There are two basic types of cowboy boots — western and roper. The western style is different because it usually has an angled heel, which is well over an inch high.
Traditionally cowboy boots had a high ‘low-slung’ heel in order to help the cowboy keep his foot in the stirrup. Although western boots may be made with a large variety of toe shapes, they are traditionally made with a pointed toe.
Roper style cowboy boot would usually have a more rounded heel, of only an inch or sometimes even lower. Roper boots are also usually made with rounded toes, but new styles are being created all the time, and the two styles will probably ultimately blend.
Hand-made western boots, made to your exact requirements can be expensive. You are probably wondering why. The simple fact is that boots are complicated to make. They can take up to a year or more and the construction is not simple. There are dozens of individual steps to the manufacturing process.
High quality hand crafted leather western boots have approximately 290 individual steps to their production, from the first cut of the leather, until the boots are quality inspected and boxed. To create special boots requires a team of specialists. Thus it is obvious that much of the cost goes towards paying specialist labor.
Next let us consider materials. Leather — more specifically cowhide — is often the first choice for a durable western boot. While cowhide has been the traditional leather, western boots are now made with a wide variety of exotic skins as well. With the proper care, a pair of leather western boots will last for many years. Many finishes are available from suede to distressed leather. Each will give the boot an entirely different feel and look.
Although traditional western boots would have leather soles, or outsoles as they are called in the trade, the trend is towards rubber. Rubber soles tend to outlast leather, and also make the boot less costly.
You may wonder how the sole is attached to the boot. High quality boots are usually pegged (with lemonwood pegs), cemented and sewn. Lower cost boots are nailed in stead of pegged. These all factor into the cost of your western boots. It may be worth noting that soles which have been nailed or pegged, can usually be able to be re-soled.
On western boots, cowboy heels are usually slightly sloped and a little less than 2” in height. Traditionally, roper style boots and walking heels would have heels which are larger at the base and shorter, with a uniform or no slope.
Western boots typically have either a narrow toe, a medium round, or a wide round toe. Narrow toes give a more traditional style, but wider toes offer substantially more comfort.
Own a pair of western boots, and you own an enduring symbol of American history. And with the right care and attention, your leather western cowboy boots will last you for many years, becoming part of your own history.