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Some basics for bootmen

Harness Boots

Very similar to engineer boots, harness boots are a type of motorcycle boot usually worn by motorcycle riders. The boots are most often made of heavyweight leather and range in height from short (10") to extra high (38"). The most typical height is between 10 and 18 inches. The most common colors are black and brown, but harness boots can be found in other colors and suede leather as well.

Harness boots were originally modeled on the square toed boots prevalent in the 19th century, including those worn by US Civil War soldiers. Leather straps and rings were added to this style in the 1950’s, creating the modern version of the harness boot, which quickly became a classic. Harness boots remain a very popular item today.

Unlike engineer boots that have an adjustable leather strap across the ankle, harness boots have a non-adjustable system of four leather straps and two metal rings: one strap goes across the top of the foot at the ankle, one strap wraps around the rear of the foot at the ankle and two more straps rise from the sole on either side ankle. The four straps are held in place by the two metal rings that are located on either side of the ankle.

Harness boots are designed to protect the motorcycle rider from injury to the foot and leg in the case of a crash while riding and may include a built-in steel toe cap and metal shank in the heel. Harness boots usually have a square toe.

Typically, these boots possess a pair of pull-straps on either side of the tops of the shafts. Some manufacturers replace these straps with adjustable leather buckle(s) located on the outside top of the shafts, similar to engineer boots. Some harness boots have cloth pull straps sewn on the inside of the boot shaft rather than the outside, presenting a clean appearance at the top of the shaft.

Most harness boots have a stovepipe shaft and a flat scallop, similar to the civil war cavalry boot after which their design was inspired. Soles and heels are usually made of hard rubber and may either be relatively flat or may have lugs for increased traction. Smooth leather soles may also be found on some harness boots, like Fryes.


Frye Harness Boots inspired many bootmen of today by their style, looks, color choices, shaft height, sound of their clunky heels when walking in them, and affordability. These boots earn a special mention because they rose to such popularity in the 1960's and 1970's that almost any guy who wore boots had at least one pair, if not several.

Vintage Frye Harness Boots were 14" tall and were available in a variety of colors, including Banana (light tan), Saddle (medium tan), brown, black, and even tan suede.

Frye's current Harness Boots are rooted in tradition and continue to draw influence from the Cavalry. Like their Campus Boot brethren, Frye Harness Boots also have a wood stacked heel to 2" with a rubber heel plate. Most have an all-leather sole. A few styles of Frye Harness Boots were also made for bikers and have a rubber tread sole.
Read more about Frye boots.

Packer Boots The West Coast Shoe Company (Wesco) makes very popular harness boots with sturdy treads and thick durable leather. Often these boots have a leather lining to make them stiffer, more comfortable and easier to pull on and take off. Wesco Harness Boots are found anywhere from 11" to 38" tall (crotch-high).

Other popular harness boot manufacturers include Frye, mentioned above, Champion Attitude Boots, and brands including Harley-Davidson, Sendra, and many others.

Content from Wikipedia and Booted Harleydude

Text from Wikipedia article on Harness Boots and as edited and contributed to by Booted Harleydude. Text of this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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