Easy On, Easy Off: The Best Slip-On Work Boots For Men
Take some of the work out of hard labour with a comfortable pair of slip-on boots.
Don’t work hard, work smart. It’s a maxim you can apply to what you wear to work, not just the graft itself. Case in point: slip-on work boots. Hardy and practical, they’re also comfortable and convenient, easy to pull on and off, designed to make the 9-5 that little bit more tolerable.
What are they, exactly? A work boot without the laces. A Chelsea boot designed for the site, the garden or your DIY to-do list. In place of the laces, the upper covers the top of your foot, either as a single piece of material or in panels.
The best pull-on work boots incorporate this easy-wearing design without sacrificing practicality. You’ll find slip-on styles for the majority of trades, with the features to make the graft safe and your feet more comfortable.
Slip-on work boots form a core part of every hardy bootmaker worth their salt, from trade specialists and historic workwear brands to crossover labels that also appeal to the fashion crowd.
What are slip-on work boots good for?
Practically anything you set your mind on. Slip-on work boots can do almost anything that regular work boots can do.
The pull-on design makes the boot slightly less secure, so if you’re working in thick mud or just want that extra stability, then lace-ups may suit you better – but it’s really just a personal call.
One point: a pair of slip-on boots is particularly useful for anyone who’s in and out of the house, such as gardeners or carpenters who don’t want to leave footprints on their clients’ floors. They’re great for hobbyists for the same reason.
The key pull-on work boot styles
It’s more commonly known as a cityboy boot these days, but the Chelsea boot was originally designed for horseback and workwear.
The workwear variant is sometimes known as a dealer boot, where the elasticated panel sits slightly higher to keep it out of the mud.
Modern worker styles also come with thick commando soles, toe cap protection and other safety features.
Ideal not just for festival goers, wellington boots are perfect footwear for gardeners, landscapers and anyone else who works in the mud and the earth.
Genuine workwear wellies are more technical than the bog-standard style, with more insulation, cushioned footbeds and protective elements.
Named because they were once standard issue for oil rig workers, these calf-length boots usually have chunky soles and sometimes feature a strap across the top for added security.
The slip-on style was considered ideal for oil rigs because they could be taken on and off quickly in emergency situations.
The classic western boot was standard issue for ranchers and cowboys and the style is still a practical option for workers.
Modern western boots come with modern design touches, such as anti-slip outsoles, oil and water resistance and moulded removable footbeds.
Slip-on work boots: what to look for
This is the most important factor when you’re looking for the best work boots for you, and that goes for slip-on and lace-up silhouettes.
Pore over the features and work out which ones you need, both for maximum safety and practicality. You’ll find steel toe-caps, anti-slip soles and materials that are waterproof, shockproof, oilproof and more.
Find designs catered for your line of work and don’t compromise.
One of the best things about pull-on work boots is their convenience, saving you (and your knees) from tying and retying them. Once they’re on, they should also keep you happy on the job.
Comfortable work boots are engineered to reduce fatigue and make the graft a little easier. Look for ergonomic footbeds, energy-return sole systems, padded collars around the ankle or mesh sections for breathability.
As well as technical features, such as anti-slip coatings or protection against electrical hazards, look for design touches that will make your boots as comfortable and convenient as possible.
Heel tabs help you pull them off and on with ease and you’ll also have to decide between Chelsea-style elasticated panels on the ankle and a zip-up opening.
Choosing the right fabric for the job is important because work boots tend to be investment purchases and you want to get as much wear as possible.
Leather is a good shout for durability and comfort, but it can get hot when you’re working for longer periods, or in warmer weather.
Check out mesh styles, or those with sneaker-style panels made from suede or synthetics, if you want something more breathable for lighter work.
The best slip-on work boots for 2023
With its roots in the 19th-century Australian outback, Blundstone has a reputation for tough-wearing boots that will handle any terrain in comfort.
The majority of its collection are pull-on work boots, with two distinctive pull tabs at the front and the back of the boot opening.
There’s also a mix of genuine safety boots and more general work boots that are suited to DIY’ers and men who just like the workwear look. For the latter, check out the #1910 style, which comes with removable in-soles for added comfort.
Keen has been around since 2003 and its range of practical footwear includes hiking styles and technical sneakers as well as dedicated work boots.
It has dedicated site boots, but really excels at outdoorsy styles. Its pull-on Anchorage model typifies the approach: foam padded textured insoles, grippy rubber soles and solid construction that mixes a durable leather upper with a breathable membrane.
Easy to wear and easy to work in.
More famous for its iconic yellow nubuck 6″ boots, Timberland nevertheless does a fine range of slip-on work boots, too. They’re not as popular with the hip-hop crowd, but they’ll do the job.
At the more lifestyle end, you’ll find Chelsea-style boots with chunky commando soles that work well for DIY and odd jobs.
Then in its dedicated workwear collection, check out the Nashoba steel toe-cap boot, which includes additional technical touches like a puncture-resistant plate and soles designed for energy return with every step.
One of the OG worksite brands (with the bulldozers to prove it), CAT does practical, no-nonsense boots for all manner of jobs.
Its collection of slip-on work boots spans from welly-style options that cover your calf and comfortable hiker-style boots that cover a range of odd jobs.
For a good all-rounder, check out the Wheelbase boot, which comes with a moulded footbed for comfort and energy return, plus a hardy outsole that’s slip-resistant and protects against electrical hazards, too.
It’s a hipster favourite but don’t let that put you off Carhartt’s well-trodden, time-proved workwear.
Its certified slip-on work boots include the Carter waterproof waders. Calf-length with a padded collar, they also come with tow protection and grippy Vibram treads to keep you stable on uneven surfaces.
The brand also does pull-on ankle styles, like a full-grain leather Chelsea boot with shock-absorbent footbeds and anti-puncture construction.
With 120 years of bootmaking behind it, Red Wing is one the best loved and most trusted work boot brands in the world.
Away from its famous moc toe lifestyle boots, the Minnesota brand does a gigantic range of certified safety boots, and the slip-on designs include everything from ankle-length Chelsea boots to 11-inch western styles.
For an all-round work boot that will last you years, check out the Traction Tred Lite Chelsea. Lightweight but with chunky commando soles, it’s great for extra stability and is also heat, stain and electricity resistant.
Few brands have as extensive a selection of worker footwear as this historic USA bootmaker. Wolverine has dozens of styles to choose from, with a particularly impressive collection of rancher boots and wellingtons.
Renowned for its mix of tough safety features and all-American design, these are work boots you can wear with jeans in a bar or work pants on the site.
Check out the brand’s 10″ leather wellingtons, built with Goodyear-welt construction, anti-fatigue soles, arch support and cushioned footbeds.
A relative newcomer to the age-old work boot market, Apache brings technical design and affordable prices in its practical collection.
Its slip-on work boots include hiker- and Chelsea-style designs for general work and wear and specialist boots with heatproof or non-metallic build.
Check out the Crater boot for a hardy, all-conditions option. It has steel-reinforced midsoles with a moulded insole for all-day comfort as well as toe cap protection.
Heritage US outdoors brand Filson is renowned for the durability of its products and the work boots are no exception.
Crafted in thick oiled leather, they have Goodyear-welted construction and anti-slip Vibram soles. They’re not dedicated site boots, but rather all-round work boots that you can wear for chores and the well-deserved beers that come afterwards.
As well as ankle-height Chelsea styles, Filson’s authentic cowboy boots are worth a ride, too.
It’s as much a fashion brand as a rugged outdoors brand these days, but Sorel’s roots are in 1960s Canada, where the label made tough boots for tough outdoor conditions.
Among its collection of hiking boots and snow boots you’ll find a small number of pull-on styles that are waterproof and surprisingly lightweight, while still offering grippy soles and comfortable construction.
Grafters by name and nature, this affordable trade brand creates boots that are high on practicality and low on budget.
The impressive prices take away none of the features you need from a solid work boot though, such as anti-slip soles or coatings that protect against water, heat, electricity, oil or fuel.
You’ll also find shock-absorbent footbeds and soles designed for energy return to lower fatigue.
Another tradesman’s go-to brand, DeWalt is part of the Black & Decker family and its extensive range of workwear is designed with exacting safety standards.
With rigger boots, wellies and ankle boots all available in pull-on styles, the choice is broad and it pays to go through the specs for each boot to find the one that’s right for you.
Yes, they’re known for cosy slippers and fluffy boots that rarely journey farther than the corner shop, but Aussie brand UGG also has serious credentials for comfortable work boots.
From rugged Chelsea styles to toasty snow boots, its range of slip-on styles feature cushioned insoles and moulded rubber outsoles with chunky treads for added stability.
You probably wouldn’t wear them to an actual worksite but for DIYers who’d also wear them day-to-day, they’re a great option.