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Thread: Footwear for your Alaska hunt

  1. #1
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Footwear for your Alaska hunt

    Hi folks,

    In the gore-tex thread a question came up concerning footwear. Not wanting to get that thread off track, I'm starting a separate one for this topic.

    The question concerned whether I would recommend hip boots or Extra-Tuff boots.

    I generally prefer Lacrosse ankle-fit hip boots in either insulated or non-insulated over the knee-high boots. But that's because I hunt areas where we have a lot of swampy muskeg or are hunting rivers. I understand that the folks in Southeast really like the Extra Tuff boots for their situation, and there are probably other places where they work well.

    Another idea that's been working for me involves breathable chest waders. I especially like this on float hunts, where I am in and out of the boat frequently. As Henry Passerini (one of my hunters) can testify, "you just never know when you're gonna step in a hole that's deeper than your hip boots". It was a miserable windy day and Henry's soaking forced us to stop, build a fire and get things dried out. In the end it was a good thing, because that's the same gravel bar where he shot his moose the next day.

    So how about it? What works for you?

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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  2. #2
    Member EricL's Avatar
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    Default boots

    Last fall, brother and I were out around Lake Illiamna. We took the hip waders mainly for getting in and out of the float plane. We took our normal hunting boots thinking that is what we would wear while hunting. The thought of wearing the hip boots everyday didn't even cross our minds. We ending up wearing the hip boots everyday. Due to occasionally crossing some swamp, creeks, and wet brush the hip boots were great. We were both amazed at how comfortable they actually were. I'm not talking about high $ boots. They came from Wally World. Up north, for our Sept caribou hunt we wear our Danner Pronghorns. These have been some of the most comfortable boots I have owned. Eric

  3. #3
    New member mtcop71's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Boots

    On my spring Bear hunt I wore Hip waders and probably hiked 40-50 some miles in them. Make sure they are comfortable. They were a neccessity due to having to cross streams and wetlands. For my Dall sheep hunt coming up I will be wearing Lowa GTX Extremes. This has to be the most comfortable boot I have worn so far. I have no doubt they will get wet, more from sweating then anything, but thats what a good pair of wicking socks is for.

  4. #4
    Member jdb3's Avatar
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    Default

    I do not wear Extra tuffs here in Southeast because of the lack of support they give. I wear Schnee's pack boots. I wade through salt and freshwater with them and as long as I don't go over the top my feet stay dry. I do treat them daily with Montana Pitch Blend. IT works well for all leather boots I have used. I also wear the Bog Buster boots from Cabelas for waders. They are neoprene with air bob soles and weight about 5 pounds per pair. The neoprene is only about 3mm in thickness. They have held up to the Stikine Flats for the past 5 or 6 years and are very comfortable to walk around in. Jim

  5. #5
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Old school

    I guess I'm too much into comfort. I still wear my 9" all leather, Gore-tex lined, 200 gram thinsulate, vibram soled hiking boots. (Cabela's for $155, don't know if they still make em...) I can cross the little streams and most bogs with no problems (just have to pick and choose my route sometimes). If the creeks are too big, I take em off and wade across barefoot. I don't do a lot of river hunting and most areas I go to are higher ground with swamps/bogs here and there. I don't like the weight of the hip boots or the insulating value when I'm trying not to overheat.

    I only use the boots for hunting season and they last forever. This is my third pair of the same boots over the last 10 years. Oil them up good at the beginning and end of the season with mink oil and they are nice and soft but still give excellent support.

    Other than not being able to go through the big water, I can't think of any downfall to them.
    AKmud
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    It's one of those it depends things. Where I've moose hunted, I lived in ankle fit hippers, between being in and out of the canoe, and going through swampy areas, or dragging the canoe through narrow streams, they are ideal.

    Then lest fall when we went to Montague to go after blacktails, I brought the ankle fits and my hiking boots. The boots weren't high enough for getting in and out of a zodiak, and in some mushy spots. The ankle fits were a bit much and knee high boots wood have been perfect.

    So it depends on where you are going. I'd say a pair of hiking/hunting boots, ankle fit hippers and some camp shoes (I like teevas) will cover most hunts.

  7. #7

    Default

    In regards to footwear for Alaska, I prefer good ankle and arch support over being wet or "damp". I always wear a quality leather ankle boot, such as Vasque, with a good Vibram sole in a gortex liner. Then I add a quality set of waterproof gaiters to keep out the trash and mud, and include a nice thick pair of padded backpacking socks such as Thorlo or Fox with wool and other synthetic blends. Even in the snow this combo works well. When I am crossing a stream I have found that I can briefly submerge my feet in the water if necessary and I won't get wet feet. Of course if I stand in water...I get wet.

    I have tried the ankle-fit waders and other foot options but those items cause considerable pain to my feet and I end up not being able to travel far or comfortably. Good boots, good gaiters, good socks, allow me freedom to climb mountains and cover large areas of tundra. I typically do not hunt in swampy areas.

  8. #8

    Default Sheep boots?

    What do you all recommend for sheep hunting?

    I was thinking of wearing my gortex infantry combat boots made by Danner?

  9. #9
    New member mtcop71's Avatar
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    Thumbs up LOwa vs Mendel

    Look at the Lowa GTX extremes. Or the Mendls from cabelas. I own th eLowas and my hunting partner owns the Mendls. We both like our bots and our using them for are upcoming sheep hunt into the Delta area. I have trained allyear in my Lowa's and cannot think of a more comfortable boot.

  10. #10
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Mendals

    A word on Mendals.

    Up on the Haul Road I ran into a guy walking. Not your casual walk either. He started in Mexico City, Mexico, two years ago. He was about 25 miles past Toolik heading to Deadhorse.

    When asked about his boots he responded Mendls. He has had to have to soles replaced 4 times, $100 per pop, in a weeks turn around time. Apparently after a couple of soles they know him fairly well.

    Speaks a lot for the boots to go that distance. Oh yea...... the boots were holding up well.

  11. #11
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    I have worn out a pair of Red Ball neoprene upper ankle fit hip waders... They have served very well but I'm really leaning towards something in a breathable.

    Sheep boots... Have worn plastics (Scarpa Invernos) for the last couple of trips. GREAT boot for severe terrain! However, a long mostly flat approach caused me to start shopping for a leather alternative.

    Was real impressed with the Lowa GTX but actually found the Barney's new Scarpa Liskamm GTX to feel better on my foot. I think it's one of those things that depends on the shape of your foot.. Anyway, I've worn them for the last several weeks to break them in... So far SOOOO GOOD!!! They feel awesome... I actually wore them to work for a week just to see how they would feel during normal everyday activity. I work a very active job and stay on my feet all day. I CAN't wait to get these bad boys on the mountain... My hunting partner opted for the Lowa's and has the same feeling about his...

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Sheep Hunting Boots

    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderflight
    What do you all recommend for sheep hunting?

    I was thinking of wearing my gortex infantry combat boots made by Danner?
    I use Koflach Alaska Hunter plastic boots for sheep hunting. These boots are not for everyone though; it really depends on the shape of your feet and to some degree your success at molding them to fit. You can heat them up with a hair dryer and actually bend the plastic to custom fit the boots to an extent.

    I had one pair that didn't work at all for me, but the second pair is great.

    Excellent ankle support, but the tiny movements your ankles normally do to accomodate to irregular terrain are transferred to your knees and hips. Something to think about.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  13. #13
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    Default footwear

    I like discussions of Alaskan footwear. I vote for Redtops (xtratuf). I will be wearing them on my caribou hunt later this month and have worn them on almost all of my hunts in Alaska. They are part of the Alaskan tuxedo which includes Hellies and Redtops. I even wore them on my first several sheep hunts. They donít support your ankles, but even with my weak ankles I never had a problem. Put a pair of hard insoles in them. We rolled the sides down to make moccasins when it got hot. They dry really fast. I have used hip boots on some caribou hunts and now use plastic boots on most sheep hunts, but Redtops are the bomb!

  14. #14
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    Default chest highs

    After much study I am going with chest high breathables and my hunting partner is using waist high breathables. Most folks I have spoken with have gone over their hippers at least once while hunting rivers. The higher waist or chest waders also allow you to sit on wet stuff like logs and raft seats or tubes without worry. The third advantage is that they double as rain pants.
    I think the in-depth questions are stocking foot or boot foot, and if stocking foot then what wading boot.
    The plus for the boot foot is a dry boot to put on in the morning, the minus is if hiking away from the river you are stuck with wearing the waders as the boot is attached.
    The stocking foot advantage is that you can remove the waders and still use the boot for hiking (bring an extra layer of socks to compensate for the lack of neoprene). Just roll up the waders and strap them to the outside of your day pack and be sure to buy a good boot for hiking. The minus is having to put on the wet (frozen?)boot over the neoprene and the expense. A good wading boot will run a buck fifty after you have bought the waders.
    Whatever you do dont use felt bottoms if you have a chance of below freezing temps, they get real slick and of course studs are out on a raft. That leaves rubber bottomed boots which is what you want for hiking anyway, check out the Simms L2 Aqua stealth wading boot. It is made for this exact senario and has a rubber that is better on rocks than you would think. (no i dont know anyone in the company!!)
    And then there is the longevity issue, on mine the knees take a beating and I have a few large patches on them for durability. It is nice to just walk out in a stream to rinse off after butchering an animal and not worrying about blood on your clothes.
    Just my .02 hope it helps.

  15. #15
    Member walk-in's Avatar
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    Default boots

    Depending on the kind of hunting I'm doing, I either wear Meindls or Cabelas Bog Busters. I've been very happy with both, but I think I may add a pair of Danners uninsulated Gore-Tex boots to my closet as well.
    I have occasionally used Xtra-Tuffs when hunting in heavy rain/wet brush. They're fine for that, but not for serious hiking in the high country or getting in and out of the canoe.

  16. #16

    Default Foot wear

    I do all of my hunting in NW Alaska and we have 2 scenarios;
    # 1 Wet and soggy and I pull out my Extra Tough insulated. I can hike lots of wet tundra and cover soggy drainages easily. If it is wetter than that I grab the Hip Waders from under the seat.

    #2 Frozen and colder than Hell! Winter hunting up here the only option that works for me is Sorrel Dominators. They are good to -40 and have a great hob (rubber) bottom.

    Well that was simple: do you like it wet or frozen?

    Northwestalaska
    www.northwestalaska.com

  17. #17
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    Default Huntin' shoes

    I've gotta admit that I probably do at least half my hunting in extra-tufs here outta Cordova. I personally find them comfortable to hike around in and I'll do 5+ miles in a day climbing the hills looking for deer. The only situation I don't like them in is steep wet grassy slopes as they don't have the best traction. I think the secret is a good snug fit. Or maybe I'm just used to them as I wear them all summer as a commercial fisherman. My hunting partner tried them once last year and was complaining of blisters and that his feet slid around in his.

    Early in the season when it's relatively dry, I actually wear a nice light pair of tennis shoes. I like wearing light comfortable shoes when I'm climbing up high. I use regular soles, not those ankle breaking jogging type soles.

    Sometimes when the early snows come, I'll wear a pair of insulated leather boots such as Danners or as I have now a pair of Herman Survivors. When it gets really cold and I'm sloshing around in a lot of snow I switch to snow packs, usually Sorrels, although I bought a pair of Wiggy's snow packs this spring I can't wait to try out. They seem very light so I'm optimistic about them.

  18. #18
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    Default My limited experience

    In the five bear hunts I've made to Alaska, mostly southeast, I've worn everything from deck shoes (fine for the boat), to XtraTuffs, through knee high rubber boots (LaCrosse Grange), hippers (love/hate relationship with Cabela's), and now breathable chest waders.

    I've pretty much settled on low-cut, comfortable rubber boots (Woo Davies fishing boots from Bass Pro or XtraTuffs) for on the boat/clam digging, etc. The low cuts boots offer good support and are more comfortable than the XtraTuffs.

    If we're spring bear hunting and spending most of our time in a skiff, beaching it to stalk, the knee boots are lightweight and comfortable. Your goal is to avoid getting in too deep when beaching the skiff. Finally settled on the knee boots with waterproof pants (RiversWest) taped to them. Worked fine.

    In the fall where I hunt, you spend almost all your hunting time walking in salmon streams, I've gone through very uncomfortable Cabela's ankle fit hippers which durn near crippled me my first hunt up there on Hinchinbrook due to the rubber top above the boot part 'breaking' on my shin. The following year I used them again but added soccer shin guards inside my sock. Too durn much trouble.

    Two years ago, I tried the suggestion of my guide who hunts in the breathable chest waders. I like this alternative. They're not heavy, and you can roll the tops down to waist level if you want. The best things are that you don't worry about dipping your hippers when (not if) you step in an unseen hole in the streams, and when you sit down to glass a run, you don't get your butt wet . The separate boot's kind of a pain, though. The first year I used the waders I bought some inexpensive wading boots from Bass Pro. I knew enough to get the rubber-soled ones, but the tread just was not aggressive enough. I ended up on my rear several times after slipping on moss, slime, and dead fish.

    This fall I'm wading the salmon streams again, using the breathable waders and a new pair of Chota boots I bought on sale from LL Bean. They have studded felt soles, and will be coming off when I arrive at the boat. We don't really 'hike' much in the fall, except while we're in the streams, and I'm tired of busting my butt. These soles were recommended by a guy at Chota over the new tech rubber soles because I told him about all the slimy crap on the stream bottoms. We'll see how they work out !

    Ya know, I think a lot of the fun of a hunt is the anticipation and agonizing over the 'perfect gear' .

  19. #19
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Boots for breathables

    Quote Originally Posted by presto
    ... chest high breathables and my hunting partner is using waist high breathables. ...the in-depth questions are stocking foot or boot foot, and if stocking foot then what wading boot....
    You might check out the Korkers Konvertable Wading Boot; I've written about them here before and it seems to me that they give you the best of both worlds; a felt sole for the slick mossy rocks and a lug sole for hunting. Pretty slick setup.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  20. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan
    I use Koflach Alaska Hunter plastic boots for sheep hunting. These boots are not for everyone though; it really depends on the shape of your feet and to some degree your success at molding them to fit. You can heat them up with a hair dryer and actually bend the plastic to custom fit the boots to an extent.

    I had one pair that didn't work at all for me, but the second pair is great.

    Excellent ankle support, but the tiny movements your ankles normally do to accomodate to irregular terrain are transferred to your knees and hips. Something to think about.

    -Mike
    I wonder what O'Conner wore? Didn't have gortex and plastic boots then.. : ) Probably lots of grease on a pair of leather boots we would all shudder at! : )

    I have a pair of Danner hunting boots that are gortex and they have worked pretty good the last few years (in rain, snow, & mud).

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