What are Metatarsal Boots? Why You Should Pick Them

Work safety is the highest priority for employees. If your job puts you at risk for injury, you probably have to wear protective gear.

Your employer must ensure you are safe from falling items, such as tools or other heavy equipment.

Feet are especially prone to trauma in a workplace that uses machinery or heavy tools. Most businesses require their workers to wear protective shoes that cover the entire foot.

Metatarsal boots are modern-day steel-toe boots, covering even more of the foot than before. They consist of the materials necessary to provide the protection that workers need.


To understand the purpose of Metatarsal boots, it may help to know what the metatarsals are.

Metatarsals are the long foot bones that extend between your ankle and toes. 

They can easily break because there is no padding between them and the skin.

Additionally, the foot sticks out from the body, so hitting it is not hard to do.

Because of that, the foot is vulnerable to injury. As you can see, it does not take much to injure the metatarsal bones.

The Purpose of Metatarsal Boots

Metatarsal boots are a form of personal protective equipment (PPE). Obviously, they protect the metatarsal bones.

When you are prone to injuring your feet, not just any shoe will do. You may need something sturdy to prevent wounds or fractures.

If you have heard of steel-toe shoes, these Metatarsal boots have the same goal–shielding from workplace hazards. There are significant differences between metatarsal boots and steel toe footwear.

Steel Toe vs. Metatarsal Boots

A significant difference between the steel-toe and the Met boots is the amount of protection metatarsal shoes provide.

Metatarsal work boots use guards that cover your entire foot and consist of durable materials, such as aluminum, steel, carbon-fiber composites, or synthetics. Steel toe shoes only protect the toes.

Steel-toe boots do not protect against hot items that could fall on the feet. Metatarsal work boots consist of durable materials that withstand heat.

Steel toe footwear can’t protect against chemicals, solvents, or electrical mishaps. Metatarsal work boots protect against all those hazards.

PPE footwear must include internal or external metatarsal guards to help provide optimal protection against work hazards.  

Metatarsal Guards

Metatarsal guards (Met guards) can protect from the tips of your toes up to the area just above the tongue.

Sturdy, protective work boots should have extra layers for safety and comfort.

Historically, Metatarsal work boots had external guards.

They were stiff and heavy and made it difficult to walk without stumbling. The outer guards also rendered the shoes unattractive.

The shoes you buy today can have either one or the other, or both Metatarsal guards. The two types of Met guards in modern shoes are internal and external.


Internal metatarsal guards are the most common type. You may want to consider boots with internal plates if your job requires working with heavy objects.

The inner protectors sit between the boot and top of the foot from the toes up to the lacings, so they will not be visible to others.

Traditionally, internal guards consisted of hard, painful plastic. Modern inner protectors are more flexible and comfortable yet still provide protection.


The external guards are more protective against the heavy-duty impact on your metatarsal bones and cover a larger area.

They typically overlay the shoe from the toe up to the laces.

The external flaps consist of either a metal or plastic plate lined with soft padding and covered in leather.

If you do not mind the appearance of shields on the outside of your footwear, external guards may be the better option for you.

What are Met Guard Boots?

They are protective boots, namely metatarsal boots, that help prevent injuries to your feet while working.

The ASTM-certified Met guards on the work boots are internal, external, or both and must be a part of the work boots.

How do you know what kind of guards to choose?

It depends on your job. If you work with multiple heavy or dangerous tools or toxic chemicals, the external Metatarsal guards will protect your feet.

On the other hand, if your job is not as risky, internal guards should be enough. In case you have any doubts, the external Met guards offer the best protection.

ASTM (Amerian Society for Testing and Materials)

There are standards that products must follow to be safe for consumers.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) ensures the highest quality in a product or service.

Metatarsal work boots must meet the requirements of ASTM for safety.

Features of a Metatarsal Boot

What makes a good metatarsal boot?

A person working in a dangerous setting needs a sturdy shoe that lasts a long time. Metatarsal boots should consist of components that withstand tough jobs.

 Leather is the top choice of medium for durable, reliable footwear.

Authentic Leather

Consider leather because of its strength.

Leather lasts longer than any other material. 

It is the most durable material you can find. It is water-resistant and scuff resistant, and easy to clean.

Rubber Soles

Rubber soles should be non-skid so you can feel safe wearing them in areas that might be slick.

Rubber provides traction in case of rough ground.

The outer soles should be lightweight because no one should be wearing heavy shoes.

Absorbent Lining

The inner lining of your metatarsal footwear should resist moisture to prevent skin irritation and odor.

Water trapped inside can not only make your feet wet but subject you to skin breakdown and a foul smell that will follow you.

Supportive Collar

There is nothing worse than a shoe or boot that binds around the ankle, leaving blisters or other markings.

A metatarsal boot should have a soft, padded collar that cushions your ankle. The collar is the band of material that lines the heel.

Sturdy Shank

A good work boot must have sturdy arch support.

Most work boots have a shank that consists of steel or another strong material between the insole and outer sole, providing that extra support. 

You will most likely find the plate beneath the arch, between the heel and the ball of the foot.

Padded Insole

A sturdy shoe should not be uncomfortable.

The insole should have enough padding to help shield your foot from pain, numbness or tingling, swelling, or fatigue.

If you do a lot of standing, an inner sole with good padding is ideal.

How to Know Which Metatarsal Boots to Choose

If you do not know what kind of Met boots to get, think about what you like.

You obviously want a comfortable pair of boots that last a long time, but how far are you willing to go to get them?

Cost plays a significant role in making a decision. They can be expensive, but quality should outweigh quantity.

Something else you may want to consider is how well they will protect your feet.

Shoes with rubber soles offer good traction on wet surfaces.

Do you want internal or external guards?

Consider the type of protection you need at work.

Heavy machinery and tools may warrant exterior guards versus internal. However, both internal and external may be the way to go.

When shopping for Metatarsal boots,make sure they fit well because they probably will not stretch more than a fraction of an inch.

When footwear fits correctly, it will be more comfortable.