Hunting boots – The basics
It follows that when you are doing an activity, you should be dressed for it properly. Hunting is no exception. Stealth is the name of the game when hunting; you can’t come in elaborate clothes and loud colors. That would defeat the whole purpose. This is why you need to wear the best hunting boots.
Quite simply, hunting boots are used for hunting because a pair of these can help you enjoy your outdoor activity better and do it more efficiently. Imagine if you are following an animal, covertly, of course, but you are wearing a pair of neon basketball shoes. Your target would be able to see you easily from miles away. Plus, these shoes aren’t exactly the greatest to use on swamps and rough grounds. You would just ruin them on first use.
The closest type that you can use is hiking boots, but even those are different. Hiking boots provide cushion and ankle support because you are going to walk for miles. Hunting boots are designed to be “quiet” because the main goal is to give the wearer stealth. They are categorized where they are used as well. They are usually from mid-calf length or higher, while hiking boots can be just ankle-length.
But that’s not to say you can’t use one for the other occasion. You can because you are basically outdoors anyway. Go get hunting hiking boots if you want and if you can find one. But if you want specialized outfit for your activity, get the best hunting boots for your cause.
Types of Hunting Boots
There are different types of hunting boots. You can categorize them into hunting style, material used and season, but to narrow it down, there are five types.
Upland Hunting Boots
The first are upland hunting boots. If there’s a level one footwear in the game of hunting, this is it. Upland hunting boots are used when the terrain is flat and grassy and overall just easy to walk on. You don’t expect anything much to do than walk and hunt on flat and easy ground.
Mountain Hunting Boots
These are designed for inclined terrains. They have flexible and yet strong traction soles to help you climb up or go down a steep ground easier. You need the best mountain hunting boots if you want to hunt animals that live on the mountains so you could be at your A game.
You are probably not going to hunt for snakes, but there might be times when you wouldn’t have any choice but to venture into snake territories to hunt for other animals. This is when you put on a pair of snake boots, which are designed with an extended collar that can go right up to your knees. They should be made of specialized materials that will protect your lower legs from snake bites.
While leather hunting boots are popular, there is something to be said about hunting boots made of rubber materials. For one, they are truly waterproof. So when you are going to trek muddy paths and marshlands, rubber boots are your best bet. They can be the warmest hunting boots that you would own, though, because they are rarely breathable.
Multipurpose Hunting Boots
As the name implies, multipurpose hunting boots are made to suit all kinds of conditions. They are, quite simply, all-around boots. But you might ask, if you had a multipurpose paid of hunting boots, why would you need any other types? It’s because they are sufficient to use in any given condition, but they aren’t especially designed for those conditions. They may be enough for a few times of use in a specific terrain, but these will wear out sooner rather than later because they aren’t truly meant for such conditions.
This one isn’t technically another type of hunting boots, but we are including it here for reference’s sake. These are protections for your favorite boots. They go on over the top of your best hunting boots to keep the water out completely. Or you can slip them on over your boots for additional warmth.
Do you need hunting boots?
How you are dressed for the occasion makes a lot of difference in what you do. Wearing the best hunting boots can make your hunting more enjoyable because you don’t have to worry about other things that a proper footwear should be taking care of. You can cross swamps and hike mountains with the right footwear, allowing you to concentrate on your hunting and not fret about other issues.
Yes, you can wear hiking shoes instead. But if your main activity is hunting and you do that a lot, you would be better off with wearing hunting boots. Because hunting boots are built exactly to withstand whatever your activity demands. Hiking shoes are not. Hunting boots can give you the right protection for your feet and lower legs, as well as comfort during the long period that you are crouched in a tight space to get the perfect shot. They may be more expensive, but they are great investments for serious hunters.
What to look for in hunting boots
But before you buy a pair, make sure you are getting the best hunting boots by looking for some of the criteria that make them great. Inspect its length, materials, its insulation, ventilation, if it’s waterproof or self-draining, and where it is made.
How tall your boots are depends on where you are hunting. If you are hunting on mountains or somewhere with higher elevation, you’re better off with lower height boots. They usually offer better ankle support. For level grounds, muddy terrains etc., go with tall boots.
Length of the boots is measured from the base of the boot’s insole to the top of the boots.
Insulation for your boots is necessary during winter or if you are in extremely low temperature areas. Good insulation will make hunting out in the snow bearable. There are different types of insulation, from none to the thickest: uninsulated to 200 grams, 400-800 grams, and 1kg and up, which can give you the warmest hunting boots ever.
The question is if it’s better if there’s thicker insulation. Not necessarily. For those who are in the north or in colder climate, insulation is crucial. But it’s not always winter and there are places in the US where hot climate is the norm. A thin insulation or even none is more ideal to them. Also, insulation usually means the boots don’t drain well. If water somehow gets inside the boots, you would want them to drain and dry fast. That isn’t possible with thick insulation. So choose the type of insulation that you need for your environment and needs.
Waterproof or Drainable
Waterproof is such an attractive word. You naturally don’t want to get wet when hunting, but that isn’t always possible because you will be trekking onto waters or muds etc. So when you hear the word waterproof, you would think that that’s the most important criteria to look for. But some of the best hunting boots are not even waterproof.
This is because waterproof boots are rarely breathable. There’s good technology out there that manages to give consumers both, but it’s not foolproof. You really have to choose which one is more necessary in your condition.
The best rubber hunting boots are waterproof, that’s why you would see that waterproof, not just water-resistant, boots are made of rubber. But again, if you are in humid and hot environment, choose hunting boots that are drainable as opposed to waterproof. If your footwear is easy to drain, then you would have little problem if you are crossing rivers as the water that got in your boots won’t bring you down.
If your boots are well-ventilated, it means they are breathable. If they have thick insulation or they are waterproof, their breathability is lowered. It is crucial, though, because good ventilation in footwear means your feet’s sweat wouldn’t get trapped inside and therefore wouldn’t harbor bacteria.
But if you need insulation and waterproof but still need ventilation, you can use overboots instead. Slip the overboots on your hunting boots whenever you need to cross a stream or traverse thick snow. Then take them off if you don’t need them anymore.
Although they look good and probably the most popular type there is, leather hunting boots aren’t always what you need. There are other types of materials that you can choose from, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s start with leather. Apart from how beautiful it looks, leather has clear advantages. It offers protection from moisture and is one of the most durable materials you can use. With proper maintenance, it can last for years. You will often hear the words full-grain and top-grain when talking about leather. Full-grain refers to leather that hasn’t been smoothed out. It’s in its semi-raw state because you get the full leather appeal without the commercialized feel.
Top-grain is what you usually see on high-end products. It is smooth and pliable because it has already been sanded and cured. It is less breathable than the full-grain, though.
Rubber might seem outdated because there are more modern materials that are used for hunting boots these days. However, the best rubber hunting boots are far from obsolete. They are the ideal material for boots that trek swamps, rivers, muds and more. There might be newer materials that continue to come out, but nothing still beats rubber in repelling water.
Suede is a soft leather that is flexible and warm. It can be heavy, though, and it needs to be treated to repel water.
Rubber is still the best waterproof material for hunting boots, but if you want something close to it while still breathable, then go for Gore-Tex. It is used both as a liner and as upper.
Another waterproof material is neoprene. Unlike Gore-Tex, however, neoprene isn’t breathable. It makes lightweight hunting boots, though.
Where It’s Made
Some of the best hunting boots are made locally, but they may be a bit more expensive than those manufactured abroad. You perhaps want to know where your boots are made to know if they are authentic because some brands only manufacture from certain places.
The 7 BEST Hunting Boots 2018 (so far):
Mike’s Gear Reviews has listed seven of the best hunting boots that you can buy online. The prices and specs are from Amazon, which is why the amounts vary.
From Danner, an American brand that has decades of history in crafting high quality boots, the Men’s Pronghorn 8″ Uninsulated Hunting Boot is another high quality product that is looks and feels good. This China-made full-grain leather is both lightweight and comfortable.
Here are the pros and cons:
|With wide toe box, good for wide feet||Not insulated|
|Comfortable||More water-resistant than waterproof|
- Leather, Cordura
- Rubber sole
- Durable, waterproof full-grain CamoHide leather upper with rugged and lightweight 1000 Denier nylon
- Full-grain leather toe and heel cap
- Rugged hardware for secure fit and long-lasting performance
- 100% waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX lining
- Cushioning three density open cell polyurethane Ortholite footbed
- Lightweight and stable performance of Danner’s TERRA FORCE platform
- Danner Pronghorn outsole for solid traction over rugged terrain
It being uninsulated could be a positive thing for those who don’t need it. But in any case, this has wide toe box so you might need thick socks anyway to wear this.
These are lightweight hunting boots and basically soundless, perfect for hunting. According to some reviews, though, you can classify this as more like water-resistant than waterproof. So don’t fully count on it protecting your feet from water if you are crossing rivers that are higher than your 8″ boots.
Overall, the Danner Men’s Pronghorn 8″ Uninsulated Hunting Boot is a great buy. It’s one of the best mountain hunting boots you can buy at this price range.
If you need hunting hiking boots in one, the Irish Setter Men’s 2870 Vaprtrek could pass muster. It’s exactly what you need for that long, arduous hunt on uneven terrains while maintaining good traction.
Here are the pros and cons:
|With 12-month warranty||Not insulated|
- Rubber sole
- Shaft measures approximately 7″ from arch
- Lightweight ankle-high hunting boot with extreme durability, ideal for early season
- ScentBan scent control
- UltraDry waterproofing system
- Realtree Xtra Camouflage
- RPM composite technology reduces weight without sacrificing comfort or durability
One of the things that the Irish Setter can brag about is its ScentBan technology, which basically minimizes your scent so animals won’t detect you from smell. This is a perfect feature for hunting.
It’s both waterproof and breathable, which is what you need for a long adventure outdoors. It doesn’t have insulation, though, so this isn’t ideal for winter or for colder climate regions. Also, many customers complained about its narrow fit. Other than that, the 12-month limited warranty can be a good enticement to grab a pair.
One of the best rubber hunting boots around, the LaCrosse Alphaburly Pro 18″ is truly waterproof. Even its insulation, neoprene, is waterproof. And to ensure that water doesn’t sip in from the top, its 18″ height is high enough that you can cross low water streams without getting wet.
Here are the pros and cons:
- Neoprene / Rubber
- Lug Sole sole
- Shaft measures approximately 16″ from arch
- Boot opening measures approximately 16″ around
- Hand-laid premium rubber over a 3.5mm neoprene core for flexible, waterproof, scent-free comfort
- Embossed liner increases air circulation inside the boot, wicks moisture and is quick-drying. Nylon Shank
- Active Fit with adjustable neoprene gusset for easy on/off and a secure, comfortable fit on foot
- Multilayer rubber on the toe and heel plus a double-layer vamp of added support and durability
With all those promises, it’s not hard to see why the Alphaburley is large and bulky. It does promise to be waterproof but lightweight and with thick insulation. The downside of it all is that the shoes appear large and bulky, making it a bit difficult to put in and take off. But that’s the only complaint so far.
It is rubber, first and foremost, so there would be rubber smell for a little while. After the first wash, though, it is going to be scent-free, and this is what you want when hunting.
Another one from Irish Setter, the 2875 Vaprtrek boots are tall and snake-proof. These leather hunting boots are waterproof and with ScentBan technology as well.
Here are the pros and cons:
- Leather and synthetic
- Rubber sole
- 17-inch hunting boot with full grain waterproof leather and lightweight RPM technology
- UltraDry Waterproofing system
- SnakeGuard construction to impede fangs, thorns and other elements from penetrating boot upper
- ScentBan technology to kill odor-causing bacteria
- ArmaTec abrasion-resistant protective covering
Perhaps the best thing about these snake boots is they are flexible. Snake boots usually are stiff on the leg part because they need to be thick enough that the fangs of the snake won’t penetrate your skin. But these allow you to move freely.
Like the first Irish Setter on this list, the 2875 are lightweight hunting boots with good waterproof feature and great traction. At this price point, just add insulation is you need it but you can’t go wrong with these hunting boots.
The most popular brand on this list, the Under Armour Men’s Speed Freek Bozeman Hiking Boot is another proud versatile model that can last for a long time with proper maintenance. Quality is a priority with Under Armour, and it shows with its Speed Freek Bozeman boots.
Pros and cons:
|With scent control||Thin laces are inconvenient|
|With memory foam|
- Exclusive UA Scent Control technology lasts longer and works better, keeping you undetected
- Waterproof, breathable lining keeps you dry in the worst conditions
- Suede leather combined with lightweight, abrasion-resistant nylon in the upper
- Molded Ortholite® sockliner is designed with a memory foam top & PU base
- Ultra-light, molded EVA midsole delivers cushioning and shock absorption
- Lightweight TPU shank for mid-foot support and the right amount of rigidity
- Aggressive traction outsole composed of high-abrasion rubber is engineered to grip, while dropping mud & debris
- Scratch rubber toe and heel for durability
- Height: 8″
- Weight: 23.4 oz.
Here’s another contender for the best hunting boots. The Under Armour’s quality is commendable; you can’t go wrong with that. These don’t just look good, they also feel so comfortable with its memory foam insert.
As promised, it is waterproof. But keep in mind that if the water is higher than the boots, then the water would get inside still.
Probably the only bad thing about this is its laces. They are so thin that they bite into the skin when you try to tie them tightly. The eyelets were clearly customized for the laces because replacement laces wouldn’t fit.
Overall, these are one of the best mountain hunting boots that you can get your hands—or feet—on.
Kenetrek, as avid hunters know, is an expensive brand. Some of its models are even five times pricier than the cheapest items here, and there’s a reason for that. Kenetrek makes superb hunting hiking boots. And the Italian made Mountain Extreme is no exception.
Pros and cons:
|Heavy duty midsoles|
- 10″ tall leather uppers made from 2.8 mm full grain leather feather double and triple stitching throughout for added durability
- Custom K-Talon Outsole provides exceptional grip and traction while the 7 mm nylon midsole offers a solid foundation for extra support and stability
- Forged boot hardware offers corrosion resistance and swivels instead of breaking
- Durable Windtex waterproof membrane and no insulation is perfectly suited for keeping you dry in warmer temperatures
- Reinforced rubber sole guard for extra abrasion resistance
Without insulation, the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme boots aren’t the warmest hunting boots that you would own, but they are perfect for hotter climates and non-winter use. One of their most commendable traits is their heavy duty 7 mm nylon midsole that makes the whole thing sturdy and durable.
These boots are expensive. They deliver what they promised, though, and you wouldn’t regret the quality.
Just like the aforementioned Kenetrek Mountain Extreme, this model, the Mountain Extreme 400 Insulated Hunting Boot, is in the same price range. This one is insulated, though.
Here are the pros and cons:
- Rubber sole
- TOP GRAIN LEATHER – One piece vamp of 2.8 mm top grain leather with no seams down the tongue for better abrasion resistance and waterproofing
- EXTRA SUPPORT – 7mm midsoles provide extra support in rugged terrain with heavy loads
- INSULATED – Wind-tex waterproof breathable flexible membrane and 400 grams of Thinsulate insulation
- TRACTION – Lightweight K-talon outsoles provide excellent traction, no matter the conditions
- COMFORTABLE – Reinforced rubber sole guard for extra abrasion resistance. Lightweight and comfortable
One of the best mountain hunting boots, the Kenetrek Men’s Mountain Extreme 400 is meant for the serious hunters. It is made in Italy as well, but this model is the insulated one, so you can wear this during winter. It is waterproof as well, making it perfect for moist and wet weather and surroundings.
And just like the first Kenetrek on this list, this has great traction as well. The K-Talon outsoles can grip amazingly well onto different terrains, no matter what the condition.
It has a few cons, though. It’s a bit stiff so you may have difficulty in moving with this. Also, it’s expensive. But you are getting quality leather and durable footwear.
Mike’s Top Choice
Among the seven hunting hiking boots on this list, Mike’s Gear Reviews thinks that the Irish Setter Men’s 2875 Vaprtrek Waterproof 17″ Hunting Boots are the best hunting boots. They are comfortable and flexible while at the same time dependable and durable. They aren’t insulated, which is just fine if you are traversing into a snake territory where it is usually hot and humid. And with a fair price, you can’t go wrong with these.