Reviewed: The Ariat Heritage Western R-toe boots are worth every dollar

The cowboy boots that got glued to my feet (in a good way).

Having dipped my toes into the idea of western boots with Ariat’s Heritage Roper boots – a less committal approach to the style – I found myself hungering for a more authentic look. I wanted a proper heel, narrower silhouette and some more prominent decorative stitching; in essence, a pair of proper cowboy boots. Being so impressed with my previous pair of Ariats for their sturdiness and comfort, so I decided to stick with the brand and have a crack at the Heritage Western R-toe boots.

I wanted to try a pair on before making a purchase as I knew the fit would differ to the ropers; the R-toe’s last is narrower in every respect, though it turned out for me to be just the right amount of narrow. I went to Allington’s Outpost to try a pair in the distressed brown, and tried on the 9W, the same size I got the roper boots. The difference was immediately notable; the R-toe boots hugged my feet and ankles just the enough to stop them from moving about on my feet – a minor problem I have with the ropers – and moved well with my steps. The overall customer experience at Allington’s was excellent and I pulled the trigger on the spot.

The heels of the R-toe boots are just over 1.5 inches tall, which took a bit of getting used to, but I quickly warmed to wearing them once the boots broke in. I did have a bit of pain on the outsides of my ankles for the first week of wear, but this is a good thing; generally footwear that needs no breaking in will tend to be made of less durable leather. The contrast stitching running the length of the boot shaft, contrast welt stitching, raised ridging and the embroidered pattern on the toes make these boots much more of a standout than the ropers, though if worn underneath pants only the ridging and toe patterns show. This lends the boot an extra bit of versatility for dressing up.

Having bought the roper boots in black, I decided to try the distressed brown for the R-toe boots.

Worth your while: Ariat Heritage Western R-Toe Boots review
Straight out of the box. The distressed patina from factory wasn’t the best looking, but it was easily removed for me to start scuffing them up myself.
Worth your while: Ariat Heritage Western R-Toe Boots review
The longer the boots go between conditioning, the more the darker parts fade to the lighter brown seen coming through at the ankle.

As previously mentioned, the comfort level of these was a little lower than the roper boots at first, though once I got used to the taller heel I came to preference the R-toe over the roper boots for comfort, as the closer fit of the R-toe makes them easier to walk in. The sole appears to be Goodyear welted, which would make it resoleable, though opportunity cost of a resole compared to purchasing another pair – the R-toe boots are priced very attractively* – might render that option unfavourable.

The leather of the upper can be polished up reasonably to hide most of the scuffing, though it does re-scuff easily. It appears the hide has been tanned and dyed with this as the intention; a similar – though less expensive – owner’s experience to my old Red Wing 9111s (or any 875 model). Whereas the roper boots appeared to be a corrected grain leather, the hide used for the R-toe boots does look and feel to be of better quality. I get the feeling these will develop a much nicer age patina than the roper boots, though still not quite the level of patina that could be expected from more expensive offerings.

It’s hard to spend any time nitpicking about the R-toe boots, though, because they’ve been almost glued to my feet since I got them. They’ve quickly developed into a very comfortable option, capable of a decent length walk regardless of the taller heels, and a look on my recent Instagram history will show that I can barely go a day without sporting them. The colour and shape make them so versatile, it’s always hard to give my other shoes a chance. The proneness to quick scuffing – resulting in a more rugged, rustic look – somewhat precludes their being worn with suits, but a more casual suit will find itself at home with the brown R-toes, and I’d wager that the black colour offering would probably look good with the full spectrum up to smart worsteds.

Ariat Heritage Western R-toe boots review and styling
At home with a 1970s leather jacket, made-to-measure western shirt and Nantucket reds; the latter traditionally a preppy style staple, but well at home with western boots too.
Ariat Heritage Western R-toe boots review and styling
Combined with a suit cut from heavy, rugged wool flannel. This is one of my favourite looks that I’ve put together with the R-toes so far.
Ariat Heritage Western R-toe boots review and styling
Easy and classic; camelhair sack jacket, white western shirt and vintage Levi’s.

Frankly, the Heritage Western R-toe boots have been my favourite purchase of 2022. They found a home among my wardrobe incredibly quickly, and are well on their way to being my most worn item of the year. The wearing experience, the styling and the price to quality ratio are all excellent; what more can a man ask for?

In my case, it’s another pair in black…


*Note: product links in this page aren’t affiliated. I’ve linked to the store at Allington’s because they’ve always done well by me as my local, and it’s great to support your local whenever you can.

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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