Are steel toe boots really stronger than composite toe boots? I think the right question to ask is if it really matters
Steel - is the most traditional material used to line the toes of safety boots since the 1930s. They are low cost, strong, easy to manufacture and easy for consumers to understand. Most affordable safety shoes use steel toecaps.
Composite - is not made of just 1 material, rather it is a mix of many different plastics, fibreglass and in some cases, non-ferrous metals such as aluminium. Composites are significantly lighter than steel but costs more.
- Thin caps are less bulky
- Meets the safety standards
- Very strong
- Generally heavier
- Conducts heat / cold
- Conducts electricity / may spark
- Very lightweight
- Non-metalic / non-magnetic
- Will not conduct heat / cold
- Prevents sparking
- Meets safety standards
- Might look bulkier
- May not last as long
It really depends - Both options are strong enough to pass impact tests mandated by the safety standards they are built to follow. For example European EN ISO 20344, American ASTM F2413-05 or Singapore SS513 standards - where they are required to withstand a compression force of 15kN and impacts of at least 200J.
If superior impact resistance is what you need, steel will generally be stronger than composites. We recommended steel toe boots for hard labourers in dangerous worksites.
On the other hand, if you work in colder climates, work with specialised equipment sensitive to metal (e.g. MRI machines), travel a lot or have to walk large distances at worksites, we recommend composite toe shoes instead.