Cowboy Boots!

Cowboy Boots!

I’d like to buy a pair of really good classic cowboy boots. The kind that last for years and years. The kind you can walk for miles in. The kind that you could wear around a ranch. The kind you’d get fixed instead of replacing.

The problem is, I don’t know anything about good cowboy boots. I love my current pair but they’re more of a fashion boot than a real working boot. I think they’re 9West or something and cost me 30 bucks at the discount shoe place. They’ve had a long and fruitful life but sadly, they’re about dead for and I’m ready to trade up.

I know this much:

  • I find really good footwear to be a worthwhile investment. Therefore I’m willing to drop a chunk of change on them. It looks like the good ones run up to about $300 or so, but I’m willing to go higher for the perfect pair.

  • I live in New Jersey, so they will be used for walking down the street, not roping bulls, I want reasonably ranch-worthy boots, dammit.

  • I wear about a woman’s size 9, but my feet tend to run wide, and it’s really hard for me to find shoes that fit correctly.

  • Because of the above, I’d prefer to buy in person instead of mail order.

  • Style-wise, I’m looking for something that’s a bit fancy/dressy but not ridiculous. Regular-height heels, and at that classic lower-than-mid-calf height. Higher isn’t feasible. Black preferably, but if something else strikes my fancy, why not? Here are some style references, but I could go fancier than these:
    I like the pattern on these.
    I dig the red!
    I love these, except that they’re turquoise.
    So please educate me about cowboy boots!

  • Are there any brands that are considered especially good or bad?

  • Is my price range (appx. $300) reasonable?

  • Are there any factors which I need to consider beyond the obvious?

  • Does anybody know any good stores for cowboy boots in central New Jersey or New York? As in “wide selection and knowledgeable sales help?” I’d go farther afield if I had to. This place looks like it might be good.

  • Yes, I know you’re going to make New Jersey jokes. “Ha ha” in advance.

Have you ever worn cowboy boots? Unless they have changed, they don’t have any sort of cushion or arch support. I think you price range is reasonable.

I wear my Naconas as dress shoes.

Mt Justin goat ropers are daily wear.

They are comfortable to me, but you do need to break them in.

A good boot fitter will explain how they should feel brand new. A little snug at the ball of the foot and a little slippage at the heel. The leather will break in to your foot. YMMV!

Find a respected boot shop. Fit is crucial to comfort.


My current ones have no cushioning or arch support. Luckily I never have to worry about arch support, and I didn’t really expect any cushioning beyond the rudimentary “hey, it’s an insole” type of thing.

I haven’t worn cowboy boots since… the early-'90s? I have three pair: Tan Noconas, burgundy Noconas, and black Tony Lamas. The Tony Lamas always hurt my feet, until I put spur straps on them. That helped keep my heels in place and reduced the discomfort. The Noconas, especially the burgundy ones, were like wearing slippers. The Noconas also have really good arch support. It’s like getting a foot massage.

Hm… I wonder where my boots are, and which box?

Some tips on trying on boots:

  1. Go in the afternoon, when your feet are the largest.
  2. Wear the same types of socks that you plan on wearing with the boots regularly.
  3. Look for a snug fit, but not tight. A good pair of leather boots will require some breaking in, but they won’t stretch a great deal. Do not buy boots which are painful hoping that they will become more comfortable over time. That’s how I ended up with blisters all over my feet after buying a bad fitting pair of boots.
  4. The classic cowboy boot has a narrow pointed toe, but western fashion boots have a variety of toe shapes, including round and square. Try on different kinds to find the right shape for you.
  5. Tony Lama, Justin Boots, Roper, Dan Post, Stetson and Ariat are all good brands.

Thanks for all the advice! Keep it coming.

I used to work in an outdoor store and therefore did a lot of shoe fitting, including all-leather hiking boots which were really stiff when new. It was hard work convincing some people that boots that were uncomfortable would not magically become comfortable! The mantra of “they should feel good out of the box, and they’ll feel great after breaking them in” has served me well in my personal shoe-buying ever since.

Snug is normally a no-go for me, but I’d heard before that cowboy boots are fit a bit differently than regular shoes. That’s one reason I’m asking you guys about this stuff and I really want that knowledgeable salesperson when I go to buy. With my wide-ish feet, I’m going to need someone to help me judge whether they’re good-snug or too-snug.

Snug is a really funny word.

That’s why I said in post #4 about the snug (not tight) fit across the ball of the foot, and slippage in the heel. You don’t want uncomfortably tight nor sloppy looseness.

A good salesman/fitter is crucial imho.

I would hold the heel of the boot down and ask the customer to flex their leg/foot in a walking motion. A little heel slippage is all. If it seemed like they were walking out of the boot, find another size.

Many boots have dual width measurements. Foot and heel. Some people needed a pretty narrow heel, others not so much.

I don’t know any of the stores in your area. Nocona has a website with a store finder.

Heel height and style is another factor to consider. Some heels have a very pronounced forward rake to them. Fashionable, yes, but also practical for riding. Boots meant more for walking will have the heel placed and angled for more support. Can make a huge difference in walking comfort.

My fancy dress boots are very different to walk in than are my walk about boots.

Needle toe boots will also be very different to walk in.

I had a good pair of Acme boots many years ago. That was before Tony Lama boots came into vogue.

Pretty much this, especially the fitting advice. I always wear thick socks when I try on new boots, as I want it to be a snug but not tight fit with the thicker socks. I’m a Tony Lama guy myself, but my cowboy boots (which I wear every day to work) have steel toes in them to protect my feet from falling routers and switches (and rubber bottoms for better traction). :stuck_out_tongue: They aren’t stylish, just work boots. I have more fancy ones for going out.

As for the comment above about arch support, most modern boots have that, though I like to put inserts in for more cushion and extra support.

Are you willing to drive to far South Jersey? Cowtown has a few shops.

My husband (who wears only cowboy boots . . . and jeans and western shirts, and hats . . . ) has 2 or 3 pair of Ariat boots that have some sort of comfort sole/insole in them. He’s very happy with them. He spends a lot of his day on his feet on a concrete floor, and never complains of foot pain.

On looking a little further, I think it’s this: ATS (Advanced Torque Stability)

Wow, I didn’t know we had a rodeo in New Jersey! Looks like the last of the year is this weekend, but I must go next year even if I already have the boots. I’ve never been to a rodeo.

It looks to be a couple hours from me, which would be fine, especially if the shops come with a bonus rodeo! Closer and cheaper would always be preferable, of course, but I’m willing to do what I have to do.

Which do you want? Cowboy boots or “the kind you can walk for miles in”? Cowboy boots arent very good for walking, in my experience. Hiking or combat boots is what you want there. Dont get me wrong, they arent terrible, but not “for miles”.

Remember that cowboys never walk anywhere they can ride. That’s why their boots ain’t made for walking. Those tall heels are to keep your foot from sliding through the stirrup and the pointy toes are for snagging a lost stirrup.

But a lot of boots nowadays are either fashion statements or work boots with western styling, so look for those if you don’t have a horse to ride to the convenience store (as a kid I actually did this).

I may have to steal this to add to a To-Do list! If the mapping is correct, its basically Turnpike South to where it almost ends ( & if you hit Delaware, you’ve gone too far).

Ooh, la! I like the looks of the Tony Lamas! Drool!

Thanks for the tip on the store locator on the Nocona site. I’ve tried the store locators for a few brands, and it’s looking like there are a couple of big boot stores within 45 minutes of me and both conveniently in the same direction. One is called Lebeda’s Boot Hide Away in Fairfield and Boot Hide Out in Paramus. This raises the question of why both have names referencing hiding. Granted, western wear is most assuredly not fashionable in New Jersey at the moment, but I’m not sure that the stores have to actually HIDE. :stuck_out_tongue:

Cowboy boots go in and out of style in this area. At some point in the mid-90s, snip-toe Justins were absolute must-haves for the trendy set. You could buy Justins and Fryes practically anywhere. Now, not so much.

Cowboy boots may not be in at the moment, but they can never be truly “out,” at least anywhere in these United States. In fact, I think cowboy boots are among those unalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty, and Permission to Wear Cowboy Boots Without Feeling Like a Total Douche, Even though you’re a J.A.P. from Long Island who’s Never Even Been on a Horse.

Well, in The Stand, the Walking Man wore “sprung cowboy boots” or something, so I kinda just assumed, you know?

Lets put it this way – it’s perfectly ordinary for me to walk at least a couple miles at a time in the city, and the majority of my shoes are fine for doing so. I don’t use orthotics or have any particular foot or knee problems or anything like that. If I were going to walk lots more miles for exercise or similar, I’d definitely wear sneakers in the city and hiking boots in the woods. I’d like to think a good pair of cowboy boots would be fine for a couple of city miles. What do you think? If they’re not suitable for that, then I appreciate the info so I can plan accordingly.

CountBlucher: This is so embarrassing to admit, but I really did end up in Delaware once. Instead of Philadelphia. :smack:

That is so awesome that I can’t even believe it!

I really have never been on a horse. It’s totally shameful. You know what? I’m going to find myself a beginner riding lesson somewhere to go with my shiny new boots. It shouldn’t be hard to find a horse to ride. NJ has more horses per square mile than any other state. :slight_smile: I think people around here tend toward the English style rather than the Western, but I’m sure I can find a Western-style riding lesson somewhere.