How to Find the Best Hunting Boots
Key features to look for in the best hunting boots, plus five top models.
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Boots that don’t fit can ruin a hunt. So can boots that don’t fit the terrain you’re hunting. Your boots may even be more important pieces of hunting gear than your gun or bow, so choose wisely. The right boots will keep you warm, keep you upright, keep your feet dry and your ankles intact.
There is no one perfect hunting boot. The insulated rubber hunting boots that will see you through a long, late season vigil in a treestand won’t be the same boots you’ll want for a mountain elk hunt. Here’s how to choose the best hunting boots for you.
- Best Insulated Rubber Hunting Boots: LaCrosse Men’s Alpha Burly Pro
- Best All Around Women’s Hunting Boots: Danner Women’s Wayfinder
- Best All Around Men’s Hunting Boots: Irish Setter Vaprtrek
- Best Mountain Hunting Boot:Kennetrek Unisex Adult Mountain Extreme
- Best Cheap Hunting Boot: Rocky Core Comfort 8-inch Boot
What to Look for in Hunting Boots
Finding the right style is the first step in choosing the best hunting boot. Think about the boot’s height and weight. The taller the boot, the more support it gives your ankles, and the more protection it provides against rocks and sticks on the trail, and from snow coming in over the top. But, the greater the height, the greater the weight. Every ounce of weight matters in a boot because you’re picking it up and putting it down constantly. If you have weak ankles, you should probably opt for the most support possible, especially for hunting rough, steep terrain. If you want to wear short boots, you can make do with them in wet or snowy conditions by pairing them with gaiters.
You need to consider material, too, when choosing boots. Often you’ll have a choice of either all-leather or cordura, or a mix of leather and cordura. Leather is heavier and requires more care than fabric, but it’s tougher, less likely to puncture, and if you maintain it, it will last longer. Rubber is the ultimate waterproof boot, and the best choice for truly wet conditions. It also has the advantage of containing the scent from your feet, which matters a great deal if you’re hunting deer or other game that can smell you.
The best hunting boot is worthless if it doesn’t fit. Try on boots late in the day, when your feet have swollen to their largest size, and while wearing the socks you’ll wear on the hunt. Boots should fit snugly around the ankle, but without chafing, and they should be snug across the instep. You should be able to wiggle your toes. Boots that are too tight will cut off circulation, making your toes both uncomfortable and cold. Walk up and down an incline if you can. If your feet slip inside the boots, the boots are too wide.
Do you need deer hunting boots?
Whitetail hunters know that a deer’s nose is its first line of defense. Tricking that ultra-sensitive nose requires utmost attention to wind direction, and reducing your scent as much as possible. Rubber boots contain the scent from your feet, helping reduce your scent trail when you walk to and from your stand. The taller the boots, the better they will contain scent, and that height also comes in handy if you have to cross bogs or small creeks. Insulated rubber hunting boots will keep your feet warm on stand, too.
Best Rubber Hunting Boots: LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro
These warm, tough LaCrosse rubber hunting boots live up to their name. The 18-inch height keeps your lower legs fully protected while the insulation keeps you warm. Rugged soles designed for snow and mud offer plenty of traction, and there’s an adjustable gusset for a snug fit.
Should women get women-specific hunting boots?
Absolutely. Men’s and women’s feet are built very differently. There are over 30 measurable differences between a woman’s foot and a man’s. Women’s feet are narrower than men’s feet, and their heels tend to be narrower still. Women making do with men’s boots risk heels slipping inside a boot on uneven ground, and a risk of blisters and discomfort. Sometimes thicker socks will solve the problem, but it’s much better to shop for boots that are built to fit a woman’s foot in the first place.
Best Women’s Hunting Boots: Danner Women’s Wayfinder
Tough fabric combined with leather and a Danner Dry membrane underneath keep your feet dry and protected. The boots come in insulated and uninsulated styles. A shock-absorbing footbed and a Plyolite midsole add cushioned comfort.
What makes a good all-around hunting boot?
An all-around hunting boot should see you through any kind of hunt that doesn’t involve extremes of cold or terrain. It should be comfortable and not too heavy for a day of still-hunting, following bird dogs or spotting and stalking on the plains. All around boots come in several different weights of insulation. Choose that based on where you hunt, bearing in mind that insulation levels of 400 grams or less won’t keep your feet warm in cold weather if you’re not moving around.
Best All-Around Men’s Hunting Boots: Irish Setter Vaprtrek
A versatile 8-inch height and lightweight materials keep these boots from becoming a burden on long walks, but they also offer 1200 grams of Primaloft insulation to make them warm enough to wear on stand. They have a waterproof lining and feature Irish Setter’s ScentBan treatment to reduce odor that might give you away to deer.
Do you need a mountain boot?
When you venture into rugged mountainous country, you need a boot that’s tough enough to handle the rough terrain, and tall and stout enough to support your ankles as you climb uphill and down—and for packing out heavy loads if you’re successful. Extra height in a mountain boot not only adds to the support it gives you, it helps keep out the snow you might encounter at higher altitudes. It may be too tall and stiff for every day hunts, but it’s what you want for elk, goats, sheep, or mountain mule deer.
Best Mountain Hunting Boot: Kennetrek Unisex Adult Mountain Extremes
From their tough, lugged outsole to the top of their leather shafts, these boots are built tough for the toughest terrain. Swivel lacing hardware won’t break like lace hooks can, and the 2.8mm leather is double and triple stitched throughout. A rubber soul guard protects from abrasion. The boots have 400 grams of insulation and a waterproof inner barrier.
Budget hunting boots: What you get for under $100
If you only hunt a few days a year, you can find a boot for under $100 with all the features of more expensive boots, like brand-name camo, good insulation and waterproof linings. They may not be as solidly put together as a more expensive boot, but they will work well if you don’t hunt all season.
Best Cheap Hunting Boot: Rocky Core Comfort 8-inch Boot
Mid-height and leather and fabric uppers keep the weight of these boots down, while 800 grams of insulation and a waterproof lining help your feet stay warm and dry. A raised toe bumper and rubber toe guard these boots against abrasion.
Q: Can snakes bite through Muck boots?
Although any boot provides some protection against snake bites, some venomous snakes can bite through leather or rubber boots, including Muck Boots. The Muck Boot Company does make a special snake boot that is reinforced to resist snake bites.
Q: What is the highest gram Thinsulate boots?
Several companies offer boots with 2000 grams of Thinsulate insulation for maximum warmth. Those are best for sedentary cold weather activities, like deer hunting from a stand, or ice fishing. Although the insulation of the highest gram Thinsulate boots definitely helps keep your feet warm, it’s also very important that the boots be waterproof so your feet stay dry, and that there’s enough space in the boots for air to warm and moisture to evaporate. Also, the taller the boot, the more of your leg it can warm.
Q: How long do Irish Setter boots last?
Irish Setter boots have been around since 1950, so the company must be doing something right. The boots have a good reputation for quality and durability. Give them proper care by keeping them clean, conditioned, and dry, and they will last many years. Irish Setter will resole and repair boots, too, to help you keep them in the field season after season.
A Final Tip about Hunting Boots
Regardless of what type of boot you choose, fit is the most important factor. Different boots are built differently, so just because a boot is your size doesn’t necessarily make it a comfortable fit. You may have to try several different models. Hunting boots should have enough room so your toes don’t get cramped and cold, and don’t smash into the front of the boot as you’re walking downhill.