You’re trying to decide whether or not to make the switch from a traditional work shoe to a zero-drop work shoe. You know that you’ll have a limited number of styles, and that you probably won’t find a boot with a met guard, or one that will stand up to the challenges of a logger’s or ironworker’s job. You’re wondering if there’s a zero -drop boot that can will work for light construction, welding, or standing on concrete. We can help you. Zero-drop work boots are relatively new, but they are increasing in number and in the features they provide.
Updated Feb 2020 by Tony Bleak
In a Hurry? Here’s the Top Pick
The Caterpillar Brode Work Shoe. Read on to find out why.
EH safety rating
Slip- & Oil resistant
Moc Toe Boot
Thermal Winter Boot
200 grams Thinsulate
One key “feature” of minimalist work boots is their limited availability; you’ll need to look carefully to find what you need.
This is a relatively new type of work boot. The companies that produce most of these boots are minimalist shoe companies that feature a few work boots as a fraction of their product line. Some manufacturers of traditional boots simply don’t manufacture work boots marketed specifically in this category. If you’re a brand loyal customer of RedWing, Irish Setter, Carhartt,or Timberland, you may have to really scour their product lines to find boots that have the zero drop features you need. They may, indeed, manufacture precisely the boot you’re looking for, but it may not be advertised as a zero-drop boot.
Zero drop boots, by definition, keep your heel and toe at the same height, as they would be if you were walking barefoot.
This is the key feature of zero-drop boots. Any boots that elevate the heel above the toe are not zero-drop shoes. The purpose of zero drop shoes is to allow your foot the same flexibility and stride pattern that it has when you aren’t wearing shoes. Most zero drop shoes are also minimalist shoes, designed to be very lightweight and to mold to your feet. They usually include very little cushion or arch support, and are made of flexible supple materials that form to your feet while you walk.
Zero drop boots are usually very light and may very well be a good roofing work boot option.
This is sensible since zero-drop boots don’t add any type of heel. They also incorporate very little cushion or arch support. Many are made of thin leather or synthetic material and have a very thin sole. All of these traits make for a very light shoe. Even if zero drop shoes include a safety toe, they still weigh significantly less than traditional boots with the same safety toe would weigh.
The 3 best zero drop work boots
Caterpillar Men’s Brode Steel-Toe Work Shoe
Caterpillar’s Men’s Brode Steel-Toe Work Shoe combines the distinctive zero-drop profile with features that include a slip-resistant, oil-resistant rubber outsole and an ASTM-rated steel toe. The insole is removable. This shoe is not water resistant. It’s not specifically advertised as zero drop, making it a secret undercover find!
- Steel toe
- EH rated
- Removable footbed
- Not water resistant
Sorel Men’s Madson Moc Toe Waterproof Boot
The Sorel Men’s Madson Moc Toe Waterproof Boot is a classic lace-up leather boot with a lugged sole for grippy traction. Although not marketed specifically as a zero drop boot (ANOTHER secret find!), the thick wedge sole allow zero drop walking. The waterproof feature makes the Madson a good choice for construction workers who work outside. The downside of this boot is that the footbed is not removable. The Madson does not have a safety toe.
- Wedge sole
- EVA midsole
- Footbed is not removable
- No safety toe
Vivobarefoot Scott Men’s Casual Lace Up Thermal Winter Boot
The Vivobarefoot Scott Men’s Casual Lace Up Thermal Winter Boot is a warm, lightweight boot insulated with 200 grams of Thinsulate. The leather and synthetic upper is breathable, and the rubber outsole is puncture resistant. The footbed is removable, but there is no safety toe.
- Puncture-resistant outsole
- No safety toe
Here’s the customer consensus about our 3 best zero drop work boots.
Caterpillar Men’s Brode Steel-Toe Work Shoe–Overall, purchasers really like this shoe, especially its durability and comfort. When they compare it to other zero-drop shoes, they are very pleased with the support and protection it provides. They also find the boot to be a good value.
The negatives that people mention focus on the shoe’s minimal cushioning. The steel toe rubbed uncomfortably for a few men, and the shoe didn’t hold up as well as some other Caterpillar shoes.
Sorel Men’s Madson Moc Toe Waterproof Boot–With literally thousands of ratings from customers, the Sorel Madson is a tested and true zero drop boot that has pleased lots of customers for a long time. The positive reviews consistently mention the boot’s comfort and durability.
Many also appreciate the broad range of sizes, the roomy toe box that accommodates wide feet, and the supple feel of the leather. Customers who were dissatisfied had issues with shoes that were poorly constructed, didn’t fit right, or were just generally uncomfortable to wear.
Vivobarefoot Scott Men’s Casual Lace Up Thermal Winter Boot–The Vivobarefoot Scott shoe is comfortable and reasonably durable, especially for a minimalist shoe. Customers like how the boot looks and feels. They agree that it runs bigger than most Vivobarefoot shoes do, which is a negative for a few people.
Customers with a wide foot enjoy this shoe. The waterproofing holds up, too. One complaint is that the soft, thin leather scratches very easily.
Our 3 best zero drop work boots provide a minimalist boot lover with most of the range of styles and features found in traditional work boots.One missing feature is a metatarsal guard. There are no slip-on zero boots among our top 3, either. All of our favorites are slip-resistant. Two are waterproof. One has a steel toe and is EH safety rated.
We like the Caterpillar Men’s Brode Steel-Toe Work Shoe as the “best-of-the-best.” It’s durable, comfortable, and a good value. For the purest of minimalists, the Vivobarefoot Scott Men’s Casual Lace Up Thermal Winter Boot is an excellent choice. Try a pair and see if you agree with our assessment.
Does anyone make zero drop winter boots?
Yes, insulated zero drop type work boots are available for winter weather. Several of them for men are made by Vivobarefoot. One of our 3 best zero drop winter boots is a thermal boot by that company. You can see the product details in the description above. Or, click the link to go directly to Amazon for up-to-date pricing and ratings.
Two other Vivobarefoot winter boots include the Vivobarefoot Tracker FG and the Vivobarefoot Magna Trail. The Tracker is a hiking boot with a waterproof lining and a thermal insert. The Firm Ground Sole provides good traction on rough ground. The Magna Trail is a Vegan hiking boot made from water repellent nylon and features no-sew construction. The Magna Trail also has a removable insulated thermal footpad to provide warmth in cold weather.
Two pull-on options are the YIRUIYA Men’s Waterproof Fully Fur Lining Boots and the EXEBLUE Enly Winter Snow Boots Slip-on Water-Resistant Unisex Booties for Men and Women. The Yiruiya waterproof boots are fur-lined boots suitable for multiple occasions. They feature a water-resistant leather-and-cloth upper, ergonomic padding that absorbs shock, and a durable, slip-resistant sole. They are fashionable boots that come in multiple colors.
The EXEBLUE boots are also minimalist cold-weather fashion boots that are lined with fine wool. They have a non-slip sole and are water resistant. The toe of the boot is reinforced to protect your feet from injury. They hardly require any work or time to break in.
What are my best choices to consider if I need a pair of zero drop waterproof boots?
One of the great zero drop waterproof boots is the Sorel Madson Moc Toe. It’s one of our 3 favorite boots; details are in the chart above. Here are a few other waterproof types to consider:
Danner Men’s Mountain 600 4.5″ Hiking Boot--This waterproof boot has a durable suede upper, a grippy Vibram Fuga outsole for great traction, and a Vibram SPE midsole for rebound and comfort. Open-cell cushioning is provided by the Ortholite footbed. The nylon shank combines with a TPU heel frame for support. This boot comes in a wide variety of earth-tone colors.
Harley-Davidson Holtman 6-Inch Black Waterproof Motorcycle Boot D96187–This leather waterproof boot extends past the ankle in order to pad and protect that joint. With a breathable membrane lining and a lightweight rubber outsole, the Holtman Motorcycle Boot is durable and abrasion resistant.
ALTRA Men’s Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM Waterproof Trail Running Shoe–A classic zero drop shoe, the ALTRA Lone Peak provides moderate cushion via a dual-layer EVA midsole and a contoured 5mm footbed. The waterproof fabric upper and the Dura Tread rubber outsole combine to keep your feet dry, even in sloppy weather.
Is it possible to find a comfortable pair of zero drop golf shoes?
Yes, minimalist golf shoes are available with the zero-drop feature. One well-rated shoe is the New Balance Men’s Minimus Tour Waterproof Spiked Comfort Golf Shoe. One reviewer specifically mentions that he trains wearing a minimalist shoe, and finds that the Minimus is styled very much like his training shoe. It also scores very well for comfort. The spiked sole provides great traction in these zero drop golf shoes.
A second great option is the TRUE Original Golf Shoe. With a roomy toe box and a leather upper, this barefoot-design shoe lets you appreciate the contour of the course. The updated model of the Original includes a sock liner for added comfort and a waterproof liner so you can keep your feet dry.
If you are less concerned about traction than you are about a true minimalist shoe with zero drop, then the Vivobarefoot Primus Knit, Leather Premium Lifestyle Shoe, with Barefoot Sole may be exactly what you want. It is a high-performance shoe that is also highly rated for comfort. It features a leather upper and a square toe box, and is available in several colors, including black.
I’m required to wear steel-toed shoes at work. What zero drop steel toe work boots are available?
Well, a good pair of steel-toe zero drop work boots are almost as rare as the proverbial hen’s tooth. There just aren’t too many options. That’s the bad news. The good news is that several popular wedge work boots from Thorogood, Danner and RedWing, although not marketed as zero drop steel toe work boots, have very little drop, are lightweight and come in a variety of safety toe versions including composite and alloy in addition to steel.
If you want a minimalist boot with the actual zero-drop profile, then the Caterpillar Men’s Brode Steel-Toe Work Shoe is an excellent choice. It is one of our 3 best zero drop works. The details of the Brode are in the chart. It also comes in a hi-top version that covers the ankle, but is essentially the same otherwise. It gets good ratings, especially for comfort. The Brode style is one of the few that also comes in a women’s version.
A second option is the KEEN Utility Men’s Destin Low Steel Toe Work Shoe. This leather shoe with a synthetic sole and a removable insole is a comfortable shoe perfect for light-duty work. It has a sleek profile that is synonymous with zero-drop shoes. It also incorporates asymmetrical left and right steel toe plates.