- 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
- 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 stability.
- 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 composite.
- 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 are worn.
- 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.