Metatarsal Vs Steel Toe Boots: Which is Most Protective?

Metatarsal Vs Steel Toe BootsIf you work in a hazardous environment you need that extra protection for your feet. Even OSHA and ASTM guidelines need all workplaces to comply with the regulations of making their workers wear protective boots while at work which comply with ASTM standards.

Both metatarsal guards and steel toe caps comply with ASTM standards and protect your feet from falling or rolling objects. But, while metatarsal guards will protect your entire toe and metatarsal area, steel toe caps will only protect your toe area. Also, steel toe boots can’t protect your feet from heat or molten objects but metatarsal boots can. But both have their advantages and disadvantages, and we are we are going to discuss them below.

So, if you are confused with which one to select for your feet, you must read on because we have made a deep study to explain you both the types of boots to let you select the best according to your requirements.

Comparison Table Between Metatarsal and Steel Toe Boots

Features  Metatarsal boots  Steel toe boots
Protection from heavy load Yes  Yes 
Protection from solvents Yes  No 
Protection from electrical hazards Yes  No 
Protection from sharp objects Yes  Yes 
Protection from extreme heat Yes  No 
Protection against fractures of bones Yes  Only protects the toe area
Protection of the entire feet Yes  Only protects the toe area
Protection from chemicals Yes  No 
Weight  Newer versions are light Heavy 

What is Metatarsal?

Metatarsal is a type of bone in the foot, specifically in the toe area which sticks out beyond the body line. These bones are vulnerable to multiple injuries as these bones are very close to the skin. No muscles or fat that protect these bones. Our foot contains nearly 33 joints, 26 bones, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles. Now you know how important it is to protect this fragile area of the feet?

3 Types of Metatarsal Guards:

Yes! You read it right. There are 3 different types of metatarsal guards:

      • External metatarsal guard
      • Internal metatarsal guard
      • External internal super-met guard

Now let’s read about them in details:

1.) External Metatarsal Guards:

External metatarsal guards are generally made of impact resistant plastic and are placed on the outside of the shoe area which covers the lace to the toe area. Also some of them are encased in a leather pocket for better look and added protection from heat and flames. The only problem with this type of guard is that they are stiff, heavy and often cause trips and falls though the level of protection offered by them is incomparable.

External Metatarsal Guards

Also, recently newer versions of external metatarsal guards are available which are more flexible and lighter in weight as they are made of polyurethane soles and they use the direct-attachment construction and even better cement construction techniques which added to the resilience, elasticity and flexibility of the soles. They meet the ASTM standards as well.

2.) Internal Metatarsal Guards:

Internal metatarsal guards on the other hand, are more attractive in look and are light weight. They are made with technically advanced and impact-resistant materials which are thinner and flexible and far more comfortable.

Internal Metatarsal Guards

Even the all new internal guard is made of PORON XRD, which is a microcellular, breathable, urethane and open-cell material that easily dissipates the 90% energy of high speed impacts. They can be incorporated in any new style shoes and boots including cowboy boots and ant sports shoes.

3.) Super-met Guards or Super-guard X:

Super-met Guards

This type of guard features a new triple-guard design, with two-piece external metatarsal guard and the PORON XRD internal guard. This has also got an excellent 1.5 inch clearance. These are safer, more comfortable and more stylish.

Benefits of Metatarsal Guards

1.) Protection for not only toes but also the entire metatarsal area:

Clearly, the metatarsal guards provide protection to the entire upper portions of the feet covering the toes and portions above the toes too. 

2.) Protection against sharp objects:

If you work in an environment wherein you have to deal with sharp objects often, then metatarsal boots should be your choice. The metatarsal boots provide protection against high power saws and powered cutting tools. Angle grinders are also one of the most dangerous tools which can cut off the feet entirely, and metatarsal guards offer protection from that too.

Internal Metguard Metatarsal Safety Boots – Arco: Experts in Safety

3.) Protection against high impact:

Metatarsal guards offer protection against any heavy load not only to the top part of the feet, but also the sides and the front portions. 

4.) Protection against penetration of sharp objects:

People those who work with ramset, nail guns, and firing tools, often are at the risk of piercing their feet from them. Metatarsal guards will make those tools bounce off instead of letting them penetrating inside the boots and hurting your feet.

5.) Protection against flames and chemicals:

If you work in hazardous environment which require working with heat and chemicals, metatarsal guards will come to your rescue. Metatarsal guards are so hard, that they can even withstand burning and molten substances directly on them without even letting your feet realizing their presence.

Steel Toe Boots

Steel toe boots are meant to protect your toes only from the any rolling or falling and sharp objects. They also comply with ASTM standards and are recommended by many workplaces for their safety.

Steel toe caps, as the name suggests, are steel plated caps to safeguard your toes. Now let’s look at some of their advantages:

      • Steel toe boots protect your feet from rolling or falling objects
      • They can even take the weight of 1.5 ton on them and still don’t cause any harm to your toes
      • They also protect your toes from sharp objects


      • They will not protect will entire feet
      • They won’t protect from electrical shocks
      • They won’t protect against flame or extreme heat
      • They can offer protection only against those chemicals which do not react with steel

Before we say Good Bye:

So, to conclude we can say that if you want to protect your entire feet from any possible sort of injuries, you should definitely go for the metatarsal guards because steel toe caps are only meant to protect your toe area.

Also, metatarsal guards can endure the heat and chemicals which steel toe boots cannot.

But, if your work environment is not that hazardous, or you are confident that you do not need protection for the metatarsal area, you can go for the steel toe boots as obviously steel toe boots would be more stylish and available in wide ranges than the metatarsal boots.

Think wisely and then make your choices. Well, that’s all for today guys. Hope this article was helpful to you. We will be soon back with another piece of writing. Till then take care and…

Keep walking!

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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