What is a steel shank in a boot, and what are the benefits of this piece?

Steel shanks are small, one-inch pieces inserted into boots. The shanks support the weight placed between the insole and the shoe's outsole to support each foot.

The steel shank fits between the heel and ball of your foot, under the arch, in most boots. It’s a narrow rectangle piece of metal that provides a good fit and offers other essential features.


Steel is the most common material, though other styles are an option. Definition


The Benefits of Steel Shanks in Boots

Shanks are common in most boots. Shanks come in other durable materials, such as other metals, fiberglass, or plastic. 


They offer improved shape to work boots and improved structure. Shanks provide protection and significant benefits to your feet, arch, including the following:


  • Steel toe work boots protect your feet from serious injury on work or construction sites. A shank can help maintain your boots’ shape over time, so your feet remain in place with the greatest support.
  • Steel shanks give your shoes good arch support and structure in the shoes for a more extended period.
  • Boots will keep their shape longer, resulting in reduced wear and tear due to these posts.

Shanks go beyond comfort, support, and preserving the quality of your pair of boots. They offer a solid foundation to relieve tension. They reduce the load incurred from your calves, arches, and knees. Shanks are helpful for uneven flooring or terrain, which helps you keep balance.

The Importance of Investing in Boot Shanks

A wide range of footwear can enjoy inserting a quality shank into each shoe. In most cases, you won’t notice them, as shanks are common in many shoes.


They may be flexible enough to bend when you walk or thin enough to go unnoticed. If you install your shanks in a boot, various shoes work well with an inserted set of shanks.

  • Steel toe work boots and construction shoes are ideal for steel.
  • Shanks shield your feet from puncture wounds and other risks. They protect against damage in high-risk areas.
  • Protection from heavy machinery or tools is common.
  • Hiking boots work well with a flexible or standard shank.
  • Designer dress boots work well with shanks to keep their shape. Shanks offers the same benefit to other professional shoes. They help maintain their unique shape and features.

Steel shanks are the standard option. You can buy them in a piece of material to protect the insole and arches of each foot. They are flexible and work with many types of shoes and boots.


What Types of Shanks for Your Work Boot are Available?

Steel shanks are the traditional option, though they can be heavy in certain types of boots. Steel can set off metal detectors and add weight to your walk, which can be a deterrent. Shoe shanks of lighter, durable materials provide all the benefits of steel shanks.

Lighter materials for shanks including fiberglass, leather, wood, and other lighter materials. They make excellent shanks for various shoe and boot styles. Every option provides a benefit. Some materials are more of a benefit in specific shoes than others. Smaller shoes work best with nylon and plastic. Larger-sized boots work best with wood and fiberglass.

Today’s shanks offer the best support, with the lightest weight possible. You should be able to slip on a pair of boots or shoes without noticing the shank.  You'll experience all the comfort and benefits that it provides for supportive comfort.

The Durability of Boot Shanks

Steel remains the most popular choice of material for shanks. This material lasts a lifetime. It offers incredible stability to your shoe’s structure and fit.

Steel is ideal in some work boots, but not every shoe. Steel is heavy to wear, especially if you wear boots for long shifts or in changing climates.

One major drawback of metal shanks is setting off during clearance checks. Metal detectors are another issue, though not a common problem.


Composite materials are best as lighter, softer shank material. The flexibility of plastic, nylon, and other non-metal shanks may seem less effective.


They are durable, less rigid, and reliable. They provide the same type of support and protection.

Non-Metal Shanks: The Benefits and Drawbacks

There are plenty of reasons to consider a non-metal shank for your pair of boots. Today, the trend for shank materials includes nylon, plastic, or fiberglass.


There are important reasons why steel isn’t always the best option. Non-metal shanks are an excellent choice for several reasons:

  • Nylon shanks and other lightweight materials do not heat or cool like metal. Steel shanks will change according to the temperature, which can cause severe discomfort. They don't have the same impact on non-metal shanks.
  • Plastic, nylon, and fiberglass shanks are lighter and don’t make your feet feel heavy. You can wear them longer without feeling their effect.
  • Non-metal shanks last as long as the steel. They offer water-resistant or water-proof protection. They also protect your feet from sharp objects and punctures.

Are there any drawbacks to non-metal shanks?


Steel is the top material. Other materials offer strength but are not quite as tough.


Steel can stand up to any terrain. They offer a bit of an advantage to other materials in some extreme situations.

Choosing the Right Shank for Your Pair of Boots

Some brands of shoes and boots feature a certain material. These can vary from metal or non-composite materials or a blend of more than one. In some boots, shanks are a combination of plastic, nylon, and steel.

Some boots have a certain design or blend of materials to add shanks. There are many styles to search for online that vary in length and style. They are inexpensive and easy to use.

Boots and Shoes Without Shanks

Shanks are standard in most boots and shoes, though some footwear styles do not include them. Training shoes and relaxed-fit boots or indoor shoes skip the shank.

 They don't need protection and offer a relaxed shape.  They are ideal for comfort and in low-risk areas.

Some shoe materials are sturdy on their own, without a shank, and don’t need the added support. Training shoes may not have shanks, as they are flexible and are not worn in areas that need protection.

While shanks are helpful, they are not always necessary. Some shoes don't have a protective layer.

Most boots and shoes have a certain style or type of shank. Some shanks are smaller or thinner than a classic piece or a standard, full-size steel or nylon shank.


Boot shanks offer more protection and comfort. They provide support for your feet that benefits your body and load-carrying abilities.

Shanks is an Important Part of Your Boots

Shanks are the most overlooked yet one of the most critical parts of your shoes. They offer a great deal of stability, reliable form, and safety features.

The benefits of a shank can save you money on buying a new pair of boots. They add an element of durability to your shoes, which is essential.

They offer a robust platform for your feet and enhance both comfort and safety.

They offer a solid base, a reliable length for any pair of boots or shoes. Thin or thick shanks keep your shoes looking sharp and stable longer.


Good quality shanks are perfect for a new pair of work-related boots.


They are great whether you wear them for construction or hiking in the great outdoors.


 learn more on  How Should Boots Fit? Boot Size Chart and Full Fit Guide