support: Your ankles can breathe a sigh of relief as they come in contact with these boots’ cushy collar and padded tongue.
- No Steel Toe: But did I mention how good looking the shoes are??
- Expensive: It is an excellent-looking Italian boot—but for the workplace, the price may seem steep if it doesn’t also provide the steel-toe protection you require.
Will’s Vegan Shoes: Men’s Work Boots (Black)
Will’s is bringing the old-school combat boot back with these vegan work boots (click here to check the price on Amazon).
They’re made from that same Italian leather, with a solid rubber sole. You can expect breathability, comfort, and some deep tread to prevent slipping.
- Hip Looking: Whether you’re going to a music festival or walking around at work, you can guarantee you’re gonna look stylish in these combat boots
- Sturdy: While most combat boots can be kind of heavy, these are meant to be sturdy yet easy to move around in.
- High Ankle: These will sit high above your ankle and aid in protecting them.
- Limited Sizing: These boots are only available in sizes 7.5-13.
- No Steel Toe: Yet again, these Will’s combat boots do not have steel toes for that added level of protection.
Best for Light Activities Not Involving Sharp Objects Nearby
Fugu Sa-Me: Japanese Vegan Mid-Calf Boots
These mega eco-friendly mid-calf boots (Amazon link) are pretty rad looking! Made with a rubber sole and canvas, you’ll look like you belong to a hip, futuristic motorcycle gang!
- Looks Really Cool: These are cool-looking boots. Sometimes you need some boots that make you feel like a ninja. These are those boots.
- Easy to Clean: Take some warm water and a rag to these bad boys, and they will clean right up and look brand new.
- Calf Protection: While the material itself is most certainly not nail-proof, it does extend all the way up the calf for extra support and protection.
- Limited Sizes: If you have a small foot, you’re in luck! However, if you wear larger than a size 10, this shoe is not made for you.
- Not as Tough as Other Boots: While this shoe may make you look like a super cop from Blade Runner, it will not save your tender sole from sudden puncturing from sharp metal.
Best Insulated Work Boot for Winter
WHITIN: Men’s Insulated All-Weather Boots
If you’re looking for a boot that will work great in the snow and keep your toes warm, this WHITIN vegan boot is for you (check current price on Amazon).
It has a rubber sole, faux-fur lining (optional), and its lugs on the outsole make for excellent durability and improved traction.
- Customizable: This WHITIN all-weather boot comes in 13 different styles, so you can find a boot that suits your style.
- Sturdy: A solid, rugged boot.
- Warmth: The luscious faux-fur lining provides ample warmth and protection during the winter months.
- Not Waterproof: While this boot may be water-resistant, it is most certainly not waterproof. So it may be great in the snow, but not in a torrential downpour.
Nautica: Men’s New Bedford Ankle Boot
- Protects Ankles: This boot is high enough to aid in ankle protection.
- Weather Repellent: The thick rubber outsole does well in cold weather conditions (but repellent is not the same as resistant. This shoe is not impervious to water).
- Price: These Nautica boots are very reasonably priced, which is a huge selling point
- They Come a Size Small: This is only a con if you aren’t geared with this information. If you are a size 8, you’ll want to order a size 9.
- No Steel Toe or Outsole: This boot doesn’t have that extra level of protection you get from more heavy-duty boots.
6 More Vegan Boot Options…
A little while ago, I did another post all about vegan Timberlands. I covered several more options from Timberland and Dr. Martens.
So if you didn’t find a boot you love above, check out that post here! Several of them would actually make great work boots.
Should I Buy Used Leather Work Boots as a Vegan?
Vegans don’t all agree on whether it’s ethically okay to buy used leather. You’re not increasing demand for new leather production, but are you still condoning the use of leather by wearing those products?
I explored this topic in more depth in the vegan Timberlands post I mentioned above. Go check that out if you’re trying to think through that issue. I broke down all the factors to consider.
What to Look for in Vegan Work Boots
The key when choosing a work boot is to know what your personal criteria are. What will you be doing when wearing the boots? And what are your personal preferences?
If a shoe isn’t comfortable, it is going to make the workday less enjoyable.
Unfortunately, a vegan shoe also doesn’t guarantee comfort. But by reading customer reviews (and my notes above), you can usually get a good sense of whether the shoe is comfortable.
However, websites like Amazon have excellent return policies in the event your new vegan boot isn’t up to snuff.
Durability and Protection
A few of these vegan work boots have a very important strike against them, and that is questionable durability or protection (no steel toe). Again, the key when boot shopping is to know what your criteria are.
Some people truly need work boots to wear on construction sites, where debris and long roofing nails can be sticking up randomly from the ground. In order to ensure you aren’t rushed to the hospital with a rusty nail through your big toe, you may need a work boot with a steel toe and other hefty materials.
Unfortunately, not all vegan work boots are durable enough for a construction site. However, a leather work boot does not automatically guarantee any more safety than a vegan one. It really all depends on the specific make and model of the work boot in question.
To this point, it’s crucial to read customer reviews as they can be beyond invaluable. And make sure to take note whether the boot has a steel toe and what kind of sole it has.
It is exciting to see the growing number of options for vegan work boots. This is especially notable when considering that work boots are typically marketed to hyper-masculine men, and our culture portrays this man as a meat lover.
The fact that there is a market for ethical men who wish to wear cruelty-free boots to the worksite is pretty exciting. Hopefully, articles such as these also make these vegan purchases a little easier, too.
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