Next to a crossbow or other hunting tool be it a bow or firearm, a hunter’s choice in boots is another critical area simply because your feet on on the ground 24/7 when in the field. There are a lot of variables in selecting footwear and options like material, weight, type of sole, waterproof capability and grams of insulation immediately come to mind. Over the last few years, it became apparent to this hunter that going against mainstream thought was delivering better results in the field. It’s almost revolutionary but here you are!
#1 – Avoid Waterproof boots? Well, avoid waterproof boots as long as the hunting grounds aren’t swampland and temperatures aren’t extreme. For years, waterproof boots were the choice because who would ever want water on their feet. The problem develops when waterproof boots get wet. They don’t dry out very quickly and seem to hold water in place around the feet especially when socks get wet. And the funny thing is you don’t need to wade in puddles to get your socks soaked. More frequently, the weather is nice and there is no rain in the forecast. A hunter heads out early and the dew is thick on underbrush. The hunting trousers get wet walking through the vegetation. Waterproof or not, the trousers dry out quickly with the morning sun. What also happens is that any “wetness” on the trousers begins wicking into the dry socks and into the boots from above. IT TOOK ME YEARS TO FIGURE THIS OUT AS SIMPLE AS IT SOUNDS! Water flows downhill and sneakily makes its way down the socks and into the boot. Now the hunter has wet socks and the multi-layer waterproof membrane seems to hold water in just as good as it supposedly establishes a barrier to keep water out. The waterproof membrane worked on the boot but was helpless against the wicking motion of water from above. Complaints are lodged about the epic fail of the waterproof boot but the boot really didn’t fail.
#2 – Considering boots that are neither Waterproof or Insulated. In the scenario played out above, let’s think through the dynamics of boots that aren’t waterproof and are totally uninsulated. Yep – the boots are lighter in weight. Yep – the socks get wet. Yep – there is water in the boot. Nope – the feet don’t stay wet for long. While the morning dew and perhaps the unexpected stream were the culprits, as the temperature rises and the sun comes out, this footwear system dries out quickly especially if synthetics are used in boot materials. With a wool sock, the feet will stay relatively comfortable and warm even if the wool socks are wet. It has proven to be a better system for me ….. at least on those fair days when the dew is thick and this system is used all season long until the weather get very cold and a heavier insulated boot is needed. By that time, ice and cold are the issues and water is less of a problem. Boots pictured clockwise below:
(1) Nike Tactical Boot – Uninsulated, (2) Under Armour – Uninsulated/Waterproof (3) Meindl Leather – Uninsulated /Waterproof, (4) Lacrosse Pac Boots – Insulated/Waterproof, (5) Muck Boots – Insulated/Waterproof, (6) Merino Wool Socks, (7) Merrell Low Cut – Uninsulated (8) Merrell Hi Top – Uninsulated
#3 – Wool socks are a must! Buy Merino wool socks. Look for a high % of Merino Wool on the sock composition label. These socks can be purchased in different weights from lightweight to a heavier weight depending on temperature expected. Consider an inner polyester sock liner if blister problems are expected due to heavy hiking scenarios. In Colorado, walking 5 or 6 miles a day demands a quality sock with cushioning and an inner sock liner can be helpful. An upgraded insole (expect to pay $30 or more) like a product made by Superfeet for example can turn a very good boot into a great boot.
An example of a good insole that replaces a factory product and significantly improves boot performance.
Looking back at 2017, the boots used most frequently were the Under Armour boots in the mountains that provided great support in heavy timber and the Merrell Hi Top sneaker boots in the whitetail woods. When it get cold and it becomes 100% stand hunting, out come the PAC boots. Muck boots are a 2018 project but I have seen the right model work in Texas heat so looks are deceiving. Remember, look for Merino Wool. No substitutes and expect to pay a little more for socks! Hope this helps – if all else fails, put on the knee high rubber boots!
My best, Chuck at Kodabow