Kicking it with Cowboy Boots!
If you're in the market for a pair of cowboy boots, you'll quickly learn there is a wide range of styles from which to choose. Understanding the parts of a cowboy boot and how the major styles are different can help you choose the best boot for you.
Starting at the top of the boot are the pull straps, used to pull the boots onto your feet. Some styles have holes instead of straps. The shaft of the boot is the upper part, designed to protect the wearer's legs. Shafts vary in height according to boot style, and the dip in the top of the shaft is called the scallop. The vamp is the part of the boot that covers the top of the foot, and it's the portion that becomes creased with wear. The heel varies in terms of height and material, and the toe shape varies as well. A boot's outer sole can be replaced should it wear out, and the stitching on the boot's leather adds support to the boot, helping to hold the boot's shape.
The standard western cowboy boot has a shaft that's about twelve inches and a stacked Cuban heel of one-to-two inches. Basic cowboy boots are made of cowhide, though exotic leathers and animal skins can be used for part or all of the boot. The design of the cowboy boot is intended to keep a rider on a horse and protect the rider's legs. The narrowed toe slides easily into a stirrup and the heel keeps the foot in place in the stirrup. Toes of cowboy boots can be square, rounded, snip, or the traditionally pointed toe. Soles are usually made of durable leather.
Ropers are boots designed for rodeo riders. They have a shorter shaft—usually about six to ten inches. They're typically wider than traditional cowboy boots, with a heel that is a little lower, wider, and more comfortable. Ropers are lighter weight and less expensive than cowboy boots, and they may have rubber soles. The toes of ropers are rounded, and many ropers lack the ornate stitching of cowboy boots.
Western work boots are similar to ropers in style, and are designed to be durable and comfortable. Toes of western work boots are generally round. Some are made with steel toes, so the toe boxes can be even wider than a roper, and many are made with rubber soles. They're built to wear for many years and be comfortable even on long workdays.
Stockman boots are hybrids. They look similar to cowboy boots, but they have a wider heel like ropers and work boots. Some have rubber soles, while others have leather soles. The most distinctive feature of stockman boots is the deeper scallop in the front. Stockman boots typically have stitching like cowboy boots, and they're designed for people who want the traditional look of boots, but who aren't actually going to be riding horses.
Selecting the right style of boot for your needs ensures a comfortable fit and many years of wear.