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What is a Steel Shank in a Work Boot? Plus, Everything Else You Should Know About It?

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

what is a steel shank in a work boot

If you are wondering about steel shank in boots and whether it is necessary or not, we’ve got here a comprehensive answer to the question of what is a steel shank in a work boot and everything else you need to know about it.

You might be familiar with steel toe work boots. They are designed with a protective reinforcement in the toe, which helps protect your toes and upper feet from being injured by falling objects or compression. Resembling that idea, steel shanks are born to provide protection and support to the sole of the foot. Also, they help maintain good conditions of a work boot in the long term. For further details, dive in!

What is a Steel Shank in a Work Boot


Basically, a steel shank is a thin and relatively small piece of steel that is inserted into a boot’s sole. A thin piece of steel in your shoe might sound terrifying. But don’t worry, it does not make contact with your skin because it is placed between the outsole and insole of your work boot.

To enhance its performance, designers usually use a triple rib steel shank instead of a regular flat piece of material. More importantly, a steel shank is made from extremely long-lasting material that plays a big role in supporting and protecting the bottom of the foot.

What is the Use of a Steel Shank


A steel shank in a work boot brings incredible benefits that might really surprise you.

Provide foot protection: In a hazardous workplace, a steel shank is as crucial as far as safety goes. It helps minimize or even prevent injury in the event of penetration of sharp objects.

Provide foot support: Boots that feature a steel shank can give you immensely sturdy and balanced steps. A large number of occupational accidents occur due to slips, trips, and falls in workplaces but a good pair of steel shank boots can help eliminate these risks. It is because the triple rib steel shank ensures a firm grip to any surface and enhances the wearer’s stability on uneven terrain.

On top of that, it provides extra comfort for your foot. Since most work boot wearers have to wear them for many hours every day, and work boots are not light-weighted at all, this feature is a big help. The shank acts as an arch support that helps diminish tension caused by the heavy load on the arches, calves, and knees, leaving the wearer more comfortable and confident in their shoes.

For more information on specific work boots that provide incredible foot support, you can refer to this article on the top-rated work boots for standing all day.

Help maintain good conditions of a work boot: Due to the strong and durable nature of steel, the shank also takes pressure from other parts of the shoe. By this token, work boots with steel shanks are kept in shape longer and last for a remarkably long time compared to regular work boots. In fact, there are steel shank boots that last a lifetime.

Isn’t it incredible what a thin piece of steel can do?

What are the Downsides of Steel Shank Boots

  • Add a bit of extra weight to the boot: A standard steel shank in boot is rectangular but it comes in a variety of sizes and lengths; the most heavy-weighted is the full-length one. It does not anchora work boot, but yes, it does add a bit of extra weight. If you want your boots to be as light-weighted as possible, consider shanks made of other materials, such as fiberglass, nylon, wood, or even plastic.
  • High price: A reliable pair of steel shank work boots might cost you a few hundred dollars. However, as mentioned above, they can last a significantly long time. It’s a worthy one-time investment. With trusted steel shank boots, you can carry out heavy-duty tasks on a daily basis without worrying about searching for new boots to purchase every now and then.
  • Set off metal detectors: If you work at the airport, fly a lot, or work in a place that has metal detectors, steel shanks in boots can set off metal detectors. So, consider this feature carefully. It can cause you discomfort and inconvenience. Remember that shanks in boots come in many other materials besides steel.


In conclusion, a steel shank is a boot component that brings many benefits. You can find them not only in work boots but also in other boot styles. Because they are hidden very well in a shoe’s structure, you can easily pass by them, while choosing a good pair of boots. But trust us, once you try work boots with steel shanks, you are never going back to regular ones.

If you found our article on what is a steel shank in a work boot helpful, don’t hesitate to share it with others. Also, leave your thoughts in the comment section. We look forward to hearing from you.

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