Monday, August 12, 2013


I made a lengthy list of boots that I like, and have listed on my potential "to buy" list for my long-term hiking boots to replace the trail-runner type shoes that I wear day-to-day already today, and which I don't want to really hash to death in the wilderness.  I also don't really want to hike in trail runners.  Although I know that it's all the rage to hike in shoes these days, I actually prefer hiking boots that aren't "low tops"--in part because I still have a pack that, when loaded with food and water and everything else, is going to be 35-40 lbs. so the ankle support is meaningful to me still, in part because I like the look of leather hiking boots, and in part because I'm just a traditionalist, and leather, higher topped boots just feel right to me for hiking in the wilderness.

Eschewing some of the modern trends (including the aforementioned hiking "shoes" as opposed to boots) what I really like, quite honestly, are boots that resemble old-fashioned leather combat boots (except that I don't need them to be in black--I actually prefer brown leather, which is good, since it's much easier to find unless I stray out of outdoor boots entirely and have a look at duty boots, or tactical boots.)

This leads me, actually, into the world of hunting boots (as opposed to hiking boots) which are, of course, very similar to each other anyway.  Hunting boots have a few other requirements that hiking boots do not--they are frequently engineered for much rougher conditions, since the assumption is that hunters will be bushwacking while hikers are assumed to be on trails.  This is good, especially since some of my goals may be off-trail destinations, like Glissade Lake in the Beartooth Mountains, for instance. Hunting boots also have scent-control (sometimes) to avoid giving away your position to animals, a feature about which I couldn't care less.  And because the hunting season and the hiking season are not the same, hunting boots are often insulated to keep your feet warm in weather much colder than I would ever be interested in hiking in myself.  Not only does this extra warmth bode ill for my summer-time (or if not during the summer, than in warmer desert conditions) hiking, since it'll make my feet sweat, it also offers the double-whammy of making them noticeably heavier.  The only good part about this is that with the assumption that you may be walking around in the snow, hunting boots are well-equipped to keep your feet dry.

Sadly, once you start winnowing out the insulated and/or extra heavy (over 4 lbs. a pair) hunting boots, you find that many times the all-leather and the insulated versions coincide.  While I'm not entirely averse to having a mixed leather/nylon construction, I do prefer the all-leather kind.  This is as much about personal preference (outdoor chic fashion, if you will) as anything else, but it also helps to reduce the number of boots that I'm considering, by changing the priority with which I view them.

In the first category, the under 3 lbs. a pair category, I have few that are all leather, except for Perfekt Light Hikers by Meindl/Cabela's (and they are barely under 3 lbs. at that.)  The Quest 7" Hunting Boots win on price (at just about $100) and the Under Armour Speed Freak Hunting Boots win on weight (and just barely over 2 lbs. a pair--and also a good price) but I think the Perfekt Light Hikers are my favorite.  I'll put up with .8 lbs more and $100 more to get them, but the reviews of their comfort and durability are tough to beat.

Although, frankly, if I'm wearing that much weight and spending that much money, I'm tempted to bump both up just a little bit incrementally and get boots that I like even more.  In the next category, the 3-4 lbs. boots, I've got several options.  Probably my favorites are the slightly taller 7" Perfekt Hikers (also by Meindl/Cabela's).  They add about half a pound and twenty bucks, but again; if I'm going that way anyway, that's not a major change on either front.  The Rimrock Hikers (from Cabela's) are just barely at 3 lbs, and have a nice rubber rand all the way around, to protect the leather, and the Asolo Fugitive GTX boots are highly reviewed and are also just over 3 lbs.--although I have to admit that I don't like the look of them nearly as much.  The heavier, more mountaineering Asolo TPS 520s are nice, but really pricey, and for that kind of money (and weight) I'd rather go with the Meindl's.  Not only are they extremely well-regarded, they actually cost about $40 less.  And I like the look of them better too.

Among the heavy (4 lbs. and over) boots, most are eliminated from consideration because of their insulation (and weight) but one stands out to me still, the Outfitter Pro 9" uninsulated hunting boots (again, by Cabela's.  I tend to like them better than REI or the other guys.)  Great looking, as light as they get in this category, and extremely highly regarded as among the most rugged and durable and "go anywhere" boots on the planet, the only downside is, again the fact that they weigh 4.1 lbs.  Then again, I'm not really one of those guys who thinks that an extra pound on my feet is going to kill me (yeah, yeah, I've seen all the biomechanical calculations that folks have done--I just disregard them as unimportant compared to my experience.)  They're only half a pound heavier than the Perfekt Hikers, even with two more inches of height, and are $70 cheaper too!

Right now, there are also a few sale prices on some items.  The Under Armour Speed Freak Hunting boots are the lightest on my list, at 2.1 lbs, and at the temporary sale price of about $130 (I round to the nearest five dollars, but don't include sales tax in these figures) they're nearly the cheapest.  That makes them highly desireable, but again, probably only if you pick them up while on sale.  Their normal price of $175 still makes them a contender, but not a front runner.  Next up, and a bit weightier and more expensive both, I've got either the Perfekt Light Hikers, the Perfekt 7" Hikers or the Danner 8" Pronghorn uninsulated all-leathers.  All three rank highly partly on the strength of their brands and reputation, but none of them are cheap--the Danner ones come in a little under $200, but only a little.  And the reviews of the imported versions are not as good as the original Made in America copies (and not just for patriotic reasons; the quality control does not seem to be the same.)  And the Outfitter Pro, on price and durability, have to be considered even though they're a bit heavier.

In reality, I'd love to pick up all of the boots on my list, including the insulated, heavier ones (the heaviest pair of which are 11" tall and nearly 5 lbs. a pair) but there's no way I'm spending $3,000 on boots, only a few of which I will actually consider taking on a "real" hiking trip.

And frankly, the thought that I even want that many pairs of boots makes me feel shockingly too similar to my wife anyway...


  1. Note also: just for comparison's sake, I went to and compared a number of hiking shoes to these in terms of weight and price. Hiking shoes (as opposed to hiking boots) are rarely under 2 lbs., and rarely under $100 (for name brands that you'd recognize, anyway--like Merrel, Keen or Vasque.) Now, if you look at running shows, you can more readily find some that are 1 to 1½ lbs., which meets the Ultralite ethos of being light, but probably not very durable. For ultraliters, that's not an issue; they only need to last as long as you intend to use them, or some such--and there is something to be said for going to Wal-Mart or Target and buying some el cheapo running shoes and just replacing them when they wear out. You'll need to do that half a dozen times before you get to the same price as some of the boots I'm looking at.

    But... you certainly don't want that happening while you're out on the trail. And despite the protestations of ultraliters, ankle injuries are still the most common kind for hikers. Especially for hikers who, like me, haven't managed (or don't want) to turn their entire gear list into a few lightweight items wrapped up in a Kleenex.

    No thanks; I'll spend my bucks and get some good, old fashioned hiking boots that I can rely on. And, like I said, some of the lighter weight options on my list are't really appreciably heavier than normal trail shoes. And even the heaviest option on my list isn't really that much heavier than the lightest conceivable option anyway. Two pounds.

  2. Well, nothing like actually going to Cabela's and browsing the boot selection. I'm less enamored of the Outfitter boots now that I've seen them. There's also another option, that for some reason isn't in my mail order catalog, but which is online--the Perfekt Fit IQ Hunting boot, by Meindl. At 8" high, only 3.5 lbs., with a 3/4 rand, the Perfekt footbed (which granted, I could buy for $30 and put in any boot if I really wanted to), full-grain leather uppers, the memory foam Fit IQ dealie, which sounds kinda nifty, the only thing that would lead me potentially away from them is that they cost $280.

    That means I'm probably leaning more towards the Perfekt Light Hikers again after all as my first choice, with the Perfekt Hikers and the Perfekt Fit IQ boots as second choice.

  3. *sigh* And Danner surges forward in my rankings. The 453 GTX, as well as the Mt. Defiance and Cloudcap hikers are highly rated and decently priced. The only challenge is that I don't know that I can buy all of them easily without ordering online. I like ordering things online, but hiking boots make me just a bit sceptical.