A Beginner's Guide to Cowboy Boots and Western Boots
Why Do We Love Cowboy Boots?
Nothing symbolizes the Old West more than the cowboy! The image of a cowboy riding a horse, herding cattle, and going into town after a cattle drive is ubiquitous of the American West. We like him in books, movies, and television programs. Part of the mystique about the cowboy is the clothing and equipment that he wears. The cowboy hat, cowboy boots, chaps, and gun belt, among others, lend a colorful and fascinating atmosphere.
All of these accouterments were not only chosen to be colorful, but also had multiple practical uses. Of these, the most popular item now is cowboy boots or western boots. Cowboy boots had high slanted heels made to keep feet in the stirrups and high thick leather shaft to prevent brush and thorns from tearing the legs while they rode. Holes or straps helped in pulling the boots on in the morning and stitching on the shaft strengthened and decorated the boot.
The Advantages of Cowboy Boots
Cowboy boots are popular now for several reasons. They are fashionable in some areas, although not accepted in others. In central Texas, pretty much every other person is wearing boots! Many people just like the look of them. They are quite sturdy if the right boots are chosen. Leather uppers wear well and are very long-lasting, while the soles and heels can be replaced if necessary.
The other reason cowboy boots are popular is their comfort. A well-fitted pair of boots is very comfortable. They take 2 or 3 days to break in properly, but once they are broken in to your foot, they feel great. Boots can get a bit hot in the middle of the summer, but I preferred to wear my boots over tennis shoes even in the hottest part of the year. For a 20 mile hike, there are better boots, but a good pair of western boots with synthetic soles will do a decent job even there!
Things to Consider Before Buying Cowboy Boots
There are a couple of decisions that need to be made before a pair of western boots are purchased:
- The Sole: The type of sole and heel should be carefully considered before purchasing cowboy boots. Leather soles are great for horseback riding and will work for dancing. If much walking will be necessary or physical work done that does not involve riding, consider a good synthetic sole with tread. It will last much longer and be less slippery than leather.
- The Height: The desired height of the boot should be determined. They come in the standard cowboy boot height, which is approximately knee height, and in the roper style, which is around 10” high. For most people, the roper will be the best choice.
- Type of Leather: Different types of leather are available. Cowhide is the cheapest and the price will go up exponentially depending on the type of leather preferred. You can get goatskin, snakeskin, alligator, and a range of other skin types.
Boots are available in many different colors, styles, and stitchings, especially in women’s boots.
Cowboy and Western Boot Companies
There are quite a number of good companies that make cowboy boots. Justin is probably the best-known company. Other good companies that make boots include:
- Tony Lama
- Dan Post
- Double H
- Twisted X
Some of these are very expensive; others make boots ranging from reasonable to expensive. No good boot is actually cheap, except for maybe the Justin Basics. The best companies for most people are probably going to be Justin and Ariat, for price considerations and quality.
Justin is one of the premier and best-known cowboy bootmakers. Their boots are excellent quality and, while not inexpensive, can be obtained at a lower price than many other brands. My boots were Justins and they served me very well. Ariat makes a lot of boots that are chosen by people who use their boots hard, in my experience.
More of the westerners I have known wear Ariat than any other brand. They also make excellent boots and are cheaper than many of the other brands. Brands like Lucchese are great, but too expensive for most people to practically purchase. Still, if you have the money, they are about the top of the line in western boots.
If you just want to try a pair for fun, check out the Justin Basics. They are inexpensive boots that can give you a good idea whether or not you will like cowboy boots. I love them, myself, and I think that you will, too.