How to Buy Cowboy Boots

I bought my first pair of cowboy boots in 1988 when I was in 12th grade.

At the time, snakeskin cowboy boots were all the rage in Houston. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the exotic boots. So, I saved up my money and bought a pair of $40 imitation snakeskin boots.

Although they weren’t the real thing, they looked nice and worked well with my jeans and T-shirts.

Now that I’m older, I own three pairs of cowboy boots each costing significantly more than $40 (one of my favorite pairs cost $700).

I still wear them with jeans and T-shirts, but they also work well with suits, khakis, and button-down shirts.

You don’t have to live in Texas to wear cowboy boots. This fashionable footwear is good for city dwellers and country boys alike.

If you’d like to Cowboy Up and buy a pair for yourself, consider the following things. These tips will show you how to buy cowboy boots that fit well and suit your personal style.

Anatomy of a Cowboy Boot

This handy chart will give you an overview of the different parts of cowboy boots.

anatomy of a cowboy boot

Pull Straps

These are the straps that you pull on to put on the boots. They are usually located on the back of the shaft.

Side Welt

The side welt is the strip of leather that runs around the bottom of the boot and stitches the upper to the outsole.

Heel Counter

The heel counter is the back part of the boot that supports your heel. It is usually made of a single piece of leather.


The ridge runs along the back of the boot’s shaft, typically starting just above the heel and extending upwards.

Its purpose is to provide a secure and stable resting place for a spur, a tool used by horseback riders to cue their mounts.

Some boots have a wider, more pronounced spur ridge, while others have a subtler one or none at all.


The heel is the raised part of the outsole that supports your foot. It can come in a variety of heights and styles.

Heel Cap

A heel cap on cowboy boots refers to a removable piece of rubber or plastic attached to the bottom of the heel. It protects the leather heel from wear and tear, especially when walking on hard surfaces.


The outsole is the bottom of the boot that contacts the ground. It is usually made of leather or rubber.


The vamp is the part of the boot that covers the top of your foot. It is usually made of a single piece of leather.


The instep on a cowboy boot is the curved area on the top of the boot that covers the upper part of your foot, between your ankles and toes.

It’s a crucial part of the boot’s fit and plays a significant role in your comfort and stability.


The tongue is the integral piece of leather sewn into the front of the upper, between the vamp and the laces.

It covers the top of your foot and extends up the front of the ankle. Its primary function is to provide comfort and protection for your foot and ankle.

Shaft or Top

The shaft is the tall part of the boot that covers your lower leg. It can be decorated with stitching, embroidery, or other designs.


The scallop on cowboy boots refers to the V-shaped cutouts on the boot shaft.


The collar refers to the topmost section of the leather that wraps around the ankle. It’s an extension of the upper leather but can be made from contrasting leather or have decorative details like stitching or embroidery.


Piping on cowboy boots refers to the narrow trim that runs along the seams of the boot, typically on the sides of the shaft and sometimes along the top edge. It’s also sometimes called the side welt.

Toe Box

The toe box is the reinforced area at the front of the boot that protects your toes. It can be made of leather, plastic, or other materials.

Cowboy Boot Styles

roper cowboy boots and traditional cowboy boots

There are two main styles of cowboy boots – Western and Roper.

Western Boots

Western boots are classic cowboy boots, typically characterized by a tall shaft, pointed toe, and stacked heel.

They were originally designed for horseback riding and working on ranches, but today they are also popular for everyday wear and special occasions.

Roper Boots

Roper boots are designed for roping cattle, so they have a shorter shaft, round toe, and lower heel than Western boots.

They are also more comfortable for walking and working in.

Both styles of boots can have a variety of toe and heel designs.

Cowboy Boot Skins

cowboy boot skins

Cowboy boots are made out of many types of animal hides. Leather is the most popular, but other popular skins include snake (python, cobra, etc), alligator, lizard, crocodile, ostrich, elephant, hippopotamus, and others.

The exotic boots are typically more expensive than other cowboy boots, but they are also very unique and stylish.

Before choosing a skin, you should keep a few things in mind regarding care.

Ostrich is a soft skin that will stretch; however, boots made out of gator tail won’t stretch.

Elephant and hippo are tough skins that will last a lifetime with proper care.

Cowboy boots are also available in vegan materials.

How to Size Your Cowboy Boots

cowboy boot size

To ensure a proper fit, ask a salesperson to measure your foot.

Boots are typically available in 6 widths: B (extra narrow), C (narrow), D (regular), E (wide), EE (extra wide), and EEE (triple wide).

After you have determined your size, try on the boots and walk around in them.

The boots should fit snugly without feeling too tight.

Although the boots will be more comfortable after breaking them in, you want to make sure that they do not hurt your feet when you buy them.

Bottom line: Don’t buy uncomfortable boots.

How Much Do Cowboy Boots Cost

how much do cowboy boots cost

Cowboy boots can range from just under one hundred dollars to upwards of a thousand dollars.

Some popular boot brands include Lucchese, Black Jack, and Larry Mahon on the high end; Tony Lama, Nocona, and Justin in the mid-range; and Ariat and Laredo on the low end.

You can also have your boots custom-made to your exact specifications.

Of course, this option can be more expensive.

It’s important to set a budget to make sure you can find the type of boots you want within your price range.

It’s Time to Cowboy Up!

If you’re ready to channel your inner Willie Nelson, pony up to your local western-wear store and pick your favorite pair of cowboy boots.

You’ll appreciate their durability and ruggedness. Most of all, you’ll walk taller and boost your cowboy cred.

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