Modern-Day Buckaroo Attire - We Know Working Horses (2024)

  • May 15, 2017
  • |
  • Jolyn Young

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

In articles about the differences in clothing and gear used by cowboys in different regions, the buckaroo is usually portrayed as a caricature from the 1980s. Modern-day buckaroos no longer wear snap-brim hats and thrift-store coats unless they find a wicked good deal on a Cabela’s cast off.

Here’s a breakdown of the typical buckaroo’s attire, circa 2017.


Some buckaroos wear the flat-brimmed hat that most folks associate with the Great Basin. Others add a little turned-up shape to the brim, but hardly anyone tacos it up. Regardless of the shape, most working buckaroos have a 100X custom felt hat that they save for town use. They might have different opinions as to what constitutes an attractive hat shape, but everyone agrees that a point of pride is a high-quality lid.

Let’s be realistic: A Scotch cap is the most practical type of hat for a buckaroo. Dude, it’s COLD in the Great Basin, and winter lasts approximately 10 months each year.

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Of course, the flat hat is the stereotypical brim style for a buckaroo, right? Right. In some cases. Here, Junior Harney wears a flat hat, flexes his horse’s neck and smiles for the camera.

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Here, our same Junior Harney wears a ball cap to rope some yearlings because…well, because he felt like it, I guess. Buckaroos are people, too.

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And here, Shawn Biggs and Jim Young each sport a different style of hat while working the ground at the same roping the above picture of Junior was taken.

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A buckaroo might pack light as he moves from ranch to ranch, but he is guaranteed to always have a big winter coat. Preferences vary from down to wool to a snowboarder-grade insulated model with a detachable hood, but only a fool or a newcomer would buckaroo around the Great Basin without plenty of warm winter clothes. “Winter” can last through June, and the standard long-handle season starts on Labor Day.


All cowboys carry a pocketknife, of course. Buckaroos carry theirs in a small leather sheath attached to a belt loop by a thin leather string.

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During branding or other times when they’re using their knives frequently, they’ll often leave the knife dangling by their leg instead of putting it back inside their pocket each time.

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Buckaroos wear all the main brands, such as Levi’s, Wranglers, Cinch and Stetson. This one is entirely personal preference, and there is no one-brand-fits-all. A few go old-school and buy a pair of shrink-to-fit Levi’s and never wash them. Instead, they wear the jeans until they wear out or walk off on their own accord, either to find a washing machine or a place to die.


The stereotype is unavoidable; most buckaroos wear chinks 365 days a year, but the styles vary widely. Some go all-out fancy with neon colors and sewn-on fringe in a contrasting color, while others stick with more neutral earth tones and regular fringe.

These classic chinks were made by the super-talented Anna Severe of Rogerson, Idaho.

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Anna also made this colorful pair of lime green and purple double-fringed armitas.

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Some guys wear shotgun leggings, especially in the fall and spring, just to be all “Hey, I don’t conform to stereotypes. Am I a Nevada buckaroo or a California cow horse trainer? I can’t be labeled. Plus, I’m warmer than you are right now in your chinks, so ha.”

Anna also made these shotgun armitas (armitas have the fringe around the top). To see more of her gorgeous yet functional leather artwork, check out her chinks, chaps and shotguns album on Facebook.

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If a guy can afford them, he definitely has a pair of woolies in his gear collection. One pair should last his entire cowboy career, as he might only wear them a few days or weeks each winter. They’re spendy but worth the money, because when the daytime high is 20 below, he will be much warmer than his chink-clad comrades. And if the temperature warms up a little, well, you sure won’t hear the woolie-wearing vaquero complain about sweating a little while riding in the pickup. In fact, he will probably brag about it. My mother-in-law, Beverly Young, made these woolies for my husband.

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The tall tops and high, underslung heels that most people associate with the buckaroo stereotype are…actually fairly common. Paul Bonds remain popular, as well as boots made by Battle Mountain’s Kelly Martin. A lot of guys wear cheaper crepe-soled work boots they call “lettuce pickers” for chute work or the cold months.

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These are a type of “lettuce pickers.” Fun fact: if you Google “lettuce pickers,” the first two search results are blogs I have written. If you Google “chinks,” you will see a citation from the Urban Dictionary and feel like an a-hole.

Related Posts:

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  • Buckaroo Lingo
  • Buckaroo Buys: The Colorful Cowgirl
  • Buckaroo Buys: KAW Rawhide and Steel
  • Buckaroo Buys: Cielo Cinches
  • Buckaroo Buys: J Bar D Canvas and Leather
  • Buckaroo Buys: Bridgit's Bohemian Bunkhouse
  • Buckaroo Buys: Cow Camp Supply

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

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Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

View all posts by Jolyn Young

Modern-Day Buckaroo Attire - We Know Working Horses (2024)
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