Apparel Gear

9 Best Cowboy Boots for Working Hard (and Playing Hard)

best cowboy boots for work
mm
Written by Allison G.

Add Some Western Flair to Your Work Day

Cowboy chic is definitely in style and can be a great way to show off your love for old-timey Western charm and the freedom that came with trailblazing. That said, cowboy boots still have practical use. There are cowboys and ranchers out there working cattle and, if you ride Western, you probably can’t imagine wearing anything else on your feet.

Whether you want a comfortable, flashy pair of boots to snazz up your outfit or you want a hardworking, tough pair to wear at the barn, there are a million options out there. So how in the world do you pick the best ones? We’re here to help!

Are Cowboy Boots Appropriate for Work… Really?

Depending on where you work, cowboy boots can definitely be appropriate. If you work on a ranch, then of course! If you work in an office, then maybe. If your workplace has a dress code, you may want to check that more casual shoes are okay. If there’s no dress code, you’re in luck.

The right cowboy boots can be plenty comfortable whether you’re sitting at a desk, swinging onto a horse, or going on a coffee run.

Key Considerations

Nice cowboy boots can be an investment, so make sure you buy something that you can actually use. Before running out and buying the first boots you see, take the time to think about what would be ideal.

  • Do you need extra safety features?
  • Are you on your feet all day?
  • Do you need something that can go from work to play?

When picking a cowboy boot for serious work, you should consider the durability and safety features, along with comfort, before anything else. If working on horseback, you need something that can be worn safely and support your foot and ankle in the saddle.

Log a lot of miles for your job? Check out our most comfortable cowboy boots for walking.

If your days are spent on the farm, you may also wish to opt for something waterproof with extra slip-resistance. If you work in construction, you may want something with added safety features – like a steel toe or rubber sole.

If you’re working in an office you may not need as much safety, but you do need comfort and breathability. Flashier boots may be appropriate, depending on the situation.

Ariat Men’s Groundbreaker Work Boot

Ariat is a popular boot brand

for good reason. They put a lot of time and effort into each new design and they’re known for their quality and durability. Their Groundbreaker boots are no exception. They are super comfortable, not overly fancy, lightweight, and tough enough to handle a long day of work.

Ariat Groundbreaker Boot

Click to see this boot at Amazon

PROS:

  • Comfortable
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable

CONS:

  • Sizing may be a little off
  • Scuffs easily
  • No steel/safety toe
  • Not waterproof

See this boot at Amazon

Dan Post Men’s Milwaukee Cowboy Boot

If you want a cowboy boot that really grabs attention, then you’ll want the Dan Post Milwaukee. These gorgeous things are super classy, with their monotone color scheme, shiny leather, and fancy embroidery.

They’re amazingly comfortable and cushy and have that super classic “cowboy boot” look. The leather is oh-so-soft, but they’re still durable enough that you can wear them for a long time.

Dan Post MIlwaukee

Click to see this boot at Amazon

PROS:

  • Super comfortable
  • Super snazzy and eye-catching
  • Easy to go from formal to casual

CONS:

  • Not a work boot
  • Not super durable
  • Scuff somewhat easily

See this boot at Amazon

Laredo Men’s Western Boot

If you want a classic cowboy boot you can’t go wrong with the Laredo Garrett. They come in a few different color options, all of which have discrete, but beautiful, stitching. They fit great and look great no matter what you’re wearing.

laredo garret

Click to see this boot at Amazon

PROS:

  • Fits true to size
  • Comfortable cushioned insole
  • Classic cowboy boot look

CONS:

  • More of a fashionable than rugged boot
  • Some people need additional support inside

See this boot at Amazon

online horse courses

Durango Steel Toe Western Boot

If you need something with a little more toughness, the Durango steel toe work boot is an amazing cowboy boot for you! It has a safety toe AND it is rated for electrical hazards, so you know you’ll be protected when accidents happen. The outsole is slip-resistant, even in oil, is breathable, and has a removable cushioned insole. Plus, they’re a combination of dark brown leather and denim blue with contrast stitching.

Durango Rebel

Click to see this boot at Amazon

PROS:

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Excellent safety for work
  • Comfortable

CONS:

  • Not waterproof
  • Need to be broken in

See this boot at Amazon

Dan Post Men’s Bellevue Boot

If you liked the Dan Post Milwaukee boot, but wanted something even more exciting and fancy, you might really enjoy their Bellevue cowboy boot. They have that luxurious, handcrafted look and feel, with the added bonus of ostrich leg leather! You’ll be sure to get a lot of attention when you go out wearing these awesome boots!

dan post bellevue

Click to see this boot at State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Super fancy looking!
  • Excellent fit and comfort
  • Unique leather

CONS:

  • Need broken in and may run small
  • Not suitable for work

See this boot at State Line Tack

Smoky Mountain Men’s Parker Square Toe Boot

The Smoky Mountain Parker boots are excellent for anyone on a budget that still wants a GOOD pair of boots! They’re comfortable and fit excellently for most people. They also fit great in the stirrup when you’re riding! Even if you’re doing some serious ranch work, like running cattle, you can be confident in your footwear choice.

smokey mountain boot

Click to see this boot at State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Great riding boot
  • Comfortable
  • Inexpensive

CONS:

  • Not waterproof

See this boot at State Line Tack

Ariat Men’s Heritage Roughstock Boot

The Heritage Roughstock boots from Ariat are a super classic authentic cowboy boot that makes a great addition to anyone’s collection! They are made of beautifully stitched leather with a durable outsole that handles tough barnyard conditions. They come in quite a few different colors, depending on where you buy them, too! Unlike many other cowboy boots on the market, they’re not just for fashion or for the worksite – they make great riding boots.

roughstock ariat

Click to see this boot at State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Classic cowboy look
  • Durable, acid-resistant outsole
  • Comfortable

CONS:

  • Not waterproof

See this boot at State Line Tack

Ariat Women’s Fatbaby Western Boot

Cowboy boots are not just for men. Women need them for work, riding, and fashion just as much as the boys, and luckily there are plenty of great options. A classic choice is the Ariat Fatbaby Western boots. These boots are a winner, because not only are they comfortable, light, and inexpensive, but they are absolutely perfect for riding and come in a ridiculous number of color variations.

Ariat fatbaby

Click to see this boot at Amazon

PROS:

  • Great fit and comfort
  • Inexpensive
  • Great for riding

CONS:

  • Not waterproof
  • A bit more casual in appearance

See this boot at Amazon

online horse courses

Laredo Ladies’ Bridget Round Toe Boots

Last, but by no means least is the Laredo Bridget boots. These have that classic cowboy boot (or cowgirl boot) look, are reasonably priced, and go from riding hard to a night out on the town!

larado boot

Click to see this boot at State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Cheap
  • Comfortable
  • Classic appearance

CONS:

  • A bit wide if you have skinny legs
  • Need to be broken in for full comfort

See this boot at State Line Tack

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cowboy boots good for walking?

Many cowboy boots are designed for working outdoors, so comfort is a high priority. Like other types of quality leather footwear, you likely need to break them in before wearing them all day. A great benefit of leather is that it can stretch and conform to your feet, so with a little elbow grease and patience, your cowboy boots can go the mile.

If walking is a top priority, check out our most comfortable cowboy boots.

What are the most comfortable cowboy work boots?

Most of the cowboy-style work boots out there are pretty comfortable, because they were designed to be practical. Work boots usually feature a removable insole so that you can customize the support and cushion for your individual needs.

Taller shafts are less comfortable, however, so you’ll likely want to pick a pair that are a little shorter than fashion boots. Work boots will also generally have a rubber outsole and a rounded or shorter toe for safety.

What boots do working cowboys wear?

Working cowboys wear boots

that are easy to slip on, have a decent heel, can slide in and out of stirrups easily, and allow the foot to slip out if the rider were to fall off the horse.

Their boots are generally leather with a rounded or pointed toe and are super comfortable and breathable for those long working days. The shaft height depends on how much the cowboy expects to be dismounting and running. Shorter shafts can be more useful when you’re roping and need to move fast.

online horse courses

Why do cowboy boots have no tread?

Cowboy boots can come with or without a tread, but the ones without are generally only for horseback riding or fashion (e.g. dancing boots). Many of the riding boots are designed now with gentle treads to give some extra slip-resistance and grip when walking around the barn, though.

If you buy a classic pair of cowboy boots with a nice, leather outsole you might notice they’re super smooth and super slippery. Don’t be alarmed – they get less slippery. In fact, you’re supposed to walk around on gravel or concrete to rough them up. Once suitably scuffed they’ll have enough grip for your stirrups.

Do real cowboys wear square toed boots?

Square toes are considered to be one of the more classic style for cowboy boots, so don’t be surprised to see a real cowboy wear them! In fact, square toes are sometimes considered better for working and can be more comfortable if you have wider feet. That being said, classic pointed or rounded toes are considered to be better for slipping your foot in and out of the stirrup.

What are the best cowboy boots with arch support?

If you need special arch support in your cowboy boots you should buy a pair with removable insoles and then fit your favorite pair of replacement insoles inside! It can be tough to make boots that fit everyone’s needs, so many practical boots are manufactured with removable insoles. Most cowboy boots have limited arch support and are suited for the “average” foot.

What are the best cowboy boots for ranch work?

The best cowboy boots for ranch work are generally plain leather, waterproof, have slip-resistant treads, and often have shorter shafts. The insoles are often cushioned for comfort and have more reinforced stitching to improve durability. Toes are generally rounded or square to improve the wearer’s ability to run and move around without getting caught on things.

Which cowboy work boots are waterproof?

Many cowboy boots are made of leather that has been treated to be waterproof or water resistant, but most aren’t. If you have a pair of leather cowboy boots that you love you can actually buy conditioners, sprays, and other treatments to waterproof them! Even if your boots ARE waterproof, you’ll likely need to include regular maintenance reapplications.

online horse courses

What kind of boots do ranchers wear?

Ranchers wear practical work boots, because their work involves long hours of hard labor! Many wear boots that resemble cowboy boots but are less flamboyant. Ranchers often wear a nice pair of classic “work boot” style work boots – especially ones that are waterproof, breathable, and with excellent traction.

They may even pick steel or composite toe boots for added protection! Leather is a very popular choice of material, but durability is the most important factor.

Do you have to be a cowboy to wear cowboy boots?

You do not need to be a real cowboy to wear cowboy boots! There are enough examples of non-functional, but cute, cowboy-style boots out there to prove that. Just because you’re not herding cattle and mending fences doesn’t mean you can’t slip on a pair.

Western riders also wear cowboy boots while riding and this doesn’t mean they work cattle. Trail riders, Western pleasure riders, and reining riders can be seen sporting some fabulous footwear despite not ranching.

Is it OK to wear cowboy boots with skinny jeans?

Technically, yes, although most often for women. Cowboy chic is a popular style and there’s no reason why you can’t show off your gorgeous boots! Many high-quality boots have intricate tooling and fancy stitching, so it’s almost a shame to hide them under boot-cut jeans. You will also see people wearing cowboy boots and leggings while working their horses (especially when it’s hot!)

Regardless, if you do choose to wear cowboy boots over skinny jeans you might catch some flak from people, especially out west. While women generally can go either way these days, there might be gasps and stares if you’re a man. There are some with very, very strong opinions that cowboy boots, particularly for men, need to be under jeans.

Of course, you could end up listening to a back-and-forth argument about it being okay if you’re pouring concrete or working on the farm. In addition, skinny jeans are a lot more “trendy” for men to wear and less popular when you’re picking a more traditional footwear choice. If you look at men riding Western, their boots are all under their jeans.

In summary, if you’re a woman you can wear skinny jeans and cowboy boots. If you’re a man, it’ll be harder to get away with it.

Parting Thoughts

There are so many options when it comes to cowboy boots and it can be quite overwhelming when you’re trying to find the perfect pair. Luckily, it’s pretty hard to go wrong! If you keep in mind your needs (office, ranch, riding, partying) you can pick through the top choices to find the best “fit.”

Cowboy boots are wonderful for everything from working cattle to a night out with the guys (or ladies) or even presenting at work. With so many styles and colors you can find something practical that still screams out your personality. Have fun and happy shopping!

P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:

 
online horse courses
Love it? Share it!

About the author

mm

Allison G.

After earning my B.A. in Animal Sciences, I went on to work for an equine vet, volunteer at a therapeutic riding nonprofit, and dabble in equine photography. I now keep two horses at home on my small farm and ride them English and Western. My writing has also be featured on FEI.org.