I don’t know where you’re reading this or what you’re doing right now. Maybe you’re eating a chicken salad sandwich. Maybe you’re sitting around a campfire drinking a Yoo-hoo and playing the lute. And maybe, just maybe, you’re wrangling cattle on a ranch in Texas.
If you’re that last guy, carry on. You got this.
If you’re those first two guys or literally anyone else, it’s high time you got acquainted with the eight best cowboy boot brands across a range of categories.
To say nothing of “Yellowstone” and the cowboy-culture frenzy it’s caused over the last handful of years, the elevated ranch hand look doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. And from where I sit, that’s a good thing. When worn with confidence and teamed up with the right outfit, cowboy boots are all swagger.
[don’t say ‘giddyup,’ don’t say ‘giddyup’]
And without further ado, let’s giddyup!
Cowboy boots have been around since the late 1800s, and the best cowboy boot brands still honor the heritage and processes of those pioneers. In fact, not only are many of those pioneers still at it, they make up the majority of this list.
My top pick and one of the oldest boot brands in existence, Lucchese, is obsessed with quality, comfort, and durability. As is my budget pick of Justin with its 200-step bootmaking process and eye-catching stitching details.
Our Top Picks
Legendary Texas bootmaker Lucchese has been plying its game-changing trade since 1883, quickly becoming one of the best cowboy boot brands in the world. The heritage footwear company’s boots have since been worn by celebrities, U.S. presidents, and… well, regular dudes. Regular dudes wear them, too.
Lucchese’s obsessive attention to detail, quality, and craftsmanship shines through in each pair of hand-stitched boots it produces. Brass and lemonwood pegs are used in the pegging process. Leather is hand-tooled by master artisans. And a seemingly endless number of other meticulous steps are taken before a single pair of boots can be called complete. To sweeten the pot, the brand’s range of products are meant to be worn by anyone from city-dwelling socialites to actual ranch hands.
Not to be confused with “cheap” (in any way, like, ever), the construction of Justin’s approachably priced cowboy boots remains true to its authentic Texas roots. Founded in 1879, an impressive pedigree barely scratches the surface of the brand’s offerings.
Over 200 steps go into the making of Justin’s boots, and the company places an emphasis on comfort—an unfortunate and frequent oversight by lesser manufacturers. The stitching details are eye-catching, and you’ve got dozens of styles to choose from. Boots of this quality offered at Justin’s prices aren’t common, further contributing to the heritage brand’s designation as one of the best cowboy boot brands for men.
Tony Lama now operates under the Justin boots umbrella, but the brand is one of the oldest and most respected in the game. And like Justin’s boots, Tony Lama’s approachably priced, handmade footwear employs high-quality leathers, materials, and processes.
And as fate would have it, Amazon has tons of styles for you to choose from. Funky boots with red uppers. Classic, understated designs with striking hand-stitched details. And, of course, plenty of my favorite versatile styles, the roper boot. If you’re looking for a quality pair of entry-level cowboy boots, this is another excellent place to start.
Massachusetts-born boot brand Frye has been making tough-as-nails footwear since 1863. You’re likely familiar with Frye’s more visible offerings like Chelsea boots, harness boots, cap-toe lace-ups, and zip-up ankle boots.
But don’t sleep on the brand’s small yet mighty selection of western boots. The Duke Roper is a super versatile pair of boots with full-grain leather uppers and cushy leather linings. For a more traditional cowboy boot look, the Weston Roper features Frye’s built-to-last construction and a vintage look that’s up for everything.
Based in Austin and made in Mexico, Tecovas has quickly made a name for itself in the heritage-heavy bootmaking industry. Founded just a few years ago in 2015, a combination of memorable marketing and classic, meticulous construction has put the brand on the map and will likely keep it there for a long, long time.
You’ve seen the ads. They’ve got a Big Lebowski meets cowboy tattoo meets hipster-country vibe, and they’re in lockstep with the type of aesthetic young boot-wearers want to sidle up to. But it’s not all optics—every pair of Tecovas boots is handmade and involves over 200 steps to complete.
I’m not a cowboy. I’m just… I’m not. But I’ve seen cowboys on TV and stuff, so surely that makes me qualified to speak to their preferred footwear.
Of course not. But any hardworking man who’s on his feet all day is going to prioritize footwear. Comfortable, durable, breathable, affordable, damn-near-indestructible footwear. Here with the assist is Ariat. Based in California, the brand uses quality materials and techniques and integrates athletic footwear technology into its boots for exceptional comfort.
Founded in 1853, Rios of Mercedes is another pillar of the heritage cowboy boot world. And though putting a “luxury” stamp on the humble cowboy boot is a tall order, these handmade beauties pull it off flawlessly.
The list of impeccable details is staggering. Barely scratching the surface are genuine calfskin tops and leather piping, bark-tanned leather insoles and outsoles, and intricate hand-stitched details fawned over by true artisans. This is another one of the men’s cowboy boot brands that can easily transition from indestructible workhorse to handsome everyday wardrobe staple.
As our journey through the best cowboy boot brands winds down, it occurs to me that if you’re reading an article about cowboy boots in 2023, you probably have a quirky, unique, fun sense of style. That’s you? Nailed it? Nice.
Then you’ll love Tin Haul’s over-the-top-in-all-the-right-ways designs. The quality and durability are there, but so are images of oil rigs, pin-up girls, and American presidents on the soles. And uppers with a deck of cards on them. Lightning bolts traveling up the calf: check. Barbed wire and musical-note patterns: naturally. If it’s eye-catching you’re looking for, this is your candy shop.
What To Look For In The Best Cowboy Boot Brands
Purpose & Utility
What you’ll be doing in your cowboy boots should dictate every other consideration you give to your purchase. If you’re doing ranch work, prioritize waterproof boots that are comfortable, durable, and breathable. If you’re trying to make a statement at the cocktail party, an impeccable pair of dress boots will serve you well. Live in a cold environment? You guessed it—look for boots made to withstand winter elements.
If this is the first time you’ve started researching cowboy boots, they may all look the same to you. But in fact, there are several styles, each with different purposes and degrees of aesthetic appeal. Western boots, work boots, designer boots, and square- and round-toe boots are just a few examples. Unless you plan on filling your closet with all of them, it’s best to hone in on the style you want before picking a pair.
Size & Fit
Most boot companies have fit guides that can help you understand whether to size up, down, or keep things on the nose. Generally speaking, boots tend to run big, so sizing down is recommended. And whether you’ll be pairing your boots with a suit, a nice pair of pants, or plan on going full Yellowstone on the ranch, always prioritize comfort.
No exploration of the best cowboy boot brands out there would be complete without honoring the heritage brands and their obsessive attention to detail. My top overall pick is the legendary Lucchese, whose boots are not only impossibly handsome and comfortable but built with a level of quality that ensures they’ll last a lifetime.
Cowboys and ranchers, at risk of overgeneralizing, are going to wear boots that are comfortable, durable, breathable, and practical for the various jobs they’re doing. In other words, the best damn boots they can get their hands on. A few popular brands that real cowboys prefer are Ariat, Justin, Lucchese, and Anderson Bean.
The waters can get muddy when differentiating between boot styles during the earliest years of bootmaking. The Hyer Boot Company, which went on to become the Olathe Boot Company, is said to have invented the cowboy boot in 1875.