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Rocky Wins With New Elk Stalker Boot Trio

Rocky makes excellent boots — always has and always will. Its new Elk Stalker Series is the latest from the boot kingpin, and big-game hunters will love them.

Rocky Wins With New Elk Stalker Boot Trio

(Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

Rocky knows a thing or ten about making a hard-to-ignore boot. Many models have graced my feet during my outdoor tenure, and I've always been pleased with the results. Words like durable, waterproof, and economical come to mind when I think about the many Rockys I've worn.

I was excited to give Rocky's latest and greatest boot build — the Elk Stalker — a go. The Elk Stalker comes in a trio of makes. The amount of 3M Thinsulate Ultra Insulation sets each apart from its counterparts. Rocky knows mountain hunters find themselves in the high country at various times of the year and wanted to provide three boot options that would work across a broad range of temperatures. I applaud this.

The pair that hit my doorstep was the Rocky Elk Stalker 1000G Insulated. Other models in the lineup include the 400g and Rocky Elk Stalker Waterproof with no insulation.

stalker-in-shale
(Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

First Impressions

I've always loved a tall leather boot that looks like it was bred for tackling big-game adventures in daunting terrain. The full-grain leather and 10-inch high build of the Elk Stalker made me smile immediately. The lacing system looked sound, and glancing at some online specs told the tale of a steel shank and raised heel. I've always got remarkable foot support from boots with this type of build, and I expect the Elk Stalker will provide miles and miles of comfortable hiking. More to come on this.

The Vibram sole looked solid. You don't get much better than Vibram. As I ran my hand over the sole's bottom, I could see the large outer lugs grabbing unforgiving terrain and propelling me forward, while the smaller, rounded tread pattern added support and cushioning.

stalker-lace-up
(Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

I love to see Old Glory flying on both boots, a sure sign of a Made in America product. Rocky's website told me the Goodyear welt construction method makes the sole durable and replaceable after years of wear. I'm also a fan of lace-protecting kilties. These are removable, but if you spend much time trekking in brushy environments, I recommend leaving the kilties on and preventing your laces from getting caught in debris.

I was excited to give them a go.


Get Up & Go

stalker-hike
(Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

I've never been much of a break-in period guy. If a boot is worth its salt, the wearer can strap the pair on and hit the trail. If I make it a mile into my hike and hotspots start barking, I never use the boots again. Could I break them in? Possibly, but I don't have the time or energy to fight with a boot that doesn't fit my feet or sports a bad build.

With my ALPS pack loaded with 50 pounds of elk gear, I hit the rolling prairies and cedar-sprinkled canyons near my Colorado home. Over six miles, the boots conquered shale hillsides, a creek crossing, cactus-littered terrain, and lots of loose dirt. The best news I can give is the boots, right out of the box, gave me no blisters or hotspots.


stalker-in-cactus
(Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

The outsoles proved worthy across the landscape, especially in the shale hills where losing my footing, especially with weight on the back, would mean a nasty fall. I also appreciated that as the shale was sliding and the earth was caving under my feet, the 10-inch-tall full-grain leather uppers kept dirt and debris out of my boots.

Cactus spines, even from species like the Prickly Pear that has hypodermic needles, were no match for the outer make of the boots. The boots also traveled well across the powdered prairie dirt, and while I expected my feet to be sweating like crazy in the 95-degree heat, they weren't. Were they hot? Yes, 1000 grams of insulation will make the feet hot in nearly 100-degree heat, but my feet didn't feel like they were on fire, and I was generally comfortable. Credit this to Rocky's VP waterproofing, which allows moisture from sweat to escape and the feet to breathe. Don't worry; Rocky claims it lets moisture from sweat out but no liquid inside.

stalker-in-water
(Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

I gave the boots a good douse in a pair of stream crossings — one I stood in, letting the water encompass all but the top half of the boots. No water leaked inside. One thing I can't stand and have had happen multiple times over the years is getting a new pair of boots that claim to be waterproof, only to discover they are not. I tested a new pair of fancy-to-do boots from another manufacturer a few years ago. The boots were pricy and promised 100 percent waterproof results. My feet were soaked fifteen minutes into a September walk through a dew-covered meadow. For the elk hunter, there is nothing worse.

Recommended


Not only do the Elk Stalkers provide great traction and keep water out, but they are also comfortable. The Terra Suspension Footbed provided excellent support and cushioning on my feet. Years of mountain ultramarathons have taken their toll on my feet. I get severe Planter fasciitis occasionally, and over two weeks of testing these boots, I had no flareups.

Let's Ride

Rocky Elk Stalker Boot
(Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

A western hunter, I hunt a lot off horseback. I need a boot that fits inside the stirrups but will also slide out if a rodeo happens. Rocky's Elk Stalker proved solid in the stirrups and was comfortable during a five-mile ride on my two-and-a-half-year-old colt.

Big game hunters need a multi-purpose boot. I find that in the Elk Stalker. With this boot, I can hike, climb, and ride.

Should Be Money In The Cold

It's late July, and I can't pen a word about how these boots keep the cold out and heat in or how they excel in sub-zero temps. All I can do is write about other Rocky models I've tested with insulation ratings between 800 and 1000 grams. All have been wonderful. One particular model — the Rocky Core Waterproof 800G Insulated Outdoor Boot has been my goose-hunting go-to for the past few years. The boot is ultra warm and ultra-comfortable, and I expect the same from the Elk Stalker.

I recommend that early-season hunters opt for the uninsulated or 400-gram boots; however, if you're a late-season mountain hunter, these boots must be in your arsenal.

stalker-back-of-truck-2
(Photo courtesy of Jace Bauserman)

Final Thoughts

I cut some corners with gear now and then. Prices have grown to ridiculous measures, and I learned some ways to save some coin. However, I will never skimp on my boots. Bad boots can end a mountain hunt you've been dreaming about after a day of use. The great thing about Rocky's Elk Stalker lineup is users get a fantastic boot build that will last for many seasons, and each wears a price tag that doesn't break the bank.

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