Western boots have been a stylish shoe for men and women since the days cowboys wore them while herding cattle. Designed and manufactured to withstand hard work and the elements, Western boots come in a variety of styles, and the materials used in the different styles can range from traditional to modern.
Natural or Synthetic Leather
The visible outside of the Western boot can come in a variety of materials, colors, and designs. The first decision you’ll need to make when purchasing Western boots is whether natural or synthetic leather best meets your needs. Known as fake leather, faux leather, or leatherette, synthetic leather can be made from polyester, nylon, and other synthetic fibers and materials.
The modern option of synthetic leather is less expensive, weighs less, and breaks in faster than natural leather. However, when it comes to durability, synthetic leather is more prone to damage from abrasion. Moreover, it will wear out faster because of general wear and tear.
Natural leather is usually cow or calf leather, but it can be the leather from any animal, including snake, alligator, and even ostrich. Full-grain leather is extremely durable and water-resistant, but it is often thicker and heavier. Nubuck leather has been buffed down to resemble suede, making it less durable but more flexible than full-grain leather.
A common look is distressed leather, which includes a variety of decorative finishes, but it does not reduce the durability of the leather. Distressed leather boots have that traditionally worn look that will last.
Western boot heels come in different heights to suit the activity you’ll be doing when you wear your boots. If you’re planning to wear your boots for riding, you’ll want a higher heel, around 2 inches. If you’re just planning on walking around in your boots, you’ll likely be more comfortable in a shorter heel, around 1 inch.
Traditional Western boot heels are made of authentic stacked leather, matching the leather outsoles. If you are walking around in your boots often, you might want a rubber-capped heel for better traction.
The outsole of a Western boot is the part of the boot under your foot that touches the ground. Traditional Western boots have outsoles made of natural leather, but modern boots are often designed for activities other than horseback riding, so they use different outsole materials. Boots for work or for walking benefit from nonslip, hard rubber outsoles. Some of these rubber outsoles can be oil-resistant as well, to ensure the proper traction for safe work and walking.
The insole of a Western boot is the part of the boot that the bottom of your foot actually touches. Western boot insoles can be made of fabric, natural leather, or synthetic leather. The insole material is a much softer material than the outsides of the boot. However, as Western boots are rarely designed for comfort, the insole materials will still need to be broken in to be comfortable.
Deciding which boots are right for you starts with determining your needs and your price range. Then, you can find Western boots that are made from the right materials to fit your lifestyle.