Suited and Booted: Your Guide to Finding a Great Pair of Cowboy Boots

If you want a great pair of cowboy boots then you’re not alone.

The market for western boots in 2017 was reported as being over 1.2 billion dollars. It’s expected to rise to nearly 2 billion dollars by 2025.

Keep reading this guide if you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost in the choices of cowboy boots!

Why Do You Want Cowboy Boots?

The heritage of the cowboy boot is as workwear.

The tough and practical cowboy boot provided the early ranch workers with their footwear of choice. This was way before they were a desirable fashion item.

In the mid-1900s, Hollywood movies romanticized the cowboy. They acquired an image that everybody wanted to emulate. Whether you were a ranch worker, country singer, or just an admirer of the style, cowboy boots became a fashion statement.

With the stylish character came different colors, and styles. Shapes varied and the choice of materials broadened. Some fashion-influenced boots became much less practical as working cowboy boots.

Your first consideration when choosing cowboy boots is to be clear about what the purpose of the boots will be.

If the purpose of your boots is as a practical aid to horse riding and farm or ranch work, then you should avoid some of the fashion-orientated boots. You need a tough boot. You need durability and comfort that lasts all day, in all weathers.

If your purpose is to complement your outfit and look stylish, then you need a cowboy boot that makes a fashion statement. Appearance rather than function is your priority. You might choose a fancy cowboy boot that a ranch hand wouldn’t be seen dead in except perhaps at the after-roundup dance.

Leather Options

Understanding the leather options will help you determine the right cowboy boots for you.

The classic cowboy boot leather is calfskin. It’s tough yet flexible. You have the perfect combination of resilience and comfort that a working cowboy needs and expects.

The go-to leather for cowboy boots with charisma is snakeskin. They aren’t the most durable boots, but the snakeskin cowboy boot wearer is probably not concerned about durability. This is the boot worn by a gunslinger rather than a rancher.

Both these boots need careful maintenance if you want them to last and retain their appearance. The calfskin hide has natural oils in it and so will need a little less care than the snakeskin option. Snakeskin needs conditioner to retain its shine, but it’s worth the effort for the envious looks you’ll be getting.

Other leathers you might consider are a little more exotic.

Caiman has amazing patterning, is durable, and yet soft to the touch. Ostrich leather has a distinctive texture produced by the ostrich feathers. Lizard is very shiny and stiff, perfect for more formal situations.

Non-leather or faux leather options also available and can be high-quality manufacture.

Check the build quality and attention to detail to assess whether this is a cheap and low standard alternative or a genuine contender for your consideration.

Sole Type

Top cowboy boots have a smooth sole designed for riding.

Made of leather, this sole may take some breaking in, but it’s designed to be durable and replaceable when it wears thin. A high heal is designed to sit in the stirrups safely and lower heel options provide a little more comfort when walking around.

Roper boots may have leather or rubber soles. They have shorter heels reflecting the roper’s role. A roper will combine riding and working on foot to catch and rope calves.

The stockman boot has a shorter heel than a classic cowboy’s riding boot. It may also have a durable rubber sole. Western work boots have short heels and durable comfortable soles made of rubber with a practical grippy tread.

For the most confident cowboy boot wearer, the buckaroo style is the most distinctive and flamboyant version of the cowboy boot. With the highest of heels, these boots are not designed for walking. They are the rodeo riders boot of choice.

What’s Your Style?

If you need a boot for riding, the classic cowboy boot will meet your needs.

They have a shaft that reaches the mid-calf and a hard toe to protect your feet from stray horse hooves. For more charisma and a longer shaft, the buckaroo is your boot choice.

A shorter shafted roper boot makes walking easier while allowing the wearer to ride too. They have a flexible sole and good ankle support. Some even have laces for easier fitting.

Another hybrid boot is the stockman with a taller shaft and deeply scalloped top. They are multi-purpose boots with style.

If you’re unlikely to see a horse but need a practical boot, try the western work boot. They are shorter boots like the roper, although some are a little taller. The rounded tow is practical for walking and comfortable too.

It’s in the Details

Once you have decided on the sole, style and boot length you can turn to some of the design details.

This is a matter of personal preference and style.

Stitching, fringes, rhinestones, and colors galore allow you to make a bold statement. If your preference is for understated quality, you can let the silhouette of the cowboy boot and the grain of the leather speak for its self.

Fit Right

Getting the right fitting cowboy boot is often about trial and error.

Try on lots of boots.

Your toes should be able to move. The boots should gently grip your feet at the widest point. Your heel should lift slightly at the back of the cowboy boots.

Your Boots

Cowboy boots make a statement.

If you wear them, you may be a cowboy or at least a horse rider. Alternatively, you have the confidence to wear the most iconic boots.

Learn more about the best value cowboy boots here.