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Best Cowboy Boots for Men: 12 Authentic, Functional, and Stylish Pairs

Best Cowboy Boots for Men
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Updated January 9, 2024

I love cowboy boots. While I’m not a Texas native, I lived in the state for 12 years and they’re ubiquitous there, coming in all sorts of amazing, beautiful, practical, and unique iterations. They can be made from a range of different leathers as well as ostrich, python, lizard, and crocodile; they often feature exquisitely stitched and sometimes colorfully intricate designs on the shaft. Many of them are still handcrafted in Texas by companies that have been in business for over 100 years. 

To get advice on choosing the very best cowboy boots for men, I talked to Mary Kate Killilea, the costume designer for the CW show, Walker, as well as some Texan wranglers and actual cowboys about their favorite boots and what to look for when buying your own pair.

How to choose the best cowboy boots for men 

Like searching for the right pair of winter boots, the best cowboy boots are functional yet stylish.

Details

According to Killilea, you should look for quality leather, unique design details, and hand stitching. “Cowboy boots are very personal!” she says.

Size

Cowboy boots commonly come in a variety of widths, too: “I suggest trying them on to see what works best for your foot shape,”  says Killilea. “We found very large and extended sizing locally in Austin, Texas, at specialty stores for extra-wide feet.” Killilea suggests paying attention to whether there’s room in the back for your heel to move, too—don’t want too much movement, as that could cause blisters.

Brands

Some easy brands to find include Heritage, Lucchese, Ariat, Tecova, and Justin. Killilea shares that she and her team source special boots through local Austin vintage shops and dealers such as Full Circle Vintage in Lockhart, Texas, and Feathers off of South Congress Street in Austin. “Or we travel to Fort Worth and hit M.L. Leddy.” If you don’t  live in Texas, search Etsy and Ebay for vintage boots. Two of Killilea’s favorite finds from last season were from Full Circle for the character Stella.

Rubber sole vs leather 

Rubber soles are best if you plan to wear your boots while working in various conditions, as they’ll be less slippery than leather soles.

Toe shape

Cowboy boots come with a variety of toe shapes, so brands like Lucchese allow you to choose from a few options. A traditional toe shape is generally considered to be a narrow oval ending in a slight point, which makes it easier to get your foot into and out of a stirrup. Ropers and more casual boots often have a round shape, while dress boots tend to feature a snip, or sharp point. There are a few versions of a square toe shape, which range in width, the wider being great options for people who need or want more room in the toe area.

Heel height

Traditional cowboy boots usually have a heel height of around 1.5 inches, which helps keep your foot in a stirrup when riding. Ropers will have a lower heel, making them easier to run in (not that you can’t run in a regular pair of cowboy boots). Work cowboy boots feature an even lower heel for more comfort and stability.

Our top picks for the best cowboy boots for men

Best affordable cowboy boots for men: Ariat Sport Rambler Western Boot

For a well-made, affordable, traditional cowboy boot, consider the Sport Rambler. Featuring a durable rubber sole and a narrow enough shaft that you can wear them under your slimmer cut jeans, they’re perfect for work, sport, or leisure. They come in only one color, a wonderful aged and textured brown.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 7-14 (medium and wide)
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 11 inches
  • Heel height: 1.5 inches
  • Toe shape: Wide square
  • Price on publish: $159.95

What we like:

  • Rubber sole
  • Versatile
  • Classic style

What we don’t:

  • May need some breaking in

The bottom line:

Durable, versatile, classic, well-made boot with a rubber sole, perfect for most any situation.

Best affordable cowboy boots for men
Ariat Men's Sport Rambler Western Boots

Ariat Men's Sport Rambler Western Boots

Best waterproof cowboy boots for men: Ariat Hybrid Rancher Waterproof Boot

Whether you’re looking for something to go with your favorite rain pants, or want a boot that can handle an unexpected downpour, this is the pair for you. These boots feature waterproof DryShield construction that keeps water out while still letting air escape, even during a prolonged downpour. They also have a super grippy, durable, and flexible rubber outsole so you won’t slip in mud or on metal surfaces. The Goodyear welt construction means you know they’re especially well made and can easily be resoled multiple times.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 7-15 (medium and wide)
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Shaft height: 11 inches
  • Heel height: 1.5 inches
  • Toe shape: wide square
  • Price on publish: $204.95 

What we like:

  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Waterproof
  • Great traction 

What we don’t:

  • Waterproofing only goes to right above ankle

The bottom line:

Waterproof cowboy boots made with a Goodyear welt and a super grippy rubber sole.

Best waterproof cowboy boots for men
Ariat Hybrid Rancher Waterproof Boot

Ariat Hybrid Rancher Waterproof Boot

Best everyday cowboy boots: Lucchese Cliff 

To me, this boot epitomizes the perfect blend of style and function I associate with handmade Texan cowboy boots. If you’re looking to stylistically depart from your usual Chelsea boots, but want something equally versatile, this is your best bet. Constructed from full quill ostrich and goat leather, the Cliff by Lucchese is a boot you can wear everywhere, all day. Available in five color combinations with your choice of a square or hybrid (low profile with squared off edges) toe.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 7-15 (medium and wide)
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 12 inches
  • Heel height: 1.13 inches
  • Toe shape: Hybrid or square
  • Price on publish: $895.00 

What we like:

  • Who doesn’t love ostrich quill?
  • Choice of two toe shapes
  • Hand-made and hand stained 

What we don’t:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

A classic, beautifully hand-made and hand stained ostrich quill and leather cowboy boot.

Best everyday cowboy boots
Lucchese Cliff

Best lightweight cowboy boots for men: Ariat Slingshot Cowboy Boot

Built with Ariat’s new, slip-resistant Smartlite sole, the Slingshot cowboy boot is one of the brand’s lightest options. It features a removable cushioning insole, ergonomic support on uneven terrain, and classic leather construction with double stitch welts and a six-row decorative stitch pattern. Available in tan and white, rust and navy, and brown and tan.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 7-14 (medium and wide)
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 11 inches
  • Heel height: 1.5 inches
  • Toe shape: Wide square
  • Price on publish: $229.95 

What we like:

  • No-slip sole
  • Lightweight
  • Removable cushion insole

What we don’t:

  • Rubber on sole not as durable as it could be 

The bottom line:

Lightweight classic, leather cowboy boot with durable construction and no-slip sole.

Best lightweight cowboy boots for men
Ariat Slingshot Cowboy Boot

Ariat Slingshot Cowboy Boot

Most comfortable cowboy boots for work: Tecovas the Midland

With an oil- and slip-resistant Vibram outsole (a feature in the best walking shoes and best trail running shoes), weatherproofed seams, and a removable cushioned insole, the Midland by Tecovas makes an optimal, comfortable work boot with a minimal break-in period. They’re available in either oiled bison or bovine with Goodyear welt construction on the soles. These boots just get better with age, no matter what conditions you put them through. 

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 7-15 (medium and wide)
  • Waterproof: Weatherproofed seams
  • Shaft height: 12 inches
  • Heel height: 1.5 inches
  • Toe shape: Broad square toe
  • Price on publish: $255.00

What we like:

  • Vibram outsole
  • Durable
  • Weatherproof seams 

What we don’t:

  • Some reviewers say they run big 

The bottom line:

Sturdy, durable, and comfortable work cowboy boots with a non-slip Vibram outsole and weatherproof seams.

Most comfortable cowboy boots for work
Tecovas the Midland

Tecovas the Midland

Best dress cowboy boots: Lucchese Nopales

Named after the prickly pear pad found in Texas Trans-Pecos, the Nopales boot from Lucchese features full quill ostrich with suede inlays, an understated, Spanish-inspired design on the shaft, and a mahogany stacked leather heel. Available in three color combinations—brown and tan, royal blue and yellowish tan, and mink and dark green—they’re perfect for any dress occasion, whether you’re in dress pants or your smartest blue jeans.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 8-14 (medium and wide)
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 12.5 inches
  • Heel height: 1.38 inches
  • Toe shape: Hybrid
  • Price on publish: $1,795.00

What we like:

  • Three color combinations available
  • High quality
  • Beautiful design

What we don’t:

  • Very expensive

The bottom line:

Beautiful handmade ostrich and suede boots with a Spanish-inspired design and look.

Best dress cowboy boots
Lucchese Nopales

Lucchese Nopales

Best cult-favorite, python cowboy boot: Rios of Mercedes Men's Python Cowboy Boots 

These python boots from Rios de Mercedes, made in Mercedes, Texas, have a bit of a cult following among real cowboys, and a loyal fan base. The brand, though not as well known outside of Texas as some others, handcrafts durable, comfortable, and above all, beautifully unique boots from premium materials. The distinctive, vintage look of python skin goes with anything in your wardrobe and its soft texture means these boots feel as good as they look. Made from natural skins, so no two pairs are alike.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 8-13
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 12 inches
  • Heel height: 1.38 inches
  • Toe shape: Snip (narrow, long square)
  • Price on publish: $895.00 

What we like:

  • Handmade
  • Vintage look
  • Unique design

What we don’t:

  • Sole may be a bit slippery (but you can rubber it) 

The bottom line:

Handcrafted python and calf leather boots with a distinctive look and texture.

Best cult-favorite, python cowboy boot
Rios of Mercedes Men's Python Cowboy Boots

Rios of Mercedes Men's Python Cowboy Boots

Best western-style cowboy boots: Stallion Men’s Ostrich Zorro Ankle Boots

I know these aren’t exactly cowboy boots, but they are western, and who doesn’t want a quality pair of Zorro-inspired boots? Made completely from ostrich, both full quill and smooth, these boots make the perfect accessory to your all-black caped outfit, or just your best dress one. They’re handmade in Texas and feature a hidden inside ankle zip and a walking (or swaggering) heel.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 8-13
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 7 inches
  • Heel height: 1.25 inches
  • Toe shape: Squared round
  • Price on publish: $1,295.00 

What we like:

  • Handmade in Texas
  • Hidden zipper
  • Stylish

What we don’t:

  • Expensive 

The bottom line:

Handcrafted black ostrich, Zorro-inspired short boots with a hidden ankle zip.

Best western-style cowboy boots
Stallion Men’s Ostrich Zorro Ankle Boots

Stallion Men’s Ostrich Zorro Ankle Boots

Best round toe cowboy boot: Ariat Heritage Crepe Western Boot

Quality round toe cowboy boots used to be difficult to find, according to Joe Dye, a Texas film and television teamster who was never a fan of the square toe. “It got to where you couldn't find a nice round toe boot anywhere,” he says. Luckily, that’s changed. The Heritage Crepe boot from Ariat features a traditional round toe on a classic leather boot with a durable crepe sole, a style you can dress up or down.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 7-15 (narrow, medium, and wide)
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 11 inches
  • Heel height: 1.5 inches
  • Toe shape: Round
  • Price on publish: $199.95 

What we like:

  • Round toe
  • Versatile
  • Durable soles

What we don’t:

  • Only come in one color 

The bottom line:

Quality, versatile leather cowboy boot featuring a traditional round toe.

Best round toe cowboy boot
Ariat Heritage Crepe Western Boot

Ariat Heritage Crepe Western Boot

Best modern cowboy boot: Lucchese Bodie

With a whipstitch scallop design, a Muerte stitch pattern, and a mahogany stacked leather heel, the Lucchese Bodie boot conveys a modern, fashion forward silhouette. Muerte refers to the traditional Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead. As one reviewer wrote, these boots “are artwork for the feet.” Plus, they’re super comfortable, with little break in required.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 6-15 (medium and wide)
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 12 inches
  • Heel height: 1.38 inches
  • Toe shape: Modern square
  • Price on publish: $1,995

What we like:

  • Beautiful stitch design
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish

What we don’t:

  • Very expensive (but totally worth it)

The bottom line:

A high end, quality pair of handcrafted boots featuring a beautiful Muerte stitch pattern that many would call art.

Best modern cowboy boot
Lucchese Bodie

Lucchese Bodie

Best luxury cowboy boot: Lucchese Men’s Blue Bonnet 140th Anniversary Boot 

If you’re going to splurge, these boots from Lucchese boast a heritage quality design, hand painted and hand-tooled on Giant Alligator leather. Featuring bluebonnet bouquets as well as the Alamo and a Torero side seam, as Lucchese puts it, they “tell 140 years of history through a single boot.” Priced at almost $16,000, that history doesn’t come cheap. If you can’t afford these boots, I still suggest visiting them in person at one of the company’s retail stores.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 8-14
  • Waterproof: No
  • Shaft height: 13.3 inches
  • Heel height: 1.38 inches
  • Toe shape: Western square toe
  • Price on publish: $15,995 

What we like:

  • Hand tooled
  • Hand painted
  • Made from giant alligator leather

What we don’t:

  • Just the price!

The bottom line:

Heirloom quality, hand-tooled and hand painted anniversary edition cowboy boots from Lucchese.

Best luxury cowboy boot
Lucchese Men’s Blue Bonnet 140th Anniversary Boot

Lucchese Men’s Blue Bonnet 140th Anniversary Boot

Best cowboy boot vintage finds: Adams Boot Company Vintage Boots

If you come across a pair of boots made by Adams Boot company in your size, snap them up. They’re the best pair of boots Texas stunt coordinator and wrangler Jeff Schwan ever purchased, back in 1988 when he was working on Lonesome Dove. “I was so happy to get my first paycheck,” he says. “I went and spent some hard-earned money. The trick was I showered with them on and wore them dancing into the night. They were the best fitting boots ever and I only had to resole them once.” And yes, he still has them.

Best cowboy boot vintage finds
Adams Boot Company Vintage Boots

Adams Boot Company Vintage Boots

How we selected the best cowboy boots for men

We selected these boots from well known, reputable boot-making companies that use traditional handcrafting methods. All were recommended by professionals and people who actually wear cowboy boots.

Tips for care and maintenance

Use a damp cloth to remove dirt and other debris from your boots and a soft brush for scuffs. Make sure they’re completely dry before applying a non-oil-based leather conditioner (or one specific to what your boots are made from–ostrich, snake, etc.) Start at the bottom and use a cloth to rub the conditioner in a circular motion. 

After conditioning, apply polish in the same way then buff with a soft brush. Clean your boots every three months if you wear them daily and every six if only occasionally. Never expose your boots to direct heat as this will cause the leather to crack. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What brand of boots do real cowboys wear?

Real cowboys often wear boots from Justin and Ariat, according to Killilea. But, as we mentioned before, cowboy boots are extremely personal and people often develop a loyalty to a specific brand, ending up owning several different styles from their preferred one. To find yours, try on a lot of different pairs!

What is the difference between cowboy and western boots?

Technically, cowboy boots are a subset of western boots, though many consider them synonymous. Originally made for the purpose of riding horses, cowboy boots feature a tall shaft, a pointed toe that makes getting into stirrups easier, and a heel that helps keep your foot in that stirrup when riding. 

Another type of western boot is the roper, made for roping cattle. Their lower heel and shaft make them more comfortable in the event you need to run after a calf making a break for it (you can’t really wear running shoes on a ranch, you know?) Work cowboy boots, meanwhile, meld the tall shaft and design details of traditional cowboy boots with a thick, rubber sole and lower heel. Typically, they also have a rounder, wider toe.

What are the two types of cowboy boots?

There are actually three distinct types, including traditional riding cowboy boots, ropers, and work cowboy boots, as explained in more detail above.

What not to wear with cowboy boots?

“Nothing–cowboy boots can go with anything!” says Killilea. I strongly agree.

What is the most famous brand of cowboy boots?

The answer to this sort of depends on who you ask. On the show “Walker,” Jared Padalecki wears a Chisos No. 1 Ranger Boot, a pair of Lucchese dress boots, as well as a pair from M.L. Leddy in Fort Worth, Killilea tells me. While Texas rangers don’t have to wear a specific boot style, they must be a traditional cowboy boot without laces.

All the brands on our list are famous for producing beautifully made quality boots, the majority of which have been in business for over a century and still use hand-made construction. A few brands that no longer exist but were known for creating wonderful, long-lasting boots, include the Adams Boot Company and Chris Romero.

“The last good pair of boots I had were some Chris Romero handmade boots,” Dye tells me. “I don't believe they’re in business anymore.” They’re not, but with some searching and luck you can still unearth some of these exquisite boots from years past.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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