By Jason Reid
Alright, never thought I would say this publicly, but here it goes. I need to go shoe shopping. Well, really boot shopping. Anyone want to come with me? In all seriousness though, I am looking at the hiking boots I need to purchase before September. Actually, make it by next week in order to leave plenty of break in time. As we spoke about last week, upgrading gear is a must. The boots you use for eastern whitetails, even hiking in the east may not be sufficient. Time to shop, but it is no use in shopping if you don't know what to look for.
Now I have been down this road once before when I was a bit younger. I mostly listened to what my father told me and advised me about elk hunting boots. And during my first elk trip, and in the years of wearing my first pair of elk boots, I learned what I liked, didn’t like and what I needed from a pair. Six years later, my boots could still work but have been put through the gauntlet of adventures, and with a new chance at redemption, a new pair of boots is in order. As I flip through the pages of catalogs and the internet, my mental checklist starts firing off, yes or no, like a fully automatic gun.
A mountain boot must be a seamless part of your being. They must preform without you knowing they are there.
Questions I ask by just looking:
Are these boots fortified by GoreTex?
Look, wet feet are miserable feet, there is no way around this. Sure, when manufactures use GoreTex, it might bump retail price a bit, yet, as your feet and legs are your vehicle for the mountains, don’t choose the deal out of the classified section. Been there and done that in the past, I will not consider a boot without GoreTex protection.
How high is the cut?
For early season hunts, a low cut boot provides great ankle support without suffocating your calf.
The cut is the part of the boot which comes up around your ankles. Pretty basic and easy to understand. Some people prefer higher cuts, others prefer low. Personally, for the early season, I want a lower cut, which will go just over my ankles, providing support, but not one which chokes my calf.
How much area does the toe bumper cover?
My father once described elk hunting as a repetitive ten hour day with your toes digging into the mountain at a 45 degree incline. After my first elk hunt, I knew these words were true. The toe cover of my boots only covered the front and peeled like an orange by the end of the hunt. I swore to myself, any hiking boot I will consider in the future would need to cover the toe.
You dig your toes into the mountain non-stop. Are your boot's toe covers up to the challenge?
How rugged are the outsoles of the boots?
While there are many aspects to the boots which will make or break them in the mountains, I personally feel the outsole should take priority since they hit the jagged earth repeatedly, first. Think about this, how deep and thick are the treads in the lugs? Will the heel break provide efficient control as you make steep descents? The wider and deeper tread designs are, means better traction since wider and deeper treads are able to lose mud and debris easier than tightly compacted treads. These are your claws in the mountains, so pick wisely.
When looking at a pair of boots, first ask these questions. You will be surprised how your field of choices change.
Jason Reid is a business professional and content provider from Western NewYork. Drawing on extensive mentorships from the business world to the woods, he strives to provide value to business and readers alike. While his passion is bowhunting big game, Reid embraces any challenge which forces him to push his limits. Follow him on Twitter @JReid_PWL and Instagram @pushingthewildlimits.