What Is The Difference Between Steel Toe Boots And Metatarsal?

Do you work in an environment that subjects your feet and the whole body to hazardous objects? Well, according to ASTM and OSHA requirements, you need to put on the safety boots that will guard your feet. Because of this, you may ask, which are the right boots? Alternatively, what is the difference between steel toe boots and metatarsal boots?

Difference Between Steel Toe Boots And Metatarsal Boots

The main difference between the two is that steel toe boots give you protection at the toe area while metatarsal protect your entire toe area as well as the metatarsal. Additionally, metatarsal boots offer extra protection against heat and molten objects while steel toe boots do not.

Having said that, we have not reached that point where you can make an informed decision. While the following section gives you a detailed comparison of the two types of boots, you are yet to look at each boot’s advantages and disadvantages.

Steel Toe Boots Vs Metatarsal 

Features Metatarsal Boots Steel Toe Boots
Protection against heavy loads Yes Yes
Protection from electric faults Yes No
Protection against solvents Yes No
Protection against sharp objects Yes Yes
Protection against extreme heat Yes No
Protection against the fracture of foot bones Yes No (Only the toe area)
Protect the whole foot Yes No (Only the toe area)
Protection against harmful chemicals Yes No
Boot weight Different versions have different weights (some are heavy while others are extremely light) Heavy

From the above table, it is evident that metatarsal boots will offer you more protection compared to steel toe boots. However, that is not to say that steel toe boots do not have their place in your life.

Now, let’s look at each of these boots, starting with metatarsal boots.

What Does The Word Metatarsal Mean?

The word metatarsal refers to a type of bone found on the human foot. The bone stretches from the toes all the way to the bodyline. The main bone and four other surrounding bones are usually vulnerable to injuries.

These bones are so close to the skin and do not have any fats covering them thus increasing their exposure to injuries.

With these weak points, it is inevitable that you need to put on the right boots that will give you the protection your feet need.

Metatarsal Boots

The good thing about metatarsal boots is that they are designed to offer protection specifically on the entire metatarsal area. The boots have been prepared to ensure your entire metatarsal area (from the toes to the ankle), is protected.

In order to offer the needed protection to this sensitive area, metatarsal boots cover the entire area. They are designed with internal foaming that guards the metatarsal area while they offer the foot the needed breathing.

How To Tell The Boot Is A Metatarsal Boot

Metatarsal boots come in two versions. The first ones that existed in the market had external metatarsal protection. However, later, came boots that offers extra protection of the metatarsal area thus internal metatarsal protection was included.

These boots usually come with plastics that offer resistance to impacts. These plastics are carefully laid from the inner side of the boot from the upper side all the way to the safety toe. From the outside, the boot is usually covered by genuine leather.

Thanks to the leather, your feet will receive extra protection from sparks and heat.

To be able to get the right metatarsal boot, it is good to carry out a physical examination. Where possible, feel the boot, insert your hand to see if you can feel the internal metatarsal lining. If it is not possible to do a physical examination, then you must check what the manufacturer says about the type of metatarsal guard the boot comes with.

A mere mention of steel toe is not enough. The manufacturer should tell whether the metatarsal guard is internal or external.

Lastly, there is a newer version of metatarsal guard called ‘super-met guard’. This is an improved metatarsal guard that takes into account the internal and external reinforcement. This new triple guard method features two-piece guard on the external metatarsal area and a one-piece metatarsal guard in the interior.

Also Read: The Best Welding Work Boots

Usually, manufacturers use PORON XRD material in the interior metatarsal area. Thanks to this enhanced metatarsal protection, metatarsal boots are more comfortable, safe, and breathable.

Benefits of Metatarsal Guards

  • Protect your feet against sharp objects.
  • Guards the entire metatarsal area.
  • Protection from high impacts.
  • Offer protection against extreme heat.
  • Guard your feet from harmful chemicals and flames.


  • Hard to tell; unless labeled correctly, they need physical examination.
  • Most of them are pricey.

Steel Toe Boots

As the name suggests, steel toe boots are designed to guard your toes against injuries. These boots have been in the market for a long time. All genuine steel toe boots comply with ASTM requirements.

As such, they are recommended for high-risky works such as electric installation, plumbing, warehouses, mechanical work, and any construction work among others.

The steel-plated caps guard your toes against sharp objects, falling objects such as stones, timber, or any other object that might fall on the way of your feet.

Benefits Of Wearing Steel Toe Boots

  • They guard your feet against falling or rolling objects.
  • Guard your feet from sharp objects that point at the toes.
  • They may be heavy but do not cause any harm on your feet.


  • They do not protect the entire foot.
  • These boots do not guard your feet against electric shock.
  • No protection against extreme heat or flame.
  • They do not protect your feet against chemicals.
  • They only protect your feet against chemicals that DO NOT react with steel.


What is the difference between steel toe boots and metatarsal?

The main difference between the two is that steel toe boots give you protection at the toe area while metatarsal boots protect your entire toe area as well as the metatarsal.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure that by now, you have all the differences between metatarsal boots and steel toe boots. Looking at each separately, you will agree with me that metatarsal boots carry the day. Still, if were to compare them in terms of meeting ASTM standards, booth boots would win. However, a detailed scrutiny will reveal that metatarsal boots offer additional protection. Therefore, the ball is now on your court.

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