One of the most critical pieces of gear for western big game hunting is your boots. Call it what you want, but big game hunting in the west is an athletic pursuit — one that requires training, proper nutrition, and hunts that are physically demanding. Hunting is a pursuit that overwhelming relies on the feet and legs when it comes to the physical demands, and boots can make or break a hunt and even a season.
You probably know the feeling of hiking for hours all day and then soreness, aches, and pains hit your feet and legs (and then possibly your back). This can easily slow you down, hurt your sleep, and even end the hunt. And while a lot goes into being physically equipped for the hunt, boots are probably as critical an element as anything else.
For my hunts in the Sierras and the Rockies last year, I went with the Danner Pronghorn Hunting Boots. Admittedly, I trained prior to the season in sneakers, but I was pleased to find that the light and athletic feel of the Danner Pronghorns made for an easy transition. Of course, boots will never feel as light, comfortable, and athletic as sneakers, but these are pretty close.
At 53 ounces per pair, these boots are very lightweight. In fact, when took them out of the box, I was briefly concerned that they felt too light and might be a cheap construction or materials. I should have known better than to doubt Danner — these boots endured in all in tough terrain and weather and kept me comfortable during hours and hours of sometimes brutal hiking.
I wore the 8-inch non-insulated boots. I was comfortable in the 90-degree heat of a California blacktail hunt while also content in a snowstorm in Montana when hunting elk. I compensated for the lack of insulation with a good pair of socks.
The GORE-TEX liners in the boots make them very breathable while also waterproof. (Not sure how this can work so well.) And the Vibram® sole grips incredibly well.
These boots are everything I want in a hunting boot. I don’t doubt Danner will always make the perfect boot for me, but I love these hunting boots so much that I bought another pair as a back up.
The Danner Pronghorn Hunting Boots cost around $200 (fluctuating between options) and come with Danner’s 365-day warranty.
— Tim Harden