What is Composite Toe? (Explained)

Why be the old school guy when the modern things are more appealing and trustworthy?

I mean…why to stick to steel toe boots when composite toe boots are better, safer, stronger and lighter

Composite toe caps are OSHA, ANSI & ASTM approved and are among the safety toe caps that are non-metallic yet provide the best protection while being very light and comfortable.

What Does Composite Toe Mean

The word composite comes from the word composition wherein these toe caps are composite mixtures of plastics, carbon fiber, fiberglass, aramid and Kevlar.

But do you know about each of the materials used in the making of these composite toes, how much weight can composite toe caps take and why are they better than steel toe caps, where to wear them, and many such interesting facts about them?

Then, just read on…

Because today in this article I am going to tell you all possible details regarding composite toe caps.

What Does Composite Toe Mean?

As described earlier, composite toe caps are made mixing different materials such as plastic, Kevlar, fiberglass, carbon fiber and aramid.

But these toe caps are even harder than steel toe caps and does not even have any chance to cause any harm to your toes which might be caused by steel toe caps. They protect the feet, particularly the toes from any injury like from heavy falling or rolling objects.

Now let us see each material in details that are used in the making of the composite toe caps:



This material is used primarily in the making of space voyage and ballistix-military synthetic fiber. The molecules in them have an ability of chain formation as the base component is a hexagonal aromatic chain. They are carbon-based in composition.

Aramid has no melting point and therefore has excellent electric current resistance power. They are also non-combustible. They even have better solvent and abrasion resistance power than carbon.



When glass is melted into super thin fibers, they make fiberglass. They have high elasticity and are pretty strong. Fiberglass is mixed with plastic to make fiber-reinforced plastic. But fiberglass alone cannot be used in the making of safety toes as they are brittle in nature.



This is actually a form of aramid. While Kevlar is 5 times lighter than steel, it also 5 times stronger than steel at the same time. They are also used in making military equipments such as grenade, tyres, bulletproof vests, etc.

Carbon fiber:

Carbon fiber

These are commendably hard and can be made thinner, harder and lighter than anything else. Carbon has immense bonding power and don’t forget that the hardest naturally occurring substance; diamond is made of carbon.

But carbon fibers are good conductors of electricity, are highly flammable and do melt in high temperatures. So, carbon fiber is mixed along with other materials in the making of composite toe caps.


These are carbon-based and have the same hexagonal aromatic benzene structure like aramid, Kevlar and fiberglass. They do not conduct electricity but are flammable. Therefore, they too need to be mixed with other materials in the making of composite toe caps.

Comparison between Composite vs Steel vs Alloy toes

Composite toes Steel toes Alloy toes
They are made of non-metals They are obviously made of steel They are made of thinner metals
They are the lightest in weight They are the heaviest They are 30% to 50% lighter than steel toes
They do not set off metal detectors They set off metal detectors They set off metal detectors
They offer the most toe box room They offer less room in the toe box They offer more space than the steel toe caps
They offer electric resistance They do not offer any electric resistance They are less conductive than steel
Provides better insulation in the cold Offers no insulation at all Poorer insulation than composite toes
Offers average puncture protection Offers great puncture protection Puncture protection level is less than steel
They are best for the extremes of temperature They offer no comfort in the extreme temperatures They offer average comfort

See also: Composite, Alloy, or Steel Toe Boots: Which One is More Comfortable?

Are Composite Toe Boots OSHA Approved?

osha-approved-composite-toe-bootsWant to know what OSHA is?


I will explain all about it…

The full form of OSHA is Occupational Safety and Health Standards. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) section which covers footwear safety and health standards is included in the section of OSHA.

OSHA recommends conducting an assessment either by company’s safety personnel or by a consultant to determine the need for PPE and the types of footwear that the employees should wear.

OSHA requires employees to wear only those foot wears which comply with their standards and issues fine if the standards are not met.

Now, the question is, are composite toe OSHA approved?

The answer is while most composite toes are ANSI and OSHA approved, the cheaper ones are not.

How Strong are Composite Toes?

Composite materials are generally made by mixing of more than one non-metal. Therefore, they are such molded that the final product becomes stronger than their individual counterparts.

Composite toe impact and compression:

Footwear manufacturers rate and test their shoes and boots according to the standards set by the ASTM international. The relevant standards for footwear with a protective toe cap are ASTM F2412 and ASTM F2413.

The ASTM F2413 standard specifies that toe cap must be first tested for impact and compression. The test and methods for impact and compression are specified by ASTM F2412 standard as follows:

Impact and compression test

1.) Impact test:

It is concerned with the effect of what happens when something very heavy falls on the shoes or boots.

2.) Compression test:

It is concerned with the effect of what happens when something very heavy rolls on the shoes or boots.

So, in ASTM tested footwear, the toe cap will offer the same level of protection irrespective of the material it is made of-whether steel or composite. 

And yes composite toe caps pass both the tests effectively and we are going to show you just down below the proofs.

Impact test result on composite toe cap:

Yes the composite toe cap is resistant to 200J energy!


In a video we saw that even after the impact of 200J over the composite toe cap, it had no crack on the inside, only a slight denture on the exterior of the cap.

That is your toes would be completely safe inside the composite toe cap even if a load of 200J falls on it. Isn’t that superb guys?

How much weight can composite toes hold?

Actually composite toes can allow as much weight over it as the steel toes. It can take as much weight as 1.1 metric tons.

composite safety toecap- ran over by a 4.5t folklift truck

In a video we saw that a 4.5 ton forklift truck was even finding it difficult to run over the composite toe at the first attempt.

Even when the truck weighing 4.5 tons ran over the composite toe completely, the composite toe was unturned and remained the same without even any deformity!

This is a complete proof that how strong composite toes are and that they can really bear a tons of weight and are a great savior for your toes.

Obviously when it could handle the truck just like that, it can even handle heavy loads of your construction site as well.

Benefits of composite toe caps:

Well there are a number of benefits of wearing a composite toe cap:

      1. They are generally 30% lighter than their steel counter parts. Even 45% lighter in some cases!
      2. They can pass through metal detectors easily.
      3. They are much more comfortable to wear.
      4. They have cold insulation that is they do not conduct cold to the feet while the temperature outside is freaking!
      5. They protect your feet from electrical hazards.

Will composite toe caps set off metal detectors?

Set off metal detectors Alloy toe vs Composite toe

NO, as they are non-metallic toes, as mentioned earlier in the sections above, they will not set off metal detectors and won’t cause any annoyance for you while the security check-in in the airport.

Do composite toe caps offer resistance from electric hazard?

Yes, composite toe caps are non-conductors of electricity. Therefore, they provide protection against electrical hazards and must be worn in any hazardous work environment.

Are aluminum toes lighter than composite toes?

The answer is NO. there is no other safety toe cap that is lighter than composite toes, yet composite toe caps offer the best protection amongst all.

Do composite toe caps offer insulation?

While steel toes do not offer insulation, composite toe caps on the other hand do not get hot or cold depending on the temperature of the environment. In other words, composite toe caps offer insulation.

Which brands make composite toe caps?

Though nearly all the brands recently use composite toe caps, yet you can trust the brands like Timberland, Redwing, Keen, Caterpillar, Skechers and Danner.

↓Check out the video of top composite boots below↓

Top 10 Lightweight Composite Toe Boots


Does composite toe bend or break?

No, composite toe does not bend or break. For work boots to pass off as safety footwear, they will need to meet the requirements set by ASTM international for protection against impact and compression.

Composite toe boots are meant to protect your feet from such occurrences taking place at the workplace. Therefore, the boots go through several tests before they are made available for people to buy.

But, you should keep in mind that the toe cap may bend or break after repetitive impact. The first 2-3 times your boots will be fine, but more than that depending on the amount of weight falling on them, there are chances of breaking. It is best advised to change the boots consciously after they have faced brutal impact the first few times.

Can composite toe boots be re-soled?

Most brands make these boots in a manner to not let the buyer re-sole them in the future. The reason is quite simple since these are safety work boots meant to protect you from foot injuries, re-soling them once damaged will defeat its purpose.

Therefore, manufactures do not find it safe for your benefit alone to make re-soling an option for such safety toe boots. Apart from the toe cap, even the midsole and outer sole are made of materials tough enough to avoid punctures and abrasions.

Having said that there are a few composite toe boots that can be re-soled, but I would advise you not for your safety. So instead of re-soling, go for a new pair of boots.

Are composite toe boots CSA approved?

Yes, composite toe boots are definitely CSA approved because CSA standards state that the toe cap should be able to protect the worker from any impact, injuries and punctures.

Composite toe caps are even a better option than the steel toe caps, the former being light in weight, a non-metal that can pass through metal detectors and also safe for electrical works.

composite boots CSA approved symbol

You can check if your composite boots are CSA approved if they have the green triangle symbol which ensures that the boots have Grade 1 toe protection that can withstand force/impact up to 125 joules. Specific composite toe boots approved by CSA can also have the “CT” letters in a white square box.

Before we say Good Bye:

It is vital for you to understand the type of footwear to wear to work. There are millions of different jobs on this planet, and not all of them are safe.

By safe I mean, many jobs come with occupational hazards like accidents caused at places that deal with heavy machinery, construction, electrical shocks, etc.

Hence, there are protective gears to cover your entire body starting from your head, eyes, and going all the way to your feet, which is absolutely necessary.

Well that was all about composite toe caps. Hope we were able to give you utmost details regarding the making and usages of composite toe caps. 

That’s all guys for today. 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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