It’s easy for a footwear buyer to be confused by the numerous types of boots available today. So, we prepared this guide to help you choose the right type of boot for your needs.
Instead of focusing on every style of boots, we concentrate on different outdoor and work boots. From the various types of boots in this article, you’ll find everything from work to combat to western and wedge boots.
Besides different styles, boots also come in different heights. If you’re ready to learn more about boot types, keep on reading!
The History of Boots
Boots date back to 15,000 BC. They were first seen in a painting where a man in skin boots and a woman in fur boots stand side by side. Interestingly, boots were even featured in Khnumhotep’s Tomb in 2,140 BC.
One detailed boot painting dates back to 1,000 BC when the Scythians in southern Siberia wore simple leather boots with fur coverings. But it wasn’t until around 3,000 BC that the Minoans diverted boot-making into a skilled trade.
The boots’ purpose was to protect the wearer’s feet and legs. But even then, they were a fashion statement. That’s especially true for quality boots crafted out of fine materials, as these spoke of wealth and status.
The Different Types of Boots
There are various types of boots based on their style, height, and material. Below, you will find some of the most common and popular types of boots and learn what each is used for.
Rugged, durable, and stylish, work boots are all you need to stay protected while fulfilling your duties, regardless of the weather. Their design was perfected during the last couple of decades. Work boots protect the feet and lower legs and typically feature a long-lasting lug sole. Besides that, work boots are also some of the most comfortable boots out there.
Note that work boots come with different features to suit various professions. So, if you need a work boot, make sure to check the specifications before buying.
Cowboy boots are rooted in function. All you need to do is pull them on, wear them hard, and they will last for years. The tall shaft and pointed toe make this boot instantly recognizable. Note that there are two basic styles of cowboy boots:
- Traditional cowboy boots feature a taller and angled riding heel.
- Roper boots have a shorter heel and are designed for long walks.
The engineer boots were designed to protect the feet of workers who fed coals into steam engines. They combine the supportive arch and sole of a work boot with the tall pull-on style of horse riding boots. A buckled ankle strap sets this style apart from other pull-on boots.
The hunting boot is a staple in the Northeast. The traditional style has a hand-sewn moc toe, a durable grippy outsole, and a lace-up closure. Thanks to their stylish look, many wear them even when not hunting.
Traditional hiking boots feature sturdy soles, lace-to-toe closures, and heel support, meaning this type of boot is as hardworking as it’s stylish. They were made popular because of the alpine prowess, which they still boast.
Boots typically worn by enlisted military, combats prioritize function over form. These boots offer an impressive combination of protection, grip, and stability. Moreover, they are becoming increasingly popular amongst counterculture groups.
Also known as galoshes or gumboots, rain boots don’t come only in yellow and children’s sizes. There are numerous waterproof boot options available on the market. However, rain boots have a distinctive style that’s impossible to miss. They are tall, made of rubber, and excellent at keeping your feet dry in the wettest of conditions. Wellingtons are some of the best waterproof boots out there, so keep them in mind when shopping for rain boots.
Snow boots are designed to keep your feet warm and dry in freezing weather conditions since they feature a layer of insulation. They are also waterproof, excelling in snowy, icy, and wet conditions. Moreover, their exterior is easy to clean. However, this type of boots tends to be heavier and less breathable.
The trench boot is worn since World War I. Also known as army or officer boot, this type of boot is a stylish staple that’s shaken its military roots. Similar to the work boot, the trench boot has a lower profile that's easy to integrate into various wardrobes.
Moc Toe Boots
Quite different from other types of boots, moc toe boots have visible stitching around the rounded toes, giving them a style that resembles moccasins. Made with tall shafts and rubber soles. Moc toe boots became popular amongst hunters, farmers, and other outdoor workers.
Wedge boots feature a sole that resembles the shape of a wedge, hence their name. Wedge boots come in different styles, including work boots, casual boots, and fashionable boots.
Harness boots are popular amongst motorcyclists. They are typically made with heavyweight leather and range from 10 to 38 inches in height. The most striking feature of this boot is the ankle strap connected with a ring. And this strap is the harness that gives this boot its name.
Chelsea boots were made in England in the mid-19th century. Their silhouette is slim and features heel pull-tabs and elastic side panels.
Also known as desert boots, chukka boots were first worn by British soldiers in Africa during World War II. Later, they made their way across the Atlantic, becoming a casual staple for the second half of the 20th century. Although Clarks made the original chukka boots, upmarket offerings enhanced the formula. These boots lace up just above the ankle and typically feature a soft crepe sole.
Boot Types Based on Height
While boots can be of any height, they typically fall into one of the following categories:
- Ankle boots: Ankle boots are the shortest of the four categories. They can sit just under, on, or just above the ankle. There are various ankle-high boot styles, including classic silhouettes like chukka and Chelsea boots.
- Calf boots: Many boots are designed to be calf-high, including cowboy and combat boots.
- Knee boots: Knee-high boots can be quite fashionable but also functional. Wellington boots are perhaps the most famous knee-high boots.
- Over-the-thigh boots: Over-the-thigh boots are the tallest boots of these four categories. The tallest boot design is likely waders, with some designs going up to the waist or even chest.
Types of Boots Based on Material
Leather is probably the first material used to make boots and is still used to make different types of boots today. However, over time, boots have been made from a wide variety of materials, such as rubber and nylon. The soles can also be made from various materials, including cork, rope, and rubber.
Leather boots are stylish, durable, easy to clean, and versatile. Leather is known for its durability, and that’s why it’s been used to make boots for thousands of years. This material is typically used to make boot uppers. In addition, leather sole construction is also common in different types of boots.
Nylon is a lightweight and breathable material, so if you’re looking for a pair of boots that offer these qualities, opt for boots made of nylon. Moreover, nylon is very durable and can be dyed in different colors.
Polyurethane (PU) is a highly durable synthetic material. It’s also very versatile and can be dyed in various colors. This material is often used for making shock-absorbing midsoles, which is a vital feature of the best work boots for plantar fasciitis.
Rubber is a durable, waterproof material resistant to chemicals. Moreover, it’s tough and stretchy at the same time. This means it’s a perfect material for waterproof boots.
Rubber can be used to make waterproof boot uppers but also soles, as rubber soles offer excellent shock and slip resistance.
Suede is soft and velvety leather. Many boots are made from this type of leather because of their beauty and durability.
Fleece is a soft, insulating fabric designed to keep you warm. Made from synthetic materials, fleece is a vegan-friendly alternative to wool. Since fleece is warm, it’s often used to line different snow boots.
Patent Leather Boots
Patent leather is specially-treated leather to be stiff, shiny, and smooth. The process of making patent leather is being used since the early 19th century. This kind of leather is coated in varnish, which gives it a glossy surface. In addition, patent leather offers a high level of water resistance and looks stylish.
Wool is a soft material made from fibers of sheep hair. It’s warm and insulating, making it perfect for winter boots. That said, boot uppers are often made of wool but can also be used for boot lining. This way, footwear becomes more winter-friendly, keeping your feet warm in the coldest conditions.
Tips for Buying the Right Boots
There are several factors to consider before buying a new pair of boots:
- Quality and price: While more expensive doesn’t always have to mean better quality, boot prices often go hand in hand with its quality. If you choose the cheaper alternative, you may have to spend more money on new boots in no time. That’s why we recommend investing in boots of high quality that will last. This way, you will also save money in the long run while supporting sustainability.
- Comfort: Comfort is a vital factor to consider when buying a new pair of boots. That’s especially true if you plan to use them daily or work in them.
- Materials: Leather is the best material for most boots because it’s durable, soft, and comfortable, offering a level of water resistance. However, in some cases, the leather may not be an ideal option, such as for fishing. But now, many other boot fabrics fulfill some needs that leather doesn’t. So, when choosing your boots, consider where you will be using them, what degree of breathability you need, how much flexibility you find comfortable, etc. This will give you a good idea about which boot material you should choose.
- Weather: Boots that are excellent for winter won’t do you much good during the summer. While there are multi-purpose boots for all seasons, buying a few pairs for each season will offer you more comfort as they are specifically designed with that particular weather in mind.
Get the Right Type of Boots for Your Needs
After reading this article, you have a good idea about different types of boots. With this knowledge, you can choose the right boot for work, outdoor activities, or weather conditions. Make sure to follow our tips for buying the right boots, and you won’t make a mistake.
Now that you have all the information you need to pick the perfect pair for you, it’s time to browse our website and find what you’re looking for!