What are the different types of western boots?
Western boots or cowboy boots are the footwear of choice for western riders and ranch workers alike, but did you know there are different cowboy boot styles?
Here I will explore the types of cowboy boots to find out how they compare to each other, discover which style is the most popular, and learn when to wear them.
Table of Contents
10 Types of Western Boots
Cowboy boots have been a part of western and ranch riding culture for years. These are all of the current cowboy boot styles that western riders can find for sale.
- Western boots
- Work boots
- Riding boots
- Walking boots
- Roping boots
- Exotic boots
- Buckaroo boots
- Stockman boots
- Packer boots
- Dress western boots
Now that you know how many different kinds of cowboy and cowgirl boots there are, let’s look at each of them in more detail so that you can understand the purpose of each boot and how they stand out.
Hopefully, this will help you find the perfect pair of boots for you!
ALSO CHECK: How Much Does Horseback Riding Lessons Cost?
1. Western Boots
These boots are the original cowboy boot, the first of the western boot styles to be created.
They have a 12-inch shaft for protection, a long 1 1/2 inch angled heel to keep your foot secure in the stirrup, and a pointed toe for easy mounting and foot protection.
The most common material for Western boots is cowhide, but they can be made of leather, alligator, ostrich, and other skins.
Another prominent feature of Western boots is the stitching that holds the boots together. They are usually decorative elements designed to be eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing.
Western boots are designed to be used for any purpose, whether it’s riding, walking, or working on the ranch.
2. Western Work Boots
The purpose of work (1) boots is to keep cowboys and other ranch workers safe and comfortable while they do their job. They have many unique features to protect the person wearing them:
- Toe reinforced with alloy or steel to protect the toes
- Soles that are designed to protect against electrical surges and other dangers, and reinforced to protect the foot and ankle
- They are heavier than other types of western boots due to the protective materials
- They are durable and resistant to abrasion and chemical spills
Unlike typical western boots, work boots do not have decorative stitching because the focus is on functionality. Work boots are also not suitable for stirrups and safety while riding.
Work boots are usually made (2) of leather or nylon instead of cowhide, and the shaft is shorter to better protect the foot, toes, and ankle.
Check out this video of breaking in work boots.
3. Western Riding Boots
Both the Western and English riding disciplines have riding boots, but the Western ones are designed to have the flair of a traditional Western boot while being ideal for long days in the saddle.
Western riding (3) boots have a long 1 1/2 inch heel that helps keep the foot in the stirrup and prevents it from sliding forward.
If the foot were to slide forward, the ankle would get caught in the stirrup, which would leave the rider unable to take their foot out of it completely in the event of a fall.
This means the rider would get dragged by their horse, resulting in potentially fatal injuries. Riding boots are also made with comfortable materials to prevent blisters and chafing.
Riding boots are typically made of a high-quality leather or suede material and have a tall shaft that keeps the entire leg safe.
Check our comprehensive list of the best western boots for riding horses.
Here’s a quick video of western riding boots.
READ MORE: Types of Western Riding
4. Walking Boots
Western walking boots usually have a leather or rubber sole. This type of cowboy boot also comes in a wide variety of toe shapes, whereas many of the other boot types only have one toe shape.
The different toe shapes are:
For your walking boots to fit you comfortably, you have to make sure you choose the right size and toe shape for your foot. Walking boots typically have a shorter and flatter heel.
5. Roping Boots
Roping (4) boots are a type of western boot made for both riding horses and moving around on the ground. They look like traditional cowboy boots but have a short shaft, round toe, and lower heel than them.
Although they were originally worn specifically to rope cattle on a ranch, they are now worn everywhere because of their versatility.
The heel length means they will be secure in stirrups but are also comfortable enough to run in. The rounded toe provides flexibility to keep your feet from being sore.
The shorter shaft also makes roper boots easier to take on and off. Roper boots come in styles with and without laces, whereas most cowboy boot styles do not have laces.
Check out these boots from NRSworld.
6. Exotic Boots
Exotic Western boots are those that are made of less common animal skins like ostrich, elephant, python, hippo, and more. They focus more on fashion than functionality and share many of the characteristics of cowboy boot styles.
Exotic boots are not recommended for long days at work.
Take a look at this video!
7. Buckaroo Boots
Buckaroo (5) boots are one of the different kinds of cowboy boots that you can tuck your jeans into for a different look. They also have several design features that make them stand out from other cowboy boot styles:
- Extremely long shafts of 14 inches or taller, some are knee-high
- They are brighter and more intricate in the stitching than other boot styles
- They have two pull holes to make them easier to put on and take off
- High heel: often 2 inches or higher
- Scallops: the v-shaped cutouts at the top of the boot that make the calf comfortable
- Round, square, or wide square toe boots
Buckaroo boots are great for riding, both casually and in the show ring. The features make them less ideal for walking.
Check out this cute buckaroo boots.
8. Stockman Boots
Stockman (6) boots are a type of cowboy boots that are best used for work. They have low, flat, and wide heels, as well as non-slip rubber soles. They are designed for comfort and stability.
Stockman boots also have a deeper scallop at the top than other western boot styles, as well as great arch support for long days on your feet. They are versatile enough to be worn for hiking and other activities.
9. Packer Boots
Packer (7) boots are traditional work boots that were first invented in the 18th century. They are well suited for riding as well as other work-related activities.
They are a mix between a work boot and a riding boot, so it has the foot and ankle support of a workboot and the tapered toe and high heel of a riding boot.
10. Western Dress Boots
Western Dress boots are, as the name implies, formal versions of Western boots meant for dressing up. So, they are more focused on fashion than functionality.
Since they are not used for work or riding, dress boots have no standard design features. They come in an almost endless variety of colors and styles.
Here is a video to help you learn more about the different types of cowboy boots:
Now that you know about the different types of western boots, what kind of boots do you think real cowboys wear?
What Kind of Boots Do Real Cowboys Wear?
Real cowboys wear the boots that are the most functional for them. Real cowboy boots are those with a high shaft, medium to high heel, and detailed embroidery.
The boot protects the calf, leg, and foot. The angled heel keeps the rider’s foot securely in the stirrup. Authentic cowboy boots are made of real leather and manufactured in the US.
So, you might wonder what is the most popular type of cowboy boot? Let’s take a look!
What is the Most Popular Style of Cowboy Boot?
The most popular style of cowboy boots is the traditional Western boot or classic cowboy boot.
They have been around the longest and have been perfected since the day they were first manufactured. A tried and true favorite.
Check out this lady’s wonderful collection of cowboy boots.
When To Wear Your Cowboy Boots
Because there are so many different types of cowboy boots, you can wear them anytime, anywhere. There’s a cowboy boot for work, barn time, casual wear, and even a formal night out.
Related: Why Are Cowboy Boots So Expensive?
Why are cowboy boots so comfortable?
Cowboy boots are comfortable because they are designed to be worn for long periods of time. They are made with high-quality leather and protect your entire leg and foot.
How long should cowboy boots last?
Most cowboy boots last for 2-8 years, but they can last longer when taken care of properly.
What is the difference between a cowboy boot and a roper?
Roping boots or ropers have a shorter shaft, rounded toe, and lower heel than cowboy boots.
The various types of western boots are work boots, riding boots, walking boots, roping boots, exotic boots, buckaroo boots, stockman boots, packer boots, and western dress boots.
They each have different purposes and levels of functionality. There is a cowboy boot for every occasion.
What are your favorite types of western boots? Please share below!
- (1). “Difference in Work Boots and Cowboy Boots.” Stages West, stageswest.com/blog/difference-in-work-boots-and-cowboy-boots/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.
- (2) “Different Types of Work Boot Materials.” Contractor Talk – Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum, www.contractortalk.com/threads/different-types-of-work-boot-materials.433269/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.
- (3) “Riding Boots vs. Fashion Boots Comparison.” Stages West, stageswest.com/blog/riding-boots-vs-fashion-boots-comparison/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.
- (4) “What Are Roper Boots? | Ariat.” Ariat International, www.ariat.com/al/what-are-roper-boots#:~:text=4%2F8%2F2021. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.
- (5) What Are Buckaroo Boots? | 6 Distinctive Features – from the Guest Room. 2020, www.fromtheguestroom.com/what-are-buckaroo-boots/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.
- (6) What Are Stockman Boots? – from the Guest Room. 2020, www.fromtheguestroom.com/what-are-stockman-boots/. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.
- (7) “What Are Packer Boots?” Nicksboots.com, nicksboots.com/blog/post/what-are-packer-boots. Accessed 9 Mar. 2022.
Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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