I don’t think there’s a right answer, or winner, it just depends on the needs of the user.
Alloy Toe Cap
The toe cap is a quarter-circle piece that’s built into the front (toe box) of most safety boots.
It’s like a little amphitheater dome that protects your toes from any falling objects or crushing weights.
I’ve had a number of potentially injurious events happen to my feet while on the job, and thanks to my ASTM rated toe cap, I’ve been fine.
It’s sometimes shocking how well they work,
Any time you see a boot advertised as alloy toe or something-toe they’re referring to the material used to make the toe cap.
Materials Used in Alloy Toe
The most commonly used alloys in toe caps are a mixture of titanium and aluminum.
An alloy is any substance that is created by mixing two or more metals together, or a metal with another element.
Alloys have been used for centuries as they can offer properties that the non-alloy metal cannot.
The goal is to get a stronger, lighter, or corrosion resistant metal when using an alloy.
As I noted above, the most common alloy toe materials are made from lightweight materials such as titanium and aluminum.
However, you’ll also find the following elements as well:
How Much Weight Can an Alloy Toe Withstand?
Alloy toe caps are approved to handle impacts of up to 75 pounds, and compression of up to 2500 pounds.
Let me explain what that means and how that is determined.
The American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) is an organization that tests countless numbers of materials, boots included.
They have created a test that is relied on by OSHA to determine whether or not boots can be used in many professions.
You may have seen “ASTM 2413-18 I/75 C/75” in your hunt for boots; it may have read slightly differently, just as long as you see the I/75 C/75 you’re safe.
This collection of letters and numbers states that the boots can withstand a 75 pound object being dropped from up to 18 inches (impact) and the weight of a 2500 pound object rolling over your toe cap (compression).
Getting exact numbers on each boot isn’t something that’s possible, as manufacturers simply want to make sure they pass the ASTM test so their boots are OSHA approved.
If you wanted to know exactly how much weight a particular alloy toe could take, you’re going to need a hydraulic press, an instrument to measure the amount of weight, and a willingness to destroy a pair of alloy toe boots.
You might hear some people say that steel is still stronger than alloys, and that isn’t incorrect!
That said, it’s inaccurate to claim that steel will keep your feet safer, as the only data we have is that a boot meets the ASTM standard.
It’s also about how the material is used, which you’d have to do some serious research to determine.
For example, metal is stronger than paper, but a phonebook can stop a bullet while a salad bowl can’t.