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Best Dr Martens Safety Boots For Serious Wear and Tear (Reviews) 2021
Dr. Martens are among the most popular boot makers in the UK, so it should come as no surprise to learn they offer some of the best safety boots on the market. Not only are these comfortable and hard-wearing, but they will meet and exceed the approval of your workplace’s safety requirements.
Today, we take an in-depth look at several of Doc Marten’s best performing work boots. We analyse each for build quality, protective allowances, style, fit, and more. Later down the page, we also give you a quick rundown on how safety standards work, plus some maintenance tips for keeping your Dr. Martens boots up to code.
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Top 5 Dr Martens Safety Boots
Dr. Martens are practically synonymous with UK fashion, but they also bear the spirit of its industry. With a rugged design that doesn’t wilt in the face of a bit of honest wear and tear, these steel toe boots go as hard as you do. What’s more, they’re built for comfort, allowing you to work long hours without excessive foot fatigue.
So here we have it, Dr. Martens’ five best safety boots:
A current bestseller for Dr. Martens, the Icon 2295 Wellington-style safety boot is at once protective and fashionable. What’s more, unisex styling makes this the sensible choice for just about anyone.
Let’s take a closer look.
Construction, comfort, and fit
Dr. Martens are well known for making a solid work boot, and the Icon 2295 is no exception. The upper consists of high-quality full-grain leather, connected via welt to the air-cushioned PVC sole and block heel. Layered between the two is an EVA midsole, which takes the shock off of miles of footfall for comfortable, all-day wear. Dual bootstraps make it a breeze to pull your 2295s on and off.
While they’re a bit stiff before the break-in, soon enough you’ll find your Dr. Martens 2295 safety boots fit like a glove. The foot bed provides ample support and stability, allowing you to keep sure footing on uneven ground. There’s even padded ankle support to prevent rolling!
Just be aware that if you’re a half size, you’ll probably want to size up. The 2295 are of medium width, but many still find them on the snug side, which can be good or bad depending on who you are.
First off, Dr. Martens uses a robust steel toe cap to keep your feet safe from kinetic impact. It’s not just marketing either; the 2295’s toe meets I/75 C/57 approvals for safety vs. impact and compression. Be advised, however, that there’s no steel midsole, you if you need the absolute highest level of puncture protection you’re best off looking elsewhere.
Nevertheless, your feet will be well-protected from the vast majority of common hazards within the 2295. The waxed leather finish and high Wellington cut work a treat to keep water out and away from your feet. Additionally, the trademark Doc Martens PVC sole effectively resists oil, petrol, fats, and corrosive alkali. Moreover, the whole boot features superior electric resistance, and bears the EH standard to prove it.
Looks and longevity
Out the box, the 2295 has an aged look thanks to the tumbled full-grain leather. This doesn’t mean it’s worse for the wear, and won’t wear hard; you can typically expect to get at least a full year of heavy duty out of your Doc Martens.
In order to maintain the iconic good looks of your 2295s, you’ll want to occasionally refresh the wax with a shoe brush. Dr. Martens offers a range of products including Wonder Balsam to alter the finish to have a duller look as you wish.
Provided you keep the uppers in good nick, you can replace the soles when they’re worn thanks to the welt. Whether you stick to Dr. Martens PVC or switch it up is entirely up to you, opening the door to an exciting world of customisation.
Steel-toed boots are rarely mistaken for fashion footwear, but Dr. Martens blurs the line with their Icon 7B10. Not only do these unisex safety boots look and feel great, but they’re rated for serious wear and tear.
Construction, comfort, and fit
True to form for Doc Martens, the 7B10 comes standard with brown full-grain leather uppers. The vamp, shaft, and gusset are triple stitched together for superior durability–not to mention rugged good looks. There are seven eyelets, allowing you to lace as snug a fit over the bridge of your foot as needed.
Inside, you’ll find Dr. Martens’ special SoftWair memory foam insole, which moulds to your feet and remembers the fit. Moreover, the foot bed and heat-sealed inner lining both wick moisture away; you never have to worry about your 7B10’s from getting swampy halfway through a hot day. Beneath it all are Doc Martens’ classic PVC outsole.
So how do they fit? While you’d never call them clunky, the 7B10s are still a fairly bold cut, and it takes some time to break in. The inner seams in particular are prone to rubbing in the early days, so make sure to wear the right socks to prevent the otherwise inevitable blister.
Once again, Dr. Martens’ offer powerful protection against impacts with an I/75 C/75 rated steel toe. And despite the metal in the boot, the 7B10 nevertheless feature the EH electrical safety rating. Just be sure to keep the outer in good nick, as it provides the foundation for the boot’s electrical insulation.
And speaking of outers, Doc Martens’ trademark PVC soles come standard with corrosion resistance vs. petrol, oil, fats, and other chemicals. On the bottom, you’ll find treads which effectively grip onto slippery surfaces, enabling you to keep your balance and avoid accidents.
We’ve already touched on the moisture-wicking properties of the 7B10’s interior; however, it bears mention that the SoftWair foot bed also features anti-bacterial virtues, keeping your feet safe from the smallest hazards of all.
Looks and longevity
Honestly, we’ve probably already let the cat out of the bag here; but we think the 7B10 is one of the better-looking safety boots on the market. Yes, a part of it has to do with that signature Doc style, but there’s also a traditional, rugged appeal here as well.
The triple stitching stands out in particular as a mark of quality and craftsmanship. What’s more, the toe box isn’t nearly as boxy as is often found on safety boots of this calibre. The high cut looks great with your work gear, as it does with a well-worn pair of jeans on your days off.
Basic maintenance is all you’ll need to keep your 7B10s kicking for a while. Good moisture wicking means your boots won’t begrudge the lack of rest leather uppers otherwise require. Just be sure to wipe the dirt off, and occasionally apply some silicone or wax to the uppers. Done this way, you should easily get a couple of years’ service from your Dr. Martens 7B10 safety boots!
Yes, Chelsea boots can be safety boots too, and Doc Martens is here to prove it. Their Icon 2228 PW Pull On work boot offers S2-level protections in a stylish, comfortable package.
Construction, comfort, and fit
The beauty of a Chelsea boot is that it’s easy to pull on and off. This is of particular use on jobs that require specialty footwear be repeatedly donned and doffed. Many owners swear by the 2228 PW, and re-purchase worn out boots because they’re incredibly comfortable, “like walking on air”.
So, while there’s still plenty of robust leather on the 2228 PW, the uppers also feature flexible nylon elasticated gussets. In combination with the pliant-but-strong nylon insoles, you’ll find these have a graciously short break-in period. We recommend you size down, as their design means they’re a tad big around the ankles.
Flexible though the boot may be, the 2228 PW still wears plenty hard, with its welted construction and PVC “commando-style” sole. Even after back-to-back 12-hour shifts, both your foot and boot will be ready to meet the next day head-on.
The 2228 PW stands up well to scrutiny as a safety boot, providing a litany of certifications. First off, the sole features SRA anti-slip rating, allowing you to keep your footing on slick surfaces. Moreover, this boot fully conforms to EN ISO 20345 S3 standards for energy absorption, penetration resistance, water-resistances, anti-static properties, and more. Better yet, the 2228 PW’s steel toe cap exceeds the 200 joule energy rating required by the EU.
Clearly, Doc Martens knows how to make safety equipment that meet the needs of industry.
Looks and longevity
While Chelseas aren’t for everyone, their fans swear by them. Sure, the 2228 PW isn’t going to wow you with its humble corrected-grain leather and lack of bells and whistles. But sometimes simple footwear is just the ticket. And, despite the billing as men’s boots, the 2228 PW is really a unisex cut.
In terms of longevity, Dr. Martens’ welted PVC sole once again steals the show. Resistant to all manner of chemical corrosion including fuels, you won’t have to worry about premature degradation in harsh conditions. With proper care, which consists of waxing cleaning, you should expect to get a year of constant wear out of your 2228 PWs.
The Winch safety boots from Doc Martens are a true everyman’s boot. Featuring immaculate workmanship and superior protection ratings, the Winch more than justifies its price as a solid investment in the health of your feet.
Construction, comfort, and fit
Whether you’re working doing heavy industrial duty or you working 12-hour shifts in the service industry, you’ll be glad for the fit and comfort the Winch provides. And one need only wear this boot once to appreciate the robust contours of the cushioned insole. Not only does it mould to your feet, it provides excellent arch support and promotes good posture.
Nubuck leather uppers protect your feet and withstand the rigours of daily wear with aplomb. Welted below is a flexible Doc Martens PVC outsole, which effectively cushions against the energy of striking the ground and thus, reduces foot fatigue. And at just 1.8kg, you’ll go the distance well before you feel the Winch weighing you down.
Overall, the Winch provides a cushioned fit that isn’t too snug. If you have narrower feet, however, you may find that this boot’s D width is a bit closer to an E. But, proper boot socks go a long way towards getting the right fit, and you can always replace the insole with something you like better.
The Winch offers uncompromising safety, starting with its I/57 C/75 rated steel toe cap. While all Doc Martens PVC outers feature similar levels of anti-slippage, you’ll find the Winch has a particularly robust tread. Combined with a good level of water resistance, neither rain nor snow nor mud will slow you down.
Doc Martens builds their Winch safety boots with robust insulation, which translates into exceptional electrical and static resistance. While most of this is in the outsole, you won’t have to worry about early breakdown from corrosive chemicals and oils with the Winch.
Looks and longevity
It’s uncontroversial to say the Winch is a good looking boot. Indeed, it looks equally at home on build sites, behind the bar at a pub, or out in the field. While this is one of the more expensive recommendations on our list of the best safety boots, the quality is immediately apparent.
While the Winch is strong enough to withstand significant abuse, it doesn’t fare quite as well over the long run. This isn’t to say it’s a bad investment or will crap out when you need it most; just that it is designed to be lighter-weight and flexible. You’ll want to consider this a yearly replacement, and an especially good pick if your job is willing to foot the bill.
Nevertheless, you can guarantee a solid service life out of the Winch with occasional oiling of the slightly milled leather uppers. And that 1-year prognosis goes right out the window if you’re willing to take advantage of the welt and replace the outsole.
If your top priority is rugged protection, then look no further than the Ironbridge work boots. Featuring the toughest leather Dr. Martens has to offer, plus a special metatarsal guard for full-foot coverage, the Ironbridge truly lives up to its name.
Construction, comfort, and fit
One look at the Ironbridge gives you the impression that it’s built like a tank. With heavyweight, tight-grained Grizzly leather uppers, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re actually made of bear hide. Yet again, our old friend the Dr. Martens air-cushioned PVC outsole joins the uppers with a sturdy welt.
While we’ve painted a picture of an indomitable monster, wearing the Ironbridge is a plush experience. The insole is made from a special felt, which provides an outrageously comfortable fit. Moreover, it works together with the Cambrelle lining to effectively banish moisture from your boot interior. That means less bacteria, fungus, abrasion, and blistering!
The Ironbridge’s collar is padded with ballistic mesh, which holds snug but never pinches. And with eight rugged eyelets, you can lace your work boots for the perfect fit whilst relieving pressure points anywhere along the bridge of the foot.
Steel toes are common in work boots, but the Ironbridge goes a step further. Here, you’ll find a tough guard plate beneath the tongue, which offers significant impact protection to your fragile metatarsal bones. The met guard actually connects with the steel toe, creating a continuous armour plating.
Remember how much we hyped the comfort of the Ironbridge’s insole? That’s because it has to be; metatarsal plates are infamously stiff, and a lot of folks won’t wear them unless the rest of the boot is positively plush. Modern materials like what Doc Martens uses have improved the situation, but it’s a concern intrinsic to this class of safety boot. (We won’t sugar coat it: if you’re not used to met guards, prepare for a rough break-in.)
Beyond impact protection, the Ironbridge rates well for electrical resistance. And thanks once again to the combo of well-oiled full-grain leather and PVC outers, your Doc Martens won’t wilt in the face of corrosive chemicals and oils. Don’t worry too much about slipping either; the Ironbridge’s water resistance and SRA rating keeps your feet dry, and planted firmly on the ground.
Looks and longevity
You won’t be winning any beauty pageants in the Ironbridge, to be sure. However, durable materials withstand extensive wear with surprising grace, and you’ll find well-kept uppers will last. As with most Dr. Martens safety boots, it’s the tell-tale PVC outers which give out first. But the welt enables you to give your Ironbridges a second lease on life with replacement soles.
Owners typically report 12-18 months of service out of their Ironbridges, but consider the customer. If you need a metatarsal plated safety boot, chances are good you’re going harder than most.
If your job requires documentation to verify the safety ratings of your work boots, you’ll find them printed under the tongue. Doc Martens clearly knows their target audience, given how they’ve built the Ironbridge.
Understanding safety ratings
Safety boot reviews (ourselves included) often tout a product’s various safety ratings, but what exactly do they mean? Here, we talk about the essential standards safety boots must achieve to be considered appropriate workplace footwear.
The United Kingdom currently maintains adoption of the EU’s ISO 20345:2011 standards with regards to safety boots. Here are a few of the most important criteria you need to be aware of:
Electrical resistance (A)
Footwear with an A rating features antistatic resistance up to 1000 MΩ. What this means in layman’s terms is that your boot resists and discharges electrostatic forces. This is far preferable to the alternative, where it builds up to the point where your boot actually becomes a conductor of electricity, rather than an insulator!
Heat resistance (HRO)
HRO stands for “heat resistant outsole”, which denotes a sole which can withstand 300°C temperatures. Additionally, HRO boots are tested to withstand prolonged 150°C heat for up to 30 minutes.
Toe protection (SB)
The Safety Basic toe protection rating tests the ability of your toe cap to protect your feet from various forces. An SB rated toe will withstand a 20kg weight dropped from a height of 1m, which equates to 200J of energy. It will also retain its shape vs. 15kN of compression force.
Anyone who’s ever stepped on a nail will tell you how important a P rating is. These boots will have inserts of steel, aluminium, Kevlar, or similarly robust materials embedded into the midsole. P-rated safety boots will withstand 1,100Nm of piercing force.
Slip resistance (SRA/B/C)
Slippage in the workplace often leads to injury, and as such grip is a vital safety boot statistic. There are three tiers: SRA, tested on tile covered in sodium laurel sulfate (a common ingredient in soaps and cleaners); SRB, tested on steel floors covered in glycerine; and SRC which tests against both simultaneously.
Water resistance (WR/WRU)
Most safety boots offer some level of water resistance, it’s just a matter of how much. A WR-rated boot is entirely waterproof, and will keep your feet dry in standing water. A WRU boot only has water-resistant uppers, which means they’re better suited for keeping you dry against splashes and sprays, rather than submersion.
Energy absorption (E)
This is a measure of a boot’s ability to cushion your footfall. The heel of an E-rated boot will absorb 20J of force, significantly softening the blow of each step you take. This is an important rating for determining how comfortable the boot will be over the course of hours on your feet. E safety boots will fatigue your feet far less than their non-rated alternatives.
Fuel oil resilience (FO)
Rubber outsoles are generally very resistant to the corrosive effects of oil, petrol, and other chemicals, but you can’t take it for granted. A boot with an FO rating is a necessity for rig workers, mechanics, and anyone else who works around such compounds.
S ratings (S1/2/3)
This is a hybrid rating system using protective toe cap boots as the baseline. In addition to an SB rating, S1 will offer A, E, and FO performance. Most steel-toe boots fall into this category. S2 boots will add WRU to SB, A, E, and FO. Finally, S3 safety boots will have all the aforementioned credentials as well as a P rating.
When shopping online, it is inevitable that you will see safety boots sold under American, rather than UK standards. While the testing methods are different, the outcome of the boot’s performance will be generally analogous. Even so, some workplaces may forbid the use of safety gear which bears only the equivalent American standard, so do your homework.
The US counterparts to ISO 20345:2011 standards for protective footwear are ASTM F2412 and ASTM F2413. Additionally, there are several appendages for specific protections, including:
- Impact (I) – Look for I/75 toe caps.
- Compression (C) – Look for C/75 toe caps.
- Metatarsal protection (Mt) – Boots with met guards of sufficient quality will bear this standard.
- Electrical hazard (EH) – Rates your boot against its ability to prevent shock when stepping on an open circuit or live wire.
- Puncture resistance (PR) – Armoured midsoles will typically carry the PR rating with them to prove their worth.
How to take care of your Dr. Martens safety boots
It is essential to maintain the integrity of your safety boots for three primary reasons:
- Maintaining protection ratings
- Keeping them looking fresh
- Preventing premature wear and breakdown
Dr. Martens produce high-quality boots which wear hard and go the extra mile without complaint, but they’re not invincible. Here are some tips to help you keep your safety boots in top shape.
Give them a good cleaning
At the bare minimum, you should try to brush off the dirt and debris which accumulates at the end of a hard workday. However, if you’d like to do a deep clean, try this.
- First, remove the laces from the boots entirely. This will allow you to work with beneath the facings, along the gusset, and over the tongue more effectively.
- Next, dip a wash cloth or toothbrush in some warm water, then work carefully to remove all the grime without soaking the leather.
- Finally, pat your boots dry, then let them air out with the laces still off. DO NOT use a hair dryer or other type of heater to force your Dr. Martens dry, as the leather may stiffen and crack.
Condition and polish your Doc Martens
You don’t have to do this after every cleaning, but every few weeks it really pays to rejuvenate the leather of your Dr. Martens safety boots with some polish. This does a few things for your boot:
- Keeps the leather supple and strong
- Prevents drying out and cracking
- Restores the signature colour and shine Dr. Martens are known for
The polishing process
Getting started, you’ll want to line your workspace with a towel or newspaper to prevent the polish from staining. Next, make sure the boots are dry, and have the laces removed, as should be the case following a thorough cleaning.
Next, you’ll want to have a good wax- or silicone-based boot polish to hand; Dr. Martens shoe polish is tailor-made for their safety boots, for example. There are multiple colours available, so try to match your polish to your boot, as this will help restore heavy scuffing and lost colouring in the leather.
Now that you’re properly equipped, dip a dry cloth into the polish, and go to town covering every inch of your work boot. Be sure to get the tongue and gusset as well, though try to avoid getting it inside the boot. Once you’re done, take another dry rag and wipe the excess away.
Congratulations, your Doc Martens should now look better than new!
Conditioning your boots
Every month or so, you’ll want to condition the leather, which is very much a separate process from cleaning or polishing. Once again, Dr. Martens makes the best product for their footwear, and that is their Wonder Balsam.
The process begins much the same way as with polishing: with a clean, dry, unlaced boot. Wonder Balsam comes with a special applicator sponge, so use this to begin working a small amount of the compound into the leather. Pay special care to get into those seams as well! Additionally, you’ll want to avoid getting it inside the boot, as well.
Once you’ve done this, let the Wonder Balsam sit for at least five minutes. (Some users swear by leaving it on overnight, but this really isn’t necessary.) There won’t be much left, as the leather will have absorbed the bulk of it, but you should wipe off what excess remains all the same.
While polish primarily improves the looks of your boots, balsam prolongs the life of the leather itself. Don’t wait until your Dr. Martens are already showing signs of wear, either; applying Wonder Balsam to a brand-new boot will help speed along the break-in period, and improve your boots’ wear characteristics!
Remove any hard debris in the treads
Finally, it pays to occasionally glance at the bottom of your outsoles. Dr. Martens’ feature rugged treads, which can pick up rocks, nails, tacks, plastic, mud, and other hard debris. Setting aside the frightful prospect of tracking such detritus into the house, you’ll want to take care to remove it for the sake of your safety boots’ longevity.
Think about it this way: even if a rock hasn’t penetrated the sole, its presence will increase the total wear and tear each step you take. Thus, the outsole is likely to break down prematurely, forcing you to visit a cobbler to welt on a new sole, or even buying a new work boot altogether.
If that’s not enough to convince you, also consider that your sole is responsible for much of your boot’s protective rating. HRO, A, E, FO, WR, and all the S standards each require an outsole in good nick to perform. If you let it slide, you may find yourself failing a spot safety check on the job at best, or getting hurt at worst.
RELATED READING: Best Rigger Boots With Ankle Support
Doc Martens Boots: CONCLUSION
Dr. Martens makes iconic boots, but their good looks aren’t the only reason you see everyone wearing them. In fact, their safety boots are among the best-regarded amongst industrial and service workers. For the price, you’re going to have a hard time finding a boot that better blends protection, aesthetics, and sheer comfort than good old Doc Martens.
Today, we reviewed the five best safety boots from Dr. Martens for a variety of applications. The boot you choose will heavily depend upon your workplace requirements, but rest assured that any of these models will serve you faithfully. This is especially true if you give them a little TLC–which we’ve also shown you how to do.
Do You Own Dr Martens Safety Boots?
- Which Dr. Martens will you wear to work?
- What do you look for in the best safety boots?
We’d love to hear from you and have your feedback on Doc Martens boots. Leave us a note in the comments section below.