Leather tassels. Wide brim hats. And wild rags. They’re all a quintessential part of the official cowboy uniform. But perhaps the most iconic Western accessory is the heel-clicking cowboy boot. Whilst originally designed to ride bulls and tassels with steers, variations of the signature style are now worn in more urban locations—such as the office or bar.
Like most sartorial classics, not all cowboy boots are created equal. When it comes to materials, leathers range from premium full grains to vegan-friendly synthetics. Cowboy boot toes can be long and pointy or short and square. And different heel heights are worn for different occasions. And whilst all real cowboys are well-versed in these subtleties, for those of us merely inspired by the latest season of Yellowstone, picking a pair of cowboy boots can be daunting.
Looking for something a little less conspicuous? Check our curated selections of the best boots for men, the best designer sneakers for men, and the most comfortable shoes to stand all day.
Don’t know where to start? You can’t go wrong with our carefully curated list of the best cowboy boot brands. Stylist-approved and cattleman-endorsed, they’re a surefire way to stamp out any negative energy. Yee-haw!
The 11 best cowboy boot brands for men
- Justin Boots
- Ariat Boots
- Rios of Mercedes
- Tony Lama
- Dan Post
Rhodes boots: reliable, quality, and almost always under budget. The time-honored brand often takes a back seat to louder brand names such as Lucchese and Ariat, but if you’re just starting out your cowboy boot collection, we think Rhodes is the perfect place to start.
Not only are Rhodes boots more affordable than other cowboy boot brands of equal quality, but they’re also renowned for being more comfortable than traditional versions. Made in Mexico, Rhodes boots have a shorter heel and an easy-to-walk-in wedge sole. Plus, they’re irresistibly rugged—adding outback hardiness to your polished aesthetic.
|Best for:||Spurring on your cowboy boot collection.|
Yep, tall shafts and heeled soles are instrumental to the anatomy of the cowboy boot. But the real hallmark may well be the shoe’s iconic decorative stitching.
Founded in 1878, Justin Boots is one of the oldest cowboy boot brands, renowned for its bespoke embroidery. And over a century later, it’s still one of the most sought-after brands for cowboy boots. As authentic as it gets, Justin cowboy boots are hand stitched in El Paso, Texas from the highest quality full grain leather. And even though each shoe undergoes over 200 steps before reaching perfection—you could never tell by the more accessible price tags.
|Best for:||Spurring on your cowboy boot collection.|
According to U.S. presidents and countless A-list celebs, Lucchese boots are the real deal. And we think the cowboys agree. Handcrafted in El Paso, Texas since 1883, the timeless footwear brand is deeply ingrained into the archives of American history.
Made from full-grain leather hides and superior welted construction, Lucchese is unrivaled when it comes to authenticity and quality. And while they can be one of the most expensive cowboy boots, the brand also has many more affordable silhouettes.
|Best for:||Living the American dream.|
It doesn’t get any more cowboy than Ariat boots. As the official sponsor of Professional Bull Riders, the cowboy boot brand knows what it takes to take life by the horns. And endorsed by Rip Wheeler throughout Yellowstone, Ariat cowboy boots clearly have a leg up on the competition when it comes to dressing ardent fans.
Alongside Ariat’s many claims to fame, its boots are listed amongst our best boots for men as some of the most comfortable cowboy boots. Ariat embraces modern materials and cutting-edge technologies for optimum breathability and longevity. While the old-school stitching and signature leather uppers stay faithful to traditional Western styles.
|Best for:||Embracing modern comforts with an old-school Western flare.|
|Style:||Riding boots, ropers, and work boots|
Credited by many for repopularizing Western-inspired footwear, Tecovas may not have history on its side, but it’s certainly left its mark. Founded in 2015, Tecovas is a well-welcomed new player to the game. But that doesn’t mean the cowboy boot brand doesn’t honor century-old traditions.
Tecovas boots are handcrafted in Leon, Mexico in one of the oldest boot-making factories in the world. They only use premium materials such as full-grain leather and Goodyear welts. Cushion inners make them incredibly comfortable from the first moment you pull them on. And their direct-to-consumer sales approach makes Tecovas boots a lot more affordable than other luxury cowboy boot brands.
|Best for:||A young buck playing for the big leagues.|
|Style:||Western boots, worker boots, and ropers.|
Rios of Mercedes
Riding high for over 160 years, Rios of Mercedes has experience on its side. The iconic cowboy boot brand was founded in Leon, Mexico in 1853. And ever since, it’s been a failsafe must-have for famous musicians, performance horse greats, and, of course, your everyday cattlemen.
When it comes to Rios of Mercedes, the secret lies in intricate subtleties and a loyal fanbase. The time-honored cowboy boot brand is less concerned with grabbing eyeballs and more concerned with mastering the finer details. They won’t stop you in your tracks, but if you let them, they’ll stay with you for a lifetime.
|Best for:||As loyal as your trusted steed.|
Looking to dip your toes into the turquoise waters of Western style shoes? Frye is well worth considering. The brand is a well-known household name when it comes to durable, timeless footwear. And its cowboy boots are no exception.
Less obvious than your more traditional cowboy boot brands, Frye marries a Western flare with modern practicalities. And whilst Frye boots stay true to high-quality leather materials and time-tested construction methods, the shorter shafts seamlessly transition from office to bar.
|Best for:||Short and solid.|
|Style:||Roper boots and shortie boots|
Tony Lama is yet another century-old classic in Western-style footwear. Founded in the late 1800s by Tony Lama himself, the eponymous label is renowned for its signature Lama Comfort and Cushion Comfort technologies.
Hitting the elusive sweet spot between quality and style, the iconic cowboy boot brand uses premium materials, all of which are beautifully embellished with unique embroideries. And taking the reins of affordable luxury, Tony Lama is celebrated for making high-quality cowboy boots more accessible to many.
|Best for:||Premium comfort—but without the price tag.|
|Style:||Western boots and work boots|
This is not their first rodeo. In fact, the Italian family got into bootmaking more than 100 years ago. And whilst they may not be the first name that comes to mind when we think of cowboy boots, when you couple third-generation Italian craftsmanship with a century-old Western flare, you know that you’re onto something special. And that they are.
Distinguished by exotic leathers, eccentric embellishments and striking color combinations, Ferrini isn’t your average cowboy boot brand. But we wouldn’t expect anything less from an Italian family tackling the ranch-ready silhouette.
|Best for:||Stopping the show one step at a time.|
Born to straddle horses and tussle steers, everyday comfort wasn’t always a priority for cowboy boots. That is until Dan Post stepped up to the block. All of the brand’s insoles are orthotic, breathable and removable, keeping our feet dry and cushioned. While antifungal, anti-mold and antibacterial properties are quintessential for anyone with foot problems.
As one of our top 10 cowboy boot brands, we love that Dan Post has adapted the iconic Western boots for the modern man who appreciates comfort as much as he cares about style.
|Best for:||(Sole)-stirring comforts.|
|Style:||Western boots, dress boots, and worker boots|
Telling a romantic story of the American West, Ralph Lauren’s line of cowboy boots is both elegant and sophisticated. While Polo Ralph Lauren has had a strong presence in fashion since the 1960s, Double RL only came into being after Ralph bought a ranch in colorado in the 1980s.
Inspired by vintage worker’s wear, RRL is a nod towards the rural location, whilst maintaining its signature savoir vivre. Its cowboy boots are case in point. Understated and stylish, we can imagine Ralph himself tackling the ranch in a pair of these cowboy boots.
|Best for:||Ranch style—but make it sophisticated.|
|Style:||Western boots, worker boots, and ropers.|
Buyer’s guide to cowboy boots for men
Anatomy of a cowboy boot
Designed to tussle with steers and lasso snakes, the cowboy boot is more than just heels and embroidery—it’s a carefully considered masterpiece. And whilst most of its distinctive features go unnoticed by those of us merely inspired by the latest season of Yellowstone outfits, every element plays a crucial role in the functionality of the shoe.
Traditional cowboy boots have a tall shaft, usually hitting the calf. And no, it isn’t just a nod toward ranch fashion, the elongated silhouettes are designed to protect the shins when riding. However, more modern silhouettes can have short shafts that are easier to wear from day to day.
Heels also vary from boot to boot. More elevated heels were designed to hook into the stirrup whilst riding. And shorter heels such as ropers were designed for walking and working around the ranch.
There are also many different toe types for cowboy boots—each with a specific purpose in mind. Longer pointed toes were made to slide in out of the stirrup in case of a fall. And shorter square toes were designed for greater comfort and everyday wear.
And then of course, there’s the material. While cowboy boots are typically made from high quality full grain or top grain leathers, different leathers such as ostrich, alligator or snakeskin were used for more exotic cowboy boots. Although today, faux leathers and animal-friendly synthetic materials are becoming more and more popular.
Other notable features of the cowboy boot include the pull-up strap for easy dressing. The heel counter provides extra support. The vamp at the front is the most durable part of the boot and is susceptible to bending. Spurs are traditionally used to communicate with the horse. And besides adding an eccentric decorative element, the signature embroidery prevents the shafts from falling down.
Of course, modern cowboy boots come in all shapes and sizes. And because they rarely see the sides of a horse, they needn’t include all the traditional elements. But if you’re going the full hog, look for these key features when you’re picking out your ranch-ready footwear.
Types of cowboy boots: From ranch-ready to runway-worthy
Perhaps the most iconic and well-known, Western boots are usually what we think of when we think of the classic cowboy style. Western boots were designed for riding bareback and lassoing bulls, so as you can imagine, durability is key. The tall shaft hits the mid-calf, protecting the shin. Whilst the signature slanted, stacked heel ensured that the rider’s foot didn’t accidentally slide out the stirrup.
Yep, you guessed it—shortie cowboy boots are much shorter than your typical Western boots. Designed to protect your shins and keep your boots up whilst riding, the calf-hitting height was a necessity for folks on the ranch. But if you’re just walking them to work, you may not want to go the full hog. In which case, we recommend shorties. Marrying the practicality of Chelseas with the elegance of Cowboys, they’re the perfect addition to your suit and tie.
Often referred to as the “gentlemen’s cowboy boot,” these cowboy boots could pass as a dress shoe, whilst still injecting that signature wild West personality in your style. Ropers were first designed for the rodeo. The round toe and square heel made it easier to chase cattle. And the shorter shaft and tighter fit are the ankle-assisted fast-paced movements. Of course today, you’re more likely to spot them at a rooftop bar than chasing cattle.
Western Work Boots
Made from cowhide, Western work boots are designed for getting your hands dirty—whether it’s shoveling cow pies or a bit of home DIY. Made from cowhide, the silhouette is usually an inch or two lower than traditional types. While the non-slip rubber sole makes them a failsafe choice for wet surfaces. The comfortable cushioned midsoles are perfect for spending hours on foot. And the heavy-duty craftsmanship is ready to take on all your vigorous endeavors.
Exotic Cowboy Boots
Cowboys may abide by a simple lifestyle on the ranch, but that doesn’t mean their shoes have to. Whilst most cowboy boots were built with utility purposes in mind, eccentric iterations are anything but practical. Made from anything—from snakeskin to alligator—exotic cowboy boots run the gamut in shape and style. But as a general rule: the more unconventional, the better.
Dress Cowboy Boots
Stylish to boot, dress cowboy boots are for those occasions when you really need to dress the part. Perhaps you’re meeting your future in-laws from Texas. Or maybe you’re posing as the sheriff at your neighbor’s murder mystery soiree. Either way, you require a classic cowboy boot—decorative embroidery and all.
Western Riding Boots
We kind of thought all cowboy boots were designed for riding. But interestingly enough, there seems to be a specific design for every type of ranch activity. These ones are however made for horseback riding. Designed to keep the rider safe in the saddle, riding boots were the go-to for rodeos and horse shows. The angled heel hooks into the stirrup with ease. And the tapered slow slides in and out to prevent foot snagging in the case of a fall.
Types of cowboy boot toes
Pointing out the more subtle nuances of a cowboy boot:
Aka pointed toe or 1 toe. The J toe is a sharp pointed toe that rounds out at the tip. It’s also the more traditional toe silhouette as it made it easier for riders to slide in and out of the stirrup.
Aka X toe or N toe. The snip toe is blunt, kind of like someone just snipped off the end. And they were typically worn for ranch work rather than riding.
Aka R toe. Somewhere in between, the classic toe is slightly pointed with a rounded tip. It is one of the most versatile and popular cowboy boot styles for everyday wear.
Roper toe or W toe. The round toe is rounded at the end, like most sneaker styles. The look is more casual and more comfortable for walking around.
Aka X toe or A toe. Prioritizing style over practicality, the fashion toe comes to a sharp, narrow point for a punchy but high-end appearance.
Aka French toe or Hognose toe. Like the classic toe, the square toe is typically wider and shorter than other styles. But instead of a rounded end, it is square. This makes it easy to wear, but with an additional modern Western twist.
Broad square toe
Aka Wide Square toe. The broad square toe is even wider than your classic square toe, making it an ideal choice for those with wide feet or those with jobs that require a lot of walking.
Aka Roach Killers or S toe. While we hope that you never need to use them to actually kill a cockroach, the super long pointed toe is a fun touch for Western-themed parties.
Cowboy boot heel types
They do so much more than elevate your style.
Whilst men’s heels were popular in the seventeenth century, they’re a lot less common today. Except when it comes to cowboy boots—and then they’re a prerequisite.
Designed for riders working with unpredictable horses, the cowboy heel is traditionally slanted. Usually one and a half inches tall, the angular shape hooked easily into stirrups to prevent the foot from sliding. Although today, cowboy heels are more of a style statement than anything else.
Riding heels are very similar to cowboy heels, but half an inch taller. Usually around two inches tall, the riding heel was designed specifically for horse shows and rodeos, where riders required extra control. Like the cowboy heel, the riding heel is slanted and made to hook into the stirrups to stabilize the rider.
These boots were made for walking—a cliche, we know—but in this case it is actually true. The walking heel has a very subtle slant, but in general, it is a lot more even and stable for optimum comfort and balance. The heel is also usually made from rubber rather than wood, adding an extra spring to your step.
Only one inch tall, the roper heel is less obvious than most other cowboy heels, whilst still subtly elevating your style. Designed to rope steer, the flat, short heel is one of the most stable. And as a popular choice amongst British soldiers and nobility alike, it fits the bill when it comes to sophistication and utilitarianism.
When it comes to height, fowler heels are just over an inch high, making them taller than your roper heel but shorter than your cowboy heel. Fowler heels can be straight or slanted and are therefore more difficult to identify than other types of heels. However, you’ll usually find them on more formal cowboy boots.
What materials are cowboy boots made from?
It all comes down to—quality, quality, quality.
Full Grain Leather
Full grain leather is the highest quality leather out there. It derives from the top layer of the hide and includes all the natural grain. As a result, the leather tells a story through unique marks and imperfections. And just like a fine wine, it only looks better with age. Because full grain leather is difficult to obtain and work, these cowboy boots are usually considered the most premium and high-end.
Top Grain Leather
Top grain leather is considered to be the second highest quality leather. Because the top layer of the hide is removed, the leather is thinner, easier to work with and more affordable. The natural grains are sanded away and the material is void of unique imperfections, giving it a more uniform aesthetic. During this process, the hide also loses some of its fibers, making top grain leather boots slightly less durable than full grain leather boots—although they are still superior to most.
Synthetic & Hybrid Material
Thanks to the petitions of animal-loving sartorialists, faux leathers are making their way into our wardrobes in every shape and form—including cowboy boots. These more sustainable materials vary from shoe to shoe. And whilst recycled bottles and pineapple leathers aren’t your traditional material used for Western boots, they’re getting a yee-haw from all our vegan fashion aficionados.
Frequently asked questions about the best cowboy boots
There are many cowboy boot companies that are endorsed by real cowboys. Founded in 1883, Lucchese is one of the oldest and most historically significant cowboy boot brands. Lucchese is located in El Paso, Texas, and has some of the most durable, highest quality cowboy boots for real cowboys—as well as celebrities and government officials. Check our list of the best cowboy boot brands for more inspiration.
When it comes to picking out the best Western boots, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re just dipping your toe into the Western aesthetic, Justin boots are great for a more understated style. If you’re after the best value for money, Tecovas are incredibly well made but more affordable than other luxury brands. And if you want the authentic cowboy boots that a real cowboy would wear, you can’t go wrong with a pair from Lucchese.
The traditional cowboy boot style will always be one of the most popular. Featuring high shafts, pointed toes, classic embroidery, elevated heels, and durable leathers, the time-honored style pays homage to ranch living. But modern designs are more about fashion than functionality. Often they are more subdued and only feature certain components of the traditional cowboy boot.