Cowboy Boot Questions Answered

Lately several people have asked questions via internet search engines which direct them to either the “How To Wear Cowboy Boots” page on my website (which remains the most popular page on that site), or this blog.

I don’t think these questions are addressed directly in either location, so here goes — recent “frequently asked questions about cowboy boots”:

Q. What cowboy boots have the longest-wearing heels?

A. Boots that have a rubber heel plate on the heels tend to last longer than boots without one. That is why the majority of commercially-made cowboy boots, as well as custom made boots, have them. The rubber plate protects the heel from damage and wear when walking on pavement. Plus, the plates are easy and cheap to replace when worn down. No particular brand of cowboy boots have longer-wearing heels than any other, as far as I know — and I have experience with wearing boots made from over 40 manufacturers.

Metal heel taps are also made to nail on to the bottom of cowboy boots, but seldom are taps used on boots any more.

Q. What color cowboy boots go best with blue jeans?

A. This is a matter of personal preference. Boots that have a contrasting color, such as cognac (medium orange), bone, or natural color exotic skin, are more noticeable and therefore (in the opinion of some guys and many women) those colors “go best” with blue-colored denim jeans. But honestly, any boots look good with jeans — even black, brown, black cherry, or gray. Since most guys wear boots with pants over them, the color of the boot shaft, stitching, or piping is not usually seen, so these decorative elements do not matter much, except to the wearer.

Q. What socks do I wear with cowboy boots?

A. Regular socks made with a combination of three fabrics work best: cotton for comfort, wool to absorb sweat, and nylon/dacron or similar synthetic to maintain shape. You will find socks made with these three fabrics in different combinations. Merino wool is best, and 20% wool will work fine, without making your feet feel hot and sweaty.

Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need “boot socks” to wear with boots. Regular men’s socks that you can find for a decent price at KMart, Sears, or Kohls will do just fine, as long as they are made of a combination of fabrics. More details about choosing socks to wear with boots is in this older post on this blog.

Q. When do I resole boots?

A. Boots should have new soles put on when the old soles develop significant wear or holes in the bottom, or if the stitching that holds the foot onto the sole comes loose (or also develops a hole.) Cowboy boot soles are usually made of exceptionally durable leather, and will last a long time. But they don’t last forever! Note, a cobbler (the professional who can resole a boot) can only apply new soles to boots that were stitched on. Even if the stitches are not apparent, you can see small holes around the perimeter of the sole where the external stitches were. If boot soles were glued on — such as cheap boots made in China — then those boots cannot have new soles put on.

Q. Can I wear my cowboy boots on a motorcycle?

A. There are a number of ways that I can respond to this, being the purist of the use of good English as I am. However, I will reply for what I think this person was asking: boots worn while operating a motorcycle need to have sturdy rubber soles. Smooth leather soles that are found on most cowboy boots do not provide traction, and will slip on the slightest amount of oil — usually found where you park the bike in a public lot. The best cowboy boots to wear when riding a motorcycle are those that have sturdy rubber (or better yet, Vibram) lug soles on them. If you have a favorite pair of cowboy boots that you want to wear when operating a motorcycle but those boots do not have a sole that provides traction, then do what I have done — take the boots to your local cobbler and ask him/her to put Vibram soles on for you. It can be done! (It may cost US$50 to US$100, but it’s well worth it.)

Q. How do I break in new cowboy boots?

A. Here’s a trick — hold one boot in one hand, and use the other hand to gently bend the shaft back and forth, so you get a “straight break” across the back of the shaft where it it stitched onto the foot. More details on breaking in new boots is on this older post on this blog. Further, the “ankle breaking” is described and demonstrated in a video about patrol boots that is embedded on this older blog post, but works just as well with stiff cowboy boots.

Q. Do cowboys wear cowboy boots to bed?

A. No. Cowboys, like regular guys, take their boots off before going to bed. Like me, they take off their boots, socks, jeans, and shirt, clean up in the bathroom, put on clean undershorts and a t-shirt, then hit the sack.

And last, but not least, the most frequently asked question that drives at least 100 visitors to my website each and every day–

Q. How to wear cowboy boots?

A. On your feet. Wearing them on your hands is so last century….

I hope this post helps with common questions. If you have additional questions I haven’t answered, write to me through this form. I assure anonymity.

Life is short: wear boots proudly!

2 thoughts on “Cowboy Boot Questions Answered

  1. Do you wear your cowboy boots on trips where you will be doing a lot of walking? My friend I travel with wants me to get sneakers to wear for sightseeing rather than my cowboy boots.

  2. Greg, I always wear boots whenever I go out. If I will be doing a lot of walking, I wear my Chippewa Firefighters, which are very comfortable and built to provide much better support for the foot than most sneakers.

    Sneakers may appear to be more comfortable, but what makes the difference in foot comfort is the insole. Most sneakers have a fiber padded insole, and a plastic half shank, which does not support the foot as much as boots that have a metal shank of full length and have full padded insoles. Cheap sneakers don’t even have a shank. “Shank-less” sneakers are very flexible, but offer no foot support at all. Wearing them is almost the equivalent of going bare-footed.

    Tell your friend: it really doesn’t matter what the wrapping is–a sneaker or a boot are “wraps”–what matters is what the foot stands on inside that wrapper. Sneakers are usually not built to provide the support and comfort of good quality boots with good insoles and steel shanks despite what the sneaker-clad sales people at the local sporting goods retailers may tell you.

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