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Boot Shanks: Types of Boot Shanks






When you look at your work boots, you will start noticing that they have incredibly tough leather exteriors as well as extremely durable and robust rubber outsoles. Work boots, like any other type of footwear, must be both comfortable and durable. The majority of protective and supportive attributes are visible and easy to locate.

Boot Shank Position via Quora

Nevertheless, some of the most crucial attributes and characteristics of your work boots are hidden deep within the structure and are therefore invisible to the human eye. In the matter of the feature of your work boot, the shank is in charge of providing structure. But how important is this minor component? Let’s take a deeper look at what a shank is and what function it plays in modern work boots.

So, What Are Shanks?

Boot Shanks
Boot Shanks

When it comes to work boots, shanks are an important part of the supportive structure that sits between the midsole and outsole. This element is critical to a boot’s capabilities because it not only gives the boot shape but also reduces the mass on the wearer’s feet and calf muscles. Shanks are conventionally made of steel.

Nevertheless, modern shanks are made of different materials such as plastic, fiberglass, nylon, and Kevlar, among others. A solid shank keeps your boots’ structure as well as support intact. This way, you will not need to spend extra money on new boots.

Along with keeping high-priced work boots in good working order for longer periods of time, shanks provide workers with more stability, support, and comfort for those painful and overstretched arches. They are also helpful in dangerous working places where there is a risk of being punctured by sharp things from underneath.

Different Types of Boot Shanks

Metal (usually steel) and nonmetal (also known as composite) shanks are available, including nylon, steel, fiberglass, fiberglass + Kevlar, plastic, and steel mixtures with fiberglass, plastic, and nylon. Training shoes do not generally have integrated shanks. Foot flex is essential for running and other forms of exercise, as is wearing lightweight shoes.

Boot shanks don’t usually weigh you down. Having said that, they do keep your arches from becoming overstressed if you flex your feet too much. You will also need a sturdy material that will be both protective and supportive during your everyday excursions.

Steel Shanks

Steel Boot Shank

What is a Steel Shank in Work Boots?

Do you want to know if all work boots feature a steel shank or not? Is it a vital part to look for when purchasing new work boots?

To address your point, no, not all work boots have a steel shank inserted into them. Work boots come in a variety of styles that are tailored to specific job functions. As a result, several work boots have steel shanks while others do not. Several work boots feature composite shanks alternatively, depending on different types of work.

Now, let’s start with a basic explanation of what a steel shank is.

A steel shank is basically a thin and flat piece of steel that is installed between the insole and outsole of a work boot. It typically comes in a rectangular shape and is made of a tough steel material that helps protect the bottom of your foot from injuries on a dangerous worksite. They also support the preservation of the foot’s shape.

What are the Benefits of a Steel Shank?

Below is a list of the advantages of work boots with the steel shank:

  • The first and most important benefit is the ability to protect your foot from punctures.
  • It aids in maintaining the form of the work boot for a prolonged period of time.
  • It maintains the solidity of the work boots, making them extremely dependable.
  • You won’t have to purchase a new pair of shoes with steel shanks or shoes with metal shanks for a long time because they are extremely sturdy, saving you hundreds of dollars.
  • It improves your stability because steel is very strong.
  • Provides a great deal of arch support, which is particularly useful for those spending most of their days on their feet.
  • It provides a great deal of comfort while working.

Above are some of the great benefits of a work boot with a steel shank.

What kind of job necessitates the use of a pair of steel shank work boots?

Those who work on power lines, factories, construction sites, or in industry sectors that cope with sharp things or heavy machinery should wear steel shank work boots. In some more extreme cases, you will even need steel toe steel shank work boots to protect your toes as well. Ultimately, it will provide adequate protection against almost everything puncturing the bottom of the foot.

In case your job requires you to stay on your feet all day, investing in a good pair of steel shank work boots would be extremely beneficial because it provides extra comfort, and arch support, while decreasing foot strain and fatigue. In this case, you may really want to get a pair of steel shank rubber boots, which protect your underfoot from punctuation while delivering added flexibility and durability. If you like western styles and your job also requires you to protect your feet, steel shank cowboy boots will be a perfect option to consider.

Another benefit of getting a steel shank is that it can absorb the impact of abrasions, injuries, and distress or pain caused by climbing ladders, walking on rough terrains, or walking on bumpy lands. You will find more stability and comfort with steel shank work boots. 

Are shanks only available in steel?

The fact is that shanks are an important part of a work boot. Although they were originally made of steel, different manufacturers have developed composite shanks as well. These are constructed from materials such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, wood, plastic, and nylon.

Composite shank work boots, of course, have advantages and disadvantages. In particular, they protect the wearer in a variety of worksites that do not involve heavy machinery or sharp objects. This would be a great choice for protecting yourself from electrical hazards because it has a higher degree of resilience to electricity.

Composite or Non-Metal Shanks

Leather Boot Shank

Nylon, plastic, and fiberglass are common materials used in this type of shank. Composite shanks are significantly softer and warmer than steel shanks. In addition, they provide the most flexible and lightweight attributes due to their special materials. But don’t be tricked by the lighter weight and greater flexibility. Actually, composite shanks can completely compete with steel shanks.

Aside from being lighter, the only distinction is that they allow you to move freely in your boots. Composite shanks provide lots of support to help relieve pressure and pain in your arches. Nevertheless, they might not be as strong as steel when walking or standing on rocks or sharp things. They will, however, assist you in stabilizing each and every one of your moves. This type of shank is being used in an increasing number of worksites to provide workers with a lightweight and flexible option.

Other Types of Shanks

There are more different types of boot shanks in addition to the steel and composite shanks. They include a plastic, fiberglass, TPU, and nylon shank that are all softer and warmer than steel shanks. However, they still provide excellent support. Thanks to the material used, they are incredibly flexible and lightweight, allowing you to move more freely while wearing them. They have just enough flex to give your feet a much more natural range of motion, and there is a lot of support to help relieve stress in your arches. 

You might also come across an internal TPU shank in work boots. So, what is a TPU shank? Generally speaking, the TPU shank definition is just simple as follows. 

TPU is an abbreviation for thermoplastic polyurethane material. This type of plastic has advantageous characteristics such as oil resistance, transparency, abrasion resistance, and flexibility. It has a high shear resilience and performs perfectly even at low temperatures because of these characteristics. As a result, it is widely used in the manufacture of high-end winter boots.

Even though they are not as strong against rocks and sharp things because they are not made of steel, they will still aid in stabilizing your steps. These materials are widely used in modern hiking boots for lighter footwear that diminishes foot fatigue.

Occasionally, manufacturers will use more than just one type of material. Kevlar and fiberglass shank boots are one example. They are typically less heat-conductive but just as dependable as the others. Steel alloys with fiberglass, plastic, and nylon are more flexible than solid steel alloys. You will get the strength of metal combined with a lighter element.


To summarize, having shanks in your work boots is an absolute must. They not only provide protection and added support for your tired arches, but they are also an incredible deal. Shanks protect you from bruises if you use a ladder day after day.

Those who work on rough ground, on building sites, or in places with pricking sharp things from underneath will also definitely benefit from a dependable shank. You need to bear in mind that prevention is always the best type of protection, and shanks in your work boots predict and inhibit hazards in much more ways than one.

Steven Ta
Steven Ta
I am a professional photographer and shoe-lover. With a deep-rooted passion for all things footwear and years of hands-on experience, I am your go-to guide in the awesome world of shoes
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