Tips For Choosing Western Boots - A Detailed Guide

Tips For Choosing Western Boots - A Detailed Guide

The human foot consists of 26 bones plus ligaments and muscles that support and control them. This complex instrument acts as both a balancer and supporter for the entire body. That is why you need quality work boots that you can rely upon so you can safely go climbing, walking on uneven terrain, or in wet or slippery conditions, etc.

There are dozens of kinds of western work boots available in the market. That is why, choosing a style can be rather difficult. One pair also looks pretty much the same as another and naturally, the quality varies tremendously as well. Not surprisingly, the cost differs tremendously too.

You could easily end up paying $100 to $300 for a good pair of western work boots and still not get your money’s worth if you don’t know what you are looking for.

So, in this guide, we will discuss some general tips that will help you when you are shopping for western work boots:

Tips for Choosing Western Work Boots

Tips For Choosing Western Boots - A Detailed Guide

1. Know your materials

The best material in reliable western work boots is full-grain leather. Full grain is the outer layer and it is tough, flexible, and naturally resistant to moisture.

Full-grain or top-grain leather is also easily scuffed that is why it is made with the cut-side out. This brushed leather layer is often confused with split leather but, in reality, split leather is the second or third layer of the hide.

Remember that split leather is not as soft and full grain leather but it is still very flexible and soft. Moreover, shoe companies combined it with a suede finish for super lightweight boots.

The higher price of leather has prompted many manufacturers to use synthetic materials for the insoles, midsoles, and lining but the boot that is all-leather is usually of a better quality.

2. Select a comfortable toe-shape

You get a choice between rounded, pointed, or square in toe-shapes of western work boots. Select the toe-shape based on your foot’s width. A square toe is best for people with wider feet.

3. Decide between long and short

The shaft length of your western work boots can range from ankle-length to just below the kneecap. Some boots are also thigh-high.

Choose a length you are most comfortable with: if your work takes you to thorny, wild areas, then longer boots can protect you from those sharp objects.

4. Select optimal heel-height

Some jobs require you to wear higher or taller boots with thicker heels while others might need less heel-height if you are required to climb on ladders or trees. Select the height of your boot according to your requirements.

5. Ensure that the boots are water-resistant

A work boot must be water-repellent so look for boots that are treated with oil or silicone materials and chemicals. This way, you can use them in water-logged conditions, or in the rain.

Oiled boots are smoother and more pliable but they may not be 100% waterproof. Chemical treated boots are better at repelling water but they tend to feel a bit dry and stiff. You can renew the silicone polishing every once in a while to retain the boot’s water repellence.

Tips For Choosing Western Boots - A Detailed Guide

6. Know which construction is used in the boot

Western work boots either come in cement or welt-construction.

In cement construction, the boot’s upper is glued to the sole under pressure with some kind of cementing material. This style of construction can prevent water from entering the boots, but, resoling of the boots is difficult and also, the seam could deteriorate and crack.

On the other hand, the welt construction involves the use of a ‘welt’ – a leather strip or turned edge of the upper. This style of boot construction involves stitching together of the uppers, insoles, and the welts. In these boots, you can see the welt and the stitching on the top edge of the sole. There are further classifications in welt-construction boots – Norwegian, Goodyear, and Littleway welts. They all have slightly different techniques of assembling boots but they all incorporate stitching.

Here is a gist as to why welt construction is often superior to cement construction:

  • The stitching ensures that the upper and midsoles do not separate easily.
  • At the same time, the boot can be easily re-soled.
  • Even shoemakers agree that welt construction is unrivaled for long wear.

If you go in for welt-construction boots, look for welts made with leather instead of man-made material.  Leather does not crack easily so the boots last longer. Also, look for threads like Dacron or nylon which are better than cotton or linen threads.

In case you want to use the work boots for heavy-duty work, then opt for double stitching and extra reinforcement on the ‘stress’ points.

7. Ensure optimum foot support

This is perhaps the most important of all the tips when it comes to choosing your western work boots. Unfortunately, we cannot know how much support a boot can provide unless you try the boots on.

The amount of support your foot gets depends on the shank embedded in the midsole directly under the arch. In low-quality boots, this shank is thin but in high-quality boots, it consists of steel and has reinforcing edges.

You can bend the boot at the arch to see if the shank offers resistance. When you go to buy your boots from the store, ask the clerk what kind of shank is present in the boot or ask to see the sales material.

Next, choose between wedge sole and heel-and-open arch. A wedge sole provides less traction but it is more supportive than heel-and-open arch.

8. Check the insoles

Leather insoles are definitely way better than man-made insoles as they are less prone to cracking and also absorb sweat better. High-quality leather insoles also resist deterioration, insulate your feet against temperature extremes and are also more comfortable.

If the insole is not made of leather, read the print on the insole to tell you what material is used.

9. Choose good soles

High-quality outer soles are textured or ribbed and made with synthetic materials that are longer lasting than leather soles. They also provide better traction on pine needles and grass.

You can also select the sole according to your work environment – for example, some tasks might need boots with special lugs on the soles. However, you must not buy lugs if you don’t need them as they can easily track in a lot of mud indoors.

10. Meets safety standards laid down by the ASTM

American Society for Testing and Materials has laid down standards for protective footwear and work boots.

Some work environments require boots to meet these standards. Here are some of them:

  • All protective footwear for certain jobs like construction, forestry, wood work, electrical work, automotive work, etc. should meet ASTM F2413 and ASTM 2412 standards.
  • If your work boot is to protect against impacts, compressive forces, electrical hazards, and sole puncture, then it should comply with the applicable requirements of ASTM F 2412-05 and F 2413-05.
  • Footwear providing protection against impact and compression hazards shall be rated I/75 and C/75.
  • Personnel participating in forestry, wild land fire management, and related activities should wear leather-up lace work boots having slip-resistant soles, and with a hard rubber lug-type or tractor tread. Soles should not be made of plastic or other materials having low melting point.

Source: Safety and Health Requirements Manual – United States Army Corps of Engineers.

11. Price

Never compromise on the boot’s quality. It is a fact that expensive work boots usually have better quality compared to the low-cost models. So don’t feel bad about spending because they are worth the extra dollar.

However, some brands are quite overpriced. While the difference between a $100 work boot and $300 one will be significant, it is still a good idea to try out both. Sometimes, the $100 boot could still end up being a good buy.

FAQs On Choosing Western Work Boots

1. How to select the best cowboy work boots?

The cowboy work boots must offer a snug fit – it should not be too tight or too loose but should fit like a glove. Try the boots on – they should offer firm support and not move from side-to-side.

2. Are cowboy boots suitable to wear to work?

Some workplaces could take an objection to cowboy boots as they may be too casual for formal set ups. However, in some parts of the country, cowboy boots are even worn with business attire and they are accepted as work boots.

3. Are western boots still in style in 2021?

Yes, western boots or cowboy boots are an important part of the Western mainstays. They are classic and timeless style that will always be in vogue! Designers might make a few changes here and there but one still cannot go wrong with the classics.

4. What should you not wear with cowboy style boots?

Avoid wearing baggy-style pants, formal pant-suits, statement/stylish pants, or anything else that draws attention away from the boots. Jeans and skirts go well with cowboy or western boots.


When it comes to purchasing western boots, you fall into one of the two categories – you either know what you want or you don’t.

You can always start with the boot’s function – decide whether the boot is to play a functional role or a fashionable one.

Next, assess your work circumstances. Accordingly, select the material, shape of the boot’s toe, whether the pair meets safety standards by ASTM, and also the color, design, and embellishments. Select the size so it offers a snug fit. Most importantly, ensure that the work boot offers maximum arch support.

We hope this guide helps you choose your western work boots easily.

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