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Published Jan. 25, 2021

Hunting is a time-honored tradition. It could be your way to hone your hard-earned firearms and tracking skills; for some, it’s a matter of life and death, the difference between eating and starving. From reconnecting with the great outdoors to imparting tracking and surveillance skills on the next generation, hunting is more than a mere sport — it’s man exerting his will over nature. And, like any other intense excursion, hunting requires proper gear: after all, you can’t focus on the hunt with wet socks or mud-trodden boots, and it’s damn near impossible to fight through the thicket with nettle and twigs stabbing your ankles. 

To succeed at the hunt, you need a solid pair of hunting boots. This breakdown showcases the best hunting boots on the market, along with some tips on making the right pick.

Hunting requires a balance of stealth and force, and your boots need to be able to live up to those standards. The Rocky Men’s Mid-Calf Hunting Boot stands out in terms of its lightweight design that doesn’t compromise sturdiness. The boots are meant to rise to just below the knee, giving your leg security against stray branches and thorns. With a synthetic rubber base, the boots offer substantial protection against moisture. The base is ridged to optimize your traction, preventing you from slipping in the mud along the foot trails. Incorporating a raised arch, these boots also give you enough support to walk comfortably. Letting you control the dispersion of your weight, these boots enhance your ability to remain quiet, hold your position, and strike when the moment is right.

Depending on where you go hunting, the features prioritized in the boots differ. Sometimes, insulation offers the tactical advantage you seek; other times, it’s a matter of agility. Either way. the Timberland Men’s White Ledge Ankle Boots promote ease of movement. The sole of the boots is made out of rubber, providing a thoroughly waterproof base so you can walk through muck and puddles without suffering through wet socks. The leather construction offers twofold value: first, it is naturally water-repellent and highly durable, and second, it is a naturally insulative material that can help keep you warm on longer treks. Taken together, the lightweight structure and textured base of these boots leaves you agile enough to move with ease, regardless of how long the hunting trip becomes.

A well-known name in the hunting and gaming industry, LaCrosse is known for its remarkably sturdy gear. The LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Hunting Boots live up to the hype with their high-rising shaft and tough base. The boots themselves are constructed entirely out of waterproof materials, namely neoprene and rubber. Offering a unique blend of insulation and moisture resistance, the boots let you stay warm and dry throughout your trek. Inside the neoprene boot is a liner made of nylon designed to absorb moisture so your feet stay dry despite perspiration. This way, whether you’re staying still and assessing the environment or moving around to get the blood flowing, the boots keep you comfortable. Well-ventilated and easy to maintain, this is a worthy selection if you are looking for a hunting boot that will last.

Do you prefer to hunt in cold climates, battling the elements while tracking down nature’s most glorious critters? If that’s the case, then you know just how important insulated boots really are. A lot of hunting is spent in surveillance, and that means staying very still for extended periods of time. But, with icy conditions, if you can’t get the blood flowing, you risk issues like frostbite and hypothermia. That’s where Muck Boots Woody Arctic Hunting Boots come into play. The neoprene shaft rises to just under the knee and rings in at almost a centimetre in thickness to not only protect against moisture, but serve as your first line of defense against the cold. Inside the boots is a fleece lining and thermal foam on the base of the foot. Providing both support and warmth, these boots let you hunt in weather as cold as minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The demands on hunting boots are extreme. They need to withstand dampness, mud, heat, and cold without wearing down. Plus, the boots need to balance toughness against heaviness, since you can’t afford to be weighed down when braving the wilderness. The Columbia Men’s Bugaboot III Snow Boots are excellent for all seasons, thanks in large part to the leather construction. The boots feature a textured leather sole which enhances your traction on even the most slippery surfaces. Rising to a few inches above the ankle, the boots help you balance and keep your feet secure. Featuring substantial insulation, the boots work to keep you warm without overheating your feet. By regulating temperature and moisture, these hunting boots optimize comfort without compromising your ability to move around.

Related: 8 hunting knives for the modern-day Jim Bowie

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Types of hunting boots

Rubber hunting boots

A common type of hunting boot, these are also often referred to as snake boots. Rising high above the ankle, the boots are meant to protect your legs from risks ranging from branches to, per the namesake, snake bites. The rubber material is waterproof, letting you walk through marshy environments with ease. Finally, a textured base (usually with a moderate arch) gives you traction while the overall lightweight structure keeps you agile. 

Mountain hunting Boots

A popular type of hunting boots for woodland and mountainous environments, these boots feature substantial tread compared to their simpler counterparts. In most cases, the boots are lace-ups and rise to just a couple of inches above the ankle. The base of the boots is usually made out of rubber while most mountain hunting boot shafts are made out of leather. These boots are typically water-resistant with a waterproof base. Depending on the model, you can find well-insulated options that are good for colder conditions. 

Key features of hunting boots

Sole

The sole is the base of the boot, the part that actually makes contact with the ground. In most cases, this part will be made out of rubber, either natural or synthetic. While each pair of boots will feature a level of tread, the necessity for deep grooves varies based on the terrain. However, in all cases, the sole must adhere securely to the shaft and be entirely waterproof. 

Shaft

Meeting the sole of the boot, the length of the shaft depends on the purpose and type of hunting boot. Rubber options will rise the highest since they are designed to be entirely waterproof and help you travel through bogs. Conversely, the shaft on mountain hunting boots won’t rise as high since the focus lies more on agility and ease of movement. Either way, all hunting boots should offer significant ankle protection to keep you moving across the toughest terrains.  

Insulation 

Referring to the interior of the boots, the need for insulation is multi-faceted. On the one hand, if you are dealing with a cold environment where you must stay still, you need substantial insulation to keep your feet safe. On the other hand, if you are moving continually, the insulation can’t be so dense that it retains perspiration. Look for models with moisture-wicking textiles to optimize utility. 

Benefits of hunting boots

  • Versatility: While hunting boots are the namesake, you can use them for more than the hunt. Depending on the type of boot, it can double as rain or hiking gear. Since hunting boots are made to be durable, the extra wear shouldn’t cause premature damage. 
  • Agility: Hunting boots are meant to be light enough to make it easy to move around quickly. When you’re out hunting, you probably have other gear in tow, things like survival knives and firearms. The weight adds up and having comfortable hunting boots lends a tactical advantage. 
  • Warmth: When you’re surveying the hunting grounds, you’re staying still for significant periods of time. Whether you’re in the blind or crouched behind a tree, your feet need protection from the cold. Hunting boots offer that warmth and comfort. 
  • Traction: Slipping can result in more than your target escaping, it can cause serious injury. From slick muddy ground to packed snow, nature is full of risks. The traction at the base of hunting boots helps you avoid falling. 
  • Water-resistance. While rubber hunting boots are waterproof, even mountain hunting boots offer water-resistance. This way, whether you’re caught in the rain or trekking through a marsh on the way to the deer’s sleeping grounds, you can keep your feet reasonably dry. 

Hunting boot pricing

  • Under $100: A lot of rubber hunting boots fall in this price range. You can also find mountain hunting boots, though they will likely have less insulation. 
  • Over $100:  For high-grade hunting boots, you can expect a price tag of around $125. Though it’s an investment, the boots will be highly protective, fit well, and built to last.

How we chose our top picks

Picking out the best hunting boots is about finding something comfortable, with good traction, that can stay quiet while you move. To pin down the top options, we first investigated the different types of hunting boots. From there, we looked into the weight and materials used to make the boots, aiming for the highest quality. Finally, we looked into the most important features of the boots, ensuring the shortlisted options account for those needs. Whittling down the results by company repute, personal experience, and user feedback, we finalised the list for the best hunting boots. The result is a series of durable, reliable boots that can help you track and hunt in comfort.

Related: Stay out of sight with these 6 hunting blinds

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