Top 6 Boots for Bowhunting

From hot-weather hikes for pronghorns to bone-chilling sits for winter whitetails, these six boots will keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Top 6 Boots for Bowhunting

When it comes to footwear for hunting, I’m a self-proclaimed snob. My opinions about what works — and what doesn’t — didn’t happen overnight. For five decades I’ve been putting hunting boots to the test in God-forsaken conditions, and the half-dozen detailed below have stood the test of time.

A few notes before I get to my list: I’m not scaling mountains on a regular basis, so stop reading if you’re interested in learning about the best boots for pursuing sheep and goats. And because snake-proof boots are in a class by themselves, I’ll save that topic for another day. The footwear listed below is for the vast majority of hunters who spend their time in the spring pursuing turkeys and black bears, then in the fall focusing on whitetails, with occasional adventures for pronghorns, mule deer and even elk. Finally, you can wear one of these boots to church and not look out of place; you can also wear one of them to the North Pole and fit right in.

Let’s get started, beginning with boots for mild conditions and progressing to those for when hell freezes over.

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

I know what you’re thinking: Lowa? Never heard of it. If that’s the case, then you don’t have a clue what you’ve been missing. I’ve worn just about every major boot brand there is, and when it comes to leather footwear, Lowa is one of the best.

The Renegade GTX Mid ($230) is the company’s top-selling hiking boot. The GTX stands for GORE-TEX, which equals dry feet no matter what. Don’t underestimate these hikers; while they look good enough for attending Sunday service, the leather wears like iron. I’ve hammered on my Renegades during hunts for everything from turkeys to elk, and I live in them during food plot planting season, which basically means hiking for hours in tilled ground while picking rocks and broadcasting seed.

When my time on earth has ended, please carry my ashes in my well-worn Renegades to my No. 1 clover plot and spread me over the soil. Even better — hand my hikers to someone attending my “funeral in the forest” who wears a size 10. Chances are good that the boots will have many more years of service ahead of them.

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

Lowa Z-8S GTX

When conditions become just a bit too extreme for the Renegades, and I need more ankle support and height, I switch to the 8-inch-tall Lowa Z-8S GTX ($330). Like the Renegades, the Z-8S GTX is waterproof thanks to a GORE-TEX lining. These are not insulated boots, so they’re perfect for hiking the prairie for pronghorns and muleys, and they’re rugged enough for any elk hunt.

Note: In addition to listing these boots under the “Hunting” tab on its website, Lowa also includes them under the category “Task Force.” Web quote from the product description: “Our injected DuraPU midsole provides support and the extra-stable PU MONOWRAP construction provides instep protection against rope abrasion should the chase involve rappelling.” I’ve never had to rappel for birds or big game, but it’s comfortable to know my Lowa Z-8S GTX can handle the task if needed.

Lowa Z-8S GTX
Lowa Z-8S GTX

LaCrosse Grange

Come whitetail archery season, it’s time to slip into my uninsulated LaCrosse Grange boots ($90). LaCrosse first introduced the Grange to the world in 1957; I’ve been wearing them religiously since 1980-ish. During that time — nearly 40 years — I’ve purchased four pairs, and three of them are still going strong. The oldest pair in my rotation (25 years) is pretty beat up and has been repaired many times after coming into contact with barbed-wire fences and other sharp objects. The other two (one 15 years, one 5 years) look worn but function perfectly. I spend most of my time bowhunting whitetails in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, and one pair stays at each location.

These lightweight boots are 100 percent waterproof; when I have to cross streams on my way to a treestand, or walk through wet swamps, I wear the Grange. I tuck my pants into the boots, saturate the sides and bottom of the Grange with scent-killing spray, and I’ve greatly reduced the amount of human odor left in my hunting area.

The author (right photo, far left) depends on his LaCrosse Grange boots to keep his feet dry while pursuing whitetails and wild turkeys.
The author (right photo, far left) depends on his LaCrosse Grange boots to keep his feet dry while pursuing whitetails and wild turkeys.

One note about fit: LaCrosse makes many great boots, and the Grange is perhaps the oldest. Why haven’t I detailed a more modern LaCrosse offering here? Simple: The Grange features a narrow ankle region; the company calls it “Ankle Fit.” As you pull on the boots, the rubber in this area stretches just a bit, and then your foot snaps into place. The boot grips the top of your foot and locks your heel in place. In other words, your foot isn’t sliding around in the boot as you walk. And if you must walk through deep mud, your boots won’t get pulled off your feet. Sure, the boots take a bit more work to remove, but with a boot jack/puller (easy to make yourself), it’s no problem.

Thanks to the Ankle Fit feature, LaCrosse Grange boots won’t slip around on your foot while hiking.
Thanks to the Ankle Fit feature, LaCrosse Grange boots won’t slip around on your foot while hiking.

The Grange is also my No. 1 boot for spring turkey hunting, regardless of whether I’m carrying a bow or shotgun.

LaCrosse Burly

When temps drop below 60 degrees, I grab for insulated LaCrosse Burly boots ($100) instead of the Grange. Another quick history lesson: The Burly was introduced in 1963, only 6 years after the Grange.

Like the Grange, the Burly is still made from the company’s proven ZXT Rubber, which won’t crack in extreme heat or harden in extreme cold. The Burly also features Ankle Fit, so you can hike through the nastiest terrain in comfort.

When temps make it too cold for the uninsulated Grange, the author switches to the insulated LaCrosse Burly.
When temps make it too cold for the uninsulated Grange, the author switches to the insulated LaCrosse Burly.

I prefer this classic model, which features the chevron cleated sole, over a similar offering that has the Air Grip sole. Why? The Air Grip does a wonderful job with traction — at times, too good. The Air Grip grabs the mesh metal platforms of my ladder stands and hang-on portables. When I want to quietly rotate in my treestand, I prefer to slide my feet, which is easier with the chevron tread.

LaCrosse Burly boots are available with the chevron cleated sole (left) or Air Grip sole (right).
LaCrosse Burly boots are available with the chevron cleated sole (left) or Air Grip sole (right).

The foam insulation in these Burly boots keep my feet warm on stand (while wearing a medium-weight wool sock) down to temps of about 40 degrees. Colder than that and I switch to the next knee-high rubber boot on my list.

BOGS Blaze II

When I need waterproof protection during the coldest of conditions, I put on a heavyweight wool sock and slide into the BOGS Blaze II ($190). On my bowhunting land in South Dakota, a stream runs through the heart of the half-mile property, and most years this stream remains open during November and December. The water is 6-12 inches deep in my planned creek crossing spots, and while hunting in air temps well below freezing, I absolutely can’t risk getting wet feet on my way to a treestand.

I typically wear a size 10 hunting boot, but I chose a size 11 BOGS Blaze II to ensure I’d have enough room for a heavyweight wool sock. As anyone who hunts in extremely frigid conditions with tell you, the fastest way to cold feet is wearing boots that are too tight.

The BOGS Blaze II features 1,000-gram Thinsulate insulation. The rubber is soft but tough, and it doesn’t get stiff in below freezing temps. Note: These boots don’t fit tightly in the ankle like the LaCrosse Grange and Burly, but it’s never been a problem for me because I’m not hiking as far in the BOGS Blaze II, and mud isn’t an issue (it’s frozen). 

I’ve worn the BOGS Blaze II for extended sits in a treestand in temps down to 10 degrees. When it gets colder than that, it’s time for the final boot on my favorite’s list.

BOGS Blaze II
BOGS Blaze II

Steger Moosehide Mukluks

Chances are good that you’ve never heard about Steger Mukluks. I learned about them because I live in a place — Minnesota — that occasionally moonlights as the North Pole.

Sidebar for another history lesson: Patti Steger was once married to legendary polar explorer Will Steger, who in 1986 led the first confirmed dogsled journey to the North Pole without re-supply. On that adventure, as well as several others (1,600 miles by dogsled across Greenland; 3,741 miles by dogsled across Antarctica), Will Steger and his companions wore specialized gear to keep them alive in the worst conditions imaginable, and one of those items was Steger Mukluks.

The Steger team taking a break in Antarctica. See the boots? Enough said . . .
The Steger team taking a break in Antarctica. See the boots? Enough said . . .

Patti Steger, who is the driving force to this day behind Steger Mukluks, once wrote: Steger Moosehide Mukluks are twice as warm and less than half the weight of traditional winter boots. They are made in the Northern Cree Indian style and have durable, flexible, treaded rubber soles. We use the best moosehides available, which means that your mukluks will remain supple and flexible through the years. With each pair you receive the best wool felt liners and insoles we can provide. Remember that flexibility, breathability and insulation are the keys to warm feet. One pound of weight on your foot is equal to 5 pounds on your lower back. Heavier does not mean warmer; it means aching legs and back.

In addition to being worn on numerous polar expeditions (North and South Poles), Steger Mukluks are also used by dogsled competitors during the annual Iditarod Race in Alaska. In other words, these boots will keep you warm on a deer stand. I’ve worn Steger Mukluks on all my cold-weather bowhunts since buying my one-and-only pair in 2000.

Buying tip: As I stated earlier in this article, my regular shoe/hiking boot size is 10. However, I purchased a size 11 wide Steger Mukluk (Arctic with Ribbon model; $199.95) to have plenty of room for an additional wool felt insole. In my mukluks, I wear a heavyweight wool sock. Click here for detailed info from Patti Steger on how to purchase the correct style and size mukluk; scroll down to “Extreme Conditions” and prepare to be educated.

Steger Mukluk — Arctic with Ribbon model
Steger Mukluk — Arctic with Ribbon model

The upper part of the Arctic model is made of tough weather-treated canvas; it’s white, which is perfect for winter whitetail bowhunts or even late-season predator gun hunts. The lower part of the boot is moosehide. Trust me — Steger Mukluks fit like bedroom slippers and weigh about the same. If you’re wearing bulky and super-heavy pac boots for your cold-weather hunts, then you need to open your mind to mukluks.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.