hanwag makra boot review

by Skyler Harrison with Hunt the West podcast

Choose Hunting Boots Wisely

No matter where you hunt, boots are one of the most important gear considerations you’ll make. Boots can be a more loyal friend than a black lab or they can be your worst enemy - ending a hunt faster than a Coues deer can duck an arrow. You need to choose boots wisely. 

For context, my hunts are mostly backpacking elk and mule deer hunts in the early archery season in rugged terrain in Utah, with an occasional later hunt in October and November. But my boots have to be a little more versatile than just hunting boots (although that’s my main activity). They also have to be up for family hikes on summer weekends where I’m usually carrying a kid on my back.

Also, in the spring and summer leading up to hunting season, I’m often carrying a 50lb bag of salt on my pack and hiking the hills. I need a boot that is lightweight, durable, and can handle heavy loads for extended periods. The Hanwag Makra Pro GTX is my boot of choice this year and I’m going to explain why. 

Hanwag Fit and Comfort

For my foot (which is a pretty average size 12 in most boots), the fit was perfect with the Hanwag Makra Pro GTX. I like having a tad extra space in the toe box for steep downhills with a heavy pack. A little more space also allows you to regulate temperature too because there is some air around your sock. Tight feet = cold feet. Loose feet = sore feet. I am looking for a Goldilocks fit.

The Gore-Tex lining helps keep moisture out while still being able to regulate temperature in the warmer temps. Proper sizing and the right sock will keep the boot firmly in place and keep toes warm on cold mornings - even in an uninsulated boot like this one. This boot checks all those boxes.

Beyond fitting right, these boots are just plain comfortable. One of the features I like is how these boots lace up. The laces go low on the toe box which makes getting into them really easy even on cold, stiff-boot mornings. It also allows for more room for adjustment on the amount of pressure you want around the front of your foot.

hanwag hunting boots

The lining is soft, with just the right amount of cushion. As you lace up the boot, there is a mechanical lace lock right at the transition between the lower and upper laces which makes it easy to perfectly dial the pressure on the heel - no more heel slip! The lace-lock is just as easy to loosen as it is to tighten; one pinch and it loosens right up.

The biggest advantage of the lace-lock is that it stays in place as you tighten it so you can get the perfect tension before continuing to lace the upper portion of the boot. I didn’t realize how much I liked this lace-lock feature until I started using the boots a little longer. Now I’ll probably transfer that lace lock onto every pair of boots I have.  

If I had one place for improvement in the area of comfort, it would be the insole. A little more cushion would be nice. There’s plenty of support in the arch for my foot, but if you want a little more cushion or support, you might consider using an orthotic. 

Hanwag Boot Stiffness

This boot is a 4 out of 5 on the flex scale, 5 being the stiffest. As a trail-runner who is used to flexible and nimble trail shoes, I thought I would hate a stiff boot. However, I’ve been using 4-flex boots for a few years now and I don’t think I’ll go back as long as I’m hunting where I am. I routinely hike steep, rocky mountains with a 50lb pack for training, and I’ve done that on boots with stiffness rating as low as 2 and the difference is night and day.

Heavy loads are just plain easier with a stiffer boot. But, stiffer boots can be less comfortable on flat, groomed trails because there is less flex which would allow for a smoother transition from heel to toe. Although it’s not quite as dramatic, it can be reminiscent of walking in a ski boot in the lodge: clunky. That’s true of any boot that’s on the stiff side. However, the Hanwag Makra Pro is more comfortable for me on flat trails than other 4-flex boots I’ve used. They are still stiff, but if I had to put a number on it, they feel more like a 3.9-flex. That, paired with a well designed outer sole with just the right amount of curve, you don’t feel like you’re in a ski boot when hiking flat terrain. 

hanwag hunt boots review

The Durability of Hanwag Makra Boots

The Hanwag Makra Pro GTX boot has a combination of leather and synthetic material on the upper. Leather is more durable than synthetic, but it's heavier and harder to break in. Having a combination of the two materials makes it easier to break in than a full-leather boot but doesn’t compromise on durability because the leather is strategically placed on the high contact areas of the boot. It’s also a lot lighter than a full-leather boot.

I tend to prefer full leather boots for the ease of keeping them waterproof, but with some basic cleaning and waterproofing I’m sure this hybrid upper will keep water out for a long time. I’ve had issues with durability in the past with full synthetic boots, so this combination of leather and synthetic might just be the answer I’m looking for. So far, they are holding up nicely on the training hikes I’ve put them through. I’ll definitely be keeping them cleaned and waterproofed though. Keeping them waterproof might require a little more maintenance than a full-leather boot like I’m used to but, with routine cleaning and a treatment of waterproofing spray once-in-a-while, they should keep water out for a long time.

Hanwag Boot Soles

The tread also seems to be holding up great and I’ve been impressed with the traction. The Vibram sole is pretty aggressive. I’ve used them on wet gravel, bare rock, and deep snow on steep hillsides and it has performed well in every condition. They are resoleable if the outsole does end up wearing out, which is a nice feature from Hanwag.

hanwag boots for hunting

Final Thoughts on the Hanwag Makra Pro GTX Boot

Overall with the proper care I think these boots are going to last me several hunting seasons - maybe more. The more miles I put on these boots, the more I like them. After about 10 miles, I could feel the break in happening and the boots are beginning to earn my trust. They are lightweight enough for long backpacking hunts, they handle heavy loads in steep country like a champ, and they balance durability and comfort extremely well. Hopefully after a couple hunts and heavy pack-outs this fall they will become a loyal friend that I take with me on all sorts of adventures.