Elk Hunting 101: 5 of the Best Elk Hunting Boots
Elk hunting is quite a bit different from shooting whitetails, being a more mobile type of hunting than people generally utilize for deer. This means that you’ll have to invest in a pair of serious footwear in order to keep your feet from hurting as you hike for miles over rough terrain. If you’re looking for the best elk hunting boots around, we have you covered.
Best Elk Hunting Boots
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Picking Out Your Boots
There’s no real “best boot” for any type of hunter, it will depend on your own individual situation, the terrain you’re hunting in, and your own two feet. You can make an educated purchase, however, and greatly increase your chances of getting the perfect boot on the first try instead of spending a bunch of money on different types of boots while you’re getting ready.
The most important thing you’re looking for is a boot that you won’t mind wearing. We can’t stress enough that you need something that won’t blister your feet, and keep in mind this won’t be a leisurely stroll through the park in most cases.
Insoles are a good side investment, but a boot that fits properly and doesn’t chafe or blister your feet without them is something to look for. Depending on the weather, you may be wearing thick woolen socks as well, take that into account when you’re picking your size out.
You’ll also want to take into account the weight of the boot. Lighter boots will make things easier for longer hikes, but don’t sacrifice everything to just pick up the lightest boots possible. If that were ideal, you’d see more hunters wearing Teva’s while they’re out with their bows and rifles.
Insulation and Waterproofing
The amount of insulation you might need is where we start getting into what you’ll need for the hunt itself. If you’re hunting in the snow, you’ll obviously need more than if you’re going after your quarry later in the season as heavier snows force the animals downwards.
You’ll also want some degree of waterproofing on your boots no matter what. Elk terrain can vary quite a bit, and you’re probably not going to want a pair of rubber boots while you’re having to move for miles or carry heavy loads. Waterproofing isn’t just for crossing streams, snow can also present a moisture problem as you go on.
Support is another key factor. Higher boots will provide more stability and protect your ankles if you misstep, otherwise, your partner might be dragging you a few miles back to camp or your vehicle. Steel support shanks, while adding a little bit of weight, are ideal if you’re going to be on rocky terrain.
Outsoles and toe bumpers are also quite important, especially with rocks around. So keep an eye out for good ones.
The sole of your boots needs to be aggressive, but not too loud. Synthetic materials tend to be the best for this sort of thing, allowing for a combination of grip and padding which can help you stay quiet as long as you’re careful.
The tread is important as well, a good tread will make things a lot easier on you while you’re going through rough terrain. If you’ll be moving over a lot of rocks, then something aggressive will help catch things better, while a less aggressive pattern might be better for milder terrain and snow to help prevent “crunching” too loudly and maintain grip in moist conditions.
The material the upper portion of your boots is made out of can be quite important. While synthetic leathers might be cheaper, in the beginning, you’ll be replacing your boots more as the material will have a tendency to rip quite a bit easier. They will require less maintenance in a lot of cases, however.
Leather, on the other hand, is a time-tested material for boots for a reason. A good pair of leather shoes will last for years if you take good care of them, but it’s probably not wise to be polishing them right before you go on the hunt. Look into proper leather care if you buy a pair, and you’ll find they might just outlast you.
Pulling it All Together
For non-specialized terrain, we can compile for you a list of what exactly you’re looking for pretty easily. You’ll need shoes that have the following:
- Proper Fit
- Moderately Aggressive Treads
- Moderate Insulation
- Leather Upper
- Synthetic or Rubber Soles
As long as your shoes meet the above requirements, you’ll be good to go in most terrains. Go for heavier insulation if you plan on being in deep snow, more aggressive treads if you’re going to be on rocks in a drier area, and think about something higher if you’re planning on wading.
You’re in good hands, so let’s take a look at five of the best pairs of elk hunting footwear you’ll be able to find on the market.
Top 5 Best Elk Hunting Boots On The Market
Best Elk Hunting Boots
If you’re looking for a high-quality boot to keep you going in colder climes, then the 860 Model of Irish Setter’s Elk Trackers is a great fit.
- Full Leather Upper- The upper of these boots is rough and tumble, making sure that you’ll be able to use them for a long time to come
- ScentBan Technology- Let’s face it, your boots will stink after an elk hunt. These boots have been treated to help keep that to a minimum.
- Waterproof Lining- These boots have a waterproof lining to help keep the moisture off your feet.
- Aggressive Synthetic Sole- The soles of these boots are fairly aggressive, good enough for rough terrain while not being too aggressive for the snow.
- Lightweight- All of this comes in a package that weighs only two pounds per boot.
- Not Very Breathable- Due to the construction of the boot, they’re not really suited for warm weather as the leather will trap the heat inside.
- Stiff Upper- The leather upper around the lower part of the calf can be a bit stiff for some people’s tastes, making for good support but requiring some breaking in.
For the average elk hunting conditions, where it’s cold and rough, these boots should keep you covered well but they can be a bit stiff and they’re not good for unseasonably warm weather.
While not perfect for those who like to hunt higher in the mountains, if you prefer to stalk your elk on the plains and through the foothills, these Pronghorns are a respectable option.
- Breathable Upper- The upper consists of durable leather and a nylon mesh, which will help keep your feet aerated properly while you’re on the hunt.
- Nylon Shank- While not as protective as a steel shank, the nylon shank will add some additional protection around your vulnerable ankle joint.
- Durable Outsole- If you have a tendency to bang your feet on things while moving quickly, you can rest assured the outsole will help protect your toes.
- Triple Layered Insole- The insole is triple layered, keeping your feet comfortable for long distances without requiring you to invest in insoles.
- Super Light- The boots come in at under two pounds each, weighing only 27.5oz per boot or 55oz for the pair.
- Rough Outer Edge of Upper- The upper edge of the boot can be a bit rough, requiring you to be careful with sock selection to avoid chafing.
- Easily Scuffed Leather- While mostly a cosmetic issue, the leather on these shoes tends to scuff easily.
The Pronghorns are great boots if you’re in the right environment, but they’re probably not warm enough for the majority of elk hunts. If they suit what you have in mind, however, you might just find them to be a perfect fit.
The next step up from the 860 model, these boots have thicker insulation and are a bit tougher although overall the design remains mostly the same. They do have some additions as far as protection goes, making them suitable for rougher terrain.
- 9 ½” Shaft- These boots will come up pretty high on most hunter’s calves, offering a lot of protection to your lower leg while in the brush.
- Full Leather Upper- With proper care these boots are bound to last for a long time, owing primarily to their full leather upper portion.
- Steel Shank- A steel shank will offer maximum protection to your foot’s joints, keeping you from having to be hauled off the mountain in case of a fall.
- Waterproof- Fully waterproof thanks to the GORE-TEX liner, they’ll keep your feet dry in snow and shallow water.
- Heavily Insulated- The 880’s will keep your feet warm down to super low temperatures, and they’re suitable for most of the elk season
- Rough Seam- You’ll want some good socks with these boots until broken in the back seam can cause some chafing on your feet.
- Can be a Bit Tight- If you have large lower legs, then they can take a little bit to break in.
These boots are great for those who plan on hunting in the roughest terrain in colder climates, but you may want to go with something a little bit lighter if you hunt in warmer weather.
Now we’re talking, if you like to track your quarry high in the mountains then you won’t be able to find anything better than the 882 Model of Elk Trackers.
- Quick Break-In- Thanks to the padded insoles in the boots, the 882 will break in quickly and easily and be ready to conform to your feet readily after only a little bit of time spent in them.
- 600g Thinsulation- The insulation in these boots is simply incredible, you’ll be able to hike through snow while your feet stay warm and cozy.
- Advanced Insole- The insole consists of EVA memory foam and corkboard, making for a comfortable fit for almost anyone.
- 12” Shaft- These boots will come quite high up on the calf, providing superior coverage on your lower legs.
- Steel Shank- The support shank is made of steel, keeping your joints well protected from the hostile terrain.
- Stiff Sole- While providing excellent protection, be aware that the sole of the shoe is rather stiff and it’ll take some getting used to.
- Small Sizing- When you order these shoes, you might want to go a half-size or so higher than you normally would, as the advertised size and the actual seem to be a bit off.
If you’re going to be up in the mountains, you could do a lot worse than the Elk Tracker 882. Keep in mind that they’re definitely cold weather boots, however, and you may overheat in warmer temperatures.
The Tibet GTX is designed to be a comfortable boot for long hikes, and it provides a good amount of protection which makes them ideal hunting boots for someone after elk.
- Leather Upper- The leather upper is durable and has a matte finish which will keep glare down and provide a long life to the shoes.
- Thoroughly Padded- The Tibet GTX boots are made for comfort, and they provide it in spades with a lot of padding that you just don’t see elsewhere.
- Synthetic Sole- The synthetic soles of these boots is sure to last for a long time with heavy loads on.
- Thick Outsole- The outer sole of these shoes extends up a little bit and quite a bit on the toe. This will help keep you from kicking rocks too hard and injuring yourself.
- Waterproof- The boots come with a waterproof lining to keep your feet dry, no matter the conditions.
- A Bit Short- The boots themselves are a bit short to be ideal in really rough or overgrown conditions.
- Expensive- These boots run high in price, and while they boast high-quality it might not be enough to make up for the price difference.
The Tibet GTX is best thought of as a luxury boot. If you get sore feet while on the trail with other boots, they might be the answer to your problems, but hunters without a large budget may want to look elsewhere.
For most hunters, we’d recommend the Elk Tracker 860 boots. They’re the best suited for a wide variety of terrains and temperatures and are sure to leave your feet happy at the end of the day. For those in truly rough terrain, however, the Elk Tracker 882 is probably a better option but they’re not something you’ll want to be wearing in warm weather.