After reviewing and testing this year’s incredible selection of quality, lightweight, and surprisingly the best hunting boots, I can promise you that footwear manufacturers have really got their stuff together. Here are some models I have tried and would recommend.
It has been said that feet are the most misunderstood, neglected, and abused part of the human anatomy. Adventure writer Jack London once said, “It’s because they are so far from the heart.” Maybe so, but our feet still take us where our hearts want to go, and certainly all of us will go a lot farther in well-constructed, properly fitted boots.
PronghomCamo — With this boot, Danner introduces its new “Terra Force” Technology, which is fancy lingo for combining the lightweight and flexible characteristics of an athletic shoe with the strength and durability of a work boot. Whatever you call it, it works. Minimal stitching in the toe area, a sturdy shank, a distinct pre-formed heel pocket, and a stitched and bonded sole make this boot a real work of art. Combined with Danner’s bulletproof money back warranty, these boots are a pair of lightweight high-tops that will keep serious backcountry archers smiling into the next century!
Radical Camo — For the most part, this boot is a shorter version of the Pronghorn. The obvious differences are the tread design and leather abrasion layer over the toe. These boots are made for a quick and easy break-in. Excellent construction and superior materials make the Pronghorn and Radical Camo a near perfect featherweight combination for any serious early-season archer who loves to walk.
Mountain Hunter, 10-inch — I don’t know what it is about Italian boots, but they always seem to fit me best, and many of Cabela’s top-end boots are Italian made. Combine that with Cabela’s customer satisfaction guarantee, and this company seems like a logical place to start your shopping. The Mountain Hunter is my personal choice for a midweight, insulated, high-top, mostly because of the comfort and flexible design. For me, many high-tops are too heavy and rigid for long-distance hiking. This boot is an exception. It has almost no stitching in the toe, a solid but flexible bonded sole, and a quick-lace design.
Mountain Hiker — This is another amazingly comfortable Italian boot, but with a leather low-top design. Each boot appears to be made almost entirely of one piece of full-grain leather! Though this increases the break-in period considerably, the boots are very comfortable once they’re broken in. The lack of stitching also contributes to the exceptional waterproof quality of this foot-friendly, long-lasting low-top hiker. Thanks to something called “Air 8000,” a special laminate that enhances waterproof/breathable properties, this boot is as warm as a slightly insulated boot without the extra weight of insulation.
Expedition — This is a beefy, well-constructed, yet surprisingly comfortable boot that has “Alaska” written all over it. Irish Setter cut its teeth on work boots, and the designs are amazingly comfortable right out of the box. A reinforced toe and heel with minimal stitching, comfortable tongue design, pre-formed heel pocket, and a whopping 11 inches in height, give a hunter all the foot and ankle protection he ever dreamed of. These are great boots for heavy, long-distance backpacking through the cold, wet, muddy, or snowy terrain. They would also be good around pack stock because the reinforced toe and heel are perfect for deflecting misguided hooves.
Whitetail Tracker — The revolution in lightweight, waterproof/breathable, minimal-scent boots is well under way, and I would guess that boots like the Tracker will replace clunky sweaty rubber boots. Well constructed with snug-fitting ankle support for all-day hiking, and knee-length for crossing nasty swamps and streams, the Whitetail Tracker will quickly win the hearts of whitetail stand hunters.
Eagle Light 400 — This is another company that specializes in work boots, and it might not be as well known as some of the heavy hitters, but Georgia Boot produces a fine line of affordably priced boots that are well constructed with an emphasis on comfort right out of the box. These boots are made with minimal stitching and piecework throughout, they’re reinforced in the right places, and they’re made of abrasion resistant full-grain leather.
ROCKY SHOES & BOOTS
Silent Hunter — Rocky produces a high-quality and diverse line of hunting boots. The uninsulated, low-top Silent Hunter, one of the most popular, is the lightest boot I tested. It comes in regular and Scent Supprescent versions. I found the boot comfortable with a short break-in period, and, for such light footgear, strong arch support.
Hunt Pacs — These knee-length rubber boots are similar in design to the military “Mickey Mouse” boots. Inside the boots, the insulation is covered with a waterproof liner, so you can fill these boots with water, and just the heat from your feet will warm the water to tolerable temperatures. Anyone who hunts or works in subzero temperatures knows the benefits of this type of design.
JEFF GRAY OF SUPERFEET, a company that specializes in custom footbeds, said you should not look at feet and boots just in the usual, two-dimensional length and width, but in terms of volume. He pointed out that if you take two shoes of the same size but from different manufacturers, fill them with lima beans (uncooked, no gravy) and dump the beans into a container, you’ll see that some shoes of the same size have a greater volume than others. Similarly, feet with the same length and width dimensions might have greatly different volumes. One problem, Jeff Gray said, is that average feet are low-volume, while most boots manufactured today fall into the high-volume range.
Also, almost everyone is born with different-size feet (which might explain why my wife constantly burns out the clutch in my truck). According to foot professionals, the average length difference between people’s left and right feet is about a half size.
Finally, most people’s feet swell to a larger size in the afternoon, and most feet become significantly larger when beating weight. The folks at Superfeet said that, after measuring 3,300 pairs of feet, they established a record of four sizes difference between a weighted and unweighted foot!
On the unfortunate side, manufacturers can’t custom-fit all feet, so they’re forced to work with averages. On the fortunate side, competition in the footwear industry is fierce, so the selection of modern boots is huge, and you can find boots that will fit you just fine. To help in your search, heed the tips on page 65 from the professional at Superfeet.
Tony Lohman is an enthusiastic person in outdoor activities. He is a great hunter and also an experienced hiking and outdoor sports. You can see many tips, tricks on his website to improve your survival skills.