Your success on the hunt often comes down to how far your feet can carry you. The last thing you need is footwear failure in the field. Without the right boots, your feet may become too sore to continue tracking your prey, too cold to stay in the stand, or so overheated and sweaty that you can barely withstand the discomfort.
“While staying comfortable is always important, you also need to consider game and seasonality when making your purchase,” said Amy Malone, a footwear coordinator at DICK’S Sporting Goods.
“For instance, hunting seasons that occur during cold winter months will require an insulated, waterproof boot, whereas early-season archery would require a lightweight, scent-free boot.”
Types Of Boots
Hunting boots are broken down into two main categories—field boots and rubber boots.
- Field Boots are typically constructed with a variety of features in the upper to provide a balance of breathability and durability. Common materials are full-grain leather, nylon and mesh.
- Rubber boots offer several advantages on the hunt. Rubber boots are scent-free, so they’ll never give your location away. They are also waterproof, making them perfect for treks across streams, marshes and swampy areas. However, rubber boots do tend to get quite warm, so give extra consideration to temperatures in your hunting area.
- You can also find snake boots, which are designed with an extended collar and specialized materials, protecting you from snake bites in the wild.
The amount of insulation you need depends on the season, the type of hunt and your activity level. If you’re sitting in a stand in sub-zero temperatures, you will need a significant amount of insulation because of the lack of circulation to your feet. However, the constant movement required on an active hunt will naturally keep your feet warm—requiring less insulation.
You will see insulation listed in grams, which refers to grams per square meter of fabric. Here is a quick breakdown on how to choose the appropriate amount of insulation:
- Uninsulated up to 200 grams: This is what you’ll want in milder temperatures like those you’ll encounter on an early-season deer hunt or spring gobbler hunt.
- 400 grams up to 800 grams: This range is ideal for average fall hunting conditions.
- 1000 grams and above: Choose this range for harsh winter weather, especially if you’re still-hunting in a stand or blind.
If you will be hiking across rough terrain, your boots should provide dependable traction. Look for boots with molded rubber lugs and cleats—these will grip slippery surfaces.
Remember, when you’re on the hunt, you probably won’t be wearing your everyday socks. You might wear a thicker wool pair or use a specialized boot liner. Keep this in mind when choosing your size. You might want your hunting boots to be slightly larger than you regular footwear to accommodate your needs.
Over time, you may have discovered what works best for you in the field. Part of the boot selection process is your personal preference.
“Personally, I prefer a high-cut boot with a versatile camo pattern that I can use for both big and small game hunts,” Malone said. “Having a lightweight boot with a waterproof exterior is ideal for me because I can stay comfortable and dry whether I’m pushing a field or sitting in my treestand.”