(This article has been edited from its original publish date.)
With autumn officially upon us, it’s time to start making last-minute preparations to ensure a successful fall hunting season. If you’re a serious hunter there’s little doubt you’ve already spent weeks or months applying for tags, hanging stands, gathering photos from trail cameras, scouting, glassing, and tuning your bow or rifle. You’ve worked hard to stack the odds of success in your favor, but you must be certain all your equipment is up to the task at hand.
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There are very few pieces of equipment more critical to the success or failure of a hunt than the boots you choose. Cold, wet, blistered feet can keep you out of the woods and out of the game, so it’s absolutely critical you select the right hunting boots this fall. The good news is there are a lot of excellent footwear options available, and this is a list of some of our favorite shoes and boots for hunters. Which ones are right for you? That depends on the terrain, the game, your hunting style, and budget.
Early Season/Training — Browning Glenwood Trail Shoe:
Late September and early October are still quite warm in many areas of the country, and wearing a pair of heavy, heat-trapping late-winter boots can be an unpleasant experience. Browning’s Glenwood Trail Shoe is perfect for warm-weather activities like scouting, checking trail cameras, and even early-season hunting so long as the weather is dry and the terrain is relatively flat. They’re also ideal for those who enjoy hiking or trail running. The highly-breathable woven mesh upper helps keep your feet cooler and drier than most hunting boots, and PU overlays on the heel, toe, and forefoot area help protect your feet from rocks and stumps. The single-piece TPR outsole has an aggressive tread for a wide variety of surfaces yet it isn’t too bulky or cumbersome for running or hiking on paved trails. The Glenwood Trail Shoe is available in men’s and women’s sizes and comes in four color combinations MSRP: $49.95 www.spgcompany.com
The Whitetail Boot —Irish Setter VaprTrek:
Whitetails are North America’s most widespread big game animal, and as such, they are pursued from the Deep South to the northern Great Plains. A great whitetail boot must be able to adapt to a variety of conditions, and the Irish Setter VaprTrek line has the level of versatility required for most any hunting situation. ScentBan Technology, which is exclusive to Irish Setter, incorporates layers of leather, interior linings and footbeds designed to control bacteria and reduce odor and UltraDry waterproof construction helps ensure your feet stay dry even in wet weather.
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High-tech composites make these boots very light, and the CuShin tongue reduces pressure on the foot so you stay comfortable whether you’re planning an all-day sit or still-hunting timber during the rut. You don’t have to worry about excessive wear when hunting hard in these boots thanks to ArmaTec abrasion resistance, and they’ll last through several seasons of hard hunting.
With 400 grams of Thinsulate and a height of 8″, these versatile boots are great for most whitetail hunts across the country. There are nine different VaprTrek styles from which to choose for men and women and there’s even a 17″ snake boot option for those who hunt around venomous reptiles. MSRP: $154.99-$214.99. www.irishsetterboots.com
All-Around — Danner Powderhorn:
Maybe you’re a deer hunter who’s also booked an elk or moose hunt this year, or perhaps you like to chase sharptails on the plains but you’re accumulating points for a once-in-a-lifetime sheep hunt. If you need maximum versatility for all hunting in all weather and various terrains the Danner Pronghorn has you covered. This boot features a full-grain leather upper and a Gore-Tex liner and it is available in 1000g Thinsulate, 400g Thinsulate or un-insulated models. The removable Ortholite open-cell polyurethane footbed includes three cushion layers of various densities to provide the most comfortable feel for all-day climbing and improve heat dissipation and circulation so your feet stay cool and dry. The shank, lasting board, and midsole are built as a single unit that is molded to match the boot, which translates into less weight and more support. If you don’t know what this hunting season (or the next, or the following) will bring, a great pair of all-around hunting boots like the Powderhorns are excellent for just about any hunt. MSRP: $240-$270. www.danner.com
Crossover Competition/Tactical Boot — BLACKHAWK! Terrain Mid:
If you shoot IDPA pistol matches, trap, 3-Gun or any other firearms event and you want a boot that works as well at the range as it does in the woods check out the new BLACKHAWK! Terrain Mid. With a breathable mesh upper, Agion antimicrobial lining and memory foam insole, these boots offer maximum comfort for early-season hunts in dry weather. The mesh upper helps keep weight to a minimum and the Terrain Mid is as comfortable as many athletic shoes. The heavy-duty outsole, though, is aggressive enough to tackle even rough terrain, making this a versatile three-seasons boot that works in a variety of different settings. Plus, with an MSRP of $79.99 (in either black or brown,) they’re also very affordable. These are great hunting boots for warm-weather whitetail or dove hunts. www.blackhawk.com
Safari/Desert Boot — Courteney Selous:
Courteney Selous boots are handmade in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe using a combination of sturdy cape buffalo and soft impala leathers. A favorite of African PHs who walk hundreds of miles each year through rough terrain, Courteney’s have a proven track record of standing up to thorns, sharp rocks, dust, and debris, all while cushioning the foot and providing maximum traction even in sandy environments — made possible thanks to the addition of the durable hand-stitched rubber outsole with Courteney’s signature “Tyre” pattern.
The boots lace up comfortably around the foot yet offer excellent support, and the leather construction is extraordinarily durable. But these hunting boots aren’t just designed for safari, they’re light enough and comfortable enough for upland hunting, doves, and even deer hunting and yet they look good enough to wear to a business meeting. I balked at paying for a pair of these boots for years, but now that I have some I can’t imagine hunting in very dry, flat country in anything else. MSRP is $379. Courteney Selous boots are available in the U.S. through African Sporting Creations. www.africansportingcreations.com
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Rubber Boots — Lacrosse Alphaburly Pro:
Lacrosse has been one of the top manufacturers of rubber hunting boots for decades (I still wear a pair of green Burlys from the 90’s) and the latest evolution of the Burly line, the Alphaburly Pro, is the brand’s most advanced rubber hunting boot to date. Constructed from hand-laid natural rubber over a neoprene liner, Alphaburlys are more flexible, durable, and comfortable than competing hunting boots, and the rubber won’t crack during extremely cold weather. EVA midsoles help reduce overall weight and add comfort and support, and the aggressive outsole tread with chamfered edges keep you stable in the worst muck and slop. The rear gusset allows for a custom fit, and deer hunters will appreciate the scent-eliminating design. These hunting boots are available in a number of different camo patterns including Gore Optifade and Optifade Marsh, Mossy Oak Break-Up Country and Realtree Xtra as well as classic forest green and you can choose from both insulated and un-insulated models. With up to 1,600g of Thinsulate these boots will also keep your feet in the coldest conditions. MSRPs start at $150. www.lacrossefootwear.com
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Mountain Boot —Jagdhund Potschn:
You may not be familiar with Jagdhund (German for “hunting dog”) but this respected European manufacturer of hunting clothing and footwear is now offering their products on this side of the Atlantic. The Potschn is their flagship mountain boot and features Jagdhund’s revolutionary SYMPATEX lining between the exterior upper leather and the lining to prevent moisture entering the boot while still allowing perspiration to wick away so that feet stay dry. This boot comes with a Vibram outsole specifically designed for extreme mountain climbing and a rubber rand coating bonds the midsole to the upper so these boots won’t come apart in rough terrain even after years of abuse. The Potschn was designed with a special flex zone in the heel specifically engineered to reduce strain on the Achilles tendon, reducing fatigue and injuries and these hunting boots weigh just two pounds per pair. At $451.95 a pair they aren’t cheap, but these high-quality European mountain boots are built to the highest standards to take you to the highest elevations in search of big game. www.jagdhund-usa.com
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Upland — Browning Hastings Boot:
The Hastings is a Wellington-style slip-on leather boot designed specifically for upland hunters. Trulast foot-shape geometry offers a comfortable fit and excellent ankle security when walking long miles on uneven or rough terrain, and Climate Command waterproofing technology keeps your feet dry on early morning hunts in soggy grass. The Hastings features a mock toe design reminiscent of Browning’s classic upland hunting boots from decades past. Available in brown leather, these boots are ideal for a wide variety of applications beyond upland hunting. Their slip-on design makes them convenient, and their comfortable interior and sturdy outsole allow them to be used for daily chores around the house or farm. $149.99. www.spgcompany.com
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