Hit the trail with comfy, dry, and fashionable feet
Even though you won’t be traveling long distances on foot (you hope) you DO still use your feet. Comfort in the saddle is important if you want to have a pleasant ride and the longer you’re out there the more you start to notice all of those little problems. Maybe they’re a touch too tight on your toes, or they poke the back of your ankle, or maybe they’re not breathable and after a couple hours you feel like you’ve been soaking your feet in a swamp. Gross!
In order to have the best trail experience, you need to have the best trail boots. Everyone’s perfect pair is different and it can be tough to make heads or tails of the million options on the market these days. Luckily for you, we tracked down the top trail riding boots for your different foot needs.
The wrong size or shape can make or break your riding experience and leave you with blisters, bruises, and ouchy toenails. Even if you’ve worn them for an hour around the barn happily, a lengthy trail ride can tell you exactly how wrong you were. So what should you think about before setting out to avoid such misery?
- Get professionally fitted. Running shoe and specialty work boot stores often have the ability to measure your feet in ways you never know were possible. Oftentimes it’s very surprising – like finding out you actually have wide feet. Once you put on those wide shoes, it’s like the skies part and a light shines down on your toes. Absolutely divine!
- Nice boots often need to be broken in. Yes, even expensive ones — especially if they’re leather. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy boots and then expect to wear them for 8 hours. You should wear your whole trail setup on your feet and slowly increase the amount of time you use them. Start off clomping around the house, then maybe walk a block or ride a quick ride. By going slowly, your boots can slowly conform to your feet and soften naturally.
- Don’t take shortcuts. Some people try to use quick fixes, like soaking them in weird solutions (yikes!) or trying to wear them non-stop in an effort to speed up the break-in process. This can damage the boots and really do a number on your feet in the process.
- Don’t convince yourself they’re working if they’re not. If you bought leather boots and the size seems great, but you just can’t get rid of a spot that rubs or an area that is a bit too tight, you might need to get outside help. There are options for stretching leather boots that may be just what you need to get that ideal fit. Custom boots can be prohibitively expensive, but it’s pretty cost-effective to find a shoe repair shop near you. These businesses can professionally stretch out your leather boots, and often, even repair damage.
TuffRider Starter Front Zip Paddock
First up we have a superb option for the kids. We all know children grow quickly, so you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a pair of boots they’ll outgrown in a month. The TuffRider Starter Front Zip Paddock boots are an amazing deal and are perfect for any kid who wants to go horse riding.
- Added traction line to help foot placement
- Sizing can be confusing
Dublin Ladies Pinnacle II
These boots have a loyal following for good reason! They’re comfortable, waterproof, adjustable, and moisture wicking. They’re nice and tall, too, so they give your leg some protection from hazards on the trail without requiring half chaps.
- Tall, eliminates need for half chaps
- May be too warm for hot weather
- Sometimes tricky to find the right size
Tony Lama Men’s Bingham Square Toe Cognac
Men need great boots as much as the ladies, and the Tony Lama Bingham boots definitely deliver! They have a classy and understated square toe, while the insole and heel are both designed for all-day comfort!
They have an overall standard “cowboy” boot look and are appropriate for both riding AND wearing around town.
- Classic appearance
- Suitable for riding and fashion
- Not waterproof
- Leather outsole needs roughed up to provide grip
Ariat Men’s Heritage IV Zip Paddock
Not all men want a western cowboy boot when they hit the trails, but they DO want something safe and comfortable that have a use beyond riding. That’s where the Heritage IV Paddock Boots come in. They actually come in multiple colors and even have laces, if zippers aren’t your thing. They are super durable and can stand up to some lengthy horse riding adventures, too! Despite their classy English look, they can really blow you away when it comes to trail riding.
- Classy appearance
- Not totally waterproof
- Need half chaps for lower leg protection
Ariat Women’s Round Up
If you are searching for a great pair of cowgirl boots for your next trail riding adventure, you can be sure that Ariat has you covered! Their Round Up Women’s Western Boot comes in a variety of colors and sizes and were designed with all-day wear in mind.
- Need to be broken in
- Not waterproof
Ovation Teluride Winter Boot
If you like to hit the trails year round, you may need a nice WARM pair of boots during the winter. The Ovation Teluride Winter Boots are a great choice for dealing with snow and ice since they’re adjustable to fit over thicker clothes, but still insulated! Despite the warmth, they’re lightweight and easy to ride in. They’re also waterproof, which is super important when you’re stomping around in the snow (and probably mud).
- Grippy sole
- Extra warm
- No spur rest
- Not super supportive
Mountain Horse Men’s Rimfrost Rider III
These awesome looking boots are a superb choice for any man looking for extra warmth and protection for winter trail riding. They’re waterproof, insulated, and designed to withstand a lot of flexing in freezing cold weather. They’re comfortable and durable, although a bit heavy.
- Super cool looking
- Insulated and waterproof
- Zipper sometimes gets caught
- A bit heavy
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of boots should I wear for horse riding?
You should wear boots that are designed for horseback riding. They may be a cowboy-style boot if you want to ride Western, or a nice tall boot/ field boot or paddock boot (with half chaps) if you are going in the “English” direction.
Can I wear walking boots for horse riding?
Walking boots, while they may be comfortable for you, are not ideal for horse riding. Hiking boots offer protection and support that is designed for a hiker in mind. Fashion boots are often more delicate and offer very little protection at all!
Do horses need boots for trail riding?
Horses do not always need boots for trail riding. Many horses are completely fine barefoot or with their regular shoes, depending on the length of the trail and the trail surface.
Just like wearing boots, you should never take a horse on a long trail ride it is not physically prepared for. By time you do a longer trip you should be well aware of your horse’s footwear needs. Horse boots can be a fantastic options depending on your mount’s hoof and the amount of protection and grip you need.
Can you horse ride in trainers?
Trainers are not a good choice when it comes to horseback riding at all. While some people pop on for a quick ride, especially if it’s a commercial trail ride, trainers do NOT offer the security and protection of actual riding boots.
Trainers, tennis shoes, or sneakers are designed for running and sports and do not have a heel. This means the shoe can potentially slip through the stirrup easier. In addition, they’re laced pretty snugly and likely will not slip off like many cowboy boots are designed to do.
What is the difference between riding boots and regular boots?
One big difference between riding boots and regular boots is the heel. Fashion boots may have no heel or a large heel, but riding boots have a heel that is the appropriate size to help your foot not slip through the stirrup or get caught.
Horse riding boots are also well balanced and provide ample toe protection as well as good support for the ankle, but regular boots don’t have to keep the same level of safety in mind when designed. Riding boots may also have other features, like a thicker, slip resistant sole, breathability, and a spur rest.
A good pair of boots can be an investment, but the amount of comfort and joy you get is absolutely worth it. The best trail ride is one in which you never have to think about your feet, because they’re so comfortable. If you take the time to pick the correct pair for your feet and your needs, avoid shortcuts, and take care of them you’ll have total foot bliss for years to come.
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