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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.
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.
Originally classified as utility shoes for workers who depend on solid footing, lug sole boots are 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: “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.”
Ahead, find the best lug sole boots to shop right now, based on our research, online reviews, and the Byrdie team's recommendations from their own closets.
Best Overall: Dr. Martens 2976 Smooth Leather Chelsea Boots
Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea Boots have it all—timeless edge, insane durability, functional features. Associate Fashion Editor Erika Reals bought a pair of these four winters ago, and she says 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.
Material: Leather, rubber | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: 1.25 inches | Colors: Black
Best Budget: Mix No. 6 Lardon Chelsea Boots
For just around $50, these Chelsea boots from DSW check off trendiness as well as utility. Not only are they wallet-friendly, but reviewers say they’re comfortable and easy to slip on. The black patent look adds some texture and dimension compared to matte leather boots—invigorating a bit of edge to any outfit.
Material: Synthetic | Size Range: Women’s US 6-11 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Colors: Black
Best Sneaker: Puma Mayze Platform High Top Sneakers
These high-top shoes by Puma offer the boot look while providing all the perks of a traditional sneaker. Elevated by suede and a stacked rubber sole, this boot-sneaker hybrid will comfortably accompany you through crunchy leaves and wintry sidewalks. Partly made from recycled materials, the shoe is also designed with the brand’s SoftFoam sock liner to ensure an extra cushioned stride.
Material: Suede upper, synthetic and fabric lining, rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s US 5.5-11 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Colors: Marshmallow, Puma Black, Taffy
Best for Rain: Everlane Rain Boot
While designed specifically for rainy days, these cost-effective boots from Everlane are stylish enough to wear on sunny days, too. Featuring pull tabs, elastic side panels, and a cushioned footbed, 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.
Material: Rubber | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Colors: Black, Surplus, Stone
Best Mid-Calf: Ganni Calf Leather Mid Chelsea Boot
Contrast is king this season, and these street-stylish boots by Ganni are a great way to embrace it. Designed with rubber toe caps and ribbed rubber soles, they 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.
Material: 100% calf leather upper; 100% rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Colors: Kalamata, Oyster Gray, Black, Black/Yellow/Black, Flan, Tiger’s Eye, Egret, Flash Green
Best Knee-High: Marc Fisher LTD Malena Knee High Boot
These fierce Marc Fisher boots provide a luxury look without the luxury price tag. Knee-high boots are the ultimate statement-maker; plus, you can pair them with a lot more than you might think. This pair If you classify as petite, these might be too tall for you—look for knee-high boots with a shaft height under 15.5 inches.
Material: 100% leather upper; 100% rubber sole; 100% synthetic lining | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Shaft Height: 15.75 inches | Colors: Black, Gray, Cognac | Weight: 1 pound, 15 ounces
Best Patent: Stuart Weitzman Norah Patent Lug Sole Ankle Booties
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.
Material: 100% leather upper; 100% synthetic lining and sole | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: 2.75 inches | Colors: Black, White
Most Versatile: Koio Nero Chelsea Boots
These sleek boots by Koio can accompany wintry looks as well as sundresses and jean shorts with tees. The lug sole is thick, yes, but its more subtle design offers extended versatility than many others on the market. Also a favorite of Byrdie's Senior Style Editor Erika Harwood, they’re not only timeless and practical, but they’re sustainable, too. The Italian leather is tanned in factories that “safely and carefully manage emissions, energy and water consumption, and waste,” according to the brand.
Material: 100% LWG Gold-certified Italian leather; 100% LWG Silver-certified Italian leather lining | Size Range: Women’s US 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
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.
Material: Faux leather with jersey lining | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Colors: Black, Taupe, Chalk
Best Luxury: Prada Monolith Lug Sole Chelsea Boots
The ‘90s are back and better than ever—and these boots prove it. Inspired by its vintage lug sole styles, Prada’s Monolith series is perhaps the most famous in the luxury landscape. While there are several lug sole renditions by the label, we think this Chelsea boot style is the most versatile and the one worth investing in. Made in Italy and crafted from smooth leather, what’s not to like?
Material: 100% leather upper; elastane/polyester gore; rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11.5 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Colors: Nero, Bianco
Best Combat: See By Chloé Mallory Leather Combat Boots
Chosen by Byrdie’s SVP and General Manager Leah Wyar, these boots will become your closet’s best friend, pairing well with everything from floral midi dresses to leather leggings. The gold buckle accents and contrast stitching pop against the smooth black leather, culminating in a timeless shoe that’s especially easy on the eyes, if not the wallet.
Material: 100% leather upper and lining; 100% rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s EU 35-41 | Sole Height: 2 inches | Colors: Black
Best Suede: Brother Vellies Alps Suede Hiking Boots
While not as equipped for harsher conditions as others on the list, this hiker boot style by Brother Vellies will fashionably get you from the office to drinks. Made in Italy from real leather and genuine shearling, they're made for the ultimate apres-ski. The grippy lug sole offers great traction, so no need to fear slippery sidewalks—just don't actually hike a snowy mountain in these.
Material: Leather and genuine shearling upper and lining; 100% rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: 1.75 inches | Colors: Midnight, Whiskey
Best White: Sam Edelman Laguna Chelsea Boot
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.
Material: 100% leather upper | Size Range: Women’s US 5-13 | Sole Height: 1.5 inches | Colors: Ivory, Bordeaux, Black, Black Suede, Cedarwood, Pebble Gray, Mineral Green, Sesame, +more
Best Waterproof: Sorel Brex Waterproof Chelsea Boot
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.
Material: 100% leather upper; 100% textile lining; 100% rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s US 5-12 | Sole Height: 3 inches | Colors: Chalk/Black, Black/Cherrybomb, Black/Black, Dark Moss/Sage
Best High Heel: AGL Tiggy Ankle Boot with Zipper
Ashley Benson has been seen stomping around Los Angeles in these high-heeled boots thanks to Zenere, who selected them for her (they're one of her personal favorites). They’re great if you’re wanting a significant lift but still want the edge and utility that lug soles offer. They feature a back zipper, so you needn’t worry about having to stuff your foot into them.
Material: Calfskin upper; natural rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s IT 35-41 | Heel Height: 4 inches | Colors: Black, Charme-Rosa
Best Monochrome: Zara Rubberized Lace-Up Boots
For a bolder presence, look no further than these monochrome lace-up boots from Zara. The lilac version will prove to be a delightful statement piece, especially if your cold-weather closet is mainly blacks and neutrals. Since they’re not made from leather, they’ll gladly see you through the winter snow and into the rainier spring weather, too.
Material: 62% polyurethane, 38% thermoplastic rubber upper; 78% polyester, 22% polyurethane lining; 100% thermoplastic rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: 1.6 inches | Colors: Mauve, Off-White, Khaki Green
Best Value: Vagabond Shoemakers Kenova Lugged Chelsea Boots
You really can’t go wrong with Vagabond. Based in Sweden, the brand has its full-size prototype production workshop and operates in-house sourced production, meaning you can expect high quality and thoughtful craftsmanship from start to finish. This Kenova Chelsea boot is a classic style that will see you through season after season.
Material: 100% leather upper; leather and textile lining; synthetic sole | Size Range: Women’s US 6-11 | Sole Height: 1.5 inches | Colors: Black
Best Lined: Dr. Martens Jadon FL 8 Eye Boots
A favorite of Associate Editorial Director Hallie Gould, the iconic Dr. Martens boots are made even more functional with added fleece lining, which guarantees your feet stay warm and cozy. The pebbled cowhide is supposed to be a bit easier to break in compared to the brand’s smooth leather. One thing worth noting, however, is that the Jadon boots are pretty heavy, so be sure to take them for a walk around the house to ensure they’re a comfortable weight before ripping off the tags.
Material: 100% pebbled cowhide leather upper; 100% faux fur lining; 100% rubber sole | Size Range: Women’s US 5-11 | Sole Height: 2.25 inches | Colors: Black
What to Look For in Lug Sole Boots
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.”
As Zenere mentioned, 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.
What are lug sole boots?
“In the most simplistic of terms, I define a lug sole as having thick, rubbery, serrated treading,” says Zenere. 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 own renditions.
How do you style lug sole boots?
According to Zenere, the options are endless when it comes to styling lug sole boots. ”For a post-gym workout, style them with leggings and an oversized fleece,” she says. “Or pair them with cool trench and pair of jeans to scour the city with—[you can even wear] a cashmere turtleneck with a silk skirt to put a twist on it—think the Prada loafers or a lace-up Louboutin pair.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.