January 11, 2023
By Brian K. Strickland
It can’t be overstated how important our feet are as bowhunters. Whether you’re in a treestand dealing with cold temperatures or packing deep into some no-name basin in an effort to leave the crowds behind out west, it can be miserable if your feet aren’t taken care of.
Kenetrek Slide Rock Hiker
Lucky for us, there’s no shortage of options for us to match the boot with a given hunting situation, and a fan favorite among western bowhunters would certainly have to be Kenetrek. Although known for producing top-shelf boots for guys who prefer a lonely ridge to a treestand, their list of other options goes far beyond that and their new Slide Rock Hiker is an excellent example. A great crossover option for the bowhunter needing a good boot for an early season whitetail hunt but still desiring something that will handle the rigors of a backcountry adventure, the 7” Slide Rock is feather light at just 3.6 pounds, and features all-leather construction from lace to toe and reinforced rubber toe and heel guards for extra toughness. Like virtually all bearing the Kenetrek brand, they are waterproof and breathable, and with their Super-Gripping Garçon outsole they are rock solid.
LaCrosse Ursa MS
After five years on the drawing board and countless backcountry excursions putting them to the test, LaCrosse brings the waterproof Ursa MS to the table. One look and you can tell they are built for long days and tough conditions, and the fact that they carry the LaCrosse brand, you know they’re comfortable as well. The most stable boot LaCrosse has ever developed, the Ursa MS is designed with TecTuff PU-infused leather uppers with breathable SuperFabric quarter panels and gusset that has proven time and again to be extremely abrasion resistant and durable. Adding to this gem is their iconic Vibram MONT outsole for optimized traction and with the large Hexguard rubber rand that has been cemented and double stitched, you know they won’t fail you either.
AKU Reserve High GTX
Another boot designed for rugged terrain is the Reserve High GTX from Italian bootmaker AKU. Although not a known brand in bowhunting circles in the Lower 48, I was certainly impressed with how these boots performed last season. Hand-made in Italy and tested in extreme conditions, I honestly love the pair I’ve put through the wringer. They provided me just enough stiffness for extended hunts out west that kept my feet in the game, which used to be one of my biggest obstacles, and handled the morning dew and stream crossing flawlessly. They are designed with premium Italian leather uppers, Iiconic Vibram outsoles and 200g insulated Gore-Tex liner.
Irish Setter Elk Tracker XD
Building upon the success of its predecessor, Irish Setter unveils the Elk Tracker XD this season. Still offering the same legendary comfort as the original but with a beefier style, the redesigned Elk Tracker XL features full leather camo uppers with leather cushioned gusset overlay and wraparound rubber rand offers exceptional abrasion resistance, while also delivering waterproof construction with an UltraDry lining. Its aggressive outsole provides stability in rugged conditions, and when coupled with the lightweight, high rebound EnerG midsole and with its resilient EVA memory foam, sore feet won’t be the reason you head back to camp early. And to help regulate temperatures within the boot, the Elk Tracker XD encompasses TempSens technology that wicks moisture away in warm conditions while creating a thermal barrier when there’s a chill.
Weight can count on early season hunts and at just 45 ounces, the folks from Danner nailed it with the Recurve. A fan favorite the past couple of seasons, the Recurve delivers next generation performance for the hunter looking for comfort on those long, ridge-pounding bowhunts. Laying the groundwork, Danner incorporates a Vibram Recurve outsole with adaptive lugs and flex lines with a cushioning open-cell OrthoLite footbed with SPE Midsole and TPU heel clip for enhanced support and durability. Making these waterproof gems an even sweeter early season option is their seven-inch height for ankle support, full-grain leather with nylon uppers, and your choice of uninsulated or 400g Thinsulate Ultra.
Rocky Blizzard Stalker Max
Nothing’s worse or more distracting than cold feet, and in an effort to ensure that’s not the reason you climb down early, Rocky Boots developed the Blizzard Stalker Max. With 1400g of 3M Thinsulate Ultra Insulation, which is 200g more than the original Blizzard Stalker, these waterproof gems are certainly designed after their namesake. Paired with their layered Shield Guard, the all-leather uppers resist abrasions and moisture, and with the cushioned EVA midsole, Rocky’s rebound footbed and aggressive multi-directional rubber outsole, you’ll have Rocky’s legendary comfort and security wrapped around your feet.
Muck Boots Pathfinder
Muck Boots needs no introduction, and their new Pathfinder is just the latest from this iconic boot company. Building upon the success of their Apex Pro, the completely waterproof Pathfinder is equipped with flex notches for added comfort, and with the reinforced toe and heel coupled with an aggressive outsole, the Pathfinder offers next-level durability. Like many in the Muck line, its air mesh lining enhances breathability, while the natural insulation qualities neoprene offers along with stretch-fit topline binding ensures warmth is locked in.
Dryshod Evalusion Series
Another rubber boot option that’s certainly worth a look is Dryshod’s new Evalusion series. 100% waterproof and built to withstand the elements, this all-season gem features a 5mm Densoprene foam insulated bootie, which is a super dense neoprene designed to keep the cold and wet out that is treated with nano-scale hydrophobic coating which repels mud and water To minimize sweaty feet they are designed with a four-way stretch breathable air mesh lining, and with the new aggressive yet durable Dureva outsole they offer stable footing in all conditions while also providing energy return to reduce fatigue.
Thorogood Infinity FD Rubber Series
When the temperatures really dip and you still have a tag to fill, Thorogood’s Infinity FD Rubber series is the answer. A technical, pursuit-driven hunting boot, it couples 800g or 1600g 3M Thinsulate with NASA-inspired Solarcore lining on the toe cap and footbed that’s proven to retain 50 percent more heat to ensure all-day cold-crushing comfort. Seamless and 100% waterproof, it’s constructed from scent-free rubber and built with Thorogood’s Flex-drive midsole/outsole that not only absorbs shock and provides exceptional traction but also helps propel you forward through its anti-fatigue energy return system.
Bogs Arcata Chelsea Camo
Whether you want something for lounging around camp or need a boot that is truly hunt-worthy in chilly conditions, Bogs Arcata Chelsea Camo is worth a look. Designed to keep you warm, dry and comfortable, these lightweight gems feature 5MM Neo-Tech waterproof insulation with a plush lining that offers a comfort rating well below zero. Dressed in Mossy Oak camo, these boots feature Max-Wick that evaporates sweat to keep feet as dry as possible, DuraFresh natural bio-technology that helps keep the stink out, and a beefy GlaciaGrip outsole for maximum traction in slippery conditions.