Difference in Work Boots and Cowboy Boots

Apr 13th 2020

Difference in Work Boots and Cowboy Boots

Another early morning or a late night of work approaches and it's time to pull on the boots and get to it. You hit a lot of dirt when you're on the job, whether it's covered in the pavement or long grasses so what you're wearing on your feet is one of your most important aspects of what you love to do. You might have had a few unlucky run-ins with the wrong types or kinds of footwear before finding the right pair for you and you think you're doing just fine.

But it's either time to replace your favorite or you're wondering if you really should take advantage of that sale going on at Stages West to get a pair of boots you've always wanted.

Now the question you might be asking yourself…do I want another pair of cowboy boots or work boots? And, wait—what's the difference between work boots and cowboy boots? Which ones do you need anyway and how do I tell what it is I need?

Sit back, put your tired feet up as we guide you through the difference in work boots and cowboy boots and how you can choose, or, if you need to choose between them.

Cowboy Boots

The pure, no-extra frills and traditional cowboy boot. They're a favorite for many reasons including their versatility. Formal functions? There's a pair for that. Horseback riding or running to the corner store? There's a pair for that too.

The toe of a cowboy boot offers feet a dynamic, interesting shape from traditional, square, snip and rounded. These tips still offer ease for sliding your feet in and out of stirrups and the rounded one is perfect for the cowgirl who does a lot of walking or roping.

The added heel, walking or Cuban can help add a little extra height. From a half-inch to up to two inches of extra height for those looking to add that little bit.

The classic Western cowboy boot stays true to its heritage. The shaft is commonly 12 inches high with a heel designed specifically to keep you in the saddle and a toe box that protects in the case of a horse stepping on them. The tall shaft also protects the rider's shins from thorns, passing brush, insects, and in some cases: snakes.

While fashion can be a challenge and highly fickle, cowboy boots have been a stable statement that is steeped in rich history, too. A pair of good cowboy boots is a statement that never goes out of style.

Foot Health:

Tall leather shaft without laces that protects and supports the foot, ankle, and shins from rocks, thorns, brush, and wildlife and possibly rattlesnakes. Also excellent in keeping mud and puddles from seeping into the boot, letting feet remain dry.

No laces means nothing to get stuck in the saddle, avoiding significant injury that can occur on the foot and ankle.

• For those that suffer from Achilles tendon pain to the back of the heel: heel lifts may be useful to treat this ailment and the traditional cowboy boot is made with an elevated heel which shortens the Achilles tendon and reduces straining.

The rigid sole provides an extremely stable foundation for the entire boot.

Work Boots

While work boot features vary around the world from industry to industry, they do have one thing in common. Their purpose. Work boots were made to offer comfort as well as safety in the workplace, regardless if that workplace is on a factory floor or out mending fences.

Like the cowboy boots' original concept, safety has become a must or should be a must in all work boots since they have been specifically created to work in well-known hazardous situations and conditions.

The toe of a work boot should also have a reinforced toe made of either composite materials, alloy or steel to better accommodate the work needs of customers.

Outer soles of work boots on average have been created to be resistant to electric surges, hazards, and reinforced for foot and ankle protection.

To ensure safety, the weight of a work boot is generally more than the average boot, due to the materials used to protect the toes.

Work boots often are made to have a longer, more rugged durability given the situations they will be worn in, such as a shank beneath the midsole or an anchoring disk in the heel for support.

Chemical and abrasion resistance is often much higher than a regular boot.

So, What's the Difference Between Cowboy Boots and Work Boots?

If we are to compare a traditional, purely decorative pair of cowboy boots to a work boot, the difference is evident in both style and safety features. A work boot was designed not to be decorative but safe.

However, nowadays technology and tradition have merged to create a solution as well as to bridge the gap between, making cowboy boots into work boots.


Combing the best features of both to create a cowboy work boot bridges the differences and allows Western wear lovers around the globe the opportunity, no matter their job, the ability to wear their cowboy boots in any weather, situation and job across the country and globe.

For a great example of cowboy and work boot innovation, let's look at just some of the features of one of the bestselling on the market today, the Ariat Square Toe Workhog XT H2O Work Boot.

  • Carbon toe that is ASTM F2413-18 I/C EH rated, a rating required by test report and Certification of Conformance (COC) issued by a third-party laboratory for safety hazards applicable for footwear and puncture resistance.
  • Ariat's exclusive ATS®Max technology designed to combat foot-fatigue and to offer stability
  • Built-in Energy Max rebound foam sole with moisture-wicking and temperature regulation
  • EVA midsole that's lightweight and shock absorbing as well as cushioning
  • Waterproof PRO™ construction that resists water and waterproofed leather
  • Six-row shaft stitch
  • Goodyear welt construction
  • Mesh lining
  • Oil and slip-resistant Duratread™ outsole for maximum wear resistance and traction

The real difference between cowboy boots and work boots these days comes down to your personal style and what you love. It's easier than ever now to wear your cowboy boots wherever and whenever you want thanks to technology and those of us, like Stages West, that love everything about Western life.