- Back Quarter (Shaft) – The shaft is the
tall portion of the boot, above the foot, that covers the wearer’s leg.
We typically just use the term “shaft” without mentioning the specific
quarter portion, but some cowboy boots have varied designs on the front
quarter and back quarter that require use of the technical boot terms.
The back quarter is the portion of the shaft in the back of the cowboy
boot. Most boot shafts are 10” tall to 15” tall, but some boot styles
are available in 6” ankle boots or 8” short boots, and some taller boots
are also available.
- Collar – The collar is the very
top portion of the boot shaft. Some cowboy boots have decorative collar
stitching or overlays.
- Dip/Scallop – The dip is also called a scallop. It
is the V-shape at the very top front and back of the cowboy boot shaft.
The styles vary, but the purpose of the dip is to prevent the boot from
pinching your leg when you take a step. Boots without the dip are
commonly called “stove pipe” cowboy boots or riding boots.
- Front Quarter (Shaft) – The shaft is the tall
portion of the cowboy boot, above the foot, that covers the wearer’s
leg. We typically just use the term “shaft” without mentioning the
specific quarter portion, but some cowboy boots have varied designs on
the front quarter and back quarter that require use of the technical
boot terms. The front quarter is the portion of the shaft in the front
of the cowboy boot. Most boot shafts are 10” tall to 15” tall, but some
boot styles are available in 6” ankle boots or 8” short boots, and some
taller boots are also available.
- Heel – The cowboy boot heel is attached to the back
portion of the outsole. Many heel styles are available, but the slanted
“western heel” and lower “walking heel” are the traditional cowboy boot
standards. Some heel styles are intended for fashion only and are not
appropriate for riding or work.
- Heel Cap – The heel cap is the cover on the bottom
of the cowboy boot heel. It is most often a composite or rubber material
to provide slip-protection.
- Heel Counter – When referring to the “heel,” most
descriptions are describing the outsole portion of the cowboy boot. The
heel counter, however, is the back part of the foot, above the heel and
below the back quarter of the shaft.
- Insole (inside the boot, not pictured) – The insole
is material inside the boot on which your foot rests. Many cowboy boots
offer high-tech materials and cushioning to provide comfort and
- Instep – The upper part of the vamp, toward the
shaft. Comfort in this area is key in determining a proper cowboy boot
fit. Unlike shoes with laces, a cowboy boot has only the instep to hold
it securely to the foot. Hence, proper fit in the instep is of utmost
importance. The fit should be snug, not tight or loose.
- Outsole – The outsole is the bottom portion of the
boot that makes contact with the ground. It is attached to the boot
upper and is sometimes simply called the “sole.” The materials used for
the outsole vary greatly by style and purpose of the cowboy boots. Work
boots tend to have composite and rubber outsoles, and traditional cowboy
boots tend to have leather outsoles. Since this portion of the boot is
exposed to the greatest wear, it is important to consider the function
of your cowboy boots when choosing the outsole material for greatest
durability and comfort.
- Piping – Piping is a rounded strip of material,
usually leather, that runs up the side seams and around the top of the
collar on boots. Not all styles have piping, but it is a common
addition. It is used to cover stitching that holds the pieces of leather
together and to cover exposed edges.
- Pull Tabs/Straps/Holes – Pull tabs, also known as
pull straps, are attached at the top of the boot shaft, allowing the
wearer to get a good grip to pull on the boots. Some styles have pull
holes instead of tabs.
- Shank (inside the boot, not pictured) – The shank is
the interior portion of the boot that is under the insole as
reinforcement for the arch. It is most commonly thin strip of steel or
- Spur Ridge/Ledge – The spur ridge (or ledge) is a
functional design element on the cowboy boot heel. The heel extends a
small amount past the back of the cowboy boot, creating a ledge for a
spur to rest and not slide down the back of the heel.
- Throat – The throat is another term for the boot
shaft (front quarter and back quarter).
- Toe Box – The toe box is a reinforced section of the
foot that defines the toe shape. The most popular cowboy boot styles are
square toe, round toe, pointed toe, and snip toe.
- Tongue – The tongue is the top part of the vamp. It
can have a variety of decorative designs, but it most commonly comes to
a point where the shaft and vamp meet. This added layer of material
offers protection to the foot and durability to the leather when spurs
- Vamp – The vamp, also called the “upper” or simply
“foot” is the area of boot that covers your foot, from the bottom of the
shaft to the outsole.
- Welt – The welt, sometimes called a rand, is the
stitched connection between the outsole and the boot vamp. A full-welt
cowboy boot has stitching almost all the way to the heel portion of the
cowboy boot. A three-quarter welt cowboy boot stitching goes to the
mid-sole of the boot (under your arch). The heel area is usually pegged
or nailed rather than stitched. Double-stitched welt is two rows of
visible stitching, and single-stitched welt is one row of visible
stitching around the foot, on the outsole.