(Photo courtesy of Danner Boots)

As archery hunters, we have a lot of options when it comes to the equipment we carry around the field. Bows, arrows, broadheads and countless accessories are all essential to put an end to a successful hunt. However, as important as these items are, I don’t think they hold a candle to choosing the right pair of boots. Foot problems anytime are miserable, but that misery is compounded when your long-awaited bow hunt turns into an early death march to your truck. More than once I have had to endure such circumstances. On the flip side, I can honestly say that having the right boots to match the style and location I was hunting certainly impacted my overall experience.

That said, if there’s one thing you take away from this review, it would be this pair of boots. Will not do work in all hunting situations. You wouldn’t want a stiff mountaineering-type boot for hunting pigs in a Louisiana swamp; you also wouldn’t wear knee-high rubber boots to hunt mountain goats in Kodiak, Alaska. Believe it or not, I witnessed this just a few years ago and it hasn’t worked out well for the party involved.

There is a range of hunting boots on the market today and it can make your head spin trying to pick the right pair. What makes the decision even more difficult is that not everyone’s foot is the same. Your startup buddies may not be your best option. With that in mind, a good pair of hunting boots is going to suit a given situation by first offering sufficient support and traction, while also withstanding the rigors that a particular region will place on you. More often than not, they’ll need to keep your feet warm and dry and also provide the proper fit and comfort from the time you start your hunt until you get home. In fact, happy feet will equate to a happy hunt, so choosing the right boot can make or break the experience.

Mountain hunting

Virtually every archery hunter I know dreams of heading west or has had such adventures before. Whether you’re on an extreme sheep hunt or your typical Rocky Mountain elk adventure, it’s an intensive style of hunting that can wreak havoc on your feet.

There are three types of boots to choose from for this style of hunting and they are largely based on what boot manufacturers call torsional stiffness, or more understood as boot stiffness. Weeds shouldn’t be tackled too much, but the stiffness (or flexibility) of a boot relies heavily on the upper of the midsole. Soft, medium and stiff upper boots all have their place in these environments, but there are downsides to each that you should be aware of.

Hunting boots with a softer shank are similar to a hiker. Because they have a softer stabilizer, they have more flex or less torsion control. On the plus side, they tend to be quieter, which is great for hunting game, and are also very comfortable and lightweight, which is great for the bow hunter on the go. One of my favorite pair of boots from years ago was this style and I felt like I was walking through the air. However, the downsides to this flexibility are potential foot fatigue when carrying a heavy backpack and hiking for long periods of time on rough terrain, especially on slopes. However, this can be minimized if you condition your feet to these situations before your hunt.

Kenetrek Mountain Extreme ($ 465): As its name suggests, the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme is their flagship boot and is a favorite with mountain hunters. At its base is a 7mm polyurethane midsole to provide torsional rigidity and their exclusive K-Talon outsole to ensure your feet stay where you want them to be.

Kenetrek Mountain Extreme

The 2.8mm thick full-grain leather upper with a one-piece upper construction features a reinforced rubber sole protector for abrasion resistance, and with the seamless tongue and the breathable Windtex waterproof membrane, the only moisture your feet will see is what they produce.

Danner Pronghorn ($ 230-260): The Pronghorn was the first quality boot I have ever owned, and five generations and two decades later they are still popular with archery hunters. A great crossbreeding option for the white tail enthusiast and the western hunter, Danner pair their Vibram SPE midsole and TERRA FORCE NEXT platform to provide superior comfort, arch support and torsion control. The full-grain leather upper can withstand blows, while the breathable GORE-TEX lining will keep you dry. The Pronghorn is available up to 1200g of PrimaLoft insulation and in a snake-proof option.

Danner Antelope

Rigid-shank boots are extremely popular today among many western hunters, including yours. They’re much stiffer, have a more aggressive outsole, and are designed to withstand the wear and tear of a real mountain adventure. They are specially designed to provide better overall support for your foot, arch and ankle and I have found this style especially good for extended hunts over rough terrain.

My pair of Danner Thorofares have seen the rugged Alaskan mountains, as well as Colorado for the past two years, and I have been able to hunt longer and harder without the foot fatigue I typically experience with other boots. While these styles of boots are a bit heavier, they are not cinder blocks in most cases, so the little extra weight far exceeds long term comfort in my experience. And while the stiffness does generate a bit of extra noise, you can mitigate that by taking them off and putting on an extra pair of woolen socks for the final upper.

Irish Setter VaprTrek ($ 160- $ 170): Made with full grain leather and abrasion resistant material, the athletic VaprTrek from Irish setter is an ideal bow hunting boot for the hunter on the go. Lightweight, quiet, and waterproof from head to toe, it features ScentBan odor-controlling technology that kills odor-causing bacteria and has an aggressive yet agile outsole to ensure your feet stay where you want them to be. They are available in Mossy Oak and Realtree camouflage patterns and up to 400g of PrimaLoft insulation.

Irish Setter VaprTrek

A semi-rigid boot offers better rigidity, stability and ankle support. These seem to be the type of boot that most archery hunters wear on all types of terrain, making them a good style of crossover boot in most situations. They are a good lightweight option for early to mid-season hunts that can get the job done just about anywhere. While not as quiet as the aforementioned styling, neither are they extremely loud, but the compromise of more support is certainly worth it.

The essential rubbers

If you hunt deer or spend time in swampy areas, you must have a pair of quality rubber boots. Not only do they keep your feet dry, but their ability to stay clean and fragrance-free is also important. While rubber hunting boots generally look the same, the appearance can be deceptive, so it’s important to invest in a quality pair for overall support, comfort, and lasting quality.

The three things you should look for in a rubber boot are durability, flexibility, and insulating qualities. A quality pair will offer a very durable rubber shell that is bonded to a breathable neoprene liner. Not only does this improve their waterproofing abilities, but the neoprene also has natural insulation qualities. When paired with extra insulation, it adds even more warmth without the bulk, which is a must have for late season hunts.

While not designed for mountain type hunting – they are extremely popular with tree hunters who are careful about their scent – a good pair of rubbers will also feature an outsole that is aggressive enough to provide good traction in. mud and slightly uneven terrain, while having an athletic design that hugs your feet with a comfortable footbed.

LaCrosse AeroHead Sport

LaCrosse Aerohead Sport ($ 180- $ 200): When it comes to wellies, you get what you pay for, and once you slip your feet into a The Crosse Aerohead Sport, you will know it was worth it. Its polyurethane shell combined with a premium footbed envelops your feet in divine comfort and warmth that you will feel instantly. Designed for optimal fit and flexibility, it also sports rugged Brush Tuff material with abrasion-resistant shin guards for exceptional durability. The Aerohead Sport is available in 3.5mm and 7mm insulation options and in a range of camouflage patterns.

Don’t forget the snakes

I never really thought about snake boots until I stepped on a rattle about ten years ago on a spring turkey hunt in Texas’s Edwards Plateau. Lucky for me it hit the bottom of my boot and I came out a bit wiser for the experience. Since then I have had two more such encounters and now waterproof snake boots are on my feet whenever I am in a country subject to these encounters.

While a good pair of snake boots will protect your legs and feet from quick crocs, they will also provide good traction and support on rough terrain, while being waterproof. Some companies even offer snake-proof rubber boots for those who hunt in more swampy areas.

Most of today’s snake boots offer the same support as a mid-stiff style boot, making them a great option on more rocky terrain. Their athletic fit and comfortable footbed are even better so you have no problem chasing after play for long periods of time. Would I wear a pair on a mountain type hunt? No. But my Danner Steadfast Snake boots, which are no longer produced now, are still put to good use every spring.

Waterproof Snake Rocky Prolight Boot

Waterproof Snake Boots Rocky Boots Prolight ($ 145): With 16 inches of snake protection, Rocky’s The Prolight waterproof snake boot features full grain leather trims that beautifully surround the Mossy Oak camouflage nylon material that adds to Rocky’s guaranteed waterproof protection and breathability. Their BioMech Polyurethane rubber outsole is well suited to rugged terrain, while the cushioned sockliner ensures all-day comfort.