The experience of upland hunting is largely shaped by the often unforgiving terrain of treacherous highlands. Especially when one’s winged quarry leads one into steep, rocky uplands, things start getting quite exciting…
…but only if you’re prepared. How could you possibly relax into the hunter role and enjoy yourself unless you’re comfortable? You might be sporting the best arms and ammo, but it wouldn’t matter if you weren’t attired properly.
A crucial aspect of that is equipping yourself with the best upland hunting boots. Characterized by their lightweight build, such boots are popular even amongst non-bird hunters for their comfort and durability.
Below, we have reviewed 8 of the best pairs for you, along with a buying guide. Let’s get started!
Best Upland Hunting Boots Reviews 2020
Keeping in mind important factors such as comfort, traction, and breathability, we have rounded up the 8 following upland hunting boots for your consideration. Let’s jump right into the reviews!
1. Irish Setter Men's 808 Wingshooter Waterproof 9" Upland Hunting Boot
- Full premium leather body with moccasin toe
- Lacing system integrated with speed-lace hardware
- Polyurethane footbed is removable for your convenience
- Equipped with high-performing UltraDry waterproof capabilities
No matter how much time you’ve spent in the hunting scene, the chances that you’ve heard of Irish Setter are quite high. Established nearly half a century ago, this is a brand that has justly earned its reputation for manufacturing sturdy, dependable and high-performing boots, and the Wingshooter is one of their most popular pairs yet.
Irish Setter has really gone out with this boot. Equipped with a full UltraDry waterproof lining, it’s a boot that you can depend on to keep you dry and comfortable no matter the weather. Furthermore, the polyurethane footbed is removable should you prefer a more lightweight shoe.
On that note, however, these boots are already adequately lightweight despite their very sturdy build. Constructed fully from premium quality leather, these boots promise to keep your feet safe, while their sturdy outsoles provide dependable traction. No longer will you have to sacrifice mobility for stability.
And even though it might make us sound shallow, it’s worth noting how beautiful this pair is. Seriously! Available in dark brown and amber, the boot has a moccasin toe and full lace-up design that is bound to complete any hunter’s aesthetic!
2. Danner 46222 High Ground Hunting Boots
- Equipped with 100% waterproof Gore-Tex lining
- Breathable lining eliminates moisture and sweat
- Gavre outsole featuring heavy outer lugs and pentagonal center lugs
- Constructed from sturdy full-grain leather and Cordura
Danner is yet another brand that demands attention, and once they have it, you can bet they’re keeping it. With an existing line of boots suitable for only the most serious hunters, Danner defies expectations with the High Ground hunting boots. Here’s what makes it so highly rated.
Equipped with a high-quality, enduring full-grain leather body, the High Ground boots also sport a Cordura upper. Together, these sturdy materials work together to resist all the brush and bramble of hunting terrains, standing up beautifully to abrasions, tearing and scuffing.
Staying in line with the boot’s ruggedness is its extremely strong outsole, which is made from durable Vibram rubber. The tread style features pentagonal center lugs, which, together with the heavy outer lugs, allow you to keep your balance while hunting.
But it’s not just a sturdy body that makes for a good hunting boot. No, this boot is also equipped with a dependable Gore-Tex liner, which makes it fully waterproof. Not just that, but you’ll also enjoy the experience of wearing a breathable pair of boots that allow sweat moisture and vapor out, keeping your feet dry and fresh.
So as an upland hunter, we really don’t think you’ll need anything more. However, if you tend to hunt in the colder seasons, you might want to consider a boot with heavier insulation.
3. Irish Setter Men's 838 Upland Hunting Boot
- Equipped with Goodyear welt construction and EVA footbed
- UltraDry waterproofing system and nylon lining together keep your feet dry and fresh
- Ideal for mid-season and light-duty upland hunting
- Speed-lacing system allows for quick and simple lace-up
- Available in two attractive color choices: amber and red
We’re back with another Irish Setter boot, and this one is actually a reiteration of the Wingshooter. The 808, which we reviewed earlier, is a taller, sturdier boot; in comparison, the 838 is ideal for mid-season hunting in relatively easier terrain.
Measuring 7 inches in height, the 838 Wingshooter is constructed fully from the premium-quality leather so often associated with Irish Setter. And with the signature contrasting moccasin toe stitching and stylish lacing system, this boot is bound to cement your hunter style.
But beyond its looks, the Wingshooter also comes equipped with the innovative UltraDry waterproofing technology Irish Setter is renowned for. Add to this the nylon lining, which effortlessly wicks moisture away from sweaty feet, and you’ll understand why these boots are renowned for their comfort and wearability.
And yes, these boots promise to help you easily keep your footing when you’re out hunting those birds. For that, you’ll have to thank the Goodyear welt construction and sturdy rubber outsole. Meanwhile, the shock-absorbing EVA footbed keeps your feet protected.
As we mentioned earlier, however, these boots are not meant for heavy-duty applications. If you think you’ll be hunting very frequently and in treacherous terrain, we would recommend opting for the 808 instead.
4. Kenetrek Men's Mountain Extreme 400 Insulated Hunting Boot
- Windtex membrane and 400gm Thinsulate insulation work together to keep feet dry and warm
- 12-inch high-top design offers superior protection from the elements
- Full 100% leather construction with a stabilizing nylon midsole
- Uniquely designed outsole allows for better traction on highland terrain
- The lightweight body allows for easier mobility on the hunt
Constructed from a single vamp of 2.8mm top grain leather and measuring 12 inches, this high-top boot from Kenetrek offers superior protection from the elements while hunting. And because it comes equipped with 400 grams of insulation, this is the ideal choice for those who are looking for upland hunting boots to wear in the fall season.
The durability regularly attributed to the Mountain Extreme boots is owing mainly to its high-quality leather construction. Behind the scenes, however, are the innovative K-train outsoles, which will never fail to provide you with the type of heavy traction necessary when scaling highlands. The stiff nylon midsole only adds to the boot’s overall stability while ensuring your comfort.
Now for the insulation, which is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative aspects of this boot. The 400gm of Thinsulate insulation ensures that your feet will stay warm in cold weather, allowing you a comfortable hunt. Furthermore, these boots are outfitted with a dependable Windtex membrane, which does a laudable job of keeping out water and moisture while keeping your feet dry.
Judging from its rugged body and also keeping in mind all the great features we’ve discussed above, it might be difficult to imagine how lightweight these boots are. Yet they are! Weighing only 7 pounds, this is one of the most lightweight pair of high-top upland hunting boots you will find. Yes, it’s an expensive pair, but it will last you for many, many years to come.
5. Rocky Ranger Waterproof Outdoor Boot
- Sturdy leather and synthetic construction offers optimum protection
- Fiberglass shank enhances stability and support
- Sturdy outsole with oil-resistant properties
- Lined with Gore-Tex fabric for supreme breathability and waterproofing
- Memory foam in EnergyBed LX footbed conforms to your foot shape
If it’s your first foray into the world of upland hunting boots, you might quite naturally be drawn to the more expensive, big brand names. However, that good hunting boots aren’t affordable is a myth, and this waterproof pair from Rocky Ranger proves it.
Equipped with a sturdy Goodyear welt construction, this boot is fully built from full-grain leather and synthetic nylon, which does a wonderful job of keeping your feet protected in the wild. Your feet will stay dry throughout as well, thanks to the Gore-Tex liner, which effectively keeps out moisture and keeps your feet comfortable, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
The lugs on this boot’s outsoles ensure that you won’t lose your footing while on the hunt; furthermore, because it also comes outfitted with a fiberglass shank, you can expect superior stability and support from this pair. Your comfort has also been taken into consideration; the boot’s EnergyBed LX footbed is built with memory foam to conform to the particular shape of your feet.
But best of all is the fact that the outsole on this boot is also built to be oil-resistant. This means that they can double as work boots as well if you’re engaged in manual labor. (Do note, however, that it doesn’t come with electricity-resisting properties, so don’t attempt electric work while wearing these).
All in all, this is undoubtedly one of the best upland hunting boots you can possibly get for the money, and you can definitely expect them to last you a long time!
6. Danner Men's Pronghorn 8" Gore-Tex Hunting Boot
- EVA cushioning in the midsole ensures efficient shock absorption
- The lightweight body offers easy mobility despite being extremely sturdy
- Gore-Tex lining and Thinsulate insulation keep feet warm, dry and fresh
- Ortholite footbed further enhances comfort while on the hunt
Offering a winning combination of dependable durability and high functionality, the Pronghorn is, without a doubt Danner’s most popular hunting boot. Measuring 8 inches in length and equipped with all necessary features required by the serious hunter, this boot is not for the weak-hearted.
One of the things that makes this such a sought-after boot is undoubtedly its uniquely sturdy and strong build. It’s constructed from CamoHide leather and, further integrating their exclusive Terra Force technology, this boot offers unmatched stability and traction on any kind of terrain. Despite all of that, however, the boot is quite lightweight.
On the topic of the boot’s construction, it would be a sin to leave out the heel and toe cap, which are both also made completely from leather. They are built to resist all the unpredictable dangers of the wild, be it brush, bramble, branch, or rocks. Simultaneously, the boot will also keep your feet warm, thanks to its Thinsulate insulation. This, together with the Gore-Tex lining, ensure a fresh, dry, and happy pair of feet.
When it comes down to it, there’s rarely anything worth complaining about with regards to Danner’s shoes. The only drawback is the price tag, which can understandably be a bit too high for some people. However, with the features all combined and the unparalleled strength of the boots, you might want to think of this as a long-term investment.
7. Under Armour Men's Speed Freek Bozeman Hiking Boot
- Constructed from premium-quality synthetic nylon and suede leather
- Molded EVA midsole provides lightweight and cushioning comfort
- TPU shank and aggressive outsole offer super traction and grip
- Breathable waterproof lining combines with Scent Control to keep feet dry and fresh
Who hasn’t heard of Under Armour? The sportswear giant has long reigned supreme amongst the big names in the industry, producing top-quality sporting equipment. Don’t be thrown off by the fact of this product being a hiking boot; once you read about its features, you’ll understand how it ended up on our list.
Built from a combination of high-quality suede leather and synthetic nylon, these boots are extremely sturdy while being extremely lightweight. Because they are not very tall boots, though, they should be worn for hunting trips in milder weather.
The boots are further equipped with a breathable and waterproof lining, which ensures that your feet will stay dry no matter the weather. To enhance the feeling of freshness, the boots also come with Under Armor’s exclusive Scent Control technology.
Furthermore, the boot also comes with a molded Ortholite sock liner, which further works to keep you feeling comfortable while on the hunt. The molded EVA midsole is lightweight and comfortable, keeping your feet cushioned even during high-stakes hunting expeditions.
And don’t worry about losing your balance, either. These boots come with a sturdy yet lightweight TPU shank, which offers support and rigidity for the mid-foot. What’s more, the aggressive outsole offers unbeatable traction, allowing you a secure foothold in the uplands.
Now, while this is a high-performing pair of boots, we would not recommend it for cold-weather, heavy-duty hunting expeditions. If you’re a more serious hunter, then you might need a more serious pair of boots. However, as far as hiking boots go, these ones come pretty close to beating some of the best hunting boots in the game.
8. Irish Setter Men's 894 Wingshooter Waterproof 9" Upland Hunting
- Premium quality all-leather construction with moccasin toe
- High aesthetic appeal thanks to all-leather construction
- Equipped with breathable UltraDry waterproof lining
- Removable polyurethane foot bed enhances convenience
Our final pick is yet another Wingshooter from Irish Setter, and this one is the 894 model. Measuring approximately 9 inches in height, this boot is ideal for late-season upland hunting in areas with a moderate climate.
This boot is made for hunting in cold, wet weather, as evidenced by the ever-present Irish Setter UltraDry waterproofing technology integrated into this thing. Its all-leather construction and moccasin toe will keep you protected as you hunt down those birds.
The polyurethane footbed, as you already know, is removable. This not only enhances your comfort but makes it easier to switch to a more lightweight version of the shoe. Compared to the other two Wingshooter models we reviewed, this one is somewhat heavier, but only slightly so.
And of course, the lacing system is extremely apt, thanks to a handy speed-lacing style. The lacing style also greatly complements the overall look of the boot, which is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after on the market. When it comes down to it, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Irish Setter Wingshooters!
Buying Guide for Upland Hunting Boots
It can be difficult to decide which upland hunting boot is most worth your consideration. However, keeping the following factors in mind will make your selection easier.
Construction Material / Build
The durability, sturdiness, and comfort of a hunting boot are usually only as good as what it's made of. Furthermore, boots with uppers made of high-quality materials keep your ankles protected against the bush, bramble, and rocks of the wild.
As you can imagine, leather boots are widely preferred. This is thanks mainly to their durability; however, we tend to think that a combination of nylon/synthetic fiber and leather works best. This makes the boot significantly more weatherproof and equips it to adequately stand up to the elements.
When it comes down to it, the quality of the boot will usually be reflected in the price. A cheaper pair won't last you as long; however, if you only go upland hunting occasionally, you can get away with purchasing cheaper boots.
One of the most important concerns for many picking out hunting boots for the first time is its insulating capabilities... unless you're a fan of cold feet and potential frostbite, of course.
It's important to note that insulation is usually measured in grams. If you'll be hunting in relatively mild weather, 200 grams of insulation should be enough. When it starts getting a little chillier (i.e., in fall), 400 grams is ideal. For even lower temperatures, you might want to go up to 600-800 grams of insulation, or even 1000-1200.
The purpose of a well-insulated boot is to keep cold air out while trapping warmth inside. Naturally, this can result in sweaty feet, so you also need your boots to be breathable—more on that below.
Hunting is a taxing activity. Naturally, you can expect your body to produce a considerable amount of sweat as a result, and this is even more true in the case of your feet. So it's of utmost importance to buy a pair of boots that are breathable.
A breathable pair of boots allow your feet to stay fresh and dry when you're on the move, wicking vapor moisture away from your feet and channeling it outside. This not only keeps you comfortable but, coupled with adequate air circulation, also prevents odor.
Although upland hunting is less likely to bring you into contact with water bodies, there's still the possibility that you'll have to contend with rainy weather. To prepare for that eventuality, it's important to ensure your boots are waterproof.
Boots are usually made waterproof with the help of a lining made of waterproof material. One popular example of a waterproof lining is Gore-Tex, which is a unique compound material that repels moisture and water.
Keep in mind that boots with waterproof capabilities tend to be more expensive. However, you never know when you'll be faced with unpleasant wetness on the hunt, and the experience of wet feet is unpleasant, to say the least!
Sole / Tread
The sole of a boot is the part of it that comes into contact with the hunting terrain. And upland hunting terrain can be treacherous if anything. Accordingly, it's crucial that your boots have sturdy soles capable of standing up to abrasive external influences.
Heavier, stiffer soles are especially recommended if you'll be carrying a lot of equipment. However, you might want to opt for thinner soles if your hunt is heavily dependent on your dogs.
Either way, the tread of your boot should be able to handle the problems of rough terrain. The tread pattern/style of your boot will determine its shock absorption capability and traction.
Shallow treads are preferred by those who don't want to deal with debris/mud accumulation. Broad, bold teeth should be considered if a good grip is what you really want, but you can skip them if you're hunting on even terrain.
Size / Fit
And finally, an important factor to account for when shopping for hunting boots is considering how well they fit you. You don't want your toes to start feeling pinched when you're hot on the trail of your bird.
Your shoes should fit firmly, but not tightly, around your midsole and ankles. Toes should not be pinched, with adequate wiggle room. Also, remember that human feet tend to vary in size; that is, one foot might be larger than the other. So remember to measure accurately.
FAQS for Upland Hunting Boots
1. What sets upland hunting boots apart from other types of hunting boots?
Successful bird hunting depends heavily upon stealth, as startling your pretty can be very easy. Accordingly, upland hunting boots are built to be relatively lightweight in comparison to other hunting boots, allowing for a soft footstep.
2. Why can't I just wear hiking boots?
Hunting boots are much more robust and equipped with protective features, such as sturdier soles and weatherproofing. Hiking boots will wear out faster if used for hunting purposes.
3. Is it necessary to have insulation in upland hunting boots?
This depends entirely on the climate of your hunting grounds; if it's cold, you'll obviously need insulation. However, this can increase the weight of the boots; some people like to wear thermal socks instead.
4. Can upland hunting boots be worn as work boots?
They are definitely comfortable enough for work but do not have necessary safety features such as reinforced toes or anti-slip properties. So choose carefully.
5. How can I get rid of odor in my hunting boots?
Rinse your boots thoroughly. Once dry, fill them up with baking soda and leave overnight. Then shake them to get the baking soda out.
So, what’s our top pick? Well, the Danner Men’s Pronghorn definitely stands out as a high-functioning boot for serious hunters.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, though, the Rocky Ranger Outdoor Boot is definitely worth looking into as well. For lighter expeditions, the Under Armour Speed Freek Bozeman Hiking Boot can be considered.
Whichever you choose, remember that the best upland hunting boots should be sturdy, durable, waterproof/breathable, and offer great traction. Good luck!