Boot Camp: Anatomy of a Boot & Common Terminology

In an effort to help our readers in their future boot purchases we have compiled a quick and easy guide to common boot terminology. You don't have to be a boot expert overnight, but knowing the common terms will help you immensely when shopping for your next pair of boots.

Note that all boots are different, but this general guide will give you a sense of the basic anatomy of the boot. For a more in-depth look into different toe and outsole types please check out our Boot Camp guides To Boot Toes and Soles or our Boot Style Guide.

Pictured: Ugg Hannen men's boot ( Amazon )

Pictured: Ugg Hannen men's boot (Amazon)

  • Eyelet - Holes where the laces go through. You will often hear the term 6-Eyelet or 8-Eyelet boot referring to the number of eyelet rows on a boot. Can be used to help determine the height of the boot.
  • Heel - The back portion of the shoe that comes into direct contact with the ground.
  • Insole - The inner sole found inside of the boot that touches your foot. The insole often determines your comfort when wearing a boot. Leather insoles need time to break in.
  • Lacing - The laces of the boot. Laces come in a variety of shapes and materials from round nylon laces to ribbon leather laces.
  • Lining & Padding - Fabric or material that lines the inside of the boot to help insulate the feet from weather and wear. Commonly seen in winter boots and work boots.
  • Pull Tab - A looped piece of fabric or leather used to aid in putting on the boot. Can be also referred to as a Pull Loop. Not all boots have this feature. 
  • Sole - The bottom part of the boot which touches the ground. There are many different types of soles. Check our Guide to Toes & Soles portion of this guide for in-depth breakdowns.
  • Speed Lacing System - Different from a lace eyelet. Allows you to quickly lace and tighten your laces. Usually found in work and sports boots.
  • Toe Box - Part of the boot that covers and protects the toes. These come in a variety of styles and shapes. Check out the Guide to Toes & Soles for examples.
  • Tongue - A strip of material that is located under the laces of the boot. Usually made of leather or a matching upper material.
  • Upper - The part of the boot above the sole or the “upper” part of the boot. Commonly made of leather or suede.
Pictured: Wolverine 1000 Mile ( Amazon )

Pictured: Wolverine 1000 Mile (Amazon)

  • Counter - A heel counter is a firm insert placed to fortify the heel cup of a boot for increased heel and arch support.
  • Rubber Forepart - Glued or stitched on as part of the sole. The rubber material provides extra traction.
  • Rubber Heel - Glued or stitched on rubber material for heel traction and durability.
  • Shank - Supportive structure between the outsole and insole
  • Stacked Leather Heel - Pieces of leather stacked in a layered construction to form a heel.
  • Stitching - Used to sew pieces of the upper together.
  • Welt - Where the upper attaches to the sole. Usually made of pieces of leather, plastic or rubber. The quality of the a boot’s welt will often determine the longitivtiy of the boots before they need replacing.