It’s something I won’t forget:
The stadium lights humming, the smell of stale popcorn and horse manure, wild children with their mouths stained blue from neon slushies.
A huge crowd of us gathered around a bull-riding pit. The gate lifts. Within seconds a man is catapulted off the back of a completely-insane bull. He soars through the air, suspended in time. After he falls on his face, he limps off to the side. And the next rider is ready to go. He looks excited, actually.
I wonder: did he just watch what happened? That dude just got annihilated.
I guess the greater the challenge, the better the payoff.
That same philosophy could be said of Ariat boots.
The famous western boot company is known for their equestrian and work boots. Growing up in California and moving to North Carolina, I felt it was part of my destiny to give these boots a try. So here’s what I think.
What Is Ariat?
Ariat started out with one foot firmly in the equestrian/ riding space. And when you hear the story behind the name, it makes perfect sense.
The brand is named after the most famous race-horse in history: Secretariat.
The legend is that the thoroughbred had an abnormally large heart. With that kind of engine pumping, Secretariat cemented himself a name as the fastest horse to ever race.
The founder of Ariat built her footwear to exhibit some of that same fighting principle. And the boots are all designed to go the distance, with waterproof storm welted uppers and ultra-comfortable insoles.
Things to Consider Before Buying from Ariat
Ariat makes all kinds of boots. Some are for riding, some for working, and others for hitting the bar-room floor and showing ‘em you can do more than just a simple line dance.
What’s consistent across the boots we’ve reviewed from Ariat is the emphasis on comfort. The brand puts a lot of careful thought into the construction of the insole, which is padded and forms to your foot over time so the boots don’t become a burden throughout the day.
Ariat used to have a separate line of footwear named Two24, which was more focused on lifestyle boots that could blend into a city-scape better than they would a ranch.
Now, they’ve consolidated that brand back into Ariat’s more work and country-focused collection. So Ariat carries a wide variety of boots that fit the style of nearly any occasion. Except for dress shoes—they still don’t do those. And really, I wouldn’t want them to either.
Ariat Reviews by BootSpy
I own two pairs of Ariat boots, and picked them up at the same time. I already knew about the brand for their work boots—they were the go-to brand for a lot of the guys I used to work with back when I stacked bricks, tarred drive-ways, painted trims, and re-shingled roofs.
So when I needed a pair of work boots, it was hard to ignore the advice of every 60-year old construction worker I knew.
After doing a little searching, I picked up their most popular work boot: the WorkHog.
The Ariat WorkHog is a hefty beast. All WorkHog boots are waterproof, but you can pick up many of the models with a composite toe for just a few bucks extra.
I opted for the composite toe because I’ve run enough handtrucks over my feet to last me a lifetime.
You can read my full detailed Ariat WorkHog review here, but if you just want the big picture, here’s what I thought:
What I Like
The weatherproof-treated leather is good quality—fairly thick and very supple.
It has the look of a classic western work boot, but it’s actually pretty high-tech with a slip-resistant, electrician-rated, and puncture-resistant ATS outsole.
The lining of the boot is super breathable, and the padded insole makes this one of the most comfortable boots I’ve worn.
It’s a big, bulky boot, but it keeps a narrow profile so it doesn’t look oversized.
What I Don’t Like
I like the classic western work boot look, but the neon orange details along the outsole mess with that vibe.
I would’ve liked a bit more room in the pull-tabs to make these easier to slip on.
The Ariat WorkHog could’ve easily been named the ComfortHog. Except that’s a horrible name, so I get why they didn’t.
There are a few design features that I’m not a big fan of (mainly the neon orange highlight along the side of the sole). But I picked these boots up because they emphasize breathability, safety, durability, and comfort.
Those are my only concerns when I’m getting my hands dirty. Style points are nice, but I’m not too worried about it when I’m pouring concrete.
Ariat Midtown Rambler
These square-toe slip-on ankle boots caught my eye as I was shopping for a pair of work boots. Funny how that works, right?
The Midtown Ramblers are made with distressed leather so they come looking aged, but not beat up. There’s a sharp angle at the ball of the foot and a strong square toe.
I was struck by how distinctive these boots are, so I had to get them.
You can check out my in-depth Ariat Midtown Rambler review here, but if you just want my high level thoughts, here they are:
What I Like
The square toe adds length to the boot, so while the Midtown Rambler fits true to size, it looks sleek and modern.
The roughed-out distressed leather lends a cool rugged touch to this western-style pull on boot.
Just like the WorkHog, the insole has extra padding and support. It’s very comfortable.
What I Don’t Like
The sole is cemented so once it wears out, there’s no resoling it.
I’m not a huge fan of how stylized the sole is—the shape is already stylish enough and a more “standard” sole would be just fine.
If I were to go back, I’d get the Ariat Wexford. The leather is higher quality and it’s less stylized.
Still, the Midtown Rambler is very comfortable and if you like the “in your face” style, you’ll love having these on your feet when going line dancing.
What do Other Reviewers Think About Ariat?
Ariat has racked up over 50,000 reviews across their products on their site. Their average is a whopping 4.8-stars out of 5.
We haven’t seen too many brands with such a large volume of reviews, which is a feat itself. But seeing how many satisfied customers-turned-reviewers there are is part of the reason I dove in and took a chance on their work boots.
Justin Boots has been making classic Western style boots since 1879. They have a wide selection of sturdy work boots and some styles that would look great in a line dance, but they don’t have the same breadth of options as Ariat.
If you’re interested in Ariat’s Western style boots and work boots, Justin is a solid alternative. But Justin doesn’t offer any alternatives to more casual sleek styles like Ariat’s Midtown Rambler.
If we compare Red Wing’s DynaForce boot to the Ariat WorkHog, you’ll find a boost in quality with Red Wing. But you’ll also find a significant increase in cost.
Generally speaking, Red Wing has better quality leather tanned in Red Wing, Minnesota. They also offer repairs on their boots when they start to wear out.
Still, with price as a major consideration, I chose Ariat because the comfort and durability were more than enough to meet my needs. The way I think of it is this: the Ariat WorkHog gets you 90% there. Red Wing is for those willing to drop some extra bills to get to 100%.
Tecovas doesn’t do work boots. But they make a mean pair of leather western boots. Years ago, I’d go to the Berkley Horse races on Sunday, and nearly every distinguished guy out at the track was wearing a shiny clean pair of Tecovas.
These are the dressy version of cowboy boots: made with premium materials like full grain calfskin leather, ostrich, alligator, lizard, and more. You’re not going to get modern workwear protection like you would with Ariat, but Tecovas does the classic leather cowboy boot the best.
My Thoughts Overall On Ariat
What I Like
Ariat makes a huge effort to make their boots as comfortable as possible. Their proprietary ATS insole makes both of my boots some of the most comfortable I own.
The WorkHog is an appropriate name—the boot is rugged, durable, waterproof, and offers excellent protection from nails, dropped bricks, and anything else you might encounter on a job site.
Ariat has a wide range of boots, shoes, and clothes that are a perfect fit if you live an equestrian, country lifestyle.
What I Don’t Like
Ariat doesn’t drill down into a specialty as much as other brands like Justin or Tecovas. True, there’s an amazing variety, but you have to do a little more searching with Ariat.
Who is Ariat for?
If you work hard during the day so you can play hard in the evening, Ariat is your boot company.
The brand’s range is massive, so it may take a while to navigate the site to find what you’re looking for. And while you’re there, take a peek at their jeans and shirts. As a humble boot site, we don’t have anything to say about their clothes, but if their footwear is any indication, you can expect quality.
In fact, I wish Ariat offered less. It may sound strange, but they have so many different styles and types of boots that it can be a bit confusing.
Still, I heard of the brand because of their work boots, and after trying them for myself, I count myself a fan of Ariat.
Are Ariat boots good quality?
Ariat boots are made with excellent rugged leather and are some of the most comfortable boots we’ve worn.
Are Justin boots better than Ariat?
Justin boots aren’t better than Ariat. Justin boots are more focused on the western workwear style, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find a greater range. Still, Ariat makes some of the most comfortable and breathable work boots I’ve encountered.
What are the most comfortable Ariat boots?
Most Ariat boots for men come with their super comfortable ATS insole. We’ve only tried the WorkHog and Midtown Rambler, so we can’t say which is the most comfortable, but we can say that these are the most comfortable work boots we’ve worn.
Are Ariat boots made in the USA?
Ariat boots are made in several factories, with much of the production done in Mexico and China.
Why are Ariat boots made in China?
In the 80s, much of the USA footwear factories moved overseas. Contrary to popular belief, Chinese factories are capable of making some of the highest quality footwear in the world. China simply has greater infrastructure for high-quality shoemaking than the US does, and the shift has been gradual through the 80s, 90s, and 00s.
Can Ariat boots get wet?
It depends on which boots you get. Our WorkHogs are 100% waterproof, so yes, they can get wet. Most leather boots can take a decent amount of rain and mud without getting permanently damaged. If you’re constantly in bad weather, consider buying a waterproof boot from Ariat.