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Pair of cowboy boots next to pair of roper boots against a cloudy sky

Traditional cowboy boots have long reigned as the Western footwear style for most cowboys. But in today’s hybrid way of life, traditional western boots aren’t always the most practical option.

What is a cowboy to do when he wants classic western style with unparalleled support and comfort underfoot? Well, why not try out a pair of men’s roper boots?

What are Roper Boots?

Roper boots were designed in the 1950s as a solution to cattle ropers’ needs for functional footwear supportive of their fast-paced work and lifestyle. Roper boots were designed with all of the attractiveness of a traditional western boot, with a structural design that made it simple for ropers to move quickly and comfortably.

Since their introduction over 70 years ago, roper boots continue to evolve to meet the needs of the modern man. While western and roper boots share many similarities, their subtle differences are what make them the right choice for different people. Which style is right for you? Well, that depends on how you need your footwear to perform!

Let’s discuss the main differences between roper versus cowboy boots so you can determine which boot design best supports your lifestyle.

Roper vs. Cowboy Boots: What’s The Difference?


From shaft to heel, classic western boots were designed to make horse mounting, riding, and dismounting simple.

Considered a “hybrid cowboy boot,” roper boots were designed for ropers whose work day called for a combination of walking, running, riding, and roping. Differences between the two can be found in four main areas:

  • Shaft Height
  • Toe Shape
  • Heel Design
  • Sole Material

Shaft Height

The quickest way to tell the difference between roper and cowboy boots is by examining the shaft height. A typical cowboy boot shaft height sits at 12” or more, covering the calf. This design offers more leg protection when riding on horseback.

Image of brown cowboy boots

The Cartwright

A roper boot’s shaft height stops at 10” and sits just above the ankle. This shorter shaft profile makes roper boots more comfortable and functional for all of the different movements a cattle roper makes in a typical day. If you’re not out roping cattle, you may find the roper’s low profile silhouette an attractive option in terms of style, since they are easier to hide under a pant leg.

Image of roper boot at a shoe shine station

Toe Shape

Next up is toe shape. Common cowboy toe shapes include round, square and pointed shapes. Round and pointed-toe shapes make it easier to get in and out of stirrups, while square-toe boots are more comfortable for wide or irregular-shaped feet.

Roper boots are typically only designed with a round toe shape that’s both universally comfortable for most feet and easy to get in and out of stirrups.

Image of man sitting on a truck wearing boots

Heel Design

Cowboy boots are typically designed with pitched and stacked heels between 1.5” and 1.75” to keep feet in place while riding. Conversely, roper heels are designed with short, square, low-profile heels that provide more underfoot stability to safely ride, dismount, and walk or run after cattle without fear of breaking a heel or twisting an ankle.

Check out the difference between a roper versus a cowboy boot heel, depicted below by The Jake roper boot in Midnight, and The Dillon in Grain caiman.

Image of a black roper bootImage of an exotic roper boot

Sole Material

Like cowboy boots, many roper boots are made with heavy-duty leather soles, a classic design that has served us well since the 19th century.

Leather sole of a Tecovas boot

Even so, there is always room for innovation! That’s why at Tecovas, you’ll see roper boots also made with rubber soles with robust treading for the utmost underfoot support.

Vibram rubber sole on the bottom of a Tecovas boot

For a roper boot with even more casual style and comfort, you’ll love The Knox wedge roper boot. This unique roper boot features a classic 1” wedge sole and low profile lugs for better traction indoors and a soft, stable platform for undeniable comfort.

Image of a man in light denim wearing booths with a rubber sole

Roper vs. Cowboy Boots: Which Style is Right For You?

At the end of the day, choosing the best western boot style for you all boils down to your lifestyle and personal preferences. If you are a busybody navigating the hustle & bustle of farm or city life, roper boots offer all of the advantages of comfort, stability, functionality you need, in traditional western styles and lux materials you want. If a great pair of riding boots is the only requirement on your list, opt-in for a pair of cowboy boots built to keep you comfortable and secure in the saddle.

No matter which boot style you prefer, rest assured Tecovas has the perfect western boot built to perform for every way you like to work and play. Choose from several colors and classic smooth or exotic leathers to find your perfect pair. Browse and shop today to get yours!