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Top down view of a cowboy boot shaft

A great pair of cowboy boots can take you anywhere. Whether you're rounding up the herd on horseback, walking the fence, or commuting to your 9 to 5 in the city, the right pair of boots can keep you comfortable all day long, and the boot shaft plays a surprisingly important role.

If you're wading through brush and thistles, the shaft protects your legs from injuries, and if you're riding, it creates a buffer between the stirrups and your legs. Under less rugged conditions, it helps provide support. To have a comfortable experience, you need a shaft that fits your body right. Here's what you should consider the next time you buy a pair of cowboy boots.

5 people wearing boots of various colors and leathers

What Is a Boot Shaft?

The shaft of a boot is the part that covers your ankle and calf. It runs from the top of your arch to the collar of the boot.

When buying cowboy boots, you can't just consider the size of the boot. You also have to make sure that you can fit into the shaft. Typically, the shaft measurement refers to the height of the shaft. However, it’s essential to also consider the circumference of the shaft for ultimate comfort.

READ MORE: How Should Cowboy Boots Fit?

How Tall Is the Shaft on Cowboy Boots?

On standard cowboy boots, the boot shaft height is about 12 inches tall, but it can vary a lot depending on the style you choose. Men's cowboy boots typically have shafts that range from 8 to 12 inches.

Generally, cowgirl boots offer a wider variety of shaft heights than cowboy boots. In women's boots, you can get anything from western booties that have virtually no shaft to over-the-knee designs where the shaft extends over the knee.

Just a couple of inches can make a big difference in the look and feel of your cowboy boots. Check out these five different shaft heights.

12-Inch Boot Shaft

A western classic, The Doc has a 12-inch shaft. If you go into a cowboy boot shop, the majority of the boots on offer will have 12-inch shafts. This tends to be true for both women's and men's boots.

The Doc cowboy boot in scotch colored goat leather

The Doc in Scotch Goat

Man putting on The Doc cowboy boot under jeans

The Doc in Cafe Goat

10-Inch Boot Shaft

Then, there’s The Earl ( in a roper style with a 10-inch shaft. This height brings the boot up to about the middle of your calf. You get protection for your leg and extra movement around the calf.

Profile view of The Earl boot

The Earl in Stout Bovine

Man putting on The Earl boot with jeans

The Earl in Scotch Goat

8-Inch Boot Shaft

A zip-boot with cowboy cred, The Dean has an 8-inch shaft. This shaft height is ideal for people who prefer the comfort of a lower shaft that won’t feel tight around your calves. It also works great over slimmer pants and denim.

The Dean in Pecan Ostrich

Man wearing The Dean ostrich zip boot in midnight color

The Dean in Midnight Ostrich

6-Inch Boot Shaft

Designed for women, The Daisy has just a 6-inch shaft. If you're looking for protection, a western bootie might not be the right option. But for style, it's a strong contender.

The Daisy zip bootie in brown leather

The Daisy in Sequoia Bovine

Woman wearing The Daisy bootie in a field

The Daisy in Caramel

14-Inch Boot Shaft

On the other end of the spectrum, The Annie boasts a 14-inch shaft. It's labeled a tall boot, and its lengthy shaft gives you a confidence boost and a fashionable flair.

The Annie boot in sienna colored suede

The Annie in Sienna Suede

Woman wearing The Annie boots in white

The Annie in Bone

READ MORE: How to Clean Suede Boots in Minutes

How to Measure Boot Shaft Height

To measure the height of a boot shaft, start from the instep or arch of the boot and go to the top. This is called the collar, and if you're measuring an older boot or a suede boot, you may need to unfurl the collar to get an accurate measurement.

Make sure not to include the sole of the boot in your measurement. Ultimately, you're measuring from the bottom of your foot to the top of the boot.

Boot Shaft Circumference

The boot shaft circumference is the distance around the boot shaft. Typically, boot shafts have a smaller circumference around the ankle than they do around the calf. To determine the correct circumference for your next pair of boots, use a flexible tape measure to measure your ankles and calves. Then, add about a half inch for flexibility.

Typically, if you see a shaft measurement when shopping for boots, it will refer to the height of the shaft. For circumference, the only options are between standard and wide. Generally, different styles of boots tend to have different circumferences.

If you struggle to fit into a standard circumference, you may want to head into a store to buy your boots. If you're shopping online, call the company's customer service team — they may be able to measure circumference for you.

How to Stretch Your Boot Shaft

You've found the perfect pair of cowboy boots, but unfortunately, they're just a little too tight around the calf. Don't worry. This happens to a lot of wranglers. The good news is that you can stretch the shaft of your boots.

As you break in your boots, the shaft will stretch a bit. If you want even more room, you just need a boot stretcher and leather stretching spray. The spray loosens up the leather. Then, you can use the stretcher to widen the boot. Depending on your needs, you can focus on the ankle, calf, or both.

Want to ensure it's done right? Head to your cobbler. Most towns have professionals who can patch, resole, and stretch your boots to fit like a glove for years to come.

Find Your Next Favorite Pair of Boots at Tecovas

Regardless of your favorite style of boot shaft, Tecovas has got you covered. Our boots feature top-quality leather, attractive designs, and pride of craftsmanship. Whether you're ropin', ridin', or heading out for a night on the town, we make the boots you need for your next adventure.

Man unboxing a new pair of Tecovas boots

Take a poke around our website to find your next go-to pair of boots. Or head into one of our stores, where you'll get a taste of old-fashioned Texas hospitality, plus the chance to try on a vast selection of boots with all kinds of shaft heights. To learn more about the western lifestyle and the Tecovas story, check out our blog today!