-Steel toe vs composite toe protection-Which one is for you ?

Many of you have been asked, or will be asked about composite toe protectors vs the more traditional steel toe protectors In fire boots. I have outlined below some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of toe protector, so you can better discuss this with potential clients. Both steel toe protectors and composite toe protectors are designed to protect the feet. Both of them must pass the NFPA 1971 test for impact resistance. The problem here is that the NFPA 1971 requires that only one impact test be done on these toe protectors.

Composite toe protectors are usually lighter than the steel tow protectors. Some manufacturers claim that composite toe protectors insulate better against cold weather, but the fact is that this is a false misconception. Both the composite material and the steel material transmit cold (or heat) at the same rate as the other. The toe box protector on NFPA 1971 certified boots does not usually touch the end-users feet, which is where the cold (or heat) transmission would occur. If the toe box protector were to touch the end-user’s feet, the boots would be uncomfortable to walk around in.

Steel toe protectors are usually heavier and less expensive than the composite toe protectors.

So why does Cosmas choose to remain with steel toe protectors ?One major point

There is one major disadvantage to the composite toe protector, which does not occur with the steel toe protector. Based on NFPA 1971 testing for impact resistance on toe protectors, the toe protectors must only resist to one impact (NFPA 1971 requirement: Toes shall have impact 102J (75 ft-lb); compression 11,121N (2500 lbf) with minimum clearance of 13mm (1/2 in)).

  • What happens to the steel toe protector after this impact ? The steel toe protector shows signs of deformation (dents and dings). If these deformations are excessive, the end-user is immediately aware when they either remove or put on their boots. The end-user is immediately aware that the toe protection is diminished and that they should act accordingly.
  • What happens to the composite toe protector after this impact ? The composite toe protector cracks. It does not give the end-user any warning signs that the toe protection has been diminished. Therefore, the end-user is unaware that they are using a boot with diminished toe protection (as the cracked toe protector is hidden inside the boot). This leaves the end-user open to severe injuries if a second impact were to occur on their boots.


Cosmas USA made the choice to remain with the steel toe protectors for safety reasons. Our boots are already lighter than the boots from the competition, plus they offer the best insulation of any NFPA 1971 compliant fire boot available. Therefore, there is no need to put the safety of our clients at risk with the use of a composite toe protector.