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Footwear for your Alaska hunt

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  • 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?

    Michael Strahan
    Site Owner
    Alaska Hunt Consultant
    1 (406) 662-1791

  • #2

    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

      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
        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
          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.

          The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


          • #6
            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.
            Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

            If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.


            • #7
              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
                Sheep boots?

                What do you all recommend for sheep hunting?

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


                • #9
                  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

                    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.

                    Patriot Life Member NRA
                    Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
                    Life Member Disabled American Veterans


                    • #11
                      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
                        Sheep Hunting Boots

                        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.

                        Michael Strahan
                        Site Owner
                        Alaska Hunt Consultant
                        1 (406) 662-1791


                        • #13

                          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 dont 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!
                          I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear


                          • #14
                            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

                              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.
                              We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
                              James Madison


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