Selecting the Right Boot
What’s in a boot?...... A foot! Now that the lame joke is out of the way, I can address the topic at hand. What does it mean to select the right boot for you? What kind of features do you look for? What brands are out there? Why does any of this matter, it is just a boot…...right? My intention for this article is to share my experience from lessons learned to help shed some light on selecting a boot that is right for you.
In my line of work, I spend a lot of time on my feet. After 16 years, one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to invest in my feet. They are one of the best and most important tools you have that you cannot afford to let fail you. Obviously, what is right for one, is not always right for another and there are variables that you will need to consider for your specific situation whether it be for work or the outdoors.
The wrong footwear can turn a good hunt miserable at the drop of a hat. I had an experience with this a few years back when I packed in for an extended archery deer hunt. I was still fairly new to archery hunting, let alone backpack hunting but I had at least packed into this area before. So, fortunately I had an idea of what to expect.
The Short Story
When I first started bow hunting, I decided I needed to get a good pair of boots. I went to the store and told them I wanted the lightest and easiest to break in boot they had. They had exactly what I needed. They were awesome; they were lightweight, easy to break-in, comfy, and fit like a glove. One of the first archery hunts I went on was for extended archery deer here on the Wasatch Front in Utah. For this hunt, it was early October and there was some snow on the ground. While packing for the trip, the thought of the snow started to worry me. So, as I was leaving, I had a last-second thought that I should grab a pair of boots that I had been gifted that would be warmer for me……” just in case”. These boots were a bigger size than what I usually wore, and I had spent very little time wearing these boots. At the trailhead, there was a little snow on the ground. You can probably guess what I decided to do…. I decided to go with the gifted boots.
So, I tied my boots, put on my pack, and started up the trail. About a mile into the hike with a lot of elevation gain, I started getting a hotspot on one of my heals. A little farther up the trail, the other heal started getting a hotspot. I ended up having to stop multiple times to give my feet a break. Long story short, it made for a long pack in. Even more so, it also made for an even longer four days of hunting.
Obviously, there were a lot of lessons to be learned from this. One could be to not pack your fears, but that could be a topic for another day. The BIGGEST lesson though was making sure I wore the correct boot for me and the correct fit. The right boot could have made that trip a lot easier for me. I could have been able to get up the mountain easier and faster without giving it a second thought. I was disappointed with myself after getting home from this trip. I told myself never again. I decided that I would do all that I could to make sure that my boots were not going to be the reason for a bad trip again.
So, What Boot Is for Me?
When I started looking at the different brands, types, and let alone the prices, my eyes were opened a bit. There are a lot of boot brands out there with even more options to choose from. I started searching the different brands of boots I would hear about. Listening to different outdoor podcasts was helpful also. But one of the biggest things that helped me was just going to the stores and trying different pairs of boots on.
Growing up, I never gave boots a big thought. I figured if they did the job and I got it on a deal, then what was the big deal? Obviously from the story mentioned earlier, I found out what the bid deal was. When looking for a boot, I usually keep 4 things in mind: Price, reputable brand, comfort, and how many seasons can I use them. Let me elaborate.
This is usually at the top of the list. I do not want to break the bank on a pair of boots. But I also do not want to skimp and regret my purchase. For me, I do not want to look at a pair of boots and love them just to find out I need to take out a loan to pay for them and not get them. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there to fit almost any budget.
There are a lot of reputable brands out there that have been around for a long time. This is where the quality factor and warranties would come in to play. You do not want to drop a couple hundred bucks on a pair of boots only to have the stitching come undone or the tread to start ripping off after only a few times of use.
This is a big one! Make sure your boots fit you and that you will be able to wear them for long periods of time. A boot that is going to create pressure points on your foot can cause problems later. During the break-in process, you may get sore feet, but it should get better. Also consider the terrain you will be hiking. One suggestion is to wear the type of sock you plan on using when trying boots on. You do not want to wear a thin pair when you plan on wearing thicker wool socks. The boot may end up being too tight which may cause your feet to freeze. There is a lot of information regarding this online. If you are trying boots on at the store, the associate should be able to help you with this. I suggest doing your research to get what will fit you best.
What I mean by this is how long into the year you can use them. I like to look at a boot that can be multipurpose and that I can use from early spring right into the late fall. Usually, I do not hunt late season when there is a lot of snow on the ground. But I do hunt into late October where there is a chance that there may be a little skiff of snow on the ground. If this is something you do, I suggest looking at the right sock to help with this. I feel this is a great way to get the most out of your boots and not having to buy multiple pairs that you may only use for a couple weeks a year.
Taking My Own Advice
This year I needed to replace my current pair of hunting boots. I started looking at a couple brands like Danner, Solomon, and Crispi, just to name a few. I have heard good things about all of them and have had experience with Danner and Solomon, but zero experience with Crispi. Keeping in mind the fore-mentioned criteria I look at, I found that the Crispi boots met all of them for me. There are different models to fit different budgets, the brand is very reputable, comfortable, and they can be used throughout the year.
I was able to go down to the BlackOvis store-front and try on some of the different models. I zeroed-in on the Crispi Lapponia GTX Uninsulated model. These things are great. They are lightweight, not too stiff, and give the support I need. When I held these boots, you could see the quality. When I put them on for the first time, they instantly fit like a glove. The break-in process was not bad and did not take long at all to do. Talking with the experts at BlackOvis, they told me that these boots can even be re-soled which is a great option to have when the treads wear out.
The boot along with the right fit is important. I once had one pair that seemed to fit ok at the store, but I was not 100% positive about the comfort, and I bought them anyway. I got them home and tried wearing them again and found it did not fit right and aggravated my foot. Fortunately, I was able to take them back and exchange them. So, one last tip I would suggest is to be sure and feel good about the boot you are buying.
I hope this article helped give some insight and food for thought about finding the right boot for you. Thank you for your time and be safe out there in your adventures.