Are you wondering which scent to buy the dudes on your ranch? We tested dozens of cowboy colognes, including the brand-new signature Wrangler fragrance and Stetson's fresh Legend edition.
The fragrance bug bit me in middle school when I discovered a bevy of aftershaves and colognes in my dad's bathroom. At first, as we all do, I oversprayed, sending my parents and anyone else within feet of me into quick corrective measures. Soon enough, I learned to present my favorite scents tastefully and thoughtfully. Hotter months called for cooler scents, and when the winter reared its ugly temperatures, I turned to the warm and sweet.
That bottle of Stetson on my dad's counter? It became my identity. The classic sweetness and the all-day intensity were complements to my own personality (when I wasn't acting like a teenage devil ... again, as we all do).
I realized much later in life that I loved fragrances not because of how people reacted to them, but because of how they made me feel.
My recent go-tos for everyday scents are the entire line of cruelty-free fragrances by Michelle Pfeiffer's upstart, Henry Rose. And when I really need a pick-me-up, I dig out the Tom Ford Ombré Leather. It's among the greatest of all time, in my opinion, but a little too pricey to drown in daily.
Now I'm finding that it might be time to branch out. The number of Western-focused fragrances alone is downright intimidating.
I embarked on a mission to sample every men's Western fragrance I could find, both to discover my next favorite scent and to be able to recommend the best to you for this holiday season.
If you are at a loss for what kind of cologne to buy the guys in your close circle, I've categorized and evaluated many of the top offerings out there. Here's hoping you find a perfect scent for your favorite gent.
EDITOR'S PICKS: CLASSIC COWBOY
Cadillac Cowboy (by R. Rebellion)
Notes: bergamot, citrus, jasmine, cardamom, musk, sandalwood
If you grew up spraying rich, manly classics like the original Stetson, Cadillac Cowboy cologne comes off as a nice variant of those. All the notes blend together in a not-too-spicy brew.
Sagebrush (by Annie Oakley Natural Perfumery)
Notes: zesty citrus, lime, sandalwood
Sweet but bold, this one would make any cowboy's hug irresistible. I'm impressed with Annie Oakley's entire line of extremely affordable natural scents.
Yellowstone Ride (by Tru Western)
Notes: raw bergamot, crisp clary sage, smoked whiskey, charred vanilla, and rough cut tobacco
Ride is a best-in-class cologne that has been growing in popularity since its launch as a sequel to Tru Western's flagship Yellowstone fragrance (which we'll get to later). It's apparently inspired by Rip Wheeler's after-work romantic side, but it's certainly worthy of the esteemed Gov. John Dutton as well. Any patriarch would cherish a scent like this.
Vintage Suede (by Cremo)
Notes: white moss, rich amber, and smooth suede
All of Cremo's scents are amazingly strong and memorable considering their over-the-counter price. This is one of the most intoxicating. Apart from a sad, sad song, every cowboy needs a suede-inspired scent in his arsenal — for the date nights and the important meetings.
Anthem (by Cinch)
Notes: mandarin, lavender and cedar wood
Mandarin comes through strong in the opening notes, which gives Anthem a fresher approach to the classic cowboy scent. But this will settle into something pleasant, mild, and manly. Bonus: The small red-to-blue ombre bottle sparks joy.
EDITOR'S PICKS: MODERN WEST
Wrangler Original (by Tru Western)
Notes: bright citrus and cinnamon blended with wild lavender, cardamom herb, and warm resins
It's amazing that we are just now getting original scents from the storied denim brand. I can say with certainty that the cologne was worth the wait. Tru Western worked with Wrangler not only to create a crisp, modern, but tradition-honoring flagship scent, but they also made a bottle worthy of its signature brand. An iconic W groove and the lariat-tastic logo. Chef's kiss.
Stetson Legend (by Stetson)
Notes: bergamot zest, prickly pear, black pepper, smoked grapefruit, wild sage, mesquite, worn leather accord, moss, upcycled cedarwood, tonka bean, sandalwood, vetiver essential oil
Apart from Wrangler's new scent, this is the other major Western men's cologne to hit the market of late. It proves to be the perfect complement to and a modern extension of the classic Stetson original scent. Think less sweet, cleaner, and definitely more complex with all those included fragrance notes. But it's not too complicated. This one is perfect for a dinner date or even a family gathering.
Legendary-Frosted (By Lane Frost Brand)
Notes: leather, pineapple, and cedarwood
The "fresher" edition of the original Legendary scent lives up to its description, and it slightly outpaces the original for that very reason. The added note of pineapple brings it from a younger summer scent to a year-round, just-showered vibe.
EDITOR'S PICKS: WESTERN COMPLEXITY
Cowboy Kush (by Boy Smells)
Notes: hazelnut, white leather, mandarin, tobacco, saffron flower, cannabis leaf, suede, labdanum, tonka bean, patchouli, oud
Whew, I was overwhelmed the first time I took this in. You'll definitely pick up on the cannabis notes right away, which is a great feature for the edgier among us. But it all settles nicely into a classic yet heady Western blend. It's intriguing in the best of ways. And note that it's an eau de parfum, so you don't need to spray too much!
High Horse (by Ranger Station)
Notes: citrus, patchouli, musk, cedarwood
This is a sexy beast of a scent. You might just fall in love with yourself in the first few hours of wearing it. And Ranger Station's scents are available in smaller "Quickdraw Perfume" spray bottles for travel.
Leather Small Batch No. 2 (by Tru Western)
Notes: bourbon barrel oak, soft sage, warm suede, white woods
From its name you might imagine a purely leather effect, but that's been done well by others. This is much more complex and suggestive of leather. The disparate notes come together to create something like it. I would just describe this as "luxurious." A high-end scent (with a gorgeous bottle) that won't break the bank.
Cowboy Grass (by D.S. & Durga)
Notes: rosewood, wild thyme, bergamot, sagebrush, basil, rose otto, vetyver, grass, ambergris
This is the perfect eau de parfum splurge for a unique, cherished member of the family. It smells just as you'd imagine from the name: grassy, earthy, intense, and addictive. You close your eyes and it transports you, the way the finest fragrances should.
PBR Black And Blue (by Tru Western)
Notes: citrus, sage, lavender, pepper, jasmine, orange flower, sandalwood, moss, and patchouli.
The sage and jasmine give this otherwise fresh-and-clean scent some nice complexity. It's a masculine scent you'd want to cozy up to while slow dancing to a country tune or, God forbid, a power ballad.
MORE HIGHLIGHTS: CLASSIC COWBOY
1910 REBELLION (by R. Rebellion) Notes of bergamot, mandarin, lavender, exotic spices, clary sage, white amber, musk, sandalwood. Sweet and spicy, y'all!
PBR AÑEJO (by Tru Western) Notes of spiked citrus, crushed cacao, black pepper, wild lavender, elemi resin, river moss, smoked amber, atlas cedar, barrel aged oak. A luxurious and dark blend for a distinguished gent.
BOURBON AND OAK (by Cremo) Notes of distiller's spice, single cask bourbon, and white oak. Like sneaking into granddad's closet and trying on his boots.
STETSON (by Stetson) Notes of sage, citrus, vetiver, cedar, patchouli, musk, honey, amber, vanilla, and tonka bean. If you ask me, it never goes out of style. And I've never been without a bottle in three decades.
STAMPEDE (by Annie Oakley Natural Perfumery) Notes of lavender, sage, Mediterranean spices with traces of Moroccan rose, amber, and vintage patchouli. The sweetest of the sweet. Despite its adventurous name, it's great for Sunday mornings and special occasions.
MORE HIGHLIGHTS: MODERN WEST
COJO COLOGNE (the fragrance of country star Cody Johnson) Notes of bergamot, light spices, mandarin oil, coriander, sandalwood, honey, rugged leather, mahogany wood, fir balsam, vetiver, and amber. Woodsy, rugged, and rustic, just like any of Johnson's true-to-life hits.
TERRITOIRE PLATINUM (by B&D Diamond O Fragrances) Notes of jasmine, patchouli, bay leaves, refreshing sea breezes, tropical fruits. "Sea breezes" is the key phrase, here. This should inspire those daydreams of warmer months, but it's clean enough to wear anytime.
LEGENDARY (by Lane Frost Brand) Notes of leather, grapefruit, and cedarwood. Fresh but not overpowering. Nice choice for a younger guy.
CABALLERO (by Annie Oakley Natural Perfumery) Notes of Italian bergamot and lemon, spicy cardamom, warm vanilla amber, and woody qualities. The combination here makes for something unexpected. Crisp with a suggestion of licorice.
FULL METAL JACKET (by B&D Diamond O Fragrances) Notes of spicy black pepper, geranium bourbon, musk, and leather. The spices and smoother components come together for a clean-as-a-whistle effect.
CINCH (by Cinch) Notes of musk, sandalwood, leather and sage. It's tastefully musky and masculine, without sweetness (go to Anthem for that).
MORE HIGHLIGHTS: WESTERN COMPLEXITY
DUALLY (by Cinch) Notes of sandalwood, basil and oakmoss. Cool and herbal notes prevail when this one settles.
WILD WEST (by Annie Oakley Natural Perfumery) Notes of bergamot, zesty lemon, musk, and mossy vetiver. More herbal richness for an outdoor excursion.
SPICE AND BLACK VANILLA (by Cremo) Notes of cardamom, tobacco, and black vanilla. Good to have a vanilla scent this season, as it's very "in." But when has it ever been out, especially when paired with complex spices?
YELLOWSTONE (by Tru Western) Notes of desert verbena, yellow grapefruit, vetiver root, golden aspen, and atlas cedarwood. If Yellowstone Ride (again, my overall favorite) is the sensual night-time scent, the original Yellowstone is for up-and-at-em days on the land. Love the strong citrus notes.
HUGO LEGEND (by R. Rebellion) Notes of bergamot, lavender, jasmine, cedar, musk, forest, sandalwood. The cedar and forest notes are strong here, which makes this ideal for the outdoorsy type.
BRAND RECOMMENDATION: OUTLAW COLOGNES (by Outlaw) Check out this line of liquid and solid scents for fun stocking stuffers. The names alone are worth the reaction ... Fire in the Hole, Blazing Saddles, and Lust in the Dust are but a few.