When it comes to hunting boots, there’s a multitude of options on the market. So, I began to research and determine the best options for the buyers of 2021. It was clear that there was a mountain of boots to climb. When I’m going to spend hours outside hunting, my feet are a top priority. There is not a worse drag on your time in the woods than uncomfortable, cold feet. I wanted to get the top shoe on the market that would fit in my budget for cold weather hunting. Here in Tennessee, I spend my time hunting white tail deer for the most part. The priorities of my search were comfort, functionality, durability and insulation. (Would I be able to site in the stand?) After about 10 hours of searching here’s some tips to help you in your search as well as several other boots that are great options.
- How to choose/what to look for in a hunting boot search:
- 1. Irish Setter Men’s 2870 Vaprtrek Waterproof leather Hunting Boot
- 2. Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Non Insulated Hunting Boots
- 3. Irish Setter Men’s 860 Elk Tracker WP Insulated Boot
- 4. Danner Pronghorn 800 Insulated GORE-TEX Hunting Boots for Men #41342
- 5. Muck Boot Woody Max Rubber Insulated Men’s Hunting boot
How to choose/what to look for in a hunting boot search:
- Where and when will you be hunting? Consider the temperatures and early vs. late season hunting
- What type of hunting will you be doing?
- Are the boots insulated or non-insulated? Will you be getting wet or will you be in prominently dry areas?
Different features and search terms you may see in this article:
- WATERPROOF GORE-TEX® -Gore-tex seems to be the waterproof standard in Irish Setter boots… but to be honest I really don’t see how a material can be “breathable” and completely water proof. Let’s just say it is water resistant. (If you know your going to be in water you should be getting Muck boots)
- SCENTBAN™ -Irish Setter exclusive scent control
- VIBRAM SPE MIDSOLE -Doesn’t break down as easily. Helps with rebound and is the best outsole material for a boot
- EVA – Ethylene Vinyl Acetate – EVA is a material with unique properties like durability, flexibility, light weight and 100% waterproofing, which allow it to be perfectly suitable for comfortable, high quality winter boot manufacturing. One of the main advantages of boots made of EVA material is the low weight. You will barely feel them while wearing, because they are 30-40% lighter then boots soles made of rubber or PVC.
- Shank – is a part of the supportive structure between the insole and outsole. The presence of a shank is crucial to the functionality of mountaineering boots as they diminish the load incurred by the wearer’s feet and calves over the course of an ascent.
- Insole – what your feet are against. The sole that sits directly beneath the wearers foot. Its purpose is to provide a comfortable layer above the joining of the upper to the sole.
- Upper-The entire part of the shoe that covers the foot.
- Mid-sole A mid-sole can be found on some shoes, and is a layer between the in-sole and the out-sole.
- Out sole– outer material of the boot – The part that is exposed to the ground. Usually made of a very durable material. It is also important that it provides enough friction with wet surfaces to prevent the wearer from slipping.
- Vibram material for outsole– I think it’s the best for traction and durability. This material has been around a long time and I don’t see many reviews saying they fall apart. In 1954, the mountaineers who climbed the first expedition to reach the summit of K2 wore Vibram soles.
- What is Full grain leather and what are the benefits? Full grain leather is the most durable part of the animals skin just below the hair. It is considered the strongest, most durable leather and the most resistant to moisture as well as the most breathable. Bottom line – Full grain is the best leather you can get. If you take proper care of it, you will use it for a long time.
And now a drumroll for the boots….
1. Irish Setter Men’s 2870 Vaprtrek Waterproof leather Hunting Boot
Ideal for early season hunting, positive reviewers say this boot is very lightweight and comfortable. The Vaprtrek line boasts that it has the sole of an athletic shoe while intended for hunting. Clocking in at $155, this is a great price point! On the Bass Pro website this shoe is currently on clearance for $115.77. The upper leather is full grain. The shoe is non-insulated, camouflage, and claims to be waterproof. Irish setter uses a Scent Ban technology that kills bacteria which causes odor. When looking at the various sites that offer the Irish Setter Vaprtrek 2870, there is a synthetic version and an upper leather version. While the Amazon site claims to sell the synthetic version, it appears that style is no longer being made. When purchasing this shoe I would go through other sources other than Amazon such as Bass Pro or irishsetterboots.com.
Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, memory foam collar around ankle. Scent ban technology is great for a bow hunter like me.
Con: The sole does not last and many reviewers said it leaked. Irish Setter CLAIMS the boot is waterproof but after reading many reviews, this does not appear to be case. While some reviewers rave about the boots long lasting use, others state they fell apart quickly.
Who should use it: This boot should be used by hunter’s working in dry conditions in the early season. If you don’t need something waterproof and you’ve got a limited budget, you should consider buying this boot. If you are an active hunter who moves a lot, this could be the one for you. I would love to try this shoe for fall season bow hunting.
2. Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Non Insulated Hunting Boots
This boot comes with a hefty bill. Made in Italy, these boots are built to last and many reviewers rave about the extreme water proof capabilities. They are made with 2.8mm thick premium full grain leather and reinforced with double and triple stitching. This products boast that it is built to last and one user said he’s had his pair for seven years. Another reviewer works for the forest service and hikes up and down the mountains daily, but had no blisters using this boot. Yet another Amazon reviewer describes them as “comfortable, supportive, and well made”.
At such a high price point, this product is an investment. Many customers recommend purchasing the Kenetrek boot wax to help extend the life of the boot. The warranty is also helpful: If any product fails because of defective materials or poor workmanship within 12 months of purchase and before the soles are 75 percent worn, they will replace or repair the product for free.
Pros: Heavy duty use, waterproof, comfortable and sturdy. Kenetrek has a great warranty policy.
Cons: Expensive, possibly bulky. There were some reviews about the reinforced rubber sole wearing out quickly.
Who should use it: This boot would be ideal for someone high in the mountains hunting for sheep in the Northwest. If you have the budget and are looking for a shoe with good traction and plan on logging lots of miles, consider buying this shoe.
3. Irish Setter Men’s 860 Elk Tracker WP Insulated Boot
Also from the Irish Setter company, this boot is a step up from the Vaprtrack 2870 in price and durability. Reviewers say this is a very comfortable boot and 76 percent of the reviews on Amazon were 5 stars. Although, according to some of the reviews on Amazon, this may not be a good fit for you if you have wide feet. Made with 100 percent full grain leather and water resistant lining, these boots seem made to last. These boots also come with the ScentBan technology as well that kills bacteria that causes odors. I discovered this is an exclusive technology to Irish Setter. They are also insulated with 1000g 3M Thinsulate Ultra insulation which is sure to make them super warm. With a Bulls-Eye Air Bob aggressive sole for traction, you won’t be slipping when tracking down those Elk.
Pros: With 1000 gram insulation they are going to be really warm, moderate price range, really close to waterproof with the Gortex lining
Cons: Reviewers say the sole is not long lasting and doesn’t seem to be a good fit for wide feet
Who should use it: This boot is good for someone like me who’s feet get cold easily. If you will be in cold, rough terrain mountains then this could be the one for you.
4. Danner Pronghorn 800 Insulated GORE-TEX Hunting Boots for Men #41342
Looks like this is a new product (with the Gore Tex) , there are no reviews. BUT, these are the boots I purchased. I was really searching for the best bang for my buck. I plan to do a video review for these boots, but here are my initial thoughts:
This full grain leather and nylon upper boot is the newest offering from the long-running Pronghorn line. The boots are made to give great support and comfort for long hunts. The shoe is described as “incredibly tough, light, and stable” and gives your feet and legs “lightweight strength and support”. The lining keeps feet dry and comfortable while the insulation blocks out the cold temperatures. They have Vibram® SPE midsoles to help with shock absorption and support.
The outsoles are Vibram® Pronghorn® which will definitely help me find my footing in rough terrain. I have had boots with Vibram soles for 20 years and I am confident this will be a long lasting sole. Average height is 8″. The mossy oak and camo break up color is great to keep your feet blended in with the terrain. The weight is about 3.5 lbs for the pair which actually seems light for a boot of this substantial construction. I purchased these from Bass Pro. If you are unsure about the fit you can always go try a pair in store first before you commit.
Pros – The fit is good for my wide feet, they are very comfortable, solid construction
Cons – Not the cheapest option (though still mid-range in price). With 800 grams of insulation this option is a little hot for the early hunting season
Who should use it: Anyone looking for a long lasting, comfortable boot that is well constructed. If you are only looking to hunt early season then this is not the boot for you.
5. Muck Boot Woody Max Rubber Insulated Men’s Hunting boot
Price: $184.99 on Dick’s Sporting Good’s site (Amazon has some sizes a little cheaper)
This is the boot for extreme wet and cold conditions. With fleece lining and 5 mm of internal neoprene it has great heat retention. Neoprene posses comfort and flexibility to adjust to the shape of your feet. These boots are definitely 100% water proof. The fleece lining is soft comfortable rated to -40 degrees. While that actual temperature might be debatable, one Dick’s Sporting Good’s reviewer said he “bought them 2 sizes too large to accommodate the thick socks and I can sit on a Deer Stand in 24 degree weather and with no more worries about cold feet”.
If warmth is your top priority, you want to purchase this shoe. The high-grade rubber exterior provides extra toughness and makes for a 100% waterproof hunting boot. Another reviewer on Amazon stated that he is on his third pair in 15 years. EVA contouring and molded midsole makes for lightweight cushioning and a contoured foot bed.
Pros – Price is reasonable. Lightweight, warm, and waterproof
Cons– Feet will sweet if you’re doing a lot of walking in mid-range temperatures. Not as durable as some of the other boots if you are going to be doing a lot of hiking on rough terrain.
Who should use it: The best option for working in extreme wet and cold conditions.
Why I picked the Danner Pronghorn 800 boot: In the end, I purchased this boot because I liked the materials and construction of the product. My feet tend to get really cold at below freezing temperatures. It was the closest to an “all purpose” boot that I could find. And, my wide duck feet fit nicely in there. Next year hopefully I’ll log some miles somewhere out west elk hunting in the Rocky Mountain area! Because “the rocky mountain way is better than the way we had” 🙂 Catch you next time!