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Field Tested: Irish Setter Elk Tracker XD

Light, rugged, reliable boots for any hunt.

Field Tested: Irish Setter Elk Tracker XD
$249.99-$259.99 | Irish Setter Boots | 888-738-8370 — Shown above is an 8-inch non-insulated Elk Tracker XD.
From the annals of Petersen's Bowhunting...

When it comes to most products, the saying, “You get what you pay for,” is usually true.

And while you can often make do with hunting gear and apparel you got on the cheap, there’s one item, in my opinion, on which you can never scrimp — footwear. If you do, you do so at your own peril and should expect achy feet, possibly a sore back and other issues.

Over the years, I’ve worn affordably priced hunting boots that didn’t come as advertised, weren’t comfortable as you broke them in or simply couldn’t hold up to the pounding from the woods and trails, showing signs of wear and tear much sooner than I’d expected. As a result, sooner or later I came to regret my purchase. That said, one company that has long been known for manufacturing high-quality, comfortable, dependable boots and footwear is Irish Setter.

When you purchase Irish Setter boots, you know you’ll have seven-plus decades of quality and innovation behind every pair. Introducing its first boots in 1950, the company is known for its lightweight, shock-absorbing, ultra-comfortable footwear for work, casual wear and, of course, hunting. Hence, I was thrilled when I got a pair of the new Elk Tracker XDs recently. I’ll be wearing them all fall, starting with an elk hunt in September, followed by several whitetail outings in October and November.

The first thing you notice with the Elk Tracker XDs when you put them on is the extremely comfortable footbed and feel of your foot in the boot, coupled with the incredible ankle support they provide, a combination that’s essential when you’re trudging across steep hills, rocky mountainsides and other rough terrain. The rubber rand around the base of the boot is designed to fend off rocks, sticks and other sharp objects, while the full-leather upper, with the leather gusset overlay, prevents dirt and debris from entering the boot and creating an “irritating” situation.

Released in July, the Elk Tracker XDs come in standard (D) and wide (EE) widths in sizes from 8-14 in three styles: 8-inch insulated and non-insulated models, and a 10-inch non-insulated boot. For my hunting, which usually takes place when temperatures range from the 30s to high 60s, I opted for the 8-inch insulated boot with 200-gram Primaloft insulation.

Speaking of temperatures, Irish Setter notes the Elk Tracker XDs feature TempSens technology, essentially a moisture-wicking technology that helps regulate the temperature in the boots to boost foot comfort. Perspiration and moisture are wicked away in warmer temperatures, helping to keep feet cooler and drier, while in colder temperatures the same process helps to keep feet warmer by creating a thermal barrier that works to control the interior temperature.

This may be a small detail, but one of the challenges I’ve found with some boots over the years is a boot tongue that never seems to lay right or remain in place, leading to rubbing and irritation on your shins and/or ankles. Well, with the Elk Tracker XDs, the padded, comfortable Cushin tongue and the full-boot lacing system work together seamlessly for a snug yet comfortable fit, something that’s especially important when you’re climbing or descending inclines. The boot features locking lace hooks on its upper portion, allowing for easy lacing and tying, and it’s designed so you can easily slide your foot in or out of the boot in seconds.

As far as foot comfort, the EnerG high-rebound material in the midsole helps to absorb the shock of pounding on the ground for hours on end, while foot cushioning and support come from the removable Comfort Cork EVA memory foam footbed. Last, but certainly not least, these waterproof boots have a rugged outsole that’s made to handle the many obstacles that the North American landscape can throw at them, with a well-designed tread pattern that’s made to release mud and dirt, leading to solid traction under almost any conditions.

Even with all of the features described above, the Elk Tracker XDs are lightweight, checking in at less than 4 pounds per pair. Hence, even after wearing for them for hours they never felt heavy or like they were “tugging” on the foot and ankle.

Whether you’re planning a western hunt for mule deer or elk, or you simply want a dependable, foot-cradling pair of boots for plying the back forty for whitetails, you can’t go wrong with these new classics from Irish Setter! — Associate Editor Mark Demko




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