In building construction the foundation is the most critical element for long term sustainability.  A foundation built right will sustain and bear the rest of the buildings weight.  Consequently, defects and problems in a foundation will compound as you move up the structure.

Hunting Boots As A Foundation

Now this isn’t an article about building construction but the basic principles represented in the above paragraph are strikingly similar when it comes to feet, hunting boots, and sustained hunting activity.  Our feet are the foundation on which we are built and our boots are the foundation on which a hunt is built.  Sustaining prolonged rigorous outdoor activity like hunting means the foundation needs to be built right.  Done wrong and the problems compound up the body until mentally you can no longer continue.  If you think about that statement it puts into perspective the importance of having the right foundational hunting boot.  Here are some consideration when looking for a solid hunting boot.



Terrain here can vary and get steep and rocky really fast. Good support around and under your foot could be critical.

Terrain could be likened to the material a foundation is to be built on.  The foundation will differ if it were built into sandy material versus built into bedrock material.  Your boot should be likewise tailored to the material it will be on during a hunt.  A rugged, steep talus slope hunt while pursuing sheep isn’t the same base material as a Sonora Desert muley hunt.  Boots needed to keep your feet comfortable and healthy will vary in different terrain.

Weight bearing


A good boot AND backpack are needed for heavy loads like this

Just like a buildings foundation your hunting boot will be bearing the weight of everything above.  This principle is important because a boots outsoles, midsoles, and internal support differ depending on design.  Different designs are meant to help bear different weights comfortably.  If you plan on backpack hunting and possibly having to pack an animal out then durable soles with a full inner shank would be better to help your feet bear that weight.  Smaller, lighter shanks and sole material may be more comfortable for light day hunting.



A early season hot archery buck down

We added season as being important through our own trial and error experience.  For a long time we hunted in the same full grain 10″ leather boots during early season August muley hunts as we did during late season rifle hunts.  Man did our feet get hot during those archery hunts.  We prefer now to use boots that are lower cut but above the ankles for support, still have some weight bearing support, and a combination of leather and cordura fabric for breathability and lighter weight during those August to early September hunts.



A good insulated and waterproof boot was a must on this Montana wolf hunt

Climate is a pretty straight forward concept.  It really boils down to a waterproof membrane like Gor-Tex and insulation.  For us the answer is always yes on waterproof membrane.  No matter what time of year and where we hunt the chance of rain, snow, early morning dew, or water crossings are a reality.  Having a waterproof boot is a necessity.  Insulation is usually an easy choice as well.  If it is a cold weather boot then decide how much you need.  Unless your hunting in snow all the time with a pair of boots we’ve found good socks can make up for insulation when needed.

Everyone’s Foot Differs


Lathrop & Sons custom foot mapping. Photo credit Lathrop & Sons

This is the ringer when deciding on any hunting boot.  Everyone has a different shaped foot from top, bottom, sides, front, and heel.  For many of us it is very hard to find that “right” boot.  I have small, skinny feet and a square heel where my achilles attaches.  Most boots on the market chew up my heel to the point I want to cry.  I have had more boots than I can count end up on the shelf and when I find a pair I like it is like hitting the lottery.  This is why I won’t write an article saying you got to get “brand X” boot, that just doesn’t work for everyone.  We suggest you get a quality boot that fits you and fits how you will use it.


Lathrop & Sons working on a custom boot system. Photo credit Lathrop & Sons

BUT…. and this is a big but!  There is a way to maximize and customize the way a boot fits.  Recently Muley Freak partnered with Lathrop & Sons.  They build custom boot systems around YOUR feet!  Utilizing techniques like 3D mapping, imagery, tracings, calibration, and personal consultations they determine the correct boot design and size.  With that comes custom modifications to your boot as needed and customized Lathrop & Sons Synergy footbeds.  We found that our Lathrop & Sons recommended boot design and fit to be spot on and worth every penny.  Beginning this fall Lathrop & Sons will be coming out with their own line of boots as well.  Lathrop & Sons takes building the right foundation for hunting to a whole new level!


Undoubtedly, a boot designed for your personal hunting conditions and one that fits correctly can be the difference in keeping you afield with your feet comfortable and healthy.

To see what our favorite outdoor clothing builder is and why check this ARTICLE OUT

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