Elk Hunting Boots – 5 Choices You Need To Make


Thinking of buying elk hunting boots? 

You have many options to choose from. 

What are the best choices for you?


Hi!  I’m Jimmie Norris with elkhuntersguide.com.  This is the second video in a 3 video series on elk hunting boots and taking good care of your feet. 

You know, I can’t stress enough just how important it is to take good care of your feet when you’re elk hunting.  Because if you don’t, it’s going to ruin your hunt.  If you have sore feet and you can’t hike, you can’t hunt.  And I don’t want you to ruin your elk hunting adventure just because you didn’t get good boots, or you didn’t take care of your feet.  So, I put this video series together with you in mind. 

If you didn’t see the last video in the series, I’d recommend that you go to my website at elkhuntersguide.com, if you’re not already there, and watch that video.  It was “The 5 Essential Features of a Good Elk Hunting Boot”.

Now, today I don’t want to talk about essentials, I want to talk about options.


I’m sure you’ve heard the story about Henry Ford and his Model T.  He said that his customers could get a Model T in any color they wanted, just as long as it was black.  You have a lot more options than that when it comes to elk hunting boots these days.  So, what I want to talk about today is the 5 choices that you need to make when it comes to elk hunting boots.

Choice 1 – Material

The first choice you’re going to have to make when it comes to an elk hunting boot is material.  The reality is that most elk hunting boots these days are made of leather.  Leather is kind of the ideal material because it’s rugged, and it’s flexible and it’s somewhat breathable.  But bootmakers these days are often adding in other materials, which you need to decide if that’s what you want or not.  These other materials can be manmade materials, like this old boot of mine.  It had manmade material around the toe.  But as you can see, the manmade material was not as rugged as the leather material, and it didn’t last nearly as long. 

One of the manmade materials that you might find is a nylon mesh panel in the side of the boot.  They’re typically installed in the boot in an area that doesn’t take much wear, and they provide ventilation to keep your feet cooler.  That’s what I really like about these boots, is they have that nylon mesh panel that ventilates the boot really well. 

You might be wondering, what about my rubber boots that I wear to my deer stand?  Can I just wear those?  I wouldn’t recommend those.  Typically they’re not good to walk in, but also, the rubber is not going to be breathable at all.  You need boots that are breathable, because, as you are walking, all that activity is going to create perspiration, and you need that perspiration to leave your feet.   So that your feet can stay as dry as possible and as warm or as cool as possible – a steady temperature. 

So, that’s the first choice you’re going to have to make.  Do you want a boot that’s full leather?  That’s fine, especially for late season hunting.  Or, do you want a boot that has nylon mesh panels in it for ventilation if you are going to be hunting when the weather is a little warmer?  So that’s the choice you’re going to have to make, is the material of your boot.

Choice 2 – Height

The second choice you’re going to have to make when it comes to buying a pair of elk hunting boots, is boot height.  I prefer a taller boot because it provides more ankle support, and it tends to be warmer, and it prevents dirt and debris from getting in the top of the boot.  So I like a taller boot.

Some people like shorter boot that is a more hiking style, like this old boot of mine.  Shorter boots are fine when you are hiking, or even backpacking when you’re on a trail.  But the reason I don’t like them for hunting is for those reasons I mentioned.  The shorter boot will not keep the dirt and debris out.  If you’re backpacking along a trail, where there’s not much dirt and debris kicked up, that’s fine.  But if you’re going cross country like you typically are in elk hunting, then the taller boot is better in that regard.  But it may be whatever you’re used to.  A lot of guys like a shorter boot, and that’s fine.  It’s a choice you’re going to have to make.

Choice 3 – Insulation

The third choice you are going to have to make when you are buying elk hunting boots, is do you buy insulated boots or uninsulated boots?  Temperatures for elk hunts can range anywhere from the high 80’s to down below zero.  So a lot of your choice depends on what kind of hunting you’re doing.  Personally, I hunt early season archery hunts, and I tend to prefer my non-insulated boots.  They’re more breathable, and they ventilate well, and I perspire less in them.  But I also wear a couple pair of merino wool socks with them.  So I can actually wear the same boots in much colder weather, and my feet still stay warm.  But I really do a lot of active hunting, and so that really requires less insulation. 

If you are going to be hunting in colder temperatures, or you’re not going to be as active, you may consider buying some insulated boots.  Typically, they’re insulated with Thinsulate insulation, or something similar, and it comes in different weights, anywhere from 200 grams up to 1200 grams.  The more grams, the more insulation there is to keep your feet warm.  It’s good when it’s really cold or you’re not being very active, and they’re actually very flexible, in that even if the temperatures get warmer, you may not be uncomfortably warm in them.  I had a friend that I hunted with in early season, September, in very warm weather, and he was wearing 800 gram insulated boots.  I asked him if his feet weren’t way too warm, and he said, no, he was comfortable.  So that insulation can tend to keep your feet at a stable temperature. 

If you are going to be hunting in extreme temperatures, or deep snow, you might consider a pair of snow packs.  These are my snow packs, and they are rubber bottomed an leather topped, and have a removable wool liner.  So, if you are hunting in deep snow or really cold weather, this is a good option to keep your feet warm while you’re hunting.

So you need to decide.  What kind of hunting are you doing?  Do you need insulated boots?  Can you get away with uninsulated and just some good, thick socks?  That’s a choice you’re going to have to make.

Choice 4 – Size

The fourth choice you’re going to have to make is, what size of boot to wear? 

My dad used to tell a story about a guy who wore size 8 shoes, but he tried on size 9, and they felt so good he bought size 10!  Well, you are going to have to be more careful when you choose your size for elk hunting boots. 

One year, I ordered a pair of boots online, and when they came in and I tried them on, they fit a little more snugly than I normally wear.  But I thought I could get away with it.  Instead of wearing two pair of socks like I normally do, I could just wear one pair of socks and they would be alright.  So I wore them that year for elk hunting, and I did OK.  I had to wear only specific socks with them for them to be comfortable, and I got by.

The next year I decided to go on a backpacking trip with my son in Yellowstone.  I wore those same boots.  With all of the extra weight, and the mountains I was climbing, it just made my feet miserable.  I got blisters and my toes turned black.

So, if your boots are too small, that’s what’s going to happen.  You are going to wear blisters on them, and your toes are going to turn black, and maybe even the nails fall off. 

If your boots are too big, your feet are going to slide around in them, and that can give you blisters.  You can actually wear out the liners of your boots.  Your Gore-Tex liners are going to wear out and your boots are going to start leaking. 

It’s important, obviously, that you have the right size boots.  When you’re buying the boots, make sure that you try them on first, wearing the socks that you are going to wear while you’re hunting.  If that’s one pair or two pair, wear those exact same socks.  Lace up the boots and make sure your toes can wiggle easily, and make sure you’re not sliding around in the boot.  If you are in that situation, then you’re probably going to be pretty good. 

Some people have a bigger left foot than a right foot, or vice versa.  If that’s the case, then it may be hard to get a pair of boots that fit.  If you have that situation, then buy the bigger pair that fits to your larger foot, then just wear an extra sock, if you need to, in the other boot to make sure that they fit well.  But, regardless of how you do it.  You need to make sure that you get a good fit on your boots.  That’s the fourth choice that you are going to have to make, is what size.

Choice 5 – Brand

The fifth choice that you are going to have to make when buying elk hunting boots, is what brand do you buy?  It’s a very important choice, because the brand typically determines the quality of the boot and the price.  Those are big factors in buying elk hunting boots. 

I would recommend that you stay away from companies that are boot marketers not boot makers.  You know what I mean.  There’s a lot of companies out there that sell everything from camo, to backpacks, to underwear and boots.  The reality is that they don’t make those boots, they are made by somebody else and they just market them.  So, I would recommend that you go with a company that is a boot maker, because they are more likely to ensure that they are good quality boots.  They’re entire reputation is on the boots that they sell.  There are several different companies out there.  The boots that I wear are made by Danner.  They’re not the most expensive, but they’re not cheap either.  They are good quality, and I think a reasonable price.  I’ve been really happy with them. 

But there’s other companies out there that I’m hearing that people like really well, that make good boots.  They’re made by Kenetrek, or Crispi, or Schnee’s.  My snow packs are Schnee’s boots, and I can vouch for the quality of them.  They’re excellent, and I assume that their leather elk hunting boots are good too. 

So that’s the choice you’re going to have to make, is what brand are you going to choose, and how much are you willing to pay for them?


There you have it.  The 5 choices that you are going to have to make when buying elk hunting boots.  The material, the height, insulated or non-insulated, the size and the brand.  You make good choices on those, and you are going to be a happy hunter.

I hope you’ve found this video helpful.  Are those the choices you would make when you are choosing an elk hunting boot?  Do you agree with me?  Do you disagree with me?  Either way, scroll on down and leave me a comment.  I really do appreciate your feedback.  If you haven’t been over to my website at elkhuntersguide.com, and gotten your free download of elk hunting tips, do that now.  You can also watch the first video in the series of the 5 Essential Features in Elk Hunting Boots.  Watch for the next video in the series of How to Take Good Care of Your Feet When You are Elk Hunting. 

So until next time.  Shoot straight.

What About You?

What are your important options for elk hunting boots?  

What brand do you prefer?

Leave me a comment below and let me know.

1 Comment

  1. Ed Goodman

    I have 2 pair. One Danner the other L L Bean both leather .

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Jimmie is a retired high tech engineer who now spends his time writing about elk hunting, selling Real Estate, and doing DIY projects.

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