Fashion Accessories The 10 Best Combat Boots for Women of 2023 Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace Up Boots have been beloved since 1960. By Megan McCarty Megan McCarty Instagram Twitter Megan McCarty is a full-time freelance writer, editor, etc. with over 15 years of experience, who writes about the fun stuff: design, commerce, travel, wellness, beauty, and fashion. InStyle's editorial guidelines Published on January 26, 2023 @ 01:19PM Pin Share Tweet Email In This Article Expand Jump to a Section Our top picks Reviews What to Look For Your Questions, Answered Why Shop With Us We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. InStyle / Reese Herrington Functional, comfortable, and chic, the combat boot can be surprisingly versatile. Designed originally for the military, the shoe features a thick sole and higher shaft that laces up to the top. We think they’re worthy of a place in your shoe collection, so to help you shop, we scoured the market for the best pairs and tapped a few fashion experts for their favorites too. It’ll likely come as no surprise that the iconic Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots topped our list. Since first hitting the market in 1960, they’ve continuously been in style, transcending trends and generations to become everyone’s favorite combat boot. Some of the others on our list are just as classic, while others still are bolder and worthy of turning heads. Our Top Picks Best Overall: Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots at Amazon Jump to Review Best Budget: A New Day Bridget Combat Boots at Target Jump to Review Best Splurge: The Row Zipped Combat Boots at Nordstrom Jump to Review Best For Wide Feet: Steve Madden Troopa Leather Combat Boots at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Narrow Feet: Vince Camuto fawdry bootie at Nordstrom Jump to Review Best Leather: Vagabond Alex W Boots at Amazon Jump to Review Best Knee-High: Circus by Sam Edelman Dinah Knee High Combat Boots at Amazon Jump to Review Best Heeled: Frye Sabrina 6G Lace Up Boots at Amazon Jump to Review Best Patent: Blundstone Lace Up Gore Boots at Amazon Jump to Review Best Lug Sole: Madewell Rayna Lace-Up Boot at Amazon Jump to Review Best Overall Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots Dr. Martens View On Amazon View On Nordstrom View On Drmartens.com What We Love: Originally designed in 1960, they’re just as fresh and fashionable over six decades later.What We Don’t Love: Their break-in period requires some patience. “No combat boot list can be complete without including the tried-and-true ‘Doc,’ says Dina Cerchione, a fashion stylist with over 25 years of experience. “It’s a classic — and you can never go wrong with a classic.” Infamously tough and hard-wearing, these work boots may take a few walks around the block to break in, but their air-cushioned sole allows you to wear them all day (and night) long, while the luxe leather is meant to last for decades. “Made from smooth leather, you can polish them to keep them shiny and pristine-looking or let them wear in to look super cool in an ‘Oh, these old things?’ way,” Cerchione says. The 1460 boots are available in a variety of colors, including white, navy, hot pink, and green (good luck narrowing down your favorite) as well as a vegan version too. At $170, they hit the sweet spot budget-wise too, especially since you can be confident that they’ll last you, oh, let’s say forever. Price at time of publish: $170 Size: 5 - 12 | Material: Leather | Heel Height: Not listed | Details: Heel loops, grooved sides Best Budget A New Day Bridget Combat Boots Target View On Target What We Love: For the commitment-phobic and budget-conscious, these boots allow you to try the combat boot trend without throwing down serious cash.What We Don’t Love: Their synthetic material is no match for real leather. Curious about the combat boot style, but not sure if you’d wear them enough to justify a high price tag? Target to the rescue, per usual. Nab a pair of these A New Day boots, a true classic combat design, for under $40. They feature a pull tab and side zipper, so you can easily slip them on and off, while the manageable 1.75-inch heel means you can wear them from your morning coffee jaunt long past happy hour. They’re perfectly neutral enough to dress up, down, or even just to grab the mail. Pair them with, well, anything: midi skirts, your favorite denim, a cropped jumpsuit — you name it. While you won’t fool anyone into thinking they’re made of real leather, give them a good clean after walking on salty winter sidewalks, and they’ll last you several more seasons. Price at time of publish: $38 Size: 5 - 12 | Material: Polyurethane | Heel Height: 1.75 inches | Details: Heel loops, side zipper Best Splurge The Row Zipped Combat Boots Net a Porter View On Nordstrom View On Bergdorfgoodman.com View On Neiman Marcus What We Love: This crazy cool design is a nontraditional twist on combat boots.What We Don’t Love: Hurry — sizes sell out fast. “The Row can do no wrong,” declares jewelry designer Hart Hagerty. That includes these combat-like boots. Forget the traditional lace front, though. These feature a zipper that’s not only sleek but practical, since they’re easy to take on and off. “These front-zip boots are a timeless cool-girl icon,” Hagerty says. “They are incredibly comfortable and I can easily walk to work in them, which is a plus.” As for how to style them, Hagerty opts for a throwback style, and (naturally) always has accessories top of mind. “I’d channel ’90s styling with a slip dress and chunky cardigan, topped off with a long charm necklace with a cluster of my favorite good-luck talismans,” she says. But if you love them, buy them — The Row tends to sell out quickly. Price at time of publish: $1,490 Size: 35 - 42 | Material: Leather | Heel Height: 2 inches | Details: 1-inch platform base, front zipper Best For Wide Feet Steve Madden Troopa Leather Combat Boots Steve Madden View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Dsw.com What We Love: These traditional combat boots are specifically made in a wide version.What We Don’t Love: The zip closure might be visible because it goes up to the top of the boot. No more shoving your feet into too-narrow boots. These Steve Madden combat boots come in two widths — medium and wide — so you can personalize the fit. (No one wants cramped little piggies.) Everything else about their design is classic as can be, from the lace-up front, reasonable 1-inch heel, and cushioned footbed. To help you get into them (without unlacing the whole thing), the boots feature a side zipper, but it’s not totally hidden — it goes up to the top of the boot, so you’ll probably see it. However, these are such a good deal, it’s easy to look past. Plus, how pretty would these be paired with a prairie dress? Or faded black denim and a turtleneck? The styling options are truly endless. Add these to your shoe rack and you’ll likely make your other shoes, especially the narrow ones, jealous, since you’ll be wearing these combat boots day after day. Price at time of publish: $81 Size: 5 - 11 including half sizes | Material: Leather | Heel Height: 1 inch | Details: Side zipper, cushioned footbed Best for Narrow Feet Vince Camuto Fawdry Bootie Vince Camuto View On Nordstrom View On Dsw.com View On Macy's What We Love: Narrow feet will feel snug when the laces and buckles are tied tight.What We Don’t Love: The buckles add extra weight to the ankles. Narrow-footed friends, these combat boots are for you. Since this design features laces, a side zipper, and ankle buckles, you can customize the fit to hug your feet just so. Even better? They come in full and half sizes, so you can get your perfect fit length-wise too. Cerchione calls these a “great boot for when you want to dip your toe into the trend but a full-blown combat boot feels too much,” adding, “It has ‘croc’ detail and a bit less chunky lug sole so they can be dressed up a bit more but still feel fresh and of the moment.” But the buckles might feel a bit heavy at first. We’re positive you’ll get used to it, though. Price at time of publish: $189 Size: 5 - 12 | Material: Leather | Heel Height: 1.6 inches | Details: Strap buckles, side zipper Best Leather Vagabond Alex W Boots Vagabond View On Amazon View On Vagabond.com View On Zappos What We Love: One touch of these buttery leather boots and you’ll be sold.What We Don’t Love: The thin laces might be difficult to maneuver. If you’re on the hunt for a lush, long-lasting leather combat boot, Vagabond has you covered. They take their use of leather seriously, hand-picking their materials from tanneries that are all Leather Working Group-rated or in the process of becoming certified. That way you can feel good not only about rocking an ultra-cool boot, but knowing it’s been made responsibly. You can feel the care taken in every step of the design process of these chunky-heeled combat boots. The leather is soft to the touch, the streamlined silhouette can easily be worn every day, and the look assures everyone you mean business. We like the streamlined look of the thin, matte black laces; however, because they are skinny, we imagine they might be a little tough to maneuver. Luckily, the boot has a side zipper to allow you to easily slip them on and off. Price at time of publish: $231 Size: 6 - 11 | Material: Leather | Heel Height: 3.5 inches | Details: Side zipper, block heel Best Knee-High Circus by Sam Edelman Dinah Knee High Combat Boots Nordstrom Rack View On Amazon View On Nordstrom View On Belk.com What We Love: These knee-highs are edgy without being outrageous.What We Don’t Love: The four-inch heel gives you serious height — perhaps too much height for some. There’s nothing particularly subtle about knee-high combat boots, but these Sam Edelman boots are as understated and sophisticated as they come. They’re eye-catching without being outlandish and statement-making while being truly day-to-day wearable — even if they feature a platform and a serious 4-inch heel. The ribbed side panels hug your calves just so, too; that allows you to wear them to the bank, to dinner, and to any errands in between. Intimidated just looking at the laces? No need to worry about those. They have size zippers, so you only have to lace them once. Price at time of publish: $120 Size: 5 - 11 | Material: Synthetic | Heel Height: 4 inches | Details: Side zipper, ribbed panels Best Heeled Frye Sabrina 6G Lace Up Boots Amazon View On Amazon View On Modcloth.com View On Thefryecompany.com What We Love: The heel isn’t too high, so they can still be worn every day.What We Don’t Love: The shaft is much shorter than most combat boots. Throw a heel on a combat boot and you’re looking at a true I-mean-business shoe. But somehow this pair from Frye still looks versatile enough to wear on a day-to-day basis. The shaft of the boot sits a little lower than most other combat boots (especially compared to the others on this list) at only 5 inches, which likely sits just above your ankle. This height notoriously causes blisters, so make sure you wear them with a good pair of socks as you begin to break them in. And even though it looks like it might be stiff, the leather on these boots will break in and mold to you with every wear. Price at time of publish: $175+ Size: 6-10 | Material: Leather | Heel Height: 2.25 inches | Details: Side zip, heel Best Patent Blundstone Lace Up Gore Boots Free People View On Amazon View On Anthropologie View On Freepeople.com What We Love: These patent combat boots feature a striking shine that is sure to turn heads.What We Don’t Love: Patent is a specific look, and maybe not one you want to wear every day. These patent leather boots are tough both in looks and materials. The high-quality leather will last for years and only become more comfortable as you wear them. But on top of that, you can thank two features for their everyday wearability: cushioned footbeds and elastic inlays on both sides of the boot, similar to Chelsea boots. The latter feature allows you to leave the laces tied, yet slip them on and off with ease. Price at time of publish: $235 Size: 6 - 10, including half sizes | Material: Leather | Heel Height: Not listed | Details: Elastic gore panels, cushioned footbed Best Lug Sole Madewell The Rayna Lace-Up Boot in Leather Madewell View On Amazon View On Nordstrom View On Madewell.com What We Love: They’re simple and simply stunning in all four lug-soled colors: black, English saddle, cabernet, and white.What We Don’t Love: There’s no side zipper. These you have to lace and unlace with each wear. As much as we love lug soles, get a too-heavy pair and they can feel, well, as though you’re lugging around bricks. But you won’t find that with these lug sole combat boots from Madewell, which aren’t as weighty as some. (“Hallelujah,” say your ankles.) Even better, they feature a padded insole called CloudLift Lite for a more comfortable step. So basically, they’re equally as cool as they are comfortable, with no break-in period so you can rock them for date night right out of the box. Price at time of publish: $198 Size: 5 - 12, including half sizes | Material: Leather | Heel Height: Not listed | Details: Lug sole, padded insole What to Look for in Combat Boots A Versatile Style Combat boots can be a specific look. When they’re made out of a quality material and designed in a classic silhouette, though, they can easily become your everyday boot. Opt for black boots — our entire list is filled with them — if you want to get frequent use out of them, or nab a colorful pair, like the Dr. Martens we mentioned, which come in colors like hot pink and forest green, for a standout look. Easy On-and-Off We get it; the laces on combat boots can look daunting. (That’s part of the reason they look so cool.) No one wants to laboriously tie and untie those laces with each wear. That’s why, as you’re shopping for combat boots, you should keep an eye out for a side zipper, which you can find in the Steve Madden Troopa Combat Boot, or elastic gore, shown on the Blundstone Lace Up Gore Boots. Either of those will ensure you can pop them on and off easily. Material Before clicking “add to cart,” consider what Mother Nature may bring your way weather-wise when you intend to wear your combat boots. If you want to wear them during winter months in a cold climate, find a pair with quality materials (like leather) and construction (like heavy stitching) to keep your feet warm and dry. Good traction is key to not slipping on icy or wet sidewalks, and a waterproof or water-resistant upper (like leather or rubber) is a must too. Your Questions, Answered How do you style combat boots? Don’t be intimidated by their tough style. Combat boots are just as easy to style as Chelsea boots or any other ankle boot, and they’re particularly wearable as the seasons change. Think about pairing combat boots with a flowy dress and thick wool socks in the fall, or with tights and a leather jacket in the spring. Either play up their toughness, leaning into a rebel look, or juxtapose them with softer pieces, like floral items or even a formal evening gown. Mix and match combat boots with anything in your closet, as long as the look makes you feel cool and confident. How do you ease the break-in period for combat boots? Some pairs of combat boots, including many on this list, can be worn comfortably straight out of the box. Others, like Dr. Martens—our top pick—require a break-in period and a bit of patience. First, always (always!) wear them with socks. The thicker, the better when breaking them in; that’ll give you extra protection against any blister-prone friction areas and will help stretch the boots. When not wearing them, you can work the boots, massaging the leather to soften it. Don’t wear them every day during a break-in period either—your feet need a break. Stock your medicine cabinet with blister pads and heel pads just in case too. Once you get past the first few wears, your boots will break in beautifully and you’ll forget all about this painful period. Don’t be intimidated by their tough style. Combat boots are just as easy to style as Chelsea boots or any other ankle boot, and they’re particularly wearable as the seasons change. Think about pairing combat boots with a flowy dress and thick wool socks in the fall, or with tights and a leather jacket in the spring. Either play up their toughness, leaning into a rebel look, or juxtapose them with softer pieces, like floral items or even a formal evening gown. Mix and match combat boots with anything in your closet, as long as the look makes you feel cool and confident. Why Shop With Us Megan McCarty is a full-time freelance writer who writes about everything from design, to beauty to fashion. She regularly contributes to outlets like Domino, InStyle, People, Architectural Digest, Bustle, and many more. Aside from using her own expertise and completing lots of research, she interviewed style experts for what they think is a worthy buy, too.