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Fitting Cowboy Boots

A well-broken in pair of cowboy boots that fits right can easily be one of the most comfortable things you’ll ever wear. When you've got a good fit your cowboy boots look better, feel better, and they last longer!

  • A properly fitted pair of boots will require some effort to pull on.
  • Your foot should not slip into a new boot easily.
  • Expect some tug and pull. If your boots go on too easy, that's a bad sign. 
  • Ideally, you want to stand up and give them a good strong pull.
  • You want a cowboy boot to fit snug around the top of your foot.
  • That's what keeps your foot from sliding forward and smashing your toes. 
  • Ideally, there is a hesitation, and then a THUD as your foot falls into the boot. 

One foot is larger than the other, or longer, or wider, or has a different instep height. Regardless, one foot will slip a bit more in the heel than the other. 
This is natural. You are better served by fitting the larger foot, as extra room in one could be taken up by an orthotic, or an extra sock, or a thicker sock. 
However, if a boot is too tight in the toe box, there is very little that can be done.



If you are a first time buyer there are four things you need to consider when purchasing western boots; toe box, instep, ball, and heel.


  • Each boot has an area in the front called a 'toe box'
  • This area will never stretch, therefore, it's important that you are able to wiggle your toes
  • They shouldn't be pressured by the front of the toe box, the top of the toe box, or the sides of the toe box
  • Don’t worry about the shape of the toe or the height of the heel
  • Cowboy boots are designed with a footbed that fits your size, taking into consideration the shape of the toe
  • So don’t go up a size just because the toe of the boot is pointed
  • The height and design of the heel will also not affect your boot size


 Unlike shoes with laces, a boot has only the instep to hold it securely to the foot. Consequently, proper fit in the instep is important. 
 The fit should be snug, not tight or loose. If the instep is too loose, the boot will slip excessively in the heel. 
 To remedy this you need a more narrow width to shorten the circumference of the throat. This will reduce slippage without cutting down on the length of the boot. Or you may need  to go to a smaller size.





 Firm handshake:The boot should hold the ball and instep of your foot much like a firm handshake. 
 When you move, run or walk, you bend your foot at its widest part, which is called the ball. 
 It is important that the ball seats on the widest part of the boot. If the boot is too short, the ball of the foot will sit too far forward and force the toes into the toe box. 
 Plenty of toe space is necessary because toes tend to settle forward after the boot is worn for a while.




  • Cowboy boots are designed so that your heel will slip up and down in the boot when they are very new
  • This is because the leather is not yet worn in, and the heel is the only area that has any give. The warmth and perspiration from your foot will also soften the leather and help "customize" your fit
  • After you’ve worn the boots more, the leather will become softer and conform to your foot shape, and you will no longer have any slippage in the heel 
  • The more you wear them, the better they will feel!
  • A little slippage in the heel indicates that your boots are the correct size. If your heel doesn’t move at all, your boots could be too small. If the boot practically falls off your foot when you take a step, it is too big



  • From narrowest to widest, they are: D, E, EE, EEE and EEEE
  • Basically, it’s a sliding scale. Move to the left and the boot width narrows. Move to the right, and it widens 
  • When in doubt, bigger is better. You can always slip an insole in your boot and wear thick boot socks to customize the fit of your boots
  • Buying too small and then taking the boot to a cobbler to be stretched may not work

 What if they still seem too tight or loose later?

If you are still not getting exactly the fit you want from your cowboy boots after wearing them many times, you have a few options.

  • A boot cobbler can stretch cowboy boots, usually for a fairly inexpensive fee
  • Stretching will not increase the size of the boot, but it should give you a bit more room in the foot area for a more comfortable fit
  • Check your local listings for boot repair shops or shoe cobblers
  • Thicker socks or boot socks can help if your boots seem too loose
  • You can also try adding a removable insole to the foot of the boot