Cowboy boots have been around since the late 18th and early 19th centuries, starting with the needs and ideas of peasants.
Farmers in the wild west of America needed affordable, sturdy and safe shoes to support horseback riding.
Also, the materials for these shoes should be easy to make and easy to find. For that reason, cowboy boots were born.
In the early days, cowboy boots were made almost exclusively from cowhide.
However, over the centuries of existence and evolution, cowboy boots were made from many different leather materials.
Each cowboy boot material has its own strengths and weaknesses. And this is also what we discuss today.
Besides, we also show you the most durable leather for cowboy boots.
Now, let’s get started!
- What kind of leather are cowboy boots made of?
- Cowboy boots made from cowhide
- Cowboy boots made from ostrich leather (exotic leather)
- Cowboy boots made from crocodile leather (exotic leather)
- Cowboy boots made from lizard leather (exotic leather)
- Cowboy boots made from shark leather (exotic leather)
- Cowboy boots made from stingray leather (exotic leather)
- Cowboy boots made from horse leather (exotic leather)
- Cowboy boots made from kangaroo leather (exotic leather)
- Cowboy boots made from snakeskin (exotic leather)
- Cowboy boots made from goat leather
- Cowboy boots made from elephant leather (exotic leather)
- What is the most durable leather for cowboy boots?
- What is the best leather for cowboy boots?
- Before you leave
What kind of leather are cowboy boots made of?
Cowboy boots are made from a variety of leather, but we will try to list the most common ones for you, and also highlight their pros and cons.
Here are 11 leather types commonly used to make cowboy boots.
Cowboy boots made from cowhide
Cowhide leather was the material easily found in the western United States in the late 18th century. Cowhide was affordable, durable, sturdy and safe.
For these reasons, early cowboy boots were mostly made from cowhide.
Despite centuries of development, cow leather is still the main raw material for most cowboy boots on the market today.
Cowhide boots can be used for various purposes, from office to outdoor work or just casual wear, etc.
Cowboy boots made from cowhide leather are usually affordable.
However, it is very important to have proper care methods for cowboy boots made from cowhide leather so that they can be shiny, soft, comfortable and retain their original color for a long time.
Cowboy boots made from ostrich leather (exotic leather)
After cowhide, ostrich leather is the type of leather you mostly see on the cowboy boot market today.
The ostrich cowboy boots have a very unique look with bumpy leather.
However, some boots are not 100% ostrich leather. Ostrich leather is only at the foot, while the shaft is usually made from cowhide.
Ostrich cowboy boots have a sophisticated, luxurious and elegant appearance. Besides, ostrich leather is soft, comfortable and easy to maintain.
Finally, ostrich cowboy boots are very breathable. Ostrich leather is one of the best leather to wear in the summer.
Cowboy boots made from ostrich leather usually cost more than cowhide.
Cowboy boots made from crocodile leather (exotic leather)
Crocodile cowboy boots are mostly made from caiman crocodile leather.
After ostrich and cow leather, it can be said that crocodile leather is the next favorite material for making cowboy boots.
The number of crocodile cowboy boots is limited as they are handcrafted. That explains why cowboy boots made from crocodile leather are often quite expensive.
You can find cowboy boots made from caiman crocodile leather at handcrafted brands such as Lucchese, Tony Lama…
Possessing a luxurious and strong look with rich and deep colors, crocodile cowboy boots give the wearer a masculine aura.
One interesting thing is that if you look at the top 10 most expensive cowboy boots in the world, there are many boots made from crocodile leather.
Evidence is that a pair of Lucchese cowboy boots made from Nile blue alligator leather can cost thousands of dollars.
You can feel the high class of alligator leather cowboy boots.
Cowboy boots made from lizard leather (exotic leather)
In addition to crocodiles – the common reptiles to create classy cowboy boots, iguanas or ringtails are two species of lizards that are also favored by bootmakers.
Most cowboy boots are made from the belly of a lizard where the patterns are the most uniform and beautiful.
Cowboy boots made from lizards are quite expensive and the number of boots is also limited.
Also, they need proper care (cleaning, conditioning, polishing) to ensure high-quality and long-lasting beauty.
Cowboy boots made from shark leather (exotic leather)
Shark leather is not used too much, but is one of the materials for cowboy boots.
This type of leather has rough, ragged characteristics that can resist scratches well. This leather type stands out from other leather because of its waterproof ability.
However, cowboy boots made from shark leather are not breathable, which can cause heat and discomfort for the wearer.
Cowboy boots made from stingray leather (exotic leather)
Besides the shark, another marine animal, the stingray, is also in the target range of bootmakers.
With tough, scratch-resistant and water-resistant properties, stingray leather is common in western work boots.
However, because of the tough leather of the stingray, the boot makers have a lot of difficulty in machining, so the number of cowboy boots made from stingray is not much.
Cowboy boots made from horse leather (exotic leather)
Much like cowhide, horsehide is also a popular material used by bootmakers to create beautiful cowboy boots.
Horse leather is typically stiffer than cowhide, so it is often used to build cowboy boots for heavy-duty jobs.
Besides, horse leather has high elasticity and good durability, and does not need much maintenance like cow leather.
Along with that, horse leather cowboy boots are also more expensive than cowhide cowboy boots.
Cowboy boots made from kangaroo leather (exotic leather)
Kangaroo leather is one of the materials that make cowboy boots very strong and tough.
Kangaroo leather boots are durable, supple and flexible. This leather type is lighter than cowhide.
Many bulletproof materials are designed based on Kangaroo’s leather structure.
Many athletes use cowboy boots made of kangaroo leather to enhance performance.
However, Kangaroo leather still needs regular maintenance to keep its quality intact.
Cowboy boots made from snakeskin (exotic leather)
Cowboy boots made from snakeskin are becoming more and more popular.
A pair of cowboy boots can be made from many types of snakes, most notably rattlesnakes and pythons.
This is an exotic leather, so it stands out by having unique and different textures. You will get the beauty that few other cowboy boots can have.
However, to maintain a snake-skin cowboy boot requires a lot of effort and technology, you should learn carefully about these methods.
Cowboy boots made from goat leather
Goat leather is an interesting leather. It has a beautiful and luxurious appearance, but it is not expensive at all.
Besides, this type of leather can help your feet easily breathe by the texture of many large pores. I easily feel annoyed by heat so goat leather cowboy boots are really my savior.
Having many large pores in the structure, goat leather can breathe, making them soft and flexible. Another plus is that goat leather is very durable.
Bootmakers also love goat leather because this leather is easy to work with and easy to dye or print.
However, if you often work outdoors or do heavy-duty jobs, this leather type may not be safe enough to serve your job because it is quite soft.
Cowboy boots made from elephant leather (exotic leather)
Unlike many other leather types, elephant leather is very valuable because of its rarity.
As one of the preserved animals, bootmakers are only allowed to use the leather from elephants that have died of natural causes – strictly tested against different standards.
For that reason, elephant leather cowboy boots are often expensive and rare. And they are really worth your money.
With high toughness, good durability and good scratch resistance, elephant leather is a very good choice for western work boots.
What is the most durable leather for cowboy boots?
Cowboy boots are made from a variety of leather including snakeskin, cowhide, crocodile leather, ostrich leather, kangaroo leather, shark leather, elephant leather… And each leather type has its own advantages and disadvantages.
However, to choose the most durable leather for cowboy boots, we would like to pick the Kangaroo leather cowboy boots. They are the most durable, powerful and toughest.
The characteristics of Kangaroo leather are perfect.
The kangaroo leather structure consists of many tightly interwoven fibers and is crisscrossed in many directions.
This type of structure is almost comprehensive for cowboy boots to be durable, strong and tough that no other leather type has.
In fact, a lot of the manufactured bulletproof materials have a texture based on the sample texture of kangaroo leather.
What is the best leather for cowboy boots?
What type of leather is best for cowboy boots depends on your purpose, cowboy boot types and beauty perception.
Subjectively, if you need multi-purpose cowboy boots (go to work, go out), affordable, diverse models to choose from, cowboy boots made from cowhide are the best.
But if you’re someone who works outdoors and often faces sudden rains, then use cowboy boots made of shark or stingray leather. These are the 2 leather types with the best water and scratch resistance.
Or if you need highly safe, durable and tough western work boots, cowboy boots made from elephant or kangaroo leather are ideal companions.
In general, depending on your needs and goals, each leather type will work best one way or another.
Before you leave
Do you have your own answer yet? If you’re looking for the toughest and most durable cowboy boots, we think kangaroo leather cowboy boots are the best.
However, each leather type will have many different advantages and disadvantages, you should carefully consider what your purpose is to make the right decision when choosing boots.
Anyway, good luck!
Howdy y’all, and welcome to From The Guest Room, your ultimate guide to all things western! I’m Jay Gatz, a lifelong cowboy boot enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the western style world. I’m excited to share my knowledge with you and help you discover the perfect cowboy boots and western gear to elevate your style. Let’s explore the rich history and timeless appeal of western fashion together!