Official Guide to Men's Boot Types
Whether you are new to boots or want to step outside of your footwear comfort zone, our men's boot guide gives you the 411 on different types of boots, from rugged boots that stand up to the harsh outdoor elements to smart and casual boots that complete your dinner-date look.
Anatomy of a Boot: Terms to Know
When shopping for casual, work, or dress boots, you need to know a few terms to find the perfect fit. These are common terms for different parts of a boot, so you can understand how each plays a role in its fit and style.
Shaft: The shaft refers to the top part of the boot that extends above your ankle, this is what covers part of your leg and can offer ankle support depending on the boot’s construction.
Vamp: This part covers the top of your foot and will show under long pants.
Counter: A heel counter is a stiff piece of leather found surrounding the heel of the boot.
Last: A boot last is the mold of a foot that the boot is built around.
Instep: The instep is the area of your foot at the top part of your arch.
Piping: The piping, also known as a side seam, refers to the stitch that runs vertically up the shaft of the boot. The piping is most commonly seen on western boots.
Toe box: The toe box is the part of the shoe that covers your toes inside of the footwear. This part is usually tougher than the rest of the boot material for added protection and uniformity between boots. A safety toe cap is often used in place of a toe box, and can be made of steel or composite material.
Pull strap: It’s found at the back of the boots. A pull strap is a piece of material that makes it easier to pull on.
Outsole: This is the bottom part of the boot that touches the ground.
Heel: Heels are found at the back part of the sole and are found in a wide range of designs and heights.
Garments: The garments are housed on the boots as either round holes or hooks that allow the laces to tighten the boots.
Tongue: The material that goes from the top of the boot, down to the instep.
False Tongues: A lace-in additional tongue that sits partially on the tongue and helps give additional protection. This is also sometimes referred to as a kiltie.
Lining: The material inside of the boot on the opposite side of the leather.
Insole: This is the material found inside the bottom of the boot. It sits above the midsole. Insoles are usually made of leather and can mold to your feet over time.
Midsole: Midsoles are the middle layer between the insole and the outsole. It’s designed to provide cushioning and to give an attachment point for soles.
Upper: The upper is the upper part of the boot that includes the shaft, backstay, and tongue.
Welt: Welt refers to the stitching and leather on the perimeter of the front of the boots that connect the leather to the midsole and outsole.
Toe cap: A cap (usually leather) over the toe area. It is designed to give an extra piece of leather over the toes. Very useful in function and also can be used on dress boots.
Shank: A boot shank is usually a long, flat, and thin piece of material between the insole and outsole of a boot for added support and comfort.
Men’s Boot Types
Historically, boots have played a practical purpose. They’re designed to protect your feet from the elements, whether it be rugged and unforgiving outdoor terrain or high-risk workplaces. Tough leather, non-slip outsoles, and a comfy interior can help you get the job done.
Today, there are different types of boots for every occasion. Although they still serve as tough and long-lasting footwear for heavy-duty work, certain types of boots work best with a tailored suit than full wildland PPE, for example.
Below, we cover the most common types of boots for men, so you can determine which ones work best for your lifestyle.
Head out to bask in the great outdoors with your own pair of hiking boots. In addition, many hiking boots feature a lace-to-toe closure that use d-ring eyelets to keep your feet comfortable and secure throughout your trek.
Hiking boots are typically at least ankle-high to give you support as you go through rough terrain, so you don’t twist your ankle. These boots are made using numerous materials, including leather, synthetics, waterproof membranes, and vegan materials.
Rubber outsoles with a range of lug patterns provide the ultimate traction and stability out in nature. Stiff midsoles made of EVA and polyurethane provide comfort and stability for the long trek.
Service boots were originally designed for military purposes during both world wars. They feature a welt construction, low block heel, leather upper, and a plain toe lace pattern. Service boots are perfect for outdoor terrain and can double as casual dress footwear due to their minimalistic and clean design.
They usually extend over the ankle to provide stability in rugged terrain. A stacked heel gives you additional leverage and keeps your feet above the mud if you’re outdoors. Wear them on your date or hike!
Wildland firefighter boots are designed to protect your feet against the elements. Fire boots have a minimum 8-inch height, good for preventing ankle injuries and providing extra stability.
Outsoles are usually made of melt-resistant Vibram brand outsoles to protect against fire and heat while providing traction in wildland terrain. Their exterior leather construction is tough enough to stand the heat for the long haul.
Kiltie boots feature a kiltie on the vamp. A kiltie is a piece of leather that protects the boot’s tongue and laces. Also known as false tongues, kilties can be bought separately and installed on different types of boots.
Kilties can protect your laces and tongue from dirt, mud, and other debris in outdoor environments. They are rugged, all-purpose work footwear that can provide waterproof protection on the job site.
Logger or packer boots are a classic work boot that continues to work in many industries. Packer boots ride high above the ankles at 8 inches or higher. Rugged lugged soles provide traction and stability in wet and muddy environments.
A raised heel keeps your foot dry and provides extra leverage. Its welt construction has the ultimate durability and moisture resistance. They usually feature a false tongue to protect the leather material from dirt, water, and debris.
Many logger boots will come with a steel shank between the insole and outsole, adding support to the boot. Packer boots are available in plain toe or safety toe varieties. Some are even insulated for colder environments.
Engineer boots have a long history as working boots for heavy-duty workers, and became popular amongst motorcyclists. They eventually became known as a fashion statement in modern times.
These tall, pull-on boots are made from thick hide and are usually black in color, featuring a buckle and strap across the front of the ankle and top of the shaft. They’re built to be sturdy, durable, and offer protection to the wearer.
Cowboy boots are quintessential Western boots for everyday wear. They're often made of cowhide leather, snakeskin, or ostrich leather.
Cowboy boots come in a couple of styles, the western, or “classic”, and the roper. Roper boots tend to feature a low, squared-off heel versus the classic cowboy which has a tall and angled heel.
Chukka boots make their own fashion statement as they are well-known for their ankle-high length and laces. They’re usually made with leather or suede, often in shades of black, tan, or brown.
The boot features a rounded toe and a stacked heel. The chukka boot style remains a classic staple due to its comfort and versatility. You can wear it with casual outfits or formal attire.
Jodhpur boots originated in India and were a favorite among Polo players in the early 20th century. Their ankle-high design is perfect for riding a horse. It also has a leather sole, low heel, and a rounded toe. Modern designs may include straps that wrap around the ankle like its traditional design.
These ankle boots have a slim cut and elastic side panels on each side of the ankle instead of laces, making them super easy to wear. They may also have a tab or loop on the back, and sometimes the front, to make it simple to pull on. A small heel gives it a refined edge.
In the Victorian era, these leather boots were popular among men and women. They still remain a wardrobe staple for everyone and any occasion. Go casual or formal with these boots.
Balmoral boots date back to Victorian England. As a type of dress boot, they are usually worn on formal occasions. One of the main features of the balmoral boot is its distinctive stitching of the lower part with the upper part.
Balmoral boots extend above the ankle. They have a slim cut, plain toe, low heel, and sleek closed lacing system like an Oxford boot. Balmoral boots can have two leather tones, providing a subtle but striking contrast.
For all your formal occasions, the dress boot can finish off your look. They go up slightly above the ankle and can pair with any style of formal wear. Dress boots come in various styles.
Duck boots were popularized at the start of the 20th century by duck hunters. They are rugged and waterproof boots that have a rubber lower portion designed for shallow water. These boots ride up to your ankles and can be insulated, providing you with plenty of warmth and stability.
Moc Toe Boot
These moccasin-inspired boots are usually made from two pieces of leather weld-stitched, creating a U-shaped toe box. They feature a wedge outsole, welt, and a cushioned or leather insole. Modern Moc Toe boots can work well in casual and dressy settings.
If you live in an area that gets below freezing temperatures, mukluks are your go-to boot. Their high-cut and soft design can keep you warm and dry for work or play while giving your feet plenty of airflow. Take it to the worksite or your next snowboarding trip.
Traditionally, mukluk boots were made from reindeer skin or sealskin by Arctic aboriginal people. Now, they can be stylish and comfortable footwear you can wear ice fishing, hunting, and in many more cold environments.
Combat boots have evolved from military-grade footwear to become a staple in mainstream culture. These tall boots are loud and striking but can also be toned down with the right outfit. Combat boots are versatile and can be worn during any season and with any outfit. Wear it in the office or in the great outdoors.
Trench boots, also known as Pershing boots, are traditional American combat boots used in World War I. These boots were designed to handle the cold mud involved in trench warfare. Modern trench boots have a low profile, leather heels, and plenty of eyelets for a snug fit. Wear them on casual and dressy occasions.
Snow boots and winter boots are similar but not the same. Both keep your feet warm in the cold at temperatures below zero. Snow boots are specifically designed for use in piles of snow. They’re made with a rubber outsole and a leather or nylon upper part that extends above the ankle for extra warmth and protection.
Winter boots differ in that they provide some cold protection but aren't good for deep snow. Snow boots are also a bit heavier than winter boots, so people mainly use winter boots for everyday activities like shoveling the driveway.
Rain boots are waterproof, high-ankle overshoes made of rubber or plastic that keep your feet free from mud and rain. They are usually easy to pull on and provide insulation from cold temperatures. A Vibram rubber outsole prevents slipping in the slick rain. Rain boots may come with a steel toe and midplate for added protection.
Oxford boots are a high ankle take on the traditional Oxford shoe, featuring a closed lacing system that looks sleek and elegant. They are usually made out of leather and pair well with smart- and business-casual attire.
Derby boots, commonly mixed up with Oxfords, are a versatile boot that can be used for almost any occasion. These dress shoes differ from Oxfords in that they have an open lacing system and eyelets sewn on top of the vamp. They also extend at or right above the ankle.
Compared to Oxfords, derby shoes are much simpler to slip on. Derby boots can easily be dressed down or up, depending on the occasion. Pair them with your favorite chinos for a casual look or go for the suit and tie combo for a sleek finish.
The brogue boot history dates back to the late 1700s. What makes this boot type stand out is its distinctive design featuring holes that were meant to let any water escape from within the shoe. They were designed as a working-class boot for use in muddy and wet terrain. Today, this design has outgrown its original use and is used in formal settings.
Although brogue boots come in various styles and shapes, they usually have a leather upper, decorative holes, small eyelets, toe and heel caps, lace panels, and stitching. Brogue boots usually have a low heel and a thin sole that works well on dressy occasions.
Desert boots, an offshoot of chukka boots, are practical and stylish options for casual occasions. Originally from Northern Africa, these ankle-high and lightweight boots were bought by British soldiers from bazaars and used to walk the sandy terrain. Today, the desert boot can complete any smart or business casual look.
Desert boots have a similar leather construction (suede and brushed) to chukka boots but have a flat crepe sole made from crepe rubber rather than leather or vulcanized rubber, making it more cushioned and better able to work in sandy environments. Wearing them on cement or asphalt can speed up their wear and tear.
Harness boots are common among motorcycle and horse riders. They are typically made from durable leather and are normally at least 10 inches high. The defining characteristic of harness boots is their ankle straps connected with a ring.
Work boots are designed to last for decades and withstand the challenges of construction, factory, logging, landscaping, mining, and other high-risk work environments. Look for a non-slip outsole and a steel or composite toe cap. Composite toes are more lightweight but don’t offer the robust protection of steel toe caps.
Work boots generally are available as heel or wedge boots. Wedge outsoles work best for flat surfaces, while heel boots are designed for grounds that are rough and uneven.
Work boots are fit for many occasions, including camping and fishing, but may be too bulky for hiking.
What to Look For in a Pair of Boots
Boots can be used for practical purposes to keep your feet safe, dry, and comfortable, but they can also affect your style. High-quality materials and construction are some of the most important things to look for.
Consider these tips when looking for the perfect boot:
The material of the boot affects how comfortable it is for all-day wear and how it looks. Common boot materials include leather, rubber, suede, and synthetic materials. Leather and suede are ideal for casual and formal occasions. Certain features, such as thin soles and slim cuts, work better for these occasions.
Rubber boots are generally used to protect feet from the elements. However, there are some rubber boots designed for casual environments.
Leather is one of the best choices for its durability and style. It can work well with almost any style and can have a rugged look over time due to wear and tear.
Suede is a sleek option that is not as strong as leather. Suede shoes require a bit more care and maintenance. This lightweight material has a soft texture, making it comfortable to wear all day long.
How well the boot is built is a key factor in its durability and longevity. A properly constructed boot can be the most comfortable piece of footwear you’ve ever worn and make you look stylish. Low-quality construction can result in wasted time and sore feet.
Leather and rubber are the most common sole materials. Rubber is a durable and non-slip option. Leather soles are reserved for more formal occasions.
Boots come in various styles for every occasion. Are you buying boots for formal or casual occasions? If you’re looking for casual boot, consider a desert or chukka boot. If you’re going for formal wear, consider the Oxford and derby boots or dress boots.
Will you be working in a wet and muddy environment? Duck boots are ideal for shallow water duck hunting, while rubber boots are preferred for rainy day errands. A boot’s material is a key factor in its waterproof capabilities. Keep in mind that waterproof boots offer more protection than water-resistant or water-repellent boots.
In cold environments, extra insulation in your boots can keep your feet warm and dry. Certain boots like winter and snow boots provide cold weather and water protection, although snow boots are designed for heavy snow.
Shop for Men’s Boots at Baker’s Boots
Explore a large inventory of different types of boot styles for any occasion at Baker’s Boots. Whether you are on the fire line or meeting in the boardroom, our selection of premium boots can keep you prepared for everyday and special occasions. Shop Baker’s Boots today!