Bogs Bowman ($190)
Bogs makes a whole slew of different rubber boots aimed at hunters but the 16-inch Bowman is one of its newest. Unlike many boot manufacturers Bogs doesn’t play the “gram weight” insulation game, preferring to insulate its boots with neoprene rubber—in this case a 6mm “Neo-Tech” lining plus a “Max-Wick” lining with Airmesh. The goal, the company says, is warmth without bulk. Indeed, on your feet these boots feel sleek and light—they were the third lightest of the six rubber boots—and were also stand-out comfortable, a common trait of many neoprene-style boots. But our test proved they were the least-insulated in our test group. I don’t consider that too big a deal due to the rather rigid parameters of our freezer test; in my experience, the insulating qualities of neoprene are greatly enhanced by the body warmth of the wearer—something our test did not replicate. This boot stands out visually due to its large top-mounted “pull-on” holes that I would say are unnecessary, and also minimize this boot’s waterproof height. I would argue that if you struggle too much donning boots you likely need to up-size. (877) 321-2647; www.bogsfootwear.com — Mark Melotik
Danner Pronghorn GTX 1200G ($220)
In the incredibly competitive field of boot manufacturing, the success of Danner and especially its Pronghorn model has been nothing short of remarkable. Since the model’s introduction in 2002, the Danner Pronghorn boot has risen to the top of regard among the most knowledgeable hunting gear experts in the world. I remember a few years ago going on a hunt with 10 or 12 other hunting writers and editors, and chuckling at the fact that fully half of them showed up in Danner Pronghorns. And, no, the hunt wasn’t even sponsored by Danner!
All you have to do is pick up one of these boots, and the quality of design, craftsmanship, and manufacturing is immediately obvious. The Pronghorn, no matter what point in its evolution, is always comfortable, ergonomic, lightweight, yet warm and downright handsome.
The Pronghorn I tested was the 8-inch, 72-ounce GTX 1200G insulated version designed for extreme cold climates with an aggressive Danner Terra Force sole, leather reinforcements, and hard rubber toe and heel armor. Lacing is five sets of eyes on the bottom and four sets of speed lacing studs up the ankle. The boots also feature waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex liner for dryness, 1,200 grams of Thinsulate insulation for warmth, full-grain leather and 1000 Denier nylon upper for durability and abrasion-resistance, and deeply padded footbeds for comfort and arch support all day long.
The GTX 1200G boots come in Realtree AP HD. I found them to be extremely comfortable and easy to walk in. (877) 432-6637; www.danner.com — Mike Strandlund
Boot Field Test
We performed two objective experiments as part of our Field Test of hunting boots. One was our Freezer Test, in which we placed a thermometer and plastic “plug” into each boot, then placed each boot individually into a freezer for 30 minutes and recorded the interior temperature. All boots and tools were at room temperature at the beginning of each experiment. Those boots with the highest temperature after 30 minutes can be considered those that will keep your feet warmest.
The Waterproof Test consisted of placing each boot on our feet, then submerging and flexing it in 6 inches of water for five minutes, then checking for leaks.