Cowboy boots in the backyard. Cowboy boots at work.
Cowboy boots on Friday night at the bar. Cowboy boots on Sunday at church.
Cowboy boots in the shower…ok, that’s too far.
Two of the biggest names in western boots right now are Ariat and Tecovas. I’ve known Ariat for a long time—I’d first seen them decades ago working in California. But Tecovas? I just picked up my first pair about a year ago.
Tecovas vs Ariat Boots
|Upper||Full Grain Leather, Bovine, Goat, Bison||Genuine Leather and Full Grain|
|Sole||Synthetic and leather||Synthetic|
|Outsole||Leather and Vibram rubber||Various|
|Warranty||Free 30 day returns (return label already included)||Free 90 day returns|
|Shop Tecovas||Shop Ariat|
Ariat vs Tecovas Boots
Tecovas is a young brand, founded in 2015 by Paul Henrick. The story goes that Paul, a Texas native, was living in Connecticut and was having a hard time finding a good pair of cowboy boots in the city.
Eventually, the nostalgia was too strong, and he was itching to start his own company and leave the corporate lifestyle and big city behind.
So he returned to his roots in Austin and started Tecovas.
You can read my in-depth thoughts on the Tecovas Cartwright here, but for a short answer on what I think about the brand: they’re my favorite cowboy boots.
While I believe there are more luxurious brands with finer leathers and some more interesting styles (especially if you’re looking for that hand-painted flair), I haven’t found another western boot brand that offers as much style and value-for-money.
Tecovas hand-crafts their boots in Leon, Mexico, which is basically the motherland of all western boots. They feature traditional cowboy boot construction methods like a Goodyear welt, traditional cording, and lemonwood pegs in the leather outsole.
In my opinion, Tecovas is the way to go if you’re looking for a traditional cowboy boot at a reasonable price.
While Tecovas has a few core styles of boots for guys and gals (mainly in style, but some options for work), Ariat makes general style boots, work boots, equestrian riding boots, hunting boots, and they even have sneakers.
My favorite of these Ariat boots is the WorkHog—it’s a tough boot, waterproof, and it’s inexpensive enough to where I don’t mind thrashing it when I need to get some work done outside.
And that’s how I feel about Ariat: they’re super comfortable and easy to take off, but I don’t wear them to look good. When it comes to style, Tecovas wins easily.
The Ariat boots I’ve tried are all made in China and feature a cemented sole construction, which is generally lesser quality compared to more traditional methods like the Goodyear welt on Tecovas boots (rather than a stitch, you’re relying on glue to keep the upper and sole together).
But because of the faster cemented construction, you also get a less expensive pair of boots.
Tecovas and Ariat Features Head to Head
Ariat, on the other hand, is a lot more “in your face” with its designs. Of course, most of my experience with Ariat boots is with their work boots, and those are pretty standard looking. But I did try the Midtown Rambler (a style boot) and I found that the extremely squared toe and stylized leather ended up looking pretty terrible after a year.
Ariat carries a lot of boots that have American flags on them, and wild stitching patterns that look like a dinosaur tore through the front of the leather. Personally, I think that’s trying too hard.
I’d rather have a high quality leather that ages and patinas beautifully than a camo pattern or mesh vent panels in the side.
So for me, Tecovas is the clear winner for style. But you might feel differently as style is subjective.
I’ve found that Tecovas boots look fantastic with slim fit jeans and boot cut jeans alike, whereas Ariat boots are much more bulky and only really work with boot cut jeans.
Because Tecovas’ are slimmer through the shaft and vamp, you can also pair them with a suit, which is the ultimate move. I can’t say the same is true for Ariat.
Tecovas uses custom leathers that are treated to maximize supple texture. The leather is super soft through the shaft and they feel amazing right out of the box.
The brand uses full grain leathers across the board, and they have an interesting variety, including calf, bovine, goat, and bison for their core line. You can also find suede, ostrich, lizard, caiman, alligator, and crocodile.
Tecovas basically has the same few styles of boots, so if you like one shape, you can repeat it with another leather and build your collection that way, which I love.
Ariat also uses full grain leathers for much of their standard line of cowboy boots, but they also have a few lower quality genuine leathers thrown in there.
In my experience, Tecovas leather is far better than Ariat’s leather. Since I’m a boot guy (ranging from Red Wings to Nicks to Whites) I’m all about the leather quality.
Sole and Construction
Tecovas boots are made more traditionally: they feature a 1/2 (3/4 on some models) Goodyear welt, have lemonwood pegs, a steel shank, a stacked leather heel, and a 1cm toplift (or heel cap).
Ariat boots are made more cost-effectively: they mostly rely on cemented construction, have synthetic insoles, midsoles, and outsoles, and often have a carbon fiber or plastic shank.
If it’s quality or a traditionally made cowboy boot you’re after, Tecovas is the better choice.
But for working conditions where you may want a lot of extra cushion, breathability, and comfort, Ariat’s are great.
The synthetic materials found in Ariat don’t have the same durability as natural materials like leather and cork, but they’re way more comfortable. Plus, almost all Ariat boots have removable insoles so you can add your own insert for added arch support if you have a bad back or knees.
If I had to guess, I’d say a pair of Ariat boots will last you a year of hard working conditions. Because they use a cemented sole construction, there’s no recrafting them—once they’re done, they’re done.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because often Ariat’s are inexpensive enough that buying a new pair every year is worthwhile. And if you’re destroying your boots on the jobsite, a year of tough work will do any boot in. So why not save some money?
Tecovas boots can last several years of standard wear, and because they have the thick rubber toplift, it’s easy to add a new heel when the original wears out. I wouldn’t do any tough labor in my Tecovas Cartwright because of the leather sole (and because I like them looking fresh), but Tecovas has the Stockton and Bandera, which are much better suited to working.
Fit and Sizing
Both brands fit pretty similarly in my experience. I’ve found that I can order Ariats and Tecovas in my standard sneaker size and each is comfortable.
Tecovas boots are slimmer through the vamp and toe, but they also offer EE wide sizes for the wide-footed guys. You can read my Tecovas sizing guide to get complete details on how to order the right size the first time.
Ariat also offers a large variety of sizing options, with almost all of their boots available in D and EE widths. Overall, Ariat boots have a lot more room in the toes (because they’re almost all square, and Tecovas has mostly rounded toes).
Ariat boots are more comfortable because they have so much synthetic material in the insole and midsole. This comes at the cost of durability, but that might be totally worth it to you.
Ariat boots are generally less expensive than Tecovas. Most Tecovas boots range around $250-$300, whereas Ariat boots often fall just under $200.
Of course, you can find Ariat’s over $500 with exotic leathers, but those numbers above are the general average at the time of writing.
I think it’s fair to say that Tecovas boots are about 25-30% more expensive than Ariat boots.
Stand Out Features
Tecovas stands out from Ariat in their traditional and high quality construction methods and their leather quality.
If you were to hold a pair of boots from each brand side by side, the quality difference is substantial: Tecovas has better leather and I love that they use a Goodyear welt and lemonwood pegs in their leather soles. It’s how cowboy boots have been made for over a century.
While Tecovas doesn’t have a ton of the flashy designs, their boots are simple and classy. Plus, the shaft is slim enough that you can wear your boots with a suit or slim fit jeans.
That said, they’re a lot harder to take off. If you get Tecovas boots, get a boot jack, too.
Ariat boots are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. There’s nothing traditional about their construction, but what does that matter when you’re on a jobsite?
I’d pick Ariat for work boots because they’re less expensive, provide a lot more cushion and comfort, and there are plenty of steel and composite toe options. Plus there are waterproof styles available, too.
While your Ariat’s will likely break down quicker, the brand has a better variety of working boots than Tecovas. If you need a steel toe boot that’s totally waterproof, only Ariat has that kind of protection.
Tecovas vs Ariat: Which is Best for You?
There are always five main factors to consider when buying a new pair of boots: style, material quality, construction quality, comfort, and price.
Tecovas is the clear winner on style, material quality, and construction quality.
Ariat is the clear winner on comfort.
As for price, while Tecovas is about 25-30% more expensive than Ariat on average, it may be totally worth the extra cost for the boost in material and construction quality.
If I were buying a new pair of boots right now, I’d choose Tecovas.
The only exception is if I was about to demolish a house and whatever job I was doing was going to take a heavy toll on my boots: in that case, I’d wear the Ariat Groundbreaker—it’s inexpensive, super comfortable, and I’m not worried about beating it up.
But in pretty much every other situation, I’d rather be wearing Tecovas.
What is the oldest cowboy boot company?
Lucchese, founded in 1883, is the oldest current cowboy boot company.
Are Tecovas boots made in Mexico?
Yes, Tecovas boots are made in Leon, Mexico, which is one of the major boot-making hubs in the world.
Do real cowboys wear square toes?
Most cowboy boots have a more rounded or pointed toe. This makes it easier to fit your boots in hard to access spaces or to slip them into stirrups. Square toes have more room for your toes to spread out, but they can be more difficult to work in because they’re bulkier.