Back in my coffee-roasting days, I figured a pair of $40 boots would cut it for the long days standing and moving heavy bags around.
Well, it was true for a week until I ran a hand-truck over my foot.
You know the kind of pain—where you just sit down for ten minutes and don’t say a word. The kind of sting you can’t even muster a curse word for.
That’s about the time I started looking for a real work boot.
And that’s when I discovered Ariat.
What is Ariat?
Ariat is one of the top brands making western boots today. To get the inspiration behind the name, you have to go back to the early summer of 1973: the Kentucky Derby. The year Secretariat won the Triple Crown.
Think about it: how many horses do you know by name? Heck, I wasn’t even born, and I know that horse’s name. Considering that I can’t remember several of my grade school teachers’ names, that’s pretty incredible.
According to legend, Secretariat’s heart was twice the size of a normal thoroughbred, and that gave him the special drive and ability to become what some argue was the greatest racehorse of all time.
Ariat boots are built with that same philosophy of power, athleticism, and determination. Unlike standard western boots, Ariat spends considerable time making their insoles as comfortable as possible to withstand long days of work, so you can go the extra mile when you have to.
Things to Consider Before Buying Work Boots and Western Boots
Ariat has a wide range of western boots, so before you go buying, consider the main use you’ll be getting from your boots.
Will you be working in them? And what kind of work? If you’re doing any heavy lifting, look to some of their models with steel or composite toes.
For any ranch or outdoor work, pick up something with waterproofing so you don’t sacrifice your boots’ durability if you get caught in the mud.
But that’s just work. What about play?
If you’re getting a slick pair of western boots for your weekend nights out at the bar, don’t be afraid to show a little flair.
Western boots are good ground for strutting your stuff. And fellas, the ladies love it when you walk with confidence, so get a boot that shows that.
Ariat offers a range of boots with a slim, sleek profile (like the Rambler), which looks fantastic with a pair of dark blue jeans. Or, if you prefer a pop of color, check out something with a little dash of brightness through the calf.
Some call it peacocking. I say it’s just separating yourself from the pack.
Ariat WorkHog Review
My first introduction to Ariat was with the WorkHog several years ago. I’d seen a few guys in my hometown wear them while out working on their property (shout out to all my SoCal desert people).
After all these years, I was back in the market for some work boots and the WorkHog was top of my list, so I picked up a pair of the WorkHog Waterproof Composite Toe Work Boots. I liked the Oily Brown Distressed leather as it seemed like it needed the least care and attention, but could still weather some tough conditions.
Leather Quality and Care
There isn’t too much information about the leather available online, but in my experience with these boots, they’re as low maintenance as I’d hoped.
The leather is treated with waterproofing, and is packed with oils and waxes. It’s roughed out, so it arrives with a bit of that rugged look to it already. I know you’re not worried about scratching your WorkHogs up, but these should age gracefully.
The leather is creamy smooth to the touch and must be chrome-tanned based on how soft and supple it is.
I’m a fan of the composite toe because it’s much lighter than a steel toe but still offers a good deal of protection. Like most composite toes, it’s not the absolute strongest, but for most working applications, it gets the job done.
The sole is really where Ariat separates itself from the competition.
These work boots are flat out some of the most comfortable boots I own.
They feature a cushioned EVA midsole, which is comfortable right away, but continues to adapt to your foot. After a week or so, you’ll be feeling that sweet EVA caress.
And the outsole is hardcore. Abrasion, oil, and slip resistant, this is what makes the WorkHog the WorkHog. If your work requires an electrical protection rating, you’re good with these boots. I’m still in my first few months with the Ariat WorkHog, so I can’t speak to how the sole is going to hold up, but I’m confident these can go the distance.
Fit and Sizing
Ariat offers a range of sizing, including narrow (B), regular (D), and wide (EE).
I picked mine up in a regular D. Like all western boots, there’s a bit of heel slip at first, but the fit is excellent. I recommend not playing the game where you try and guess if the brand runs big or small. Just get your true size and you should be satisfied.
As for the width, at first it felt a bit snug. But after wearing them for a week, my foot sunk into the EVA midsole more and the leather broke in, so the width isn’t an issue.
A good rule to follow is that if you wear your boots for a few hours and start to get that “pins and needles” feeling in your foot, your boots might be too narrow. When you first get your Ariat’s, wear them around the house for a day to get a feel for them. If you need to return them for a wider size, it’ll be no problem because the soles will still be squeaky clean.
With the chrome tanned leather and all the comfort features of the sole, the break-in period was practically non-existent.
I didn’t have any blister issues and haven’t experienced any uncomfortable rubbing in the month I’ve been wearing the WorkHog.
My feet were a bit sore the first few days, but that’s common with all boots. As I said, after a little working, the leather loosened up and the EVA midsole shaped to my foot. That period was about three days, and they’ve been getting more comfortable since.
Ariat Midtown Rambler Review
While Ariat has a reputation for their work boots (which is how I knew of them), I’m a stylish guy and I figured I had to give one of their more fashion-forward boots a try.
So I picked up their Midtown Rambler in Stone.
I like the roughed out rugged leather look, which has a sort of rock-and-roll vibe that’s perfect for Friday night beers with the guys.
Leather Quality and Care
The leather is pre-distressed, so there isn’t much to do in the way of care. These aren’t work boots, so they’re likely to stay fairly clean, anyway.
But if you get caught walking through the mud, cleaning these is easy. Just wipe off any excess dirt with a wet rag and use a brush to get along the welt. Depending on what plans you have for the Midtown Rambler, you may want to use a waterproofing spray to add a little more resistance to the leather.
Overall, they’re meant to look a little rough.
These sleek boots have a Duratread sole, which is a robust sort of rubber. I was a bit surprised to see that the sole is cemented to the upper. I typically prefer my boots to have a Goodyear welt or Blake stitched construction as those can be resoled.
So that’s worth noting on the Midtown Rambler: once the sole goes, you’ll have to find a new pair of boots—no taking these to the cobbler for a refresh.
The insole is very comfortable and offers a lot of padding, especially on the ball of your foot.
The rubber outsole also has some intentional distressing which I didn’t think was necessary, given that I tend to rough up my boots plenty over the course of a few months.
Fit and Sizing
The Midtown Rambler has English style elastic panels, so they’re easy to slip on and off. There’s no narrow width (B), but you can find regular (D) and wide (EE).
Similar to the WorkHog, these feel a touch narrow at first, but after they begin to break in, the leather loosens up and the sole forms to your foot so you have more wiggle room.
One issue I saw a few people have with the Midtown Rambler in other reviews was with the length of these boots. Because it has a squared toe, expect this boot to be about an inch longer than your standard pair of boots. Don’t worry though, the Midtown Rambler fits true to size.
This is common, especially if you’ve ever worn a pointed toe cowboy boot.
But don’t expect to get the right fit by doing the “ol’ thumb
Like the WorkHog, the break-in period was minimal for the Midtown Rambler. When you combine flexible chrome tanned leather with Ariat’s dedication to comfortable insoles and midsoles, there just isn’t much to break in.
Still, I experienced a little tightness around the middle of the boot at first. But as the midsole learns the shape of your foot, this tightness is alleviated.
Like a well-loved pair of dancing shoes but built with the rugged durability of a work boot: the Mid Town Rambler are a stylish ankle boot that's a good fit for the races and Saturday date night.
What do Other Reviewers Say About Ariat?
As of writing, the WorkHog is rated a solid 4.25-stars with nearly 75 reviews. The folks writing in mention comfort often and durability isn’t far behind. The only gripe I saw mentioned more than once is with breathability. While it was a fairly uncommon complaint, some reviewers felt their feet get a bit hot in these.
And the Midtown Rambler scores a 4.5-star average with 15 reviews. Some people were thrown off by the extra length, but if you have experience with western boots, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
My Thoughts Overall On Ariat
What I Like
The WorkHog boot is one of the most comfortable boots I own.
The sole on the WorkHog is hard core durable and slip resistant.
Neither the WorkHog nor the Midtown Rambler require much care and maintenance.
Free shipping available across the US, including AK and HI.
What I Don’t Like
The cemented sole construction on the Midtown Rambler is a bit of a disappointment. I’d expect to see a Goodyear welt or Blake stitch here.
Who is Ariat for?
Ariat boots are excellent for the guy who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. If you prefer your work to do your talking for you, Ariat is your go-to.
I went searching for a new pair of work boots—some that were sturdy enough to hold up in muddy conditions and that could take a nail if it needed to.
The Ariat WorkHog is the ticket.
I’ve had no trouble wearing these for 8-10 hours at a time (I’m sure I could go longer, but I haven’t needed to yet).
Ariat’s insistence on comfort for the insole and midsole make these a delight to wear. But you wouldn’t guess by looking at them, as the WorkHog is a big, badass boot.
As for the Midtown Rambler, I was disappointed with the cemented sole construction. It means that I won’t be able to resole them in a few years when their time is due. But otherwise, I’m a fan of the style and the roughed out leather.
The Ramblers are a perfect compliment to a pair of jeans and a Friday night cold one.
Work boots, western boots, and sturdy rugged clothes: everything a cowboy could ever want. Well, maybe a cold beer too. Ariat's selection of boots can take you from the dance floor to the job site.
Are Ariat boots good quality?
Yes, Ariat boots are high quality. From the leather to the EVA midsoles, you’ll get a balance between durability and comfort, which is great if you work 10-12 hour days outside.
Can you wear Ariat boots in the snow?
Yes, but it’s recommended you get a waterproof boot like the WorkHog H20 Waterproof.
Are Ariat boots comfortable?
Ariat boots are built with an EVA midsole that forms to your foot over the first few weeks you wear them. They’re comfortable at first and become even more comfortable as time passes.