Combat boots are essential to anyone’s wardrobe; they’re warm, they provide traction, and perhaps most importantly, they're en vogue. They’re meant to last through any season and be durable enough to be worn as many times as possible.
Combat boots originate from the military, fashion blogger Kelsey Barnes tells Byrdie. "The laces, thick sole, and higher shaft all have practical origins for protecting soldiers' feet," she explains. "Now they're consistently seen on runways and in street style but still retain those hallmarks from their original usage."
Byrdie Researched & Approved
Our top overall pick is the iconic Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots. They're affordable and will literally last forever, plus they're one of the most popular combat boot styles. If you're in the mood to splurge, we suggest the Gucci Leather Ankle Boot with Sylvie Web. The Euro-inspired style boasts timeless accents, making them incredibly chic and a favorite of our expert, Kelsey Barnes.
To determine what pair of combat boots you want, think of a few things: the material, your shoe size, the heel height, and the range of colors for added versatility and how they would complement your current wardrobe.
Lucky for you, we’ve searched high and low for the most stylish, durable, everyday combat boots that we think you should invest in ASAP.
Keep reading for the best combat boots on the market, along with styling advice from Barnes, as well as Fausti, a New York-based stylist.
Best Overall: Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots
A favorite of Fausti, Dr. Martens is the ultimate brand for combat boots. The brand's shoes may be harder to break in, but they're meant to last forever. (lLterally, you can keep them for decades, especially since they never go out of style.) The 1460s feature smooth leather and an air-cushioned insole, and they come in four colors. It's worth noting that while they are true to size, this specific style is made for more narrow feet. One thing we won't deny: they really do just get better with age.
Material: Leather | Sizes: 5-11 | Colors: Black, White, Cherry Red, Purple | Heel Height: 1.25 inches
Price at time of publish: $170
Best Budget: Steve Madden Bettyy Black Boots
These Steve Madden combat boots can be dressed up, down, or thrown on just to walk down the street. They have a pull tab and zipper for easily putting them on or taking them off and a manageable 1.25-inch heel, and they are comfortable for all-day wear. They’re a must-have for your wardrobe, especially at that price.
Material: Polyurethane upper, fabric lining, synthetic sole | Size Range: 5-11 | Colors: Black, White
Price at time of publish: $100
Best with Shearling: Marc Fisher LTD Izzy Genuine Shearling Lace-Up Boots
Keep your feet and ankles extra warm this year with this pair of shearling lace-up combat boots. "I have a pair of Marc Fisher combat boots that I wear every winter," Barnes says. "This pair, with its shearling, would be warm enough to carry you through the winter months."
The plush trim is not only an added layer of protection against the cold, but it also adds a trendy element that will make your footwear stand out on the sidewalk. They do run slightly large, so keep that in mind when ordering online.
Material: Leather and genuine shearling | Size Range: 5-11 | Colors: Cognac Suede, Ivory Leather, Black Leather, Dark Red Suede | Heel Height: 1.5 inches
Price at time of publish: $249
What Our Editors Say
"I purchased these boots by Marc Fisher LTD about three years ago, thinking they'd be a great addition to my fall/winter wardrobe for years to come, and I was right. The shearling tongue and genuine leather help keep my feet cold on those extra-chilly days and offer an elevated look over the typical utilitarian combat boot. One thing to note: Since they're non-waterproof leather, I wouldn't recommend these for super-snowy conditions." —Erika Reals, Associate Fashion Editor, Commerce
Best Waterproof: La Canadienne Brendan
We seriously haven't been able to stop thinking about these boots ever since we laid eyes on them. What's great about them? They're made from genuine Italian leather and are waterproof. (The brand accomplishes this via its City Dry Technology.) While they may cost a pretty penny, the silhouette and style is as classic as it gets, so you can count on wearing them season after season.
Material: Leather upper and lining, thermoplastic rubber sole | Sizes: 4-11.5 | Colors: Black, Taupe | Heel Height: 2.5 inches
Price at time of publish: $550
Best Designer: Gucci Leather Ankle Boot with Sylvie Web
If you're wanting to invest in a pair that you'll treasure for years to come, may we recommend these chic boots by Gucci? The pair happens to be one of Barnes's favorites. "These are my dream boots," she says. "I love the extra heel and contrasting laces. Plus, you can never go wrong with that Gucci stripe."
Material: Leather upper, leather lining, synthetic sole | Sizes: IT 34-42 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 2.25 inches
Price at time of publish: $1,150
Best Lug Sole: Prada Monolith Leather and Nylon Boots
You’re sure to be the most stylish person on the street with these tall leather combat boots from Prada. The chunky heel will give you a little more height, and the lace-up front with added buckles will set you up to be right on trend. There are small pockets on the sides in case you need to store anything small while you’re out in the world.
Material: Leather upper and lining, rubber lug sole | Sizes: EU 34-42 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 2.16 inches
Price at time of publish: $2,200
Best Heeled: Vagabond Shoemakers Brooke Combat Boot
Strut your stuff in these heeled combat boots from one of our favorite leather shoe brands, Vagabond. Made of real leather, they feature a 3.5-inch block heel on a rubber sole and boast a trendy square-toe silhouette.
Material: Leather upper and lining; synthetic sole | Sizes: 6-11 | Colors: Black | Heel Height: 3.5 inches
Price at time of publish: $240
Best Knee-High: Circus by Sam Edelman Dinah Knee High Combat Boots
Now, if you’re looking for more of a heeled boot with some additional leg coverage, we've found the perfect pair. These knee-high combat boots from Circus by Sam Edelman have a lace-up style on the front, but zip on the sides, so you don’t have to shove your feet and ankles into them.
Material: Faux leather and synthetic sole | Sizes: 5-11 | Colors: Black, White | Heel Height: 2.3 inches
Price at time of publish: $120
Best White: Sam Edelman Garret Combat Platform Boots
Off-white is the new white, which is why we recommend this gorgeous military-inspired pair by Sam Edelman. Not only would they look fab in all four seasons, but they're made to handle snow, rain, and ice, thanks to their weatherproof leather upper and durable sole that will provide enough traction if you're caught in the elements.
Material: Leather upper | Sizes: 5-14 | Colors: Modern Ivory Leather, Black Leather, Lt Cedarwood Leather, Dark Brown, Moonlight Grey | Heel Height: 2.28 inches
Price at time of publish: $180
Best Burgundy: Madewell The Citywalk Lugsole Lace-Up Boot
These lace-up burgundy boots from Madewell are described as being so comfortable that it’ll feel like you’re walking on a cloud. Not only are they worth wearing for a long time, but they’re also unique enough to have you standing out any time you wear them. The black zip in the back allows for easily getting them on and off. If you love the style but not the shade, they're also available in a gorgeous chestnut color as well as black.
Material: Leather upper and man-made sole | Sizes: 5-11 | Colors: English Saddle, Rusted Burgundy, True Black | Heel Height: 1 inch
Price at time of publish: $180
Most Supportive: Dr. Scholl’s Guild Combat Boots
Not only do they look great, but Dr. Scholl's adds incredible comfortable soles that care for your feet. They were designed to be worn all day and night or for walking longer distances. Even better, they are partially made from recycled materials.
Material: Leather upper, eco-conscious fabric toe box and soft lining made from recycled plastic bottles, synthetic sole | Sizes: 6-11 | Colors: Black, Olive | Heel Height: 1.5 inches
Price at time of publish: $150
Meet the Expert
What to Look for in Combat Boots
There are a few things to keep in mind in regard to how and where you'll be wearing your combat boots. "If you're looking to wear your combat boots in the colder months, definitely find a pair with quality construction to keep your feet warm and dry," Barnes suggests. We recommend opting for a low heel with good traction on the sole, as well as a pair that's waterproof. "The grippy sole of combat boots make them great for icy or wet conditions," she explains.
"Combat boots are traditionally black, which makes them very versatile," Barnes says. If you're wanting a pair for every day, or some that you could easily dress up, look for classic silhouettes and those constructed from genuine black leather.
What are combat boots?
"Combat boots are a lug sole, [so they] can take you through a multitude of surface and weather conditions, and are between ankle and calf length," explains Fausti, a New York-based stylist. "They are substantial in weight and shape, too."
How do you style combat boots?
"Combat boots pair very nicely with dresses during transitional weather," Barnes says. "The clunkier silhouette juxtaposed with a shorter hemline is incredibly chic. Plus, you can wear them with bare legs now, and tights and a jacket later. Personally, I really love combat boots paired with an oversized blazer dress, but they also look amazing when contrasted with highly 'feminine' pieces. Most recently, platform combat boots were paired with metallic evening dresses on the Vogue World runway, a combo that is just the epitome of cool."
How do you break in combat boots?
"Back in my figure skating days, we used heat and moisture to break in our boots; the same can be applied to combat boots," Barnes explains. "Wearing a very thick pair of socks around the house will help warm up your feet and stretch the boots. I also recommend rubbing stick deodorant on any areas you're worried about friction. (Weird, I know, but it works!) And, of course, blister pads come in handy when you inevitably get blisters. It might suck at first, but if you can push past the initial blisters, you'll break your boots in just fine."
Can you wear combat boots in the snow?
"Combat boots can be worn in the snow, but look for a pair that has a warm lining and is waterproof before doing so," Barnes says. The materials that are more weatherproof include water-resistant leathers and some faux leather materials. Boots that are made of suede, however, wouldn’t last long in the snow, unless they're specifically marketed as waterproof.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Kylee McGuigan has gone through several pairs of combat boots over the years; from knee-high to ankle to fleece-lined, she’s had them all. After hours of research and online shopping, she’s gathered enough information to share some of the best pairs of combat boots available this season.
Erika Reals, Byrdie's Associate Fashion Editor, Commerce, updated this article. She researched the best combat boots of the season and interviewed fashion expert Kelsey Barnes for her expertise on styling and shopping for combat boots.