What Are The Different Parts Of Cowboy Boots? November 19 2019

Cowboy boots originated in the American Southwest in the mid-1800s and they are just as popular now as they were then. These are worn by people throughout the world for varying occasions. If you are looking for a new pair of cowboy boots, it can be helpful to know about their components and about the types that are available.

The basic parts of a Western boot

Although there are a variety of styles of cowboy boots, like those for working cowboys and those for formal occasions, the basic parts are the same. Here is a breakdown of these components. 

The upper portion

The upper part of a cowboy boot, also known as the exterior, is usually made of leather and has multiple pieces. These include the following.


  1. The shaft: This covers the lower leg and ankle. The shaft is where custom cowboy boot makers can add the most details and designs.

  1. The counter: This is the rearmost part of the upper section and is located right above the heel.

  1. The vamp: This part covers the front and top of the foot near the ankle. It can come in a variety of styles.

  1. The toe: This covers the top of the toes. It also comes in a variety of styles and shapes, so be sure to keep an eye out for your favorite.

  1. The welt: This part is a bonded or stitched seam that can be decorative and attaches the outsole to the upper part of the boot.

  1. The heel cap: This makes up the boot’s heel and is compressed leather.

The insole

This is softer leather that goes inside of the cowboy boots. It gives you extra support and cushioning. Some pairs have removable insoles while others can be made to leave room for your own insoles. 

The outsole and heels

The soles of most cowboy boots are made of thick, heavy-duty leather. Some of them have soles that are made of rubber to help with traction. Heels can be made of the same materials and can come in a variety of heights.

The shank

Western boots may or may not have a shank, which is a part that is placed between the insole and outsole to provide extra stability. These are stiff and can be made from steel, molded nylon, and other materials. 

Different types of cowboy boots

There are some different types of cowboy boots that are made specifically for varying purposes. If you have never purchased a pair of these, or are looking to branch out from your usual style, the following can help.

Classic cowboy boots

These are the iconic style of this boot and the most commonly worn. They usually have an angled heel at a height of an inch-and-a-half or slightly more. The heel is of a proper height for walking or riding as well as other activities like working, dancing, and basic everyday wear. The total height of the classic cowboy boot is around twelve inches.

Western riding boots

These cowboy boots are designed specifically for riding a horse. Many people that work in rodeos and horse shows use this functional option. These also have angled heels, but their height is around two inches to help prevent the rider’s feet from slipping out of the stirrups. The soles are made of soft leather to help prevent the foot from sticking if they fall.

Western work boots

The heels on these cowboy boots are lower than on other styles which makes them easier on the feet. There is often tread on the heels to help with traction and they can have cushioning midsoles to help provide extra comfort. Because these are made for functionality and durability, they are often less costly than options made with exotic leathers.


This special type of cowboy boot is made for ropers and is relatively new in the industry. Calf-roping events require riders to rope a calf while mounted on their horse, then dismount to finish restraining the animal. Their boots must allow them to safely stay on the horse, as well as dismount and move quickly on the ground. The heel of roping boots have the shortest height of all the styles and is usually squared off. The sole is flexible and the toe is rounded for added comfort.

Fashion boots

Because these are made for looks, there are no rules that fashion Western boots must follow. Design, total height, heel height, toe shape, and material type can vary greatly. Synthetic materials, as well as exotic leathers, are more often used for fashion options. These can be seen on Hollywood stars, musicians, and those with a flair for more colorful styles but they are not recommended for work purposes.

Custom cowboy boots for any occasion

At Beck Boots in Amarillo, Texas, we hand make custom Western and working boots. Our products are always made from high-quality materials with durability in mind. Call us at (806) 373-1600 or Contact Us by email to learn more about our Custom Cowboy Boots, Working Cowboy Special, In-stock options, and Clearance items.

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