How Should Cowboy Boots Fit?

To fit cowboy boots properly, you'll need to consider several factors. With so many styles and shapes to choose from, fitting the right boot can be tricky.

We began making Ariat Western boots in 1995, and some of those original styles, such as the Heritage Roper and the Heritage Lacer; are among our best sellers today. It's fair to say that we know a thing or two about boots. So, how should cowboy boots fit? To help you find your absolute perfect fit, we've put together a definitive six-step guide to get you started on the right foot.


How to Fit Cowboy Boots

  1. Put the boot on and listen for the faint “pop” as your foot slides into place.
    Confirm the proper amount of heel lift (there should be some lift, but not too much).
  2. Comfortably stand, and then place a sideways thumb between the tip of your toe and the end of the boot. This is the proper amount of space between your toes and boot end.
  3. Walk around to confirm comfort, fit, and heel lift.



The first thing you want to do when fitting a new pair of boots is to insert your foot into the boot’s shaft and firmly grasp the pull tabs or pull holes.

  • The shaft is the upper portion of the boot where your calf and shin will rest.
  • Depending on the boot, there will either be holes or tabs to assist in pulling the boot on.
    Once you pull the boots past the resistance point in the arch you will hear a faint popping noise as your foot enters its resting place. The resistance point will come from the top of your foot in the arch area and also your heel inside the shaft.


Heel lift is the gap between the insole of the boot and your heel. It is caused by a slight amount of room from the arch to the toe area of the boot. This room should not exceed more than 1/8th of an inch and is necessary for a proper and comfortable fit.

As you pull the boots on you may experience slight resistance in the boot’s arch area. This is expected as it allows your foot to get a snug fit and will ensure that your heel also has the appropriate heel lift.



Once you have the boots on it's time to make sure they fit. We know what you're asking. How are cowboy boots supposed to fit? To ensure the proper fit for any boot, make sure the widest part of the ball of your foot rests on the widest part of the boot’s outsole.



Once your feet feel comfortable, stand up in your boots and try to use a sideways thumb to help judge the distance between the tip of your toe and the end of the boot. Your toe should rest about one thumb width away from the end of the toe box. Here are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • The toe box is the portion of the boot that houses your toes. It is the portion of the boot that starts at the base of your toes and ends at the tip of the boot. Wider toe shapes will often have a wider toe box.
  • Remember everyone’s toes are a different length so it’s always a good idea to have that sideways thumb distance from the tip of your toe to the end of the toe box.


Whether you are trying boots on in-store or at home make sure you walk around in them to ensure you have the appropriate heel lift. Remember, 1/8th of an inch is the ideal room for heel lift. Anything more than that and the boots will feel large and clunky, anything less will make your boots feel too tight.


Don’t forget that socks will also have an effect on the way the boot fits. We recommend using a good boot sock when trying on a boot. Remember, the sock you try the boot on with should be the same sock you will wear in the boots. A thicker sock may lead to a larger size needed or a thinner sock may feel like you need a more snug fit.

Want to get the most out of your boots? Watch the video below to learn how your western boots should fit.