What constitutes a combat boot? Generally speaking, it’s a thick-soled boot that laces up the front. But as Monica Kim — a fashion stylist based between New York and Seoul who has worked with brands like Kozaburo, Rokh and Rare Market — explains, “nearly every major designer has put their spin on a combat boot at one point or another.”
While the classic lace-up combat boot is typically black, it can come in a range of colors and prints, both neutral and bold. There are heeled versions, knee-high options and the super-popular Chelsea-style combat boot, which doesn’t have any laces at all.
Whether it’s on the runway or on Instagram, the combat boot has proven to be a versatile shoe that works for different seasons, personal styles and budgets. Though they can run on the pricier side (like most high-quality footwear), finding and investing in the right boot is a purchase that will pay off for years. Kim notes that the clean, simple design of many combat boot styles ensures that the shoe “doesn’t fall out of fashion as easily.” Plus, “they’re practical and durable.” So not only are you investing in something stylish but also something you’ll want to wear every day.
And while combat boots have been in style for years, it seems that quarantine has emphasized our desire to stay comfortable, no matter the occasion. Ahead, we break down some of the internet’s most popular and highly rated combat boots so you can compare classic options or experiment with a fashion-forward take.
Dr. Martens Jadon Pisa Platform Boot ($180; nordstrom.com)
“I particularly like the Jadon,” says Kim, “which comes with a chunkier platform sole.”
The Jadon’s platform gives you a whole 2 extra inches of height. The leather is soft and luxe yet supportive, and in addition to the front lace-up there’s also a zipper closure on the side, making these a breeze to slip on and off. If you’re looking for something particularly cozy, Dr. Martens also offers a faux fur-lined version of the Jadon and one of our personal favorites: the higher 1460 8-Eye Boot that Urban Outfitters shoppers love too.
Sam Edelman Garret Bootie ($149.95; nordstrom.com)
“A big black boot can create a strong visual foundation that grounds the entire outfit,” says Kim. “They’re surprisingly versatile and will last you forever.”
This classic leather option from Sam Edelman features a 6-inch shaft and 2-inch heel. Like the Jadon Boot, it’s also a lace-up style that includes a zipper.
Frye Veronica Combat Boot (starting at $125.10; amazon.com)
Frye boots aren’t cheap, but there’s a reason the brand has such a dedicated following. One reviewer writes that “right out of the box, it is easy to tell these are very well made.” As with many Frye boots, each pair will look a little different due to natural variations and markings in the hide that’s used. The design of this particular boot maintains some edge but is less chunky as compared to other classic styles.
Sam Edelman Nina Lace-Up Boot ($149.95; nordstrom.com)
This lace-up bootie is a super-sleek take on the combat boot, perfect for those looking for something less chunky and perhaps a bit more versatile for everyday wear. It’s available in both white and black leather and a black crocodile print, though we’re admittedly partial to how luxe the crocodile print looks.
The Modern Utility Lace-Up Boot ($111; originally $185; everlane.com)
This water-resistant boot from Everlane is perfect for those looking for something simple and versatile. There’s a small heel, which makes it comfortable enough to wear all day. Writes one reviewer, “These boots are very well made and have been extremely comfortable even on long walks.”
Sam Edelman Laguna Waterproof Chelsea Boot ($149.95; nordstrom.com)
A bright white version of the classic Chelsea-style combat boot, this option from Sam Edelman features elastic insets and a chunky sole. Plus, they’re waterproof, making them a perfect option for stomping around no matter the weather. No need to worry about these white shoes getting dirty! It’s available in camel, black and black suede too.
Dr. Martens Sinclair Leather Platform Boots ($199.95; amazon.com)
These chunky boots are sure to garner compliments. You can wear them two different ways — either laced up or with the zipper exposed — which ends up feeling like you get two boots for the price of one. Plus, they feature Dr. Martens’ signature air-cushioned sole for ultimate comfort, and are available in a black croc style as well.
AllSaints Donita Combat Boot ($347.95; nordstrom.com)
This option from AllSaints is a classic combat boot design that features a stylish buckle accent. The almond-shaped toe gives the shoe a sleek shape, while the luxe white leather makes it versatile enough for both everyday wear and special occasions.
Public Desire Intention Chunky Lace-Up Boots ($39.20, originally $49; asos.com)
In search of an ultra-ultra-ultra-fashionable combat boot that looks nothing like your friends’? Boasting a 4.3-star rating from over 60 reviews, one reviewer writes that the pouch on this boot is actually functional — perfect for holding a key fob or credit card.
Circus by Sam Edelman Darielle Bootie ($99; nordstrom.com)
A Chelsea-style boot with an ultra-comfortable (according to reviewers) lug sole, these are perfect for anyone who prefers their black booties to have a bit of drama.
Steve Madden Wayde Black Leather ($189.95; stevemadden.com)
A taller option similar to the Darielle Bootie, this option from Steve Madden features a 14-inch shaft with an elastic gore that stretches the length of the boot. There’s also a zipper on the inside so you don’t have to worry about getting these on. However, reviewers mention to size up if you have bigger calves or don’t prefer your boot super tight.
Sam Edelman Jacquie Combat Boot (starting at $67.50; amazon.com)
There’s a reason that classics are as beloved as they are, but sometimes a little detail can make all the difference.
This editor-favorite shoe from Sam Edelman is a nod to the popular Chelsea-style combat boot, but with a little more grunge thrown in. The front zipper isn’t just stylish; it’s also practical, since you won’t have to deal with laces. They’re available in a lovely ivory too.
Schutz Zara Lace-Up Boot ($158; nordstrom.com)
We’ll admit that the heel on this boot is more than just a detail, but if you’re on the hunt for a combat boot that turns heads, this option from Schutz may be just what you’re looking for. The heel is over 4 inches, so you’ll get tons of height with the comfort and support of a lugged platform. Plus, these boots come with two different lace options, so you can switch them out depending on your preference or to match your outfit.
Schutz Andrea Studded Combat Boot ($148.50, originally $198; nordstrom.com)
Everything about the Andrea Studded Combat Boot is classic, with the exception of the studs that line the sole for a touch of edge. It’s a subtle yet noticeable nod to grunge-inspired style, which Kim notes has resurfaced in recent years.
Karl Lagerfeld Paris Pola Studded Chelsea Bootie ($143.20, originally $179; nordstrom.com)
This Chelsea-style combat boot comes in both a glossy and matte black leather. Both feature a stylish band around the ankle, which sports imitation pearls and studs.
Sam Edelman Lydell Combat Boot ($149.95; nordstrom.com)
This mixed-media option from Sam Edelman features a soft sock panel. It’s a fun contrast to the leather structure of the boot, and also makes for a super-comfortable shoe. Writes one reviewer, “The look, feel of the leather and craftsmanship are what you’d expect from very high-end designers.” The black a little too much for you? It’s available in a camel color as well.