The 17 Best Lug Sole Boots of 2023

Dr. Martens 2976 Smooth Leather Chelsea Boots earned our best overall pick

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Best Lug Sole Boots

Byrdie / Lecia Landis

Odds are both your Instagram feed and local sidewalks have been inundated with styles of lug sole boots for some time now—but they weren’t always so fashion-forward. 

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Out of all of our picks, the Dr. Martens 2976 Smooth Leather Chelsea Boots earned our top choice because of their timeless edge, durability, and custom fit.

Originally classified as utility shoes for workers who must maintain solid footing, lug sole boots are best characterized by a thick rubber sole with deep indentations that provide traction. The renewed affection for chunky shoes paired with the functionality of lug soles makes this style of footwear especially worth the investment right now. However, like many boots, making sure they’re comfortable as much as they are stylish can be tricky. Celebrity stylist Jacqueline Zenere tells Byrdie the number one thing she looks for in a lug sole boot is its design. “When shopping for lug sole boots, make sure the shoe itself isn’t too heavy in weight,” she says. “Your legs and feet can tire quickly when you are lugging extra baggage.”

We conducted hours of research on the best lug sole boots, evaluating each on its design aesthetic, functionality, and fit. After considering dozens of options, and consulting a stylist, we narrowed down our pick to these best in show.

Best Overall

Dr. Martens 2976 Smooth Leather Chelsea Boots

Dr. Martens 2976 Smooth Leather Chelsea Boots

Dr. Martens

Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea Boots have it all—timeless edge, insane durability, and functional features. I bought a pair of these four winters ago, and they're just getting better with age—making them a great value with a low cost per wear. While stiff at first, they mold to your feet as you break them in, leaving you with a near-custom fit.

Price at time of publish: $170

Material: Leather, rubber | Size Range: 5-11 | Sole Height: Approximately 1 inch | Colors: Black

Best Budget

Madden Girl Carra Lace-Up Lug Sole Combat Boots

Madden Girl Carra Lace-Up Lug Sole Combat Boots

Courtesy of Zappos

These booties from Madden Girl are basically dupes for many famous pairs of boots. And for their affordable price point, they truly couldn't get any better. With a round-toe, chunky platform sole, and convenient side zips, you've got all the desired features you'd want in a lug sole boot, but without breaking the bank.

Price at time of publish: $79

Material: Polyurethane | Size Range: 5-9.5 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Colors: Black, white, brown, plaid, black/olive, burgundy

Best Rain Boot

Everlane The Rain Boot

Everlane Rain Boot

Everlane

For just around $100, these Chelsea boots from Everlane are both stylish and highly functional, given that they're designed for rainy days. They feature pull tabs, elastic side panels, and a cushioned footbed. Plus, they’re easy to pull on and off, which isn’t always the case with rubbery rain boots. Jump in puddles worry-free thanks to the slip-resistant lug soles and an easy-to-clean rubbery surface.

Price at time of publish: $85

Material: Rubber | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: Approximately 1 inch | Colors: Black, Surplus, Stone +more

Best Mid-Calf

Ganni Calf Leather Mid Chelsea Boot

Ganni Calf Leather Mid Chelsea Boot

Nordstrom

Designed with rubber toe caps and ribbed rubber soles, these street-stylish boots by Ganni are tight-fitting at the ankle and hit mid-calf—the perfect shaft height for pairing with midi dresses, skirts, or cropped pants. Made in Portugal, these combine craftsmanship with functionality.

Price at time of publish: $495

Material: Leather | Size Range: EU 35-42 | Sole Height: 1.25 inches | Colors: Kalamata, Black

Best Knee-High

& Other Stories Chunky Sole Tall Leather Boots

chunky-knee-high-boot

& Other Stories

Knee-high boots are the ultimate statement-maker, but perhaps the best thing about them is that you can pair them with a lot more than you might think. Just take these & Other Stories boots, which can be worn with everything from jeans to mini dresses, as an example. However, it's worth noting that if you're petite, these might be too tall for you and you should look for knee-high boots with a shaft height under 15.5 inches.

Price at time of publish: $279

Material: Leather | Size Range: 5-11 | Sole Height: Approximately 1.5 inches | Shaft Height: 17 inches | Colors: Black, Beige

Best Patent Leather

Stuart Weitzman Norah Patent Lug Sole Ankle Booties

Stuart Weitzman Norah Patent Lug Sole Ankle Booties

Zappos

Shiny patent leather meets optimal function with these Stuart Weitzman ankle boots. The rounded cap toe provides a roomy fit, while the included pull tabs and side goring ensure your feet can slide in and out super smoothly. Based on the reviews, these have a narrower footbed despite the shoe’s W classification, so we wouldn’t recommend them if you have wide feet. Although relatively pricey, Stuart Weitzman boots are iconic and last forever.

Price at time of publish: $550

Material: Leather | Size Range: 5-12 | Sole Height: 1.25 inches | Colors: Black, White +more

Most Versatile

Koio Nero Chelsea Boots

Koio Nero Chelsea Boots

Koio

A favorite of Byrdie's Senior Style Editor Erika Harwood, this sleek boot style by Koio can accompany your looks year-round, as they pair well with everything from sweats and cargo pants to sundresses, jean shorts, midi skirts, and more. Aside from their versatility, they boast an eco-conscious component, too. The Italian leather is tanned in factories that “safely and carefully manage emissions, energy and water consumption, and waste,” according to the brand.

Price at time of publish: $395

Material: LWG Gold-certified Italian leather | Size Range: 5-11 | Sole Height: 1.4 inches | Colors: Nero, Fawn, Sandalwood

What Our Editors Say

"Koio’s lug sole Chelsea boot has become my go-to fall and winter shoe. Comfortable, sleek, water-resistant, and available in three neutral colorways that are guaranteed to work in any wardrobe. I own them in black, but am deeply considering adding the other two to my collection." —Erika Harwood, Senior Style Editor

Best Front-Zip

Charles & Keith Billie Front-Zip Ankle Boots

Charles & Keith Billie Front-Zip Ankle Boots

Charles & Keith

If you’re on board with the front-zip boot trend, then this option from Charles & Keith could be perfect for you. Embodying a “city-chic aesthetic,” these lug-style boots are elevated by the sleek silver zipper, lacquer-effect outsoles, and an elongated tongue that peeks over the shaft. The latter combined with the back pull tabs ensure you can easily slide them on and off for that coveted on-the-go convenience.

Price at time of publish: $103

Material: Faux leather | Size Range: 5-11 | Sole Height: Approximately 1 inch | Colors: Black, Taupe, Chalk

Best Designer

Prada Monolith Lug Sole Chelsea Boots

Prada Monolith Lug Sole Chelsea Boots

Nordstrom

The ‘90s are back and better than ever—and these boots prove it. Inspired by its vintage lug sole styles, Prada’s made-in-Italy Monolith series is so edgy and cool. Offset the rugged silhouette by pairing yours with a playful micro-mini skirt.

Price at time of publish: $1,290

Material: Leather | Size Range: EU 34.5-42 | Sole Height: Approximately 2 inches | Colors: Nero, Bianco

Best Combat

See By Chloé Mallory Leather Combat Boots

See By Chloe Mallory Leather Combat Boots

Net-A-Porter

Chosen by Byrdie’s former SVP and General Manager Leah Wyar, these boots are capable of becoming your closet’s best friend, pairing well with everything from floral midi dresses to leather leggings. Made from smooth leather, they have rounded toes and are detailed with gold-tone buckles for a cool-girl factor. Many will find the 2-inch heel to be comfortable enough for all-day wear while still providing a little extra height.

Price at time of publish: $575

Material: Leather | Size Range: EU 35-42 | Sole Height: Approximately 1 inch | Colors: Black

Best Color Options

Sam Edelman Laguna Waterproof Chelsea Boot

Sam Edelman Laguna Waterproof Chelsea Boot

Nordstrom

Available in nine colorways, Sam Edelman’s Ivory Laguna Boots are designed to stand out. The buttery monochrome boot is accented with functional pull tabs, elastic gore sides, and, while made from real leather, they’re even waterproof.

Price at time of publish: $170

Material: 100% leather | Size Range: 5-13 | Sole Height: Approximately 1 inch | Colors: Ivory, Desert Olive, Bordeaux, Black Leather, Black Suede, Pebble Grey Leather +more

Best Waterproof

Sorel Brex Waterproof Chelsea Boot

Sorel Brex Waterproof Chelsea Boot

Nordstrom

A perfect marriage of functionality and style, Sorel’s Brex Chelsea Boot has a modern look that’s designed for city living. With an indented sole unlike anything we have seen before, this boot will safely guide you through icy steps, muddy fields, and snowy sidewalks.

Price at time of publish: $180

Material: Leather | Size Range: 5-12 | Sole Height: 1.5 inches | Colors: Natural/Sea Salt, Black/Black, New Cinder/Black

Best High Heel

AGL Tiggy Ankle Boot with Zipper

AGL Tiggy Ankle Boot with Zipper

Nordstrom

Ashley Benson has been seen stomping around Los Angeles in these high-heeled boots at the recommendation of Zenere, and it's easy to understand why. They’re great if you want a significant lift but still require the utilitarian factor that lug soles offer. Another convenient feature is the back zipper, so you needn’t worry about having to stuff your foot into them.

Price at time of publish: $535

Material: Leather | Size Range: EU 35-41 | Sole Height: Approximately 1 inch | Heel Height: 4 inches Colors: Black

Best Ankle Boot

Vagabond Shoemakers Kenova Lugged Chelsea Boots

Vagabond Shoemakers Kenova Lugged Chelsea Boots

Nordstrom

You really can’t go wrong with Vagabond. You can expect high quality and thoughtful craftsmanship from the Swedish brand and from the Kenova Chelsea boot specifically. It's reasonably priced under $200, too, so you can feel like you're getting the most bang for your buck.

Price at time of publish: $160

Material: Leather | Size Range: 6-11 | Sole Height: Approximately 1 inch | Colors: Black

Best Fleece-Lined

Dr. Martens Jadon FL 8 Eye Boots

Dr. Martens Jadon FL 8 Eye Boots

Nordstrom

Senior Editorial Director Hallie Gould stays warm and cozy in these fleece-lined Dr. Martens boots. Still, they're pretty heavy, so be sure to take them for a walk around the house to ensure they’re a comfortable weight for you before ripping off the tags.

Price at time of publish: $210

Material: Pebbled cowhide leather | Size Range: 5-11 | Sole Height: 1.75 inches | Colors: Black

Best Platform

Dr. Martens Audrick 8-Eye Combat Boots

Dr. Martens Audrick 8-Eye Combat Boots

Courtesy of Zappos

If you want a true platform boot, this one from Dr. Martens is a must. They're designed in the typical combat boot-style beloved by the brand, except with an even bigger, chunkier sole that is surely height-enhancing. Although this platform boot might be on the heavier side, they're lightly cushioned, have slip and abrasion resistance, and become easier to wear with time.

Price at time of publish: $200

Material: Nappa leather upper, PVC midsole and outsole | Size Range: 5-12 | Sole Height: 2.12 inches | Colors: Black and white

Best for Winter

Timberland Cortina Valley Faux Shearling Lined Waterproof Boot

Timberland Cortina Valley Faux Shearling Lined Waterproof Boot

Courtesy of Zappos

Through all the snow, slush, and everything in-between, you'll need a solid pair of boots to get you through your winter blues. Timberland's Cortina Valley Boots are true winter-approved boots, with waterproof features, a warm faux shearling lining, and a d-ring lace system that all tackle through extreme weather. Plus, many of the fabrics used to craft this shoe are eco-friendly.

Price at time of publish: $180

Material: Leather, faux shearling | Size Range: 5.5-11 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Colors: Black and wheat

Meet the Expert

Jacqueline Zenere is a professional stylist whose client list includes Ashley Benson and Olivia Palermo. She also styles for talent-based projects like red carpets, advertising, and film and TV production. 

What to Look for in Lug Sole Boots

Sole

True lug sole boots have just that: thick soles with serrated indentions and edges that provide good traction and footing. Some “lug sole” boots may have the same look but upon closer inspection, may not have any tread. If you’re just going for the look, this may not matter to you. Functionality never hurts, though, especially if you are wanting to invest in a pair for long-term wear. 

When it comes to the sole, be sure it won’t ruin your floors. “Do a scuff test: rub the pair together and see if they leave marks,” says Zenere. “Sometimes, depending on the material, the marks can be a different color than the sole itself.”

Weight

As Zenere notes, making sure the shoes are an optimal weight is key to them being comfortable. While many sites don’t list the weight of each shoe, reviews can usually provide an accurate picture. As a general rule of thumb: the thicker the sole, the heavier it will be.

FAQ
  • What are lug sole boots?

    “In the most simplistic of terms, I define a lug sole as having thick, rubbery, serrated treading,” Zenere says. These features work together to ideally enhance tread for wintry and uneven terrain; however, they have become mainstream in the fashion world, with everyone from Prada to ASOS carrying their renditions.

  • How do you style lug sole boots?

    ”For a post-gym workout, style them with leggings and an oversized fleece,” Zenere says. Otherwise, a classic trench and a pair of jeans or a midi skirt and turtleneck combo will do the trick for an afternoon about town.

Why Trust Byrdie

Erika Reals is the associate fashion editor on Byrdie’s commerce team. She has three years of experience in the commerce space and four in the fashion industry. Her favorite shopping purchases are sneakers and boots—she thinks you really can’t have enough of either. Her boot collection would be more extensive if it weren’t for her minimal storage space in her small NYC apartment. She reached out to fashion expert Jacqueline Zenere and spent upwards of five hours of research—including pouring over reviews and tapping the Byrdie team for favorites—to put together this piece.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we weren’t able to find enough lug-sole boots from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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