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When it comes to picking a hunting boot, there's nothing more important than taking the time to evaluate the construction of the boot and the materials being used.
Of course, not everyone is super familiar with the pros and cons of each of these materials, and why they might fit perfectly with your style of hunting. As a result, I'm going to break down the most popular materials used for hunting boots and share a little information about each of these subcategories.
Overall, a combination of leather and synthetic materials is going to be the best combination for your next hunting boot. These two types of materials work together to enhance the performance of a hunting boot, and honestly that's all you can really ask for. Without taking any more time, let's get into it!
Leather has been the go-to material for standard hunting boots since their inception. The durability and availability of the material makes it the most popular material for today's hunters.
When it comes to pros and cons, full-grain leather is the industry leader for toughness and durability. Its ability to withstand wear and tear, while battling briars, rocks, etc. will most likely outlast anything synthetic. Of course, synthetic leathers have definitely improved over the past several decades, but they have still not yet caught up.
Leather uppers also provide a higher degree of comfort as traditional leather stretches and molds to your own foot over time. It's also a great material to reinvigorate as you can add boot conditioner to reseal and lengthen the life of your boots.
As far as cons, some leather materials can be quite costly, especially if you purchase something with exceptionally high quality. Additionally, full-grain leather can be a little heavier than other complementary materials, which may be a concern for backcountry hunters. As a result, hunters might want to favor a synthetic leather that offers a unique combination of durability and lightweight characteristics.
According to Working Person, these are the most commonly used types of leather in boots:
1. Side Leather
4. Exotic Leather
7. Patent Leather
Over the past decade or so, you might notice more and more synthetic material hunting boots at your local sporting goods store. Simply put, this most likely a result of the affordability of synthetic material boots. Now, not all synthetic hunting boots are affordable; however, there are far more cheaper options available within the synthetic category when compared to full-grain leather.
If you're trying to find a lightweight hunting boot, you'll most likely want to find something that's full or partially constructed of synthetic material. While full-grain leather holds the crown for durability, synthetic materials simply can't be beat when it comes to weight.
Furthermore, something that wasn't really mentioned above is breathability. Now, breathability for boots is not quite the same as breathability for other hunting apparel, but there are some similarities. Both materials are not completely "breathable"; however, synthetic fibers will allow water vapor to escape at a higher rate - thus preventing overheating and sweating.
Here's a few of the most popular synthetic materials used in hunting boots:
3. Neoprene (mainly used in the Best Rubber Hunting Boots)
4. Synthetic Leather
Outside of the two materials mentioned above that make up a large part of the core upper structure, you'll find that other materials are incorporated to provide added benefits. Take a look at the different materials below!
According to SewPort, Gore-Tex is a "patented type of waterproof fabric made with a variant of polytetrafluoroethylene". While its main purpose is to prevent water from entering your hunting boots, it does so with a high level of breathability.
As a result, this material is a must have if you're looking for the best waterproof hunting boot out there. Of course, even though there are several different types of Gor-Tex formulations available (with different benefits), it remains one of the most expensive synthetic materials on the market.
Vibram is both a shoe and sole producer, but for purposes of this article we're going to focus on their sole technology. Several different hunting boot brands, including Danner, Rocky and Thorogood (the best upland hunting boot), utilize Vibram's unique soles in their own boots.
Yes, Vibram soles are still made out of rubber; however, they adjust the rubber compound through a heating process to tweak the capabilities of the material. Vibram offers several different types of soles that provide unique benefits for the end manufacture's desired purpose. As a result, it's really up to us a hunters to have confidence in the brand to choose the right sole for its intended use.
Thinsulate is an insulation material produced by 3M that provides an excellent source of insulation for both hunting clothing and boots. It allows for high levels of insulation with minimal weight added, and will even keep outdoorsmen warm if the material gets wet.
While Thinsulate continues to iterate their synthetic material for better performance, there are still other options available. While they're not the most popular you might see brands like HeatSeeker, Zylet, OptiWarm, and Primaloft available for some hunting boots.
Cordura is an advanced synthetic fabric available within many hunting boots, and is incorporated due to its material strength. While Cordura offers several different levels and types of fabric, the brand aims to "deliver unmatched protection against tears, scuffs and abrasions."
While this particular type of material isn't the most popular when it comes to their presence in the hunting community, it does offer supreme performance. Rest assured, if your hunting boot is built with Cordura fabric you've made a solid choice.
When it comes to interior lining, it's important to call out Cambrelle and their level of innovation within the field. The complete line of Cambrelle linings offer hunting boots the added ability to disperse moisture away from the foot, prevent blistering and bad odors. Furthermore, according to Cambrelle's website, their fabric is able to wick away three-and-a-half times its own weight in moisture. That's amazing!
Of course, each individual must evaluate their own unique style of hunting and figure out what's most valuable to them. From there, it's really about comparing what each material has to offer and lining it up with your needs. I hope the information above sheds some light on this particular subject and helps you for next season.
For our blog about a Hunter's Most Important Piece of Clothing we have that too!