Are These Cowboy Paddock Boots Made Fer Walking?
March 4, 2017 1:14 PM   Subscribe

I live in a big East Coast city where I typically walk at least 4 miles per day as part of my commute. I'm always on the lookout for the holy grail of boots for women with a business casual dress code at work; can handle pounding the pavement (including a little rain) comfortably for several miles, and stylish enough to wear at work. In Googling around for flat lace-up boots I came across some websites for work boots which included several types of riding boot I'd never heard of before. Might these paddock boots be the boots of my dreams?

I'd never heard of companies like Ariat or Justin before, but their paddock boots look like just what I'm looking for and often at a much more manageable price point compared to the more fashion-oriented boots I had been looking at. I've heard a lot of good things about Frye boots, but they're pretty pricey and some people aren't thrilled with the quality. For example, most of these paddock boots top out around $150, whereas the Frye boots I've been eyeing are closer to $250. These riding boots also seem a bit more like they're made to handle wear and tear since, you know, horses and barns.

But, in all this googling I can't really tell if they're actually comfortable for walking around for miles?

Here are a couple of examples of paddock boots (and a few "roper" work boots) I've come across that seemed like they could fit the bill:

Justin® Original Lacer Cowboy Boots
Ariat Heritage Lacer
Tredstep™ Giotto II Lace Paddock Boot
Georgia 8" Lacer
Dublin Elevation Laced Paddock Boots

Ideal boot qualities:

-low heel, dressy enough to wear to work, super comfy, lace-ups with a side-zip, high quality, water resistant
posted by forkisbetter to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I mean, yeah, they're designed for people to work in, walking miles over rough or sandy terrain and generally getting roughed up. If they're work boots they'll be durable. Most of these will be tougher than what you need for city life. I own one of the pairs you linked and they've lasted in the area of 8 years and counting of work in rain, mud, manure, snow... and I didn't even treat the leather until year 6.

Go try them on and you'll know which are comfy.

Make sure to get the fit right (there are videos on boot fitting but store staff can also help) and care for them with leather conditioner, water proofing, etc. The best people to advise are the horse people who design and sell them.

I do wish mine had an office appropriate smell because I'd wear them all the time.
posted by ramenopres at 1:26 PM on March 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wear Ariats to go horseback riding and they're pretty comfortable, comfortable enough a fair amount of walking. I wore mine all over Ireland on a riding vacation and they treated my feet pretty well. It's hard for me to envision them as dressy enough to wear to work because mine always have mud and/or horse shit on them, but I suppose if you kept them clean and out of an actual barn they could be.
posted by fancypants at 1:27 PM on March 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have a pair of Ariats that are... old, maybe 14 years old. With a little polish, they still look good and are comfortable. The tread has barely been worn. I think mine are the Heritage line, but with a zipper on the front instead of laces.

When I lived in Newark, NJ, I often wore them on my commute into Manhattan. They are super comfortable for walking and were great for traipsing about NYC streets. Mine were once used at the farm, so they weren't appropriate for wearing around the office.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 1:36 PM on March 4, 2017

My Justin ropers (everyone I knew in Texas had heard of Justin) lasted for years and years of walking for transportation but they were not good in snow for several reasons. I'd assume the lacers would be fine.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2017

Ropers and paddock boots have a stiff shank, typically steel running through the sole. So no, I don't find them comfortable for walking compared to a more flexible soled boot but lots of people do. It probably depends on if you are the kind of person who thinks Danskos are comfortable or not. Ariats were created and are marketed to be the comfortable "tennis shoe" like boots so overall most people prefer them.

I've ridden my whole life and owned probably 20+ pairs of paddock boots. I personally prefer Blundstones because they are wider and more flexible uppers. But they still have a stiff sole, all riding boots do by default.

Justins are good quality but you'll need to add a rubber sole, they are leather. And they are definitely riding boots, most people who plan to wear them all day buy the crepe soles which aren't dressy looking. Ariats are comfortable and semi-durable for riding, they'd be good for your purposes. Dublin is an OK cheaper brand but their paddock boot models tend to be cheap crap so read reviews carefully, that model looks ok. Durability wise even the cheap ones would be OK for a fashion boot. Tredstep are similar to Ariats but less of a stiff boot and I think a bit wider.
posted by fshgrl at 2:47 PM on March 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Quality wise the Dublins are probably nicer Steve Maddens and the others are better so you undoubtedly will get more value for money.
posted by fshgrl at 2:52 PM on March 4, 2017

My fryes are easily the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. Nordstrom rack has them on deep discount. I own 5 pairs and they all fit slightly differently so you definitely want to try them on.These are my favorites for walking long-distances.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:14 PM on March 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've been wearing Justins for probably 30 years. I bought one pair of Ariats, never again, they didn't last. I recall they were made in China.
Justin ropers? I had some pairs of those I had re-soled twice. They were made in Texas, I think production moved to Mexico not many years ago.
The Justin workboots I have on right now (non-lace ups, they may make lace ups) are very comfortable and have a crepe sole and heel. You can't get those re-soled of course.
posted by rudd135 at 3:16 PM on March 4, 2017

My Ariats I don't mind walking in. I gave up on Justins because, while they're great to ride in, they make my feet ache when I walk.

If you need a decent arch for walking, you'll have to try the paddock boots. Some are better than others, but they're not for me.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:24 PM on March 4, 2017

I have this pair, and they serve me well through Boston winters and many miles of walking. After 3 years of very frequent use the heels of the soles are wearing down.
posted by Cygnet at 3:25 PM on March 4, 2017

I personally don't find ordinary paddock boots comfortable for long amounts of walking on pavement and they can be slick as snot in wet/snow icy conditions. I also think Ariat and Dublin have a lot of complaints about declining quality in recent years. I've had a couple of pairs of "all terrain" type paddock boots that have a thicker sole with more rubber/deeper tread that were comfortable for walking. But the stitching on the Dublin all terrains completely rotted out within 18 months.
posted by drlith at 3:50 PM on March 4, 2017

I just finished an 11 hour shift at a horse show, on my feet the whole time. I wore my Ariat paddock boots, and my feet feel great. Tredsteps are popular too. If you go this route, has better customer service than Dover Saddlery.
posted by Pleased_As_Punch at 5:17 PM on March 4, 2017

I have a pair of Arait boots and I can walk all day in them.
posted by Grandysaur at 7:03 PM on March 4, 2017

Just joining the chorus to say that I have a 20-year-old pair of Justin ropers that I still wear occasionally; they are in excellent condition (regular saddle-soapings) and comfy for walking in all day!
posted by bluebelle at 8:34 PM on March 4, 2017

Oh, man, I'd use it as an excuse to buy Red Wings.
posted by listen, lady at 6:04 AM on March 5, 2017

I agree with pintapicasso about Fryes. The first pair I got is still my favorite. They're the Veronica combat boot. I can walk forever in them and they still feel great. I paid close to full price for those but I have found others for a lot less. At Christmas, I got these for just $129 and they're so light and super comfy. The leather on the uppers isn't as thick as on the combat boot so I could see that wearing out sooner than the others. The ones that are made in America seem to be better quality than the others so watch out for that too.
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:20 AM on March 5, 2017

I am a city-human, and had a pair of those Ariat Lacers for years. they were comfy, and good for long walks, and helpful when it rained (though not fully waterproof).

Echoing the person above mentioning blundstones: they're pull-ons and thus might not meet your style preferences, but they are my default shoe of choice for over half the year. So comfy, understated if you buy a simple black pair, and hard-wearing.
I think you're good to go.

and I have to add a voice of dissent on Fryes. I find them overpriced, slick-soled, and universally narrow in the toe box (relative to other brands in the same size). YMMV, of course.
posted by sazerac at 7:39 AM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've had tons and tons of Ariats as well as the zipper-back version of the Tredsteps, and I also have a pair of Frye boots in a pull-on, mid-calf-height style. Ariats are far and away the most comfortable, most notably due to their great insoles, and, as Sazerac mentioned, have a better sole on them than Fryes, or mine at least -- plain leather sole, durable but very slippery. Tredsteps are fine. I had problems with the back zipper but liked them otherwise. Blundstones are nice but too wide for me. Ariats still more comfortable, though, and my current pair have lasted 15+ years.
posted by karbonokapi at 12:59 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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