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Specialty Wide Toe Box Shoes for Work — Including Steel Toe and Slip-Resistant

September 30, 2022
Wide toe box shoes for specific occupations, including steel toe and slip-resistant shoes

One of the questions I am asked most often is if there are wide toe box or barefoot style shoes with specific features related to a certain profession. If you’re someone that works on their feet all day and you’re tired of shoes that just are not comfortable, then this post is for you! It’s the narrow toe boxes and incredibly stiff and heavy soles that bother most people, so all of these shoes feature a wide toe box, and flat soles that are lightweight.

I’ve rounded up all of my recommendations here for those that are looking for more comfortable options for steel toe safety shoes, slip-resistant shoes, or shoes for nurses and other healthcare workers that are on their feet for 12+ hour shifts. 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click on one of them, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!


Table of Contents

  1. Wide Toe Box Shoes with Cushion
  2. Slip-Resistant Shoes
  3. Safety Shoes (Steel Toe Boots)
  4. Wide Toe Box Work Boots

Wide toe box shoes with cushion (for nurses, other healthcare workers, those with long shifts, etc) 

Most nurses and healthcare workers that ask me about shoes are looking for a shoe with a wide toe box that also has plenty of cushion to help with long shifts on hard floors. Barefoot shoes typically have thin, flat and flexible soles along with a wide toe box, but there are a few that offer a thicker, cushioned sole. Here are my top recommendations for wide toe box shoes with cushion.  

Altras

Altra Running started with the idea that running shoes should have a wide foot-shape and balanced cushioning (aka no heel). 10 years later, Altra continues to make shoes that are zero-drop with a wide toe box, but still feature cushion. Most Altra styles have about 28mm of cushion, which many find to be plenty. 

Altra three different widths, which they call FootShape designs. For a more natural fit, I’d stick with the Original and Standard FootShapes. You can also get most of their shoes in a wide option as well, but this is just a widening of the mid-foot area of the shoe, not additional space in the toe box.  

Original (widest) FootShape Shoes – Altra offers several trail running and hiking shoes along with a road running shoe in its widest foot shape. If you don’t mind the lugs, then the Lone Peaks are a great option. The newest version of the Escalante, which is a road running shoe, also features this widest toe box.

Altra Lone Peaks are barefoot shoes with cushion making them one of the best barefoot shoes for beginners

Standard FootShape Shoes – This standard footshape has a lot more options, including cushion walking and road running shoes. While this shoe shape isn’t quite as wide as the Original, the toe box still has plenty of room for a lot of people. If you’re looking for an easy-to-clean option, the Torin Leather has an all-leather upper and a slip resistant rubber outsole.

Altras are available on Altra.com and at REI.

Altras, Comfortable Shoes for Nurses and Healthcare workers

Other Wide Toe Box Shoes with Cushion

Altras are definitely the option with the most cushion. If you want something in between with a moderate amount of cushion, then check out these brands: 

Lems Shoes – Most of Lems styles have a wide, anatomically shaped toe box. The outsoles are made with air injection rubber so they’re a bit thicker, but very light. Most Lems shoes have a stack height of around 14mm consisting of an 8-9mm outsole and a 3-4mm cushioned insole. For casual options, I like the Primal 2s and the Chillums.  

Lems Primals, great barefoot shoes for beginners

Bohempia Shoes—Bohempia’s barefoot shoes come in wide and extra wide. They have a foot-shaped toe box, flat soles, and uppers made with hemp. The total stack height is about 6mm, which includes a removable insole that’s about 3mm. Use code KELLY10 for 10% off at Bohempia.

Bohempia barefoot shoes

Barebarics —This is another barefoot shoe brand that offers just a little bit more cushion than the typical options. They have a 4mm outsole, plus a removable insole for a few more millimeters of cushion. Code KELLY5 for an additional 5% off Barebarics.  

Barebarics Zing sneakers are great casual shoes for travel

Anatomic Sneakers with water-resistant uppers – This shoe by Anatomic has about a 6mm sole, so a little bit thicker sole than most barefoot shoes, but much more minimal compared to the Altras. The uppers are breathable cotton with a water resistance, so they’re easier to wipe clean.  Anatomic sneakers are available on PedTerra which offers free shipping and returns within the US. These are $58; you can get 10% off using code KELLY on PedTerra.


Slip-Resistant or Non-Slip Shoes with Wide Toe Box 

Many professions require anti-slip safety footwear, including restaurant workers and healthcare professionals. Thankfully, there are some barefoot shoes with slip-resistant soles, so you can make both safety and foot health top priority.

Lems Kourt Grip – After many requests, this casual minimalist shoe from Lems got upgraded to a non-slip sole. With a little extra cushion, this shoe is made for those that spend hours on their feet that want a little more padding. The uppers are leather, which means they’re easy to wipe clean from spills too.

Xero Shoes Slip-Resistant Prio – One of Xero Shoe’s most popular shoes is the Prio, and now it comes in water-resistant leather uppers with a slip-resistant rubber sole.  The soles are fairly thin, so these are a great option if you’re comfortable in barefoot shoes.

Slip-Resistant Shoes with wide toe box by Xero Shoes

Altra Torin Leather – This Altra shoe has a slip-resistant rubber sole, plus water-resistant leather uppers.  They have a wide toe box and a stack height of 28mm, so lots of cushion. They come in black and light grey.

Slip-Resistant Shoes with wide toe box by Altra Running

Wide Toe Box Safety Shoes – Steel Toe Shoes or Composite Toe Shoes 

For those that spend all day on their feet and need to keep them protected, the Birkenstock QS700 safety shoe is the best option I’ve found. It has a wide, foot-shaped toe box with a steel toe, the sole is flat, and it’s reasonably light and flexible while still offering the necessary features of a safety shoe.  

Here are the tech specs of the Birkenstock QS700:  

  • 200 joule steel toe cap with a scratch-resistant cap guard protects the forefoot. 
  • Outsole is nonslip, metal-free, and oil- and petrol-resistant. Provides for energy absorption around the heel and is penetration-resistant. 
  • shoe is certified in accordance with EN ISO 20345:2011 
  • meets the requirements of protection category S3 

There are two different options for the uppers: water-resistant smooth leather, or a vegan option made with water-resistant microfiber (WRU) that offers antistatic protection. 

The cork insole is pretty stiff. It is removable, so I recommending replacing it with a flat , flexible insole like one of the cork insoles in this post these that offers a few millimeters of cushion without affecting flexibility. This makes this wide toe box work boots overall much more flexible compared to the original insole.  

These wide toe safety boots are available in sizes EU35 to 48. For a low cut version of this safety shoe, check out the Birkenstock QS500. If you do not need the steel toe cap, you can opt for the QO500.

Where to buy the Birkenstock QS700:

United States and Europe – The two best options I’ve found to get these Birkenstock steel toe boots to the US or EU are as follows:

  • ZaMi website (zapatillas-minimalistas.com): This is Spanish minimalist shoe website that ships them worldwide, including to the US. The boots are 140,00 € (tax included to the US), plus 30 € for shipping, so the total comes to 170,00 € if you’re ordering from the US.  Once you’re on the ZaMi website, search “Birkenstock” and the options will pop up.
  • German Amazon (amazon.de): Ordering on the German Amazon website seems to work for most European countries. If you’re ordering to the US, it seems to work best if you initially select a European country as your shipping destination, and then later put in your actual US address as the delivery address in the checkout process. If I select the US as the delivery location on the product page, it says it “Delivery cannot be dispatched to selected location.” Several people have reported that they have successfully had these delivered to the US from amazon.de. Deliver took about 3 weeks.

United Kingdom – If you’re ready to purchase this wide toe box safety boot and located in the UK, you’re in luck! You can order them directly from Birkenstock. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Birkenstock will ship these to the US or EU.

Wide Toe Box Safety Boots by Birkenstock

Other Wide Toe Box Work Boots

If you need work boots, but they don’t have to be steel toe boots, then check out these options:

Lems Boulder Boots or Boulder Summit– These minimalist leather boots from Lems are sturdy and well made. The Boulder Summits are made for more slippery conditions and offers more grip. Retail is $185

Lems Boulder Summit as minimalist work boots

Vivobarefoot Tracker FGs – another great leather boot offering a wide toe box and a flat and flexible sole.

Vivobarefoot Tracker FGs as leather barefoot work boots

Bearfoot Bruin Work Boots – Leather boot with flat rubber sole. Triple stitched upper and resolvable construction. Retail is $239.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Steel Toe Shoes Wide Width June 4, 2024 at 8:35 pm

    […] need to provide protection from heavy machinery and equipment. Wide width steel toe shoes with a slip-resistant sole and a comfortable, cushioned upper are suitable for manufacturing workers. The Dr. Martens […]

  • Reply Sarah Tillman March 24, 2023 at 10:38 am

    This page was very helpful! I have been looking for information like this, and you introduced me to several new brands I will have to try for wide toe box shoes. Thanks!

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