Even at a glance, it’s easy for a would-be footwear buyer to be overwhelmed by the dozens of types of boots for men available today. But with just a little help from this guide, we’re sure that you’ll be able to find the right type to effortlessly match your style.
Instead of creating an exhaustive list of every style of boots for men, we’ve kept this guide focused on the types of boots that the average guy might encounter; our apologies to any sailors, equestrians, or jungle explorers out there reading this.
From the dozen plus types of boots we’ve collected, you’ll see everything from casual to dressy, work tough to plush and comfy, and boots of every height.
After a brief history of the boot, we’ll give recommendations for brands and specific models we especially like.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
Close-fitting and ankle high, Chelsea boots are always made with an elastic side panel. They’re one of the few long-standing items of Victorian-era fashion, and made a big comeback in the 1960s thanks to The Beatles.
The Legend from Thursday Boot Co. is a divine choice for a Chelsea boot, thanks to its combination of comfort and durability. They’re an incredible value for what you get, with glove leather interiors and Goodyear welt construction.
And if you’re still experimenting with the Chelsea and are looking for a solid budget option, we recommend the New Republic Sonoma.
Inspired by the Chelsea boot, ankle boots share the snug and form-fitting qualities of their predecessors. Instead of elastic mesh, ankle boots feature a zipper or strap that won’t stretch out over time; be advised that men with wider ankles or more muscular calves may find this less comfortable.
There’s nothing like a sleek pair of boots to help you step-up your style game. Tapered and contoured, the upper of the Easton Side-Zip Boots are a bit daring and always look amazing. The zipper is discreetly hidden by leather encasing to blend in with the rest of the boot, and the almond-shaped toe provides generous volume.
Ankle boots are definitely a less common style than
The story goes that Chukka boots may have received their name from polo, where a single period of play is sometimes known as a chukka.
Ankle high and most commonly made with leather uppers and rubber soles, they’re an open lace boot style that can look great with jeans and
Classy but not quite formal dress.
Wingtip boots are great for embellishing a casual outfit or keeping a dressier fit from going overboard.
They’re immediately noticeable by the intricate detailing on the boot tips, and look especially nice when given a polish and shine.
A great pair of wingtips will set you back a fair bit, with high-quality examples starting at around $300. Velasca’s Sciostree consistently gets rave reviews for its quality relative to the price. Plus, the Vibram soles are easy to have replaced if they wear out!
Built like dress shoes but made to cover the ankle, dress boots are the go-to choice to match with formal wear. Many styles are referred to as dress boots these days, but lace-up cap toe boots with closed lacing are the real deal.
Beckett Simonon’s Elliot Balmoral boots are a good example of this style. Pair these up with formal trousers and sportcoats or
Another variation of the ever-popular Chelsea boot, Jodhpur boots are ankle boots that were originally designed for horseback riding. They feature a rounded toe, very low heel, and straps that usually wrap around the entire ankle.
Fun fact: Jodhpur boots originated in India, and are named after the town where local polo riders popularized them. Beckett Simonon makes an absolutely gorgeous pair of Jodhpur boots with clean lines and ultra-soft leather.
Perhaps the broadest of all men’s boot categories, the many stylistic variations of hiking boots could likely fill an article of their own.
We especially appreciate hiking boots that can double for casual wear, since many of the top-end hiking boot features are geared more towards dedicated hiking enthusiasts.
A classic example of this comes from Danner, with their Mountain Light boot style that originally debuted in 1979. One piece leather uppers, Vibram outsoles, and stitchdown construction that can be fully recrafted make them a solid all-round choice.
Not planning on bagging an elk come next hunting season? No problem. Hunting boots can make their way into your wardrobe, as they’re a wintertime staple for casual wear in much of the Northeast.
We love their waterproof construction and that the traction-heavy soles let them double as snow boots.
Irish Setter’s Wingshooter boots have achieved a cult status among select groups of hunters. They’re surprisingly affordable, and come in a wide variety of ankle heights and styles.
Designed for getting things done, work boots feature some of the most heavy duty construction of any boot style.
Handcrafted in the USA with durable stitch-down welt construction and premium quality leather, the Iron Ranger boot from Red Wing will offer years of comfortable wear. This robust boot is built on a non-marking, oil-resistant sole and handsomely detailed with contrast stitching, a cap toe, and high polish hooks and eyelets.
A number of specialized styles may be generally referred to as work boots. The ones we have in mind feature waterproof construction, thick and heavy soles, and breathable linings that keep them comfortable throughout the day.
You’re spoiled for options with work boots, but Red Wing’s Iron Ranger might be the most recognizable in this style. It’s a modern classic that’s kept a devoted fan base for years.
Also known as Wellington boots, gumboots, or galoshes, rain boots don’t just come in yellow and kids sizes. There are plenty of waterproof boot options available, but rain boots have a distinctive style that’s impossible to miss.
Hunter’s Original Rain Boots are the genuine article, and have stood the test of time since their introduction in 1956. They’re insulated for winter wear, and 100% waterproof from top to bottom.
When it gets really cold outside, nothing short of a fully insulated and waterproof boot will do. Snow boots excel in wet, snowy, or icy conditions, and come with exteriors that are easy to clean.
The tradeoff is that snow boots tend to be heavier and less breathable than other cold weather boots.
L.L. Bean’s Shearling-Lined Bean Boots are about as warm as it gets for snow boots. Better yet? They are still made stateside at their factory in Maine.
Low profile and inspired by military classics, today’s trench boots feature a slightly taller heel and generous lacing. Fit wise, they fall somewhere between a Chukka and a hiking boot. These boots go great with casual or dressier outfits!
Taylor Stitch’s Trench Boot is a prime example of this style. Handmade in Mexico with Goodyear welt construction, they’re fully resoleable and lined with soft sheepskin leather for a butter-smooth fit.
The same sort of boots worn by our enlisted military, combat boots prioritize function over form. They provide an excellent combination of grip, stabilization, and protection.
Plus, they enjoy a niche popularity that’s continuing to grow amongst counterculture groups!
The 1490 is a classic Dr. Martens punk silhouette with higher laces and more attitude. It features all the distinctive Doc details: grooved sides, yellow stitching and heel-loop. Built to last, this unisex boot is forged using one of the finest methods of construction: utilizing a Goodyear welt and heat-sealing it to the sole
Doc Martens are the most instantly recognizable combat boots, with boots like their 1490 being loosely based on the classic combat style.
High heels, round or pointed toes, and no lacing: Cowboy boots are a style entirely unto themselves. Cowboy boots are usually made from cowhide leather and are sometimes decorated.
You’ll also see cowboy boots made from a plethora of exotic animal skins like buffalo, snake, and alligator.
The Cartwright is a timeless cowboy boot with an angled heel, signature Tecovas toe stitching, and an elegant, sweeping hand-corded pattern on its shaft. Ultra-soft calfskin leather wraps the entire boot for a look that can be worn on any occasion.
Originally designed for the specifics of long days work on horseback, they have smooth soles and can take a long time to break in properly.
Tecovas’ Cartwright Cowboy Boots are handmade in the traditional style, with modern embellishments of toe stitching and hand-corded patterns on the shaft.
One of the few types of boots to originate in America, engineer boots have a tall, laceless design and exceptionally durable construction. You may recognize them more for their adoption by motorcyclists, which led to their “tough guy” image.
These boots from Frye has a rugged character and rough attitude but exudes pure style. This attractive pull-on boot has an oiled leather upper with brushed silver hardware, two adjustable buckle details for a custom fit, neoprene oil resistant soles with a full-length leather midsole for maximum comfort and durability, and a cushioned insole for additional comfort. Made in USA.
Frye’s Engineer 12R strikes a great compromise between rugged style and accessibility, and we think they would look great with a pair of bootcut jeans in a casual outfit.
In Conclusion: Which Are the Best Types of Boots for Men?
Now that you’ve seen the types of boots available to you, which one are you thinking might best suit your own personal style?
We recommend considering two things in particular before deciding: First, how dressy are the outfits you plan on wearing your boots with?
And second, which seasons will you be wearing those boots in? Once you’ve narrowed that down, you can refer back to this list of styles to point yourself in the direction of a quality brand.