Writings on footwear tend to emphasise a fundamental division between those made for men and women: men’s are plain, sturdy and functional, whereas women’s are decorative, flimsy and impractical. Of all male footwear, boots are typically the plainest, sturdiest and most functional of all. In the eighteenth century they were emphatically outdoor wear, and scholars have noted their rustic and unrefined image. This article re-evaluates the elite male boot of the long eighteenth century in Britain, emphasising its complex symbolic associations and its significance for the gendered lives of men. Boots were associated with equestrianism, social status and the military, and therefore were key markers of gender, class and national identities. Furthermore, the article considers boots as material objects, and what this tells us about their use and the impact that they had upon the bodies of their wearers. Based on research in three key shoe archives, this study uses boots to think about Georgian notions of masculinity, the body and the self.