Last Updated September 2019. This definitive guide to the best boots for men covers ten categories, including work boots, Chelseas, chukkas and more.
Best Chelsea Boots
Best Ankle Boots
Best Wingtip Boots
Best Chukka Boots
Best Hiking Boots
Best Hunting Boots
Best Work Boots
Best Trench Boots
Best Cowboy Boots
Best Engineer Boots
Boots always seem to get more done than shoes. While shoes are busy arguing semantics in a boardroom, boots are out in the garage actually doing work. Shoes spend their weekend shanking golf balls while boots are going over, around and through every surface on Earth. Boots have long belonged to the movers and shakers of history, and dammit if they’re not going to keep going. Here are the 50 best pairs you can buy right now.
The Chelsea Boot
Chelsea boots began life in England in the mid-19th century and didn’t stray far from home until recently. The elasticized wonders were a staple of the mid-’60s mod scene and protected the feet of seemingly every British invader from John to Ringo. Recently they’ve seen a revival on many of menswear’s best dressed. The silhouette is very slim and features elastic side panels and heel pull-tabs.
Chelsea Boots by Blundstone $195
The Ranch Boot by Taylor Stitch $348
Craftsman Boots by R.M. Williams $495
Suede Chelsea Boots by Common Projects $530
Chelsea Boots by Berluti $2,500
The Ankle Boot
Ankle boots might be the coolest footwear ever made — which makes them that much more difficult to pull off than their closest cousins, the Chelsea boot. They’ve graced the feet of rock stars and, in doing so, complemented the tightest pants mankind has had to offer for decades. The silhouette is similar to the Chelsea boot, but the Ankle boot utilizes zippers or straps, instead of elastic panels, to ensure a secure fit around the ankle.
Rogue Boots by Thursday Boot Co. $199
Jefferson Boots by Two24 by Ariat $278
Chris Inside Zip Boots by Frye $328
Jonah Boot by Lucchese $795
Jodhpur Boots by Saint Laurent $995
The Wingtip Boot
The wingtip, whose brogued details bring a touch of formal embellishment to casual footwear, is dressed up enough to be worn with a suit and laid back enough to end up under denim or a pair of cords. But they’re not a mullet shoe: they’ve been around long enough to look equally good in either context.
Fred Brogue Boots by Grenson $345
Stow Brogue Boots by Tricker’s $670
Renwick Brogue Boots by Church’s $750
Pebble-Grain Wingtip Boots by Thom Browne $830
Toby Brogue Boots by George Cleverley $1,050
Often, it’s difficult to picture how a boot is actually put together, where the stitches go and what you’re actually standing on. So we sourced prime examples of each type of boot construction — Cemented, Blake/McKay, True Moccasin, Goodyear Welt and Stitchdown — from some of the top brands in the industry and cut them in half. Read the Story
The Chukka Boot
About as casual as all-leather boots get, the chukka (or desert) boot was first worn by British soldiers in Africa during World War II. Afterward, they made their way across the Atlantic, becoming a casual staple for the second half of the 20th century and still gracing the feet of stylish men in the cooler months. Clarks made the originals, but upmarket offerings only improved on the formula. They lace up just above the ankle and traditionally feature a soft crepe sole.
Desert Boots by Clarks Originals $130
Classic Boot by Wild Bunch $199
Chukka Boot by Sanders $220
Boston Chukka Boots by To Boot New York $325
Grove Chukka Boots by John Lobb $1,465
The Hiking Boot
For the purposes of this guide, we’ve kept a respectful distance from the more technical versions of this style, but the best pairs of old-school hiking boots boast the same alpine prowess that made them popular in the first place. Sturdy soles, heel support and lace-to-toe closures mean these boots are as hardworking as they are good-looking.
M120 Scarponcino Boot by Fracap $275
Brady Boots by Grenson $370
Danner Light Revival by Danner $390
Hiker by Viberg $710
Metal Military Hiker by Feit $1,150
The Hunting Boot
For actual hunting, you may want something more technically advanced, but the hunting boot is a staple in the Northeast and has ensconced the feet of everyone from frat boys to Nobel prize winners. The traditional style features a hand-sewn moc-toe, a lace-up closure and a durable grippy outsole.
Original L.L. Bean Boot by L.L. Bean $139
Sherman Boot by Rancourt and Co. $325
Scout Boot by Maine Mountain Moccasin $335
America Bison 5.5 “PH” by Russell Moccasin Co. $483
Maine Guide Boots by Yuketen $627
When you invest in a new pair of well-made boots, don’t expect to lace them up and take on the world in the same day. Thick leather uppers and solid leather midsoles take a while to break in and rub and squeeze your feet, leading to painful blisters if you’re unprepared. While the sturdiness and durability of boots vary widely from brand to brand, there are a few universal tips for breaking in a new pair, regardless of brand. Read the Story
The Work Boot
Strong, long-lasting and just stylish enough to stay on your feet for most of the colder months: that’s all a work boot really needs to be. Little wonder that the design was more or less perfected half a century ago. The no-frills lace-up style protects the lower legs and feet and usually features a durable lug sole.
8085 Iron Ranger Boots by Red Wing Heritage $320
1000 Mile Evans Boots by Wolverine $400
Jobmaster Boots by Wesco $410
The Robert by Nicks Handmade Boots $495
Farmer/Rancher by White’s Boots $520
The Trench Boot
Worn since World War I, the trench boot (sometimes called an army or officer boot) is a handsome staple that’s shaken its military roots and manages to look a bit more cleaned up these days than it did stomping into Flanders. Similar to the work boot, this silhouette has a lower profile that is easier to incorporate into a variety of wardrobes.
Kenton Boots by J.Crew $248
Trench Boot by Oak Street Bootmakers $426
Service Boot by Viberg $670
Coniston Boots by Crockett and Jones $725
Combat Boots by John Lofgren $820
The Cowboy Boot
Like many Americana wardrobe staples, cowboy boots are rooted in function. Pull them on, wear them hard and use them for years. There are two mains styles: traditional cowboy boots that feature a riding heel (taller and angled) and roper boots that have a shorter heel, designed to handle a day of walking. The pointed toe and tall shaft make this boot instantly recognizable.
The Johnny by Tecovas $235
Pecos Boots by Red Wing Heritage $320
Texas Gold Boots by Heritage Boot Co. $495
Rust Crazyhorse Boots by Rios of Mercedes $525
Bannock Boots by Lucchese $595
The Engineer Boot
The original engineer boots were designed to protect the feet of men who fed coals into steam engines. It melded the tall pull-on style of horse riding boots with the supportive arch and sole of a work boot. A buckled ankle strap distinguishes this style from other pull-on boots.
Engineer Boot by Red Wing Heritage $339
Nomad Boots by White’s Boots $530
Van Cleef II Veg Tan Engineer Boot by Wesco x Standard & Strange$775
Engineer Boots by Flat Head $950
Buco Horsehide Engineer Boots by The Real McCoys $1,772
While they’re perhaps not as well known as brands in other regions, the original boot companies of the Northwest catered to the forest industry, making footwear for loggers and wildland firefighters. Here are three you should know. Read the Story