Every hunter with much experience under their belt has suffered through painful blisters, numb toes, and aching feet. It’s tough to focus on quarry when your dogs are barking and bloody.
That’s why it’s critical to find the best hunting boots for the job, whether that’s all-day rut sits or early-season stalks. After field testing dozens of models, we’ve narrowed it down to a few of our favorites.
Jump to: The Hunting Boots We Use
We’ve put plenty of pairs through abuse in all kinds of country and conditions. Some have held up, and others have been retired from our gear kits. But our top picks and all the best hunting boots have a few common characteristics.
We’re looking for a comfortable pair of well-built boots designed to protect our feet and stand up to everything the hunt throws at us.
Jump to: What Makes Good Hunting Boots
The MeatEater crew has logged hundreds of miles in these boots. They’ve taken a beating, endured the elements, and are still our top picks for the majority of outings.
Clay and Cal’s Pick
Schnee’s Beartooth 0g
Hanwag Makra Combi GTX
LaCrosse Alphaburly Pro 1600G
Crispi Guide GTX insulated Hunting Boot
|Highlight||Best All-Around||Most Versatile||Best Lightweight||Best for Whitetail||Best Ankle Support|
|Material||Top grain leather/Schoeller fabric||Top-grain leather||Suede/Cordura||Rubber/PU||Water-repellent Nubuk|
|Waterproofing||Sympatex||Sympatex||GORE-TEX||Waterproof lining||Gore-Tex® Insulated|
|Insulation||Uninsulated||Uninsulated||Uninsulated||1600g Thinsulate Ultra||200 g|
|Height||6 in.||9 in.||Unavailable||18 in.||10 in.|
|Weight||3.4 lbs.||3.9 lbs.||2.75 lbs.||5.5 lbs.||4.2 lbs.|
|Field Notes||Field Notes||Field Notes||Field Notes||Field Notes|
Rubber boots that keep toes toasty in the treestand won’t work for warm-weather hikes through the backcountry and vice versa. But all good hunting boots should have a few things in common.
Nothing can wreck a hunt like ill-fitting boots that give you painful blisters. A great hunting boot will provide the support you need without digging into your skin or rubbing your heels raw—and with minimal break-in time. What’s comfortable for one hunter could kill another’s feet. Stick to boots designed for your individual needs, whether you have wide or narrow feet and flat or high arches.
Some boots can repel a light mist, but others will keep your feet bone dry in a deluge. Wet socks can rub your feet raw, freeze out your toes, and make moving just generally unpleasant. Especially if you’ll be crossing creeks, hoofing it in unpredictable conditions, or toughing it out in frigid temps, look for a pair of boots with fully waterproof construction.
Whether you prioritize a rigid design for scaling technical terrain or a well-insulated style built for sub-freezing sits, it’s essential to strike the right balance between the performance you need and the overall weight of the boots. Heavy, bulky boots can slow you down and make maneuvering difficult. But good hunting boots will offer the features and coverage the hunt demands without becoming a burden.
The best hunting boots can shield your feet and ankles from thorns, burrs, briars, rocks, and more without tearing or falling apart. High-quality materials and rugged construction engineered to take seasons of abuse will prevent soles from separating and your feet from being exposed.
Even the best-made hunting boots can rub your feet the wrong way if you don’t find the right fit and break them in properly before hitting the field.
Buy new boots early so you have plenty of time to get them ready to hunt. When shopping, try boots on with the same socks you’ll be wearing in the field. If you’re ordering online, measure the length and width of your feet and compare them to the manufacturer’s sizing chart—you likely won’t wear the same size from brand to brand.
Begin wearing your new boots around the house right away, again with the socks you’ll wear while hunting. Put them on when you rake the yard, run errands, or walk the dog.
Slowly work up to sliding them on before scouting trips or longer-distance hikes with a weighted pack. Note any potential places where hotspots or blisters could occur—use moleskin or Leukotape here to help prevent problems on the hunt.
You can treat stiff, tight leather uppers with a conditioner or softener for more give. If the fit still isn’t quite right after weeks of wear, consider swapping out your socks or investing in insoles for a more tailored fit.
A boot that’s rugged, relatively lightweight, waterproof, and easy on the feet checks just about all the boxes for the bulk of warm-weather jaunts. Both Clay and Cal reach for these boots for most of their pursuits.
"I love the Schnee’s Kestrel. Light, compact, and rigid, I wear them almost every day," Clay said.
The pLite midsole provides support and shock absorption without weighing feet down, while a mix of mountain-proven leather and stretch Schoeller fabric keep feet comfortably protected.
"They’re easy to break in yet rigid enough to hike any coulee or mountain on my radar," Cal said. "By far my favorite boot for 90% of my hunting season."
When you hunt everything all over the place, a solid boot that can go from challenging stalks in the high country to slow walks in thick upland ground is an essential piece in your kit.
"It’s hard to pick just one boot, but if I had to choose my favorite overall, it’s the Schnee’s Beartooth," Steve said.
These boots are built for versatility with Schee’s Flex-2 chassis, which boasts both stiffness and flex for varying terrain. They’re equipped with a completely waterproof Sympatex membrane as well as an ultra-grippy Vibram Tsavo outsole for long-lasting durability.
"I just wrapped up a moose hunt in interior Alaska with my three-seasons-old Beartooths, and they kept my feet dry and comfy," Steve said.
Some hunting scenarios call for an aggressive, lightweight boot that can provide traction on the most technical terrain—and that’s where Janis’s new go-to shines.
"This is my first year running the Hanwag Makra GTX, but it's quickly becoming a favorite," he said. "It's light enough to move fast but just stiff enough to easily kick steps into the side of a mountain. It's also got enough flex that pounding a hard-packed trail doesn't wear out my feet," Janis said.
With a GORE-TEX membrane, these boots also keep feet warm and dry, even with a low profile.
"It's on the shorter side for boots, but I plan to use a gaiter with them until the temps get super cold."
Shivering in a stand all day while wind swirls around you demands an entirely different boot than spotting and stalking in the backcountry. When I’m whitetail hunting, the LaCrosse Alphaburly Pros keep my feet from freezing without sacrificing scent control.
These boots feature thick cushioning for comfort as well as a beefy outsole for traction on the trek to my treestand.
Alphaburly Pros are available in several options from uninsulated to 1600G, but I wear this warmest model on my Raynaud’s-afflicted feet throughout most of the season. The roomy toe box provides plenty of space for airflow even with heavy wool socks, while the design allows for easy on and off.
I’ve been wearing mine into the whitetail woods for the last five years and have no plans of swapping them out of my setup anytime soon.
Finding a boot that’s rigid and supportive while allowing movement, waterproof and warm without being sweltering, and comfortable without collapsing sounds like a big ask—but Crispi steps up to the plate.
"I have embarrassingly weak ankles and needed a boot with extra support to get me through demanding backcountry hunts," MeatEater's Director of Web Content Maggie Hudlow said. "Crispi delivers. My ankle didn't falter once this season while hauling elk out of some gnarly country."
Crispi's Ankle Bone Support System (ABSS) contours the ankle, providing a comfortable and sturdy support system. And the leather outer and Gore-Tex lining make this a burly boot that is damn near impenetrable by water.
"I've crossed rivers and hunted in downpours, hail storms, and deep snow, but my feet never felt a drop of moisture," Maggie said. "And the 200g of insulation is welcome in just about every scenario–adding the perfect amount of cushion and warmth where I need it most."