The best upland hunting boots are a lot like the best pickup truck. It’s subjective and likely has a lot to do with where you grew up, what your family and friends use, and your style of hunting. All of these factors contribute to deciding what boot to lace up when it’s time to hit the covers.
If you’ve ever been on a trip with the wrong piece of gear, you know how frustrating that can be. Hunting boots are arguably the most important piece of hunting equipment. If your feet are uncomfortable, sore, or have blisters, you won’t last very long in the woods. The best upland hunting boots should be comfortable, supportive, secure, and rugged enough to withstand day after day in the field. So, how do you choose the right boots for upland hunting?
Things To Consider Before Buying Upland Hunting Boots
Choosing the right upland hunting boot can seem daunting. There are a wide array of information, models, and styles to sort through. Boot options are varied and everybody has an opinion on what makes the best upland hunting boots. But there are a few factors to seriously consider to make sure you get the most out of your hunting boots.
Are you looking for a do-it-all upland hunting boot, or a boot specific to one kind of chase? Will you be hunting in a diversity of terrain types and climates? Versatility is crucial to many hunters who choose to travel or change things up a bit. You need to consider what and where you will be hunting. Species, habitat, and terrain will be significant determining factors in your choice of boot.
Style & Material
As with versatility, choosing the right boot style and material should be based on the type of hunting you do most. Comfort, height, weight, warmth, breathability, flexibility, and other variables will factor in here. If you’re hitting small covers in very wet terrain, you might be better off with a rubber boot. If it’s long hikes in the big woods, a more comfortable, durable, and supportive choice should take the lead. Rugged mountains and tough country is going to call for durable and sturdy boots. Each upland hunt is going to require different features from your boot. Think about what you need your boot to do on a hunt because the wrong boot on the wrong adventure can make for a miserable day.
Boot prices vary, and what you get for your money does as well. Some folks swear by spending good money on boots, as they consider footwear to be the most important piece of gear in their arsenal. If you have $400 or $500 to spend, you’ll get a higher quality product with increased durability and longevity. Maybe even an added warranty. Obviously, we’re not all in that boat. There are still great upland hunting boots for hunters with a tighter budget.
Why It Made The Cut
This boot has the right components for the do-it-all upland hunting boot. It is waterproof, rugged, and has added features for comfort and support.
- TERRA FORCE platform
- Full-Grain leather & 900 denier nylon upper
- Purposefully designed for upland hunting
- 365 Day Warranty
- Comfort & durability
Were I to purchase a new upland hunting boot today, I’d go with the Danner Sharptail. Why? Because it’s got the features of a premium boot, at a moderate price. It looks great, it feels great, and has no shortage of positive reviews from hunters all over the country. The Sharptail is offered in a diverse bunch of options, including a side zip, a snake boot, and a 4.5” model in addition to the standard 8”. It’s designed specifically for upland hunting and could cover the whole gamut of upland adventures with the right combination of socks.
The Sharptail is durable and lightweight and has been redesigned in recent years, building upon the success of the previous model. It is completely waterproof, rugged as they come, and hosts a suite of added features for comfort and support. The Danner Sharptail is a whole lot of bang for your buck.
Why It Made The Cut
The 1957 Series Flyway Waterproof boot is a classic in upland hunting. They are made in the USA with all the right features for comfort and durability in the woods.
- Full leather construction
- Removable cushioned footbed
- Made in the USA
- Celebrated in upland conservation partnerships
If you’re looking for a classic upland hunting boot, look no further than this leather beauty right here. Boasted throughout the upland community, Thorogood boots are known for long-lasting, durable construction. They’re the official boot of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, and a favorite among grouse and woodcock hunters too.
I’ve been recommended Thorogood boots by friends and colleagues in the upland hunting community, the trades, the timber industry, and elsewhere. The Flyway, in my opinion, is one of the best looking upland boots on the market. It’s a classic. The 8” logger approach to this boot puts durability and American craftsmanship at the forefront, and with an added breathable waterproof membrane and removable cushioned footbed, Thorogood pulled out the stops for comfort as well.
Why It Made The Cut
The Burly is the go-to choice for rubber hunting boots. It’s long been trusted by hunters from the deer, duck, and upland communities, as well as, fur trappers, anglers, and many others.
- Slip resistant
- Adjustable top strap
- 100% Waterproof
- Offered in a variety of prices, colors, and insulations
- Widely available
- Not ideal for all types of upland hunting
The LaCrosse rubber boot is iconic in the outdoor space, from the old school green Grange version, up through each and every kind of Burly. This boot is a favorite among deer hunters but is no stranger to upland hunters. When targeting birds along swamp edges, wet alder thickets, cattail sloughs, and muddy trails, the Burly reigns supreme. Its signature adjustable strap allows for a comfortable fit around the calf, and a variety of insulation levels allow you to choose the right model for your style of hunting.
Granted, this is no hiking boot. Though big woods deer trackers may disagree, you do not want to put 10 plus miles on this boot over and over again throughout the season. That said, LaCrosse’s Ankle Fit design adds a level of stability and support that many other rubber boots do not, and thus allows for all-terrain use, within reason.
Best for Women
Why It Made The Cut: The Danner Women’s Wayfinder is a lightweight durable upland hunting boot. Danner offers this well-made, thoughtful boot at a solid price just for women hunters.
- Danner dry waterproof liner
- Open cell polyurethane footbed
- Offered in multiple styles and insultations
- Waterproof Lining
- 365 Day Warranty
While I’ve never had issues finding available boot options for myself, I have had the frustration of shopping for women’s hunting boots for my wife. There isn’t nearly the variety out there, and what is available can often be hard to source. That said, the Danner Women’s Wayfinder is a solid upland boot, with a variety of purpose-built features and options.
The Women’s Wayfinder is offered in three different insulation levels, each with its own color and camo pattern. The boot was designed thoughtfully on Danner’s DT5 last, yielding an athletic fit with plenty of support for long hikes and hunting trips. Throw in their Open Cell Polyurethane footbed and Plyolite midsole, and along comes breathability and comfort. If you can find it in stock, the Danner Women’s Wayfinder is a great choice for upland hunting boots.
Why It Made The Cut: Regarded as one of the greatest, strongest, and longest-lasting hunting boots of all time, the Crispi Nevada is a premium hunting boot. It has a strong support system, durable build, and a comfortable fit to last you all day.
- ABSS ankle support system
- Removable Crispi air mesh footbed
If you’re looking for a boot with years of history, versatility, comfort, and durability, the Crispi Nevada is the way to go. It’s offered in both insulated and non-insulated models and is regarded as one of the premium hunting boots on the market. The Crispi Nevada has been improved over decades of use and the current model stands among the best yet.
The Nevada is particularly popular among western hunters and folks who hike long distances through rough country and need a boot that will hold up to the abuse. Innovative designs in ankle support, framing, breathability, and comfort have led to an incredible amount of praise for this boot. Versatility is where the Nevada really shines. If you’re in search of a one-and-done kind of boot for all types of upland hunting, the Crispi Nevada is worth a serious look.
How We Made Our Picks
Last summer, I set out to select a new boot for chasing grouse & woodcock from Maine to Minnesota. I needed a real deal upland hunting boot. I did the research, polled the masses, and received an array of suggestions from ardent upland hunters from around the country. Design, style, and price point all factored into the conversation. Since then, my current role at the Ruffed Grouse Society has given me the opportunity to hunt with respected and experienced people in the upland community. They all had diverse perspectives on what makes the best upland hunting boots and what considerations were most important to them. I based my selections on the following criteria:
- Pursuit: What type of upland hunting do you plan to do and what do you need your boots to excel at most?
- Design: What materials are the boots made from? How are they constructed?
- Durability: How long will the boots last in the field? Can I trust them to withstand harsh conditions?
- Usability: What are the boots designed to do? Are they lightweight? Do they have support?
Q: What makes a good upland boot?
A good upland boot is durable, comfortable, fits well, and will last more than one or two seasons. To choose the right upland boot, one should start with their budget, and work toward finding the boot with the most desired features within that price range.
Q: Do upland boots need to be waterproof?
That depends on the habitat and conditions you plan to hunt in. Most likely, your upland hunting will take you to a diversity of terrain and climates. Water is important to a lot of birds, and so it’s often incorporated into our hunting areas. If not fully waterproof, some form of waterproof liner or outer material treatment will help you stay happy when your boots get wet.
Q: How do you choose insulation for upland hunting boots?
Set out to select an insulation level based upon the range of temperatures you will see most frequently. For example, if you’ll be hunting mostly in 0-40 degree weather, you might want a mid-weight, 400-800 gram level of insulation. If you’re focused solely on the early season each and every year, non-insulated options will do. You can adapt a great deal with different socks, wools, liners, etc. If like me, you encounter an extremely wide range of temperatures during your upland season, you might even want to work toward having two upland boot options in your gear arsenal—one with insulation, and one without.
Footwear and foot care can go a long way in the field, perhaps longer than most other types of gear or preparation. In upland hunting, we often measure the success of our day by the miles we’ve covered. Finding the best upland hunting boots for your style of hunting will keep you in the field longer, and in turn, help put more birds in your vest.