If you’re planning for your first hunting trip, don’t forget to add hunting boots to your list. We’ve learned through personal experience that hunting boots and hiking books are not the same things, so you want to be sure you have good footwear for your hunting adventures. Here’s what we know about hunting boots vs. hiking boots.
What Is a Hunting Boot?
Hunting Boots are heavy-duty footwear, usually made of rubber or similar insulating material, that provide adequate protection and traction for outdoor conditions. Almost all hunting boots are camouflage to blend in with the surroundings.
The purpose of hunting boots is to provide sturdy support for long days of standing and walking. With many hunters taking to the fields and woods during the winter, hunting boots are made to keep feet dry and warm.
Hunting boots are essential to a safe and comfortable hunt. Due to the amount of equipment you need to carry, including guns or bows, you must have safe footwear. Slipping and falling during harsh hunting conditions definitely spells trouble, which is what a solid pair of boots help avoid.
Types of Hunting Boots
Hunting boots have evolved over time to feature the warmest, strongest materials. There are plenty of hunting boots to choose from, with different brands, colors, styles, and price points.
A few of the most popular hunting boot types include:
- Upland hunting boots. This hunting boot is designed for grassy terrain where hunters walk upland to find game. Oftentimes hunters who are just starting out will invest in upland hunting boots, as they provide enough traction for flat, grassy areas, but aren’t suitable for extreme rocky surfaces. Most of these boots closely resemble regular hiking boots and come just above the ankle.
- Mountain hunting boots. For better traction than upland boots, mountain boots are the way to go. These boots have more insulation to accommodate cooler temperatures at higher elevations. They normally reach above the ankle or just a little bit higher. Hunters find that mountain boots assist with keeping steady and stable movement.
- Rubber hunting boots. As the most common boots for duck hunting, rubber footwear ensures feet stay dry even in wet marshlands and swamps. Wading boots hit just around the knee and protect the feet and legs from overexposure to cold water and temperatures.
- Snake boots. Anyone who isn’t a fan of snakes needs these hunting boots before their trip, especially when duck hunting. Knee-high snake boots are designed to protect wearers against snakebites in wet, marshy areas where slithery reptiles frequent. Snake boots can be insulated or uninsulated for both warm and cold weather use, with scent-resistant options also available. Hiking is hard in snake boots without great traction.
What Is the Difference Between a Hunting Boot and a Hiking Boot?
When shopping for outdoor boots, many people wonder if it really matters whether they buy a hunting boot or hiking boot. We find a lot of beginner outdoorsmen and women think these two styles of boots are practically the same, when in fact they are different.
Here are the key differences to remember:
- Insulation. Hiking boots are usually uninsulated and designed for summer hiking activities. This makes hiking boots seem more flexible than heavily insulated hunting boots. If the boots seem like athletic shoes with extra traction on the bottom and no additional insulation, then they are probably hiking boots.
- Weight. Hiking boots are normally more lightweight than hunting boots. Some of the most popular hiking boots weigh around 2.5 pounds, while it’s close to 5 pounds for hunting boots. The added protection and insulation make hunting boots heavier than their hiking counterparts.
- Height. Hiking boots usually hit right around the ankle, while hunting boots can be much higher and hit mid-calf or even at the knee. Hunters benefit from the additional protection around the ankles and calves, especially when in the fields and woods.
- Purpose. In addition to the physical characteristics, the overall purpose of hunting boots and hiking boots is different. Hiking boots are designed for great traction and support during an uphill or downhill hike while keeping weight down. Hunting boots are heavier with better insulation to keep feet and legs warm and dry on unpredictable off-trail terrain.
Can You Use Hiking Boots for Hunting?
It’s not ideal to use hiking boots for hunting, but it can be done. If you’ve run out of time or your hunting boots are damaged, it’s better to wear your best pair of hiking boots over tennis shoes or something else.
If you’re hunting in warm conditions or on dry hilly ground, it’s easier to get away with hiking boots instead of hunting boots. When you’re heading straight for the swamp for a full day of duck hunting, it’s going to be very hard to wear hiking boots instead of hunting boots.
Remember, the reason for hunting boots is to protect the legs and feet against the element and provide support and stability for continued use. Not all hiking boots are designed to keep you warm.
When in doubt, always try and keep a pair of hunting and hiking boots handy for your outdoor recreation activities. If you really need to swap, it’s typically easier to wear hiking boots for hunting rather than the other way around. After all, hunting boots are usually harder to walk in!
Are Leather Boots Good For Hunting?
Leather boots are a common choice for hunting. Leather boots are durable, lightweight, and waterproof, ticking all the boxes necessary for great hunting boots.
We recommend full-grain leather boots that are tight and tough enough to keep water out. The more that leather is sanded or buffed, the less thick it is, meaning there’s less protection against water.
Lightweight, insulated leather boots are better than heavy, bulky ones. The dynamic design makes it easy to move around while also keeping feet warm and protected.
You can get removable liners for leather hunting boots, perfect for outdoor activity in the cooler autumn and winter months.
There is a common misconception that leather boots smell and will deter deer. I have never found this to be true. Once the boots have been broken in, there will be a minimal amount of a deterring scent, and your hunting clothes will likely smell just as much.
Many deer have been harvested by hunters wearing leather boots.
How Long Should Hunting Boots Last?
Hunting boots should last for at least a few years, if not an entire decade or more. Hunting boots are a big investment and should stay strong and comfortable for several seasons.
Every manufacturer is different, so it’s best to check the boots before you buy to get a better idea of the design, materials, and product guarantee if there is one.
Of course, the more you wear hunting boots, the more likely they will have some general wear and tear. Those who dust off their boots once a year for an annual hunt will have boots that seem newer than someone who wears the same pair of boots multiple times a week.
While they may look similar and are often sold in the same shops, hunting boots and hiking boots are not the same. Hiking boots have a lighter construction with low collars for walking many miles in a day. In comparison, hunting boots are heavier and more insulated for off-trail activity and water exposure.
If you run into an issue and only have one pair of boots available, it’s possible to wear hiking boots while hunting, but it’s not ideal. For the best traction, insulation, and overall comfort in the field, hunting boots are the right choice.