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Preparing for an upcoming dude ranch vacation? Unsure about how to dress? Are you flirting with the thought of wearing a t-shirt and shorts, a cell phone carrier clipped to your belt? If this sounds like you, read the following, and apply what you learn!

The standard ranch dress-code

Ranch wear is something that has developed over the years from grungy clothes built for durability rather than fashion, to an actual category in the fashion industry. Back in the day, cowboys were wearing clothes that were not just durable, but comfortable. Out on the trail, there was no change of clothes, so they needed their clothing to be tough to rip and also provide them with freedom of motion and comfort throughout the day. It was a style built completely on function.

Below is a list of pieces of cowboy gear that are still used on ranches today. You can use it as a guide from the cowboy gear experts...

Cowboy boots

Riding boots come in many different styles and purposes, but the cowboy has a very distinctive design from most European-style riding boots. Its design originates with the Mexican vaqueros, who got the style from Spain. The point of the toe in the boot made it easier for a rider to insert his foot into the stirrups, and the hook of the heel helped them lock their feet in the stirrups (making it easier to manoeuver while in the saddle. The height of the boot and the hardness of the leather helped to protect their feet and ankles from snake bites, scorpion stings, bull horns, and other dangerous situations.

Nowadays, the cowboy boot is still a staple of ranchwear fashion. Some styles of cowboy boot are a little more flashy than they were back in the day, but the shape and structure of the boot has generally stayed the same. On your dude vacation, you’re going to want supportive and protective footwear, and the cowboy boot is always a great choice. There’s just one recommendation when choosing your style of boot – make sure it’s comfortable. Ostrich, alligator or any other exotic material is durable and a great option if you have the money. Standard leather is durable, affordable and is always a classic look, but they're your feet so you make the decision!

A trusted brand for cowboy boots is Ariat. They sell a wide variety of durable boots that will last for years. They have different styles of boot to choose from as well, whether you prefer round-toe boots or ones with low heels, rubber soles, etc. If cowboy boots just don’t work for you, they also carry lace up workboots that you might find more comfortable, although they’re not built for riding.

Cowboy hat

First of all, no 10-gallon cowboy hats! The original purpose of the cowboy hat was to protect a rider’s face from the heat of the sun and shield it from rainfall. Cowboy hats have their history from the style of the mexican sombreros, borrowing the height of the crown and the width of the brim but exchange the material used to make them out of animal fur/leather based felt. The original design of the modern-day cowboy hat is typically attributed to John Batterson Stetson. Cowboys would often attach strings to their hats that they could tie under their chins so that their hats didn’t blow away while riding in the saddle.

Today, cowboy hats are made in all sorts of designs out many different materials. But for the purposes of your dude ranch vacation, we recommend that you keep things conservative and get the traditional style of cowboy hat (wide brim) made from felt. It’s a style that always looks good and functions like it should while you’re out horseback riding.


Some may call it cliché, but Wranglers are always a safe and reliable choice. Just make sure that the denim is both durable, and comfortable. Not only will you be walking in these jeans, you’ll be riding in a saddle too.


The purpose for having one is obvious, but what of kind of coat is appropriate to bring is where people usually scratch their heads. Any raincoat that you have should work, but make sure that it’s something you could get dirty without feeling bad. Also be conscious about the materials used in the coat. Jean jackets are popular in western wear, but not very practical in the rain. You’re going to want something waterproof, so try to find a plastic/rubber based material or a waterproofed leather.

Happy shopping

Now that you have a beginners guide to ranch wear basics, you’re ready to spread your wings and find the apparel that will work on the ranch and fit you comfortably. If you still have questions about what else to pack, you can call the ranch that you’ll be visiting, and they’ll give you an idea or a list. Just remember that at the end of day, choose gear that is both durable and comfortable. has a great selection of cowboy gear at the lowest prices.

Enjoy your dude ranch vacation!

Guest post by Sterling Green, RodeoMart


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