Hunting Recent Posts
August 07, 2013
Best Hunting Boots: 17 New Boots Tested and Reviewed - 4
Concentrating on your hunt can be difficult when you can’t stop thinking about how hot, wet, cold, or sore your feet are. Unlike with your hunting jacket, it’s not practical to take off a pair of boots in the field if your feet are sweltering. Blisters, hot spots, and foot cramps can sideline even the most driven hunter. And, of course, brutally cold feet can run you out of your treestand in no time. That’s why we’re firm believers that boots are the most important piece of hunting gear you take with you into the woods, aside from your gun or bow.
If you’re about to drop your hard-earned money on a pair of boots, you deserve vital information about what’s available. So we called in 17 new boots across a wide price range and designed for a variety of hunting applications, and we tested them over the course of a month in Alaska last spring. Our goal was to find out which will do the best job of letting you concentrate on your hunt—rather than your feet—this fall.
In past boot tests, Lowa’s entries have consistently finished near the top of the heap. This year, with its Tibet GTX HI, Lowa has deservedly captured our Editor’s Choice award. These German-made boots have outstanding build qualities and will last longer than it takes to draw a sheep tag. After a two- to three-day break-in, your feet will find their place in these boots, and you’ll find supportive, enduring comfort on unforgiving ground. They’re perfect for sharp, rocky terrain and boast a great foundation for packing load after load of meat out of the backcountry.
Perforated air channels do a good job of drawing heat away from the feet, and there’s room inside for both a liner and a beefy sock. The lacing system includes a center post on the tongue, which helps lock the lace in place. The collar is tapered in the front, allowing both sides of the upper to hug the tongue and snug up the ankle.
Once broken in, the flex-fit hinge point will bend the boots without bowing the sides outward. You’ll be able to scramble across scree fields with confidence for years to come, and at $380, that’s a slew of performance for the money.
These new knee-high boots from a venerable American manufacturer feature an innovative construction of layered liquid polyurethane over 3.5- or 7-millimeter neoprene. The result is a warm, comfortable boot that offers significant cushioning and excellent protection against sharp thorns and wayward limbs.
Built on an updated last, the AeroHead is much easier to get on and off than the old Alphaburly, and it offers significant ankle and outsole support. There’s an integrated shank under the arch, and the boots are flexible and comfortable to stand in for long periods of time, whether in a pit blind or on a treestand. The opposing wedges on the sole grip like glue to the metal grates found on most stands.
They fit true to size and can be worn by hunters with large calves and still provide enough room to tuck pant legs inside the upper. Available in four camo choices (including the throwback Mossy Oak Bottomland pictured), these boots will find favor with a wide range of hunters across the country.
Rubber and Pac Boots
Muck’s Woodland Extreme (A) ($200; muckbootcompany.com) is a new kind of pac boot, which pairs a 6-millimeter neoprene airmesh liner with traditional leather construction. They served us well in below-freezing temperatures. The boots should never puncture, and the pull-on loops are generous. Sizing is tight, so move up half a size if you plan on wearing heavy socks.
Columbia’s Bugaboot Plus II (B) ($130; columbia.com) is a more traditional pac boot, and it’s a good choice for cold, wet mud, when you need the support of a laced boot. The boots have just 200 grams of insulation, but the reflective interior will help keep your feet warm when the temperature drops.
New in the pac boot arena, the Adidas Holtanna II CP (C) ($150; adidas.com) features a soft leather upper and 100 grams of Primaloft. The aggressive, grippy outsoles were the best of the test when it came to walking across icy surfaces.
Although the Bogs Diamondback (D) ($220; bogsfootwear.com) was forgiving when we stood on hard surfaces, the upper material doesn’t offer the slightest stretch, and we had difficulty with the back zipper catching on the rubber shroud. However, these boots will protect you from snakebites. They are best suited for hog or deer hunting in thorny, heavy brush.
Kenetrek’s Mountain Guide (A) won our Editor’s Choice Award last year. This new uninsulated version ($435; kenetrek.com) is equally tough and made for early-season hunts. These boots will protect and comfortably cradle your feet over many a mountain pass.
A favorite of European mountaineers, Germany-based Hanwag’s Alverstone GTX (B) ($350; hanwag.com) is the only resolable boot in the mountain category. The ball-bearing lacing system is sweet, but we found the insole to be a little flimsy, especially at this price.
At a scant 1 pound 12 ounces per boot, Cabela’s Meindl Ultimate Hunter (C) ($280; cabelas.com) was the lightest boot in the mountain group. The interior memory foam molds perfectly to the foot, delivering an instant walking fit from day one. The boots aren’t the best of the bunch for hunts above the tree line, but they’ll prove outstanding on the ridges for elk and mule deer.
The classic Filson Highlander (A) ($385; filson.com) gets an update this season with improved construction, plus the boots are now being made in the U.S. Featuring Mackinaw wool insulation, Highlanders are available in wide and regular widths, can be resoled, and are a lasting investment. The only drawback is the 2.7-pound weight.
L.L. Bean’s Kangaroo Upland Boa (B) ($220; llbean.com) utilizes a cable-twist lacing system for fast and easy on-off. They’re lightweight (1.2 pounds) but could prove to be too much boot for hunters with narrow feet.
One of the lightest boots of the test, the 7-inch Wolverine Bobwhite (C) ($130; wolverine.com) has just 200 grams of insulation. At a hair over a pound apiece, these boots are perfect for the forest floor, but not great on sharp, rocky terrain.
The uninsulated Irish Setter Havoc (D) ($189; hunt.irishsetterboots.com) is ideal for grouse or on-the-ground bowhunting. At 7 inches, they are light yet sturdy enough for contact with jagged rocks, thorns, and uneven ground, though they would benefit from a larger pull-on loop. The stitched soles will take a day or two to break in.
General Hunting Boots
Danner’s High Ground (A) ($170; danner.com) 400-gram boots are built on an athletic platform seen in many of the company’s hiking boots. Soft nubuck leather is paired with abrasion-resistant leather in the upper to eliminate pinch points. The ghillies lacing system pulls across the forefoot fast and securely. They’ll fit perfectly out of the box and keep out the chill on most mornings.
For much colder days, the durable Under Armour Browtine (B) ($200; underarmour.com) packs 800 grams of Primaloft and weighs just over one and a half pounds per boot. Due to the bulky design, the sides tend to push out where the boots hinge. They’re ideal on a treestand. The lacing stays put and is easy to adjust.
Bass Pro Shops’ RedHead RCT (C) 9-inch boots ($150; basspro.com) also carry 800 grams of insulation (Thinsulate Ultra, in this case). Compared with the Browtines, they are considerably trimmer and have a more supportive fit, but they weren’t quite as warm during long sits on stand. A narrow opening at the tongue could make the boots difficult to slip on if you have wide feet.
Rocky has taken the wide sole typically found on trail-running shoes and added it to a low-cut athletic upper with a thin Gore-Tex zippered camo shell. The result is the new ultralightweight Rocky Broadhead (D) ($185; rockyboots.com). They’re certainly not for everyone, but if you’re on the fast track for game, this 6-inch shoe-boot hybrid may be the right fit. Just beware of thorns and cacti.
Lowa Tibet GTX HI (Editor's Choice)
Kenetrek Mountain Guide Non-Insulated
Hanwag Alverstone GTX
Cabela's Meindl Ultimate Hunter
Lacrosse Aerohead (Great Buy)
Columbia Bugaboot Plus II
Adidas Holtanna II CP
Muck Woodland Extreme
L.L. Bean Kangaroo Upland BOA
Irish Setter Havoc
General Hunting Boots
Danner High Ground
Under Armour Browtine