July 10, 2014
For hunters, looking for new hunting boots is a fight to find the perfect balance of performance and value. We want the best we can afford, yet we loathe paying too much. If you're considering a new pair of boots for the coming fall, you may have noticed the hike in prices.
To combat wasting your hard-earned cash, we want to share with you a crop of boots that will deliver exactly what they say they will.
All of the boots we reviewed were shipped above the 62nd parallel, for spring in Alaska, so that they could be tested in the snow, dipped in cold puddles and put up against the slickest, rockiest ground. Some were even in the Arctic Circle.
We looked at samples that fell into the categories of general hunting, work and mountain boots (plus one rubber pair). They were worn over rocks, in snow, on ice and over metal grates to judge stability and traction.
Every pair passed our slushy water test and had to prove themselves on ATV and snow machine decks. Here are the high value picks:
Muck Boot Arctic Pro
When it's really cold outside, and you must sit cocooning on a treestand for countless hours, few boots will keep you as warm as a pair of Muck Arctic Pros
. The neoprene boots use an 8mm breathable mesh neoprene upper with an additional fleece layer to help displace moisture and keep you warm even on the worst days.
The exterior is molded rubber that wears like iron with a sole that's extra grippy on ice and treestand grates. This pair comes with a safety steel toe that helps protect the front area of your foot. Even if you are not working in a safety-required environment, you'll appreciate the protective toe when you kick a rock on the trail or drop a piece of firewood on your foot.
This bulletproof design will keep these boots going when others quit.
line of hunting footwear comes in at a price point that often includes features other competitors easily markup 40 percent.
boots stand 10-inches high and feature 800 grams of Thinsulate Ultra, a durable Hydro Guard breathable waterproof membrane and ScentMask odor control. These boots lace up securely, sustain a comfortable footbed and keep your feet warm throughout a four-hour morning sit on a treestand below freezing.
They're super comfortable right out of the box and have everything you'll need to get you through a long day in the cold, whitetail woods.
Danner Pronghorn Classic
reissue of the classic Pronghorn
boot has remained true to its original construction. They're the same boots they were back in 2002 but with two welcome additions: the front box offers extra room for your toes to splay out, and a new outsole that Danner markets as the best general-purpose sole they've ever made.
Additional new design elements include a heel encasement system that keeps even a narrow heel in place, and a rich full grain leather that should last multiple seasons. The Pronghorn Classic is also 10 percent lighter than the original.
I still own and carefully nurse the first pair of Pronghorns I received back in 2002. These are just as good.
Georgia Internal Metguard Waterproof Insulated Miner Boot
All of the features that make the Georgia Internal Metguard Waterproof Insulated Miner boots
ideal for the workplace also make it perfect for those cold, wet and rocky hunting expeditions.
The 400 grams of Thinsulate will keep you protected on a treestand and we found that our feet were toasty while moving around at just 5 degrees above zero. You'll quickly appreciate the impenetrable exterior composite toe the first time you clip your toe on a hidden boulder.
The boot is 12-inches high and owns a generously padded tongue. The soles have extra grip on wet rock and even better on steel grates. They offer tremendous protection and support that will last well into seasons to come, but you'll need at least three days for break-in.
The people at Haix
are best know for supplying NATO, mountaineering, forest fire and workplace personnel. The European company brings major expertise to bear when it comes to supportive, protective footwear built to high standards.
will give any premium mountain boot a run for its money. In addition to the oiled, nubuck leather exterior, the inside has excellent mid and insole cushioning. What these boots really bring to the table is circulation. The tongue uses highly breathable felt and the collar expels hot air with every step.
These are supportive, high performing boots on the way to the tree line or past it, and the price is well within reasonable.
Han Wag Alverstone GTX
has been safely traversing outdoorsmen up some of the most treacherous vertical landscapes for over 30 years.
The Alvertone GTX
boots are ideal for near tree line elk or mule deer, and are more than capable of taking you into the shale for sheep and goat. These boots offer substantial support and protection from razor-sharp sheets of shale and pointy outcrops of granite.
Each GTX weighs under 2 pounds and is one of only two resolable boots in this review. Gore-Tex lined, first-class nubuck leather wraps this boot with triple stitching. The ball bearing lacing is an extra bonus. A tough rubber rand keeps the sharpest rocks from wearing on the upper.
With resoling, you could easily secure a decade of high-altitude hunts in a pair of GTXs.
Irish Setter Treeline
The robust Irish Setter Treeline
high-altitude boots are going to take some time breaking-in. Afterwards, though, the durable exterior, comfortable leather and ball bearing lacing will cradle your feet while stalking those elk or sheep.
At well under 2 pounds, they're super light and offer exceptional construction for the price. The sides and collar have extra cushioning, and the low, 7-inch cut offers flexibility at extreme angles. The sole is firm and sticky with mid-level cushioning. The perfect boot for a heavy pack.
Kenetrek Bridger Ridge Hikers
Based on the platform of the popular Kenetrek Mountain
boots, the Bridger Hikers
featherweight support system utilizes reinforced K-ankle straps to tie the outsoles directly to the fortified uppers. This support network results in hiking boot performance with all-day tennis shoe comfort.
The Ridge Hikers feature: a leather/nylon upper outsole transition system for solid ankle support; extra thick padded collars and tongues; reinforced toes and heels for extended durability and protection; and Kenetrek supportive insoles.
The outsole combines the polyurethane midsole with high-traction, molded rubber treads to keep your feet stable on any terrain. Speed lace hooks will hold your laces tightly in place.
L.L. Bean Gore-Tex Kangaroo Upland Boots
L.L. Bean's Gore-Tex Kangaroo Upland Boots
are classic moc-toe upland boots made from kangaroo hide. We found them light, forgiving and seductively comfortable. The clean, basic design will last multiple seasons, and the boot's stitch-down, low profile Vibram sole can be replaced if needed.
Another key feature of all L.L. Bean products is the commitment to customer satisfaction. If the boots leak, have any kind of failure or you're just not 100 percent satisfied with the performance, L.L. Bean will happily replace them. I've done it before, and it was impressively painless.
These boots will become as comfortable as your shotgun for bird season and should stand the test of time that you give them.
Red Head Tracker 6
The Red Head Tracker
is ideal for warm weather bow season or any time it's above freezing.
Extremely walkable and comfortable right out of the box, the molded three part sole system is forgiving. The full grain leather exterior is usually found on boots nearly twice the price.
They come outfitted with a Gore-Tex liner, decent shoelaces and a comfortable tongue. Fits very true to size with just a little extra room in the toe. Given the reasonable price, these boots are an all around great buy.