Summer is one of our favorite times at Game & Fish because it means we can once again take off into the wild for our next warm weather adventure. Whether we’re hiking the forgotten trails of the Idaho backcountry in search of black bear or casting a line for some burly largemouth bass in the Midwest, summer is the perfect opportunity to experience the outdoors all over again.
No matter which excursion you have planned, the right footwear can make all the difference. To help you find the best boot for your next adventure, we grabbed five of the best boots on the market and put them to the test: the Adidas Terrex Fast X Mid GTX, Danner Gila, Keen Verdi II Mid WP, Under Armour Speed Freek Chaos, Lowa Ranger II GTX and Irish Setter Havoc. To help bring consistency to the test, we all wore Icebreaker merino wool socks.
We assigned each pair of boots to a wear tester and asked them to rate the boots based on four different categories: overall comfort, stability, traction and mobility. Our testers put no less than 35 miles on each pair of boots, on every terrain from sidewalks and office floors to straight vertical terrain and rocky, aggressive trails.
For each category, our testers ranked the boot on a scale of 1 to 10 and explained their reasoning. We then consulted as a group to compile the final scores.
We began our gear test with a break-in period and gave feedback about how difficult or easy the boots were to make our own. We counted the miles and noted the point at which initial break-in issues—general stiffness, walking discomfort, and so on—disappeared.
We also evaluated what we thought was the best use for each boot, giving you some idea of which activities the boots are best suited for based on the particular design elements employed. Every boot we tested would make an excellent addition to any sportsman’s collection, but some are better suited for certain tasks than others. Our goal was to help you find the right hiking boot for your needs.
Whether you’re preparing for a backcountry hunt, getting ready for deer season, planning a weekend hike or you just need a versatile, all-purpose boot, we’ve got the right footwear for you. Check out the best hunting and hiking boots of 2014 and get your summer plans off to a rocking good start.
Photos by Michael Anschuetz
- To help bring consistency to our testing, all of our gear experts wore Icebreaker merino wool socks for the bulk of their mileage. Merino wool is probably the most reliable material to pair with hunting or hiking boots because it naturally wicks away moisture, offers premium padding and insulation, doesn't retain odor, and keeps your feet from blistering even when wet. Depending on the thickness of your sock, it can also be worn in all seasons. Icebreaker makes some of the best merino wool products on the market—our gear testers can back that claim up. Not only did the socks protect our feet from blistering and excessive aching, they also kept our feet dry in both extreme cold and scorching heat. Price: $15-$35