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How Should Cowboy Boots Fit – Step By Step Guide

I would think that one of the scariest things about buying a pair of cowboy boots for the first time would be getting the fit right. When I went to buy my first pair of boots I thought to myself “How should cowboy boots fit?”.

This is a great question and to get the proper fit in a pair of cowboy boots, there are 3 things that you need to take into consideration.  First is your instep which is the top of your foot and the space between your foot and the boot. Not tight, but not loose either.  The second thing is the width of the boot which would be the ball of your foot and the widest part of your foot. You don’t want that tight, just a little bit of play. Third thing is the heel slip. The heel slip is a little confusing to non cowboy boot wearers but should be around 3/8 of an inch. You can read more about heel slip down below.  Make sure these 3 things are obtained and you will have a great pair of fitting boots.

Now what? What if they don’t have any friends that have boots or really aren’t an expert in the subject. I have literally asked a person before to see what their response was and I basically just got a blank type look on their face with that famous arms out in front of them with their palms up and the lifting of their shoulders. “I just put them on and they fit”. Boom, case closed.

Watch This Video for the 3 Keys of a Proper Fit!

Only if it were just that easy. I don’t want to scare you and think this is some long-drawn-out process. It really isn’t. But I do want to make sure you understand how important it is. You usually make sure when you buy a pair of jeans or shirt that it fits correctly right? Yeah, you can actually have a little leeway when it comes to just about anything you wear. Little loose, little tight, little short, and a little long. Most of the time it really doesn’t matter. As with just about everything, there is always an exception to the rule. When it comes to footwear, I don’t think you should play around. The wrong fit in a pair of cowboy boots or any other type of boots for that matter can directly result in pain throughout your feet and entire body. You’ve might already experienced this and I will bet money that you know someone who has as well.

So whatever you do, get it right. The purpose of this article is to help you do just that. There’s basically 3 things to do to get proper boot fit and we are going to explain those things below. It will literally take you seconds to do it, you just have to know what you are looking for and below we are gonna show you.

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Instep – Top Of The Foot And How It Fits In The Boot

When you put your foot in the boot, the first thing you want is a little bit of resistance with your heel on the back of the boot and the top of your foot going into the “vamp” area of the boot. Push your foot in and what you are looking for is that famous cowboy boot “pop”, the sound of your foot going all the way into the boot.

The instep you want it to be Not tight, Not loose, but snug!

What you are looking for is right across the top of your foot, the instep area. You don’t want any slack in that area. It’s holding its own, basically holding your foot in the boot. The instep area is actually what keeps your foot in place. In a western boot you don’t have laces. With a shoe you have a little leeway and can tighten or loosen your shoe. Not so much in a boot. If it doesn’t fit, then it doesn’t fit. That’s why it’s so important to get the instep correct.

Width, Or The Ball Of Your Foot Area

The width area of your boot is the ball area of your foot, the widest part of your foot. It’s also where your foot flexes when you are taking a step. There’s multiple widths in cowboy boots and pretty much all types of boots for that matter. The “D” width is your typical or standard with. A 9 1/2 D being a pretty standard example of what you would see for a pair of cowboy boots, but of course there are bigger sizes. A wider boot size would be the “EE” or double E. You really won’t see anything else.

For width, you don’t want that tight either, but a little bit of play or room is perfectly acceptable.

The Heel And How Much Slip You Need

The heel slip is a little more difficult to explain and illustrate. When you take a step, the foot that is behind you or pushing off, the ball of your foot is flexing and your heel lifts off the ground, that is where you will get your “heel slip”. Your heel of your foot will actually raise up in your boot. The agreed amount is 3/8 of an inch. That is just under a half inch.

-The more room you have in your instep is gonna lead to more heel slip. That’s why you want your instep snug, it will directly affect your heel slip.

You always want a little bit of heel slip when you are taking a step. The reason for that is when the boot in new, the sole is a little stiff, a boot that is broken in will be way more flexible. When wearing a flexible boot, the heel of your boot automatically rises off the ground when taking a step and your heel slip will decrease. That is why you want about a 3/8″ heel slip when buying a new pair of boots. You can kind of do a give and take on that 3/8 depending on how flexible a pair of boots are when you buy them. A pair of ostrich boots might be a lot more flexible than say rattlesnake boots.

The Secret To Proper Boot Fit

How Should Cowboy Boots Fit - Boot AnatomyUse your pull straps to get that “pop” when pulling on your boots. They are there for a reason. The stitching and designs found on cowboy boots are there for looks, your pull straps are not. When you have a good pair of handmade cowboy boots, your pull straps will not fail you.

The big secret here is make sure the boot feels good on you! Don’t let anyone tell you this boot is your size because of the number stamped on the boot. 

One of the biggest things that you need to know when trying out boots is that they are kind of like a pair of jeans when it comes to brands, they are all different. Man, wouldn’t it be nice if they were all the same? Lol, good luck with that. If you had 6 pairs of boots in your closet by say brands like Lucchese, Tony Lama, Stallion and Rios Of Mercedes, you could easily have 3 or 4 different sizes stamped inside the boot, but they all fit you perfectly.

Tips & Trick To Find The Perfect Fit For Your Cowboy Boots

  1. If you can, please get your foot measured.  This will save you some time in the store and of course is a must if you are ordering online.
  2. Go with what you know. If you already own a pair of boots, chances are you will be good ordering that size. The size is printed inside of the shaft in most cases.
  3. If you are between sizes, order a 1/2 size larger.
  4. It’s best to try a pair of boots on in the afternoon or evening.  You want to try them on after you’ve been on your feet for awhile which will give you a better representation of your true size.
  5. Wear the type of socks you intend on wearing with the new boots.  You don’t want to be wearing hunting socks or something.  This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised! Believe it or not, some people don’t even wear socks with cowboy boots!
  6. Remember about heel slip when it comes to cowboy boots as mentioned in the beginning of this article. Heel slip is hugely important!
  7. Also as mentioned above, you want cowboy boots to be snug across the instep. Loose is bad and you won’t have a proper fit.  Your boots will stretch, so snugness is also key for a comfortable boot.

Measuring Your Foot:

To measure the length of your foot, first place a ruler flat on the ground. Line up your heel at the end of the ruler. Measure your foot from your heel to your big toe. Then, simply use our size chart above to calculate your size to get proper fit.

Foot Width:

Over 90% of the population is a normal width. If you are not sure of your width, chances are you wear a normal width. Boots are typically available in 6 widths: B (extra narrow), C (narrow), D (regular), E (wide), EE (extra wide), and EEE (triple wide). We suggest ordering your boots according to the size chart above. First, measure the length of your foot to find your base size. Then, measure the width of your foot across the widest part and find your corresponding width in your shoe size. When shopping cowboy boots, finding extra narrows or extra or triple wides is definitely a chore!

Women’s Sizing

 Many women like the look and styling of our men’s cowboy boots and use a simple conversion to find the right size. To determine what men’s size you wear, simply subtract 1.5 from your current ladies shoe size. For example, a ladies size 7 equals a mens 5.5.

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It may help to place your heel against a flat surface like a wall and measure from the wall to the tip of your big toe. Tracing your foot on paper can make it easier to get the right measurements also. If you have trouble measuring your own feet, you may want to visit your local shoe store and use their foot measuring device called a Brannock. If you find that you are between sizes, order 1/2 size up.

That Should Get You Well On Your Way On How Cowboy Boots Should Fit

I think I may have mentioned in the beginning of this article that it wold only take a minute to try on a pair of cowboy boots and to know if you found the right size. Truthfully it’s only seconds. Just remember the big 3, instep, width and slip and you will be good to go. With this information, I think it would be safe to say you are an expert on getting the right fit. It’s always a good think to be knowledgeable about something even if it’s something as small as getting the right pair of boots. On the other hand, you won’t ever have to worry about getting the wrong fit and potentially suffering the consequences of an improper fit.

One other thing that may be in the back of your mind after all of this is “Why would I buy cowboy boots online when I have to make absolutely sure I have the right fit?”. Well, there’s a couple of reasons for this. It’s hard to find some of these boots. A lot of the boots I have talked about here at We Heart are exclusively sold only at Pinto Ranch. A lot more of them just aren’t offered at your every day western store, so where are you going to try them on. These boots can become pretty price (well worth it though) and you shouldn’t have to settle. Luckily, if you are on an online boot site and if they are worth their weight in salt, they will have a great return / exchange program. Two reasons I’m really big on Pinto Ranch is because of their service and their exchange program. If the boot doesn’t fit correctly, send it back (for free) and they will send you another size (for free). No extra cost to you. “We believe the right fit is the most important thing, and that is sometimes hard to achieve with an online order.”. You will get the perfect fit, plain and simple.

If you have any questions, requests, or just want to chat about some great handmade cowboy boots or other questions about getting the correct fit in a new pair of cowboy boots, please let us know below. I hoped this post helped you out in your quest for a great pair of fitting boots. As always we hope that we helped you to find your new favorite pair of cowboy boots!

2 thoughts on “How Should Cowboy Boots Fit – Step By Step Guide”

  1. I got a great pair of boots from a business called Tecovas. The first pair didn’t totally fit perfectly, the second pair was too small, this third paid is a little higher and fit better, However, the whole thing with the “heal slip” is what I have an issue with. My regular size fit perfect in the toe area and the heal slip was about a half an inch or a little more when I walk. The half size smaller still had a bit of a heal slip but was wayyy too tight in the toes. I tried a different type of boot and it fits better, but there is still the heal slip I’m concerned about. Are you saying the heal slip won’t be as say, high as it is right now once these break in? Is it one of those things where you get used to it after awhile because it’s the way it’s supposed to fit (kind of like how clogs fit different from sneakers)? They were a gift from my father. I really love them. Just wanted to get your opinion on the fit feel. Thanks 🙂

    1. We Heart Handmade Boots

      Yes, you definitely want the heel slip with a pair of cowboy boots. You will get use to it and it will adjust as they break in.

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