Field Boot Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by KP513, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. KP513

    KP513

    163
    Nov 25, 2012
    I do a lot of ecological fieldwork in a remote region, and I'm looking for a new pair of all-terrain, all-season boots. I've been searching all over online, and there are a glut of options, so I thought I'd put it to this forum to see if my specific needs point to one or two companies/models in particular. (Also crossposted to another board frequented by members with similar interests, in case you have a sense of deja vu)
    • Working in forests with frequent changes in elevation and mixed terrain that ranges from ice to rock to dirt to marsh to grasses to fallen trees.
    • Usually at least 5 hours spent in the forest on these boots, up to 12 hours in a day for several days in a row.
    • The area is crisscrossed with rivers and streams that need crossing and marshes that need entering and often knee-deep snow in the winter; a waterproof boot at least 8" high (ideally 10" or more) is necessary.
    • The temperature usually ranges from about 0 F in the winter to 70 F in the summer, though lows can hit -20F.
      • That being said, these boots only need to be comfortable while under active use with a pair or two of woolen hiking socks, since I have a pair of heavily insulated Baffin boots for intensely cold temperatures while relatively sedentary, like on a snowmobile.
    • I'd really like soles that can handle wet ice when crossing frozen rivers and streams, and wet rocks when crossing those same rivers and streams in the warmer months.
    • A bonus would be removable liners so that wet liners can be switched out.
    • Budget-Less than 500 USD, and ideally less than 350 USD, though I understand that premium prices usually accompany products that last years.


    The brands that come up a lot when I search are Irish Setter, Kenetrek, Danner, and Lowa. I used a pair of Danner Kinetic 8" boots for my first couple of seasons and they were great for just about everything through the first several months; however, they are deteriorating far faster than I would like and the Gore Tex liner has started leaking. Since the Danner recrafting service would cost more than a new pair, I thought I should explore other options on the market.
     
  2. Mikel_24

    Mikel_24

    Sep 19, 2007
    A few thoughts:
    - Military style boots are good for jobs/duties that require that precise military looking appeal, other than that, you would be much better served with civilian oriented trekking/mountaineering boots.
    - If you want to stay dry while crossing rivers up to waist high, you need waders, for everything else, a waterproof boot along with waterproof pants along with a nice pair of gaiters are all you could need to stay dry and comfy while in the snow. Even up to your chest.
    - You can avoid the gaiters altogether if you choose a boot with an integrated gaiter (again, civilian climbing boots, check Sportiva Batura or Scarpa Phantom line)
    - The range of temps you are mentioning cannot be well covered with a single pair of boots, sorry.
    - For the soles requirement, Vibram has you covered.

    If you want removable liners, then I see two choices: Either go with a pack boot (fully waterproof, zero breathable, you will die in high temps) or get a mountaineeering boot meant for 6000+ peaks (beathers better, it is fully oriented for climbing). For the second choice I would suggest to explore the SCARPA PHANTOM 6000... it has that removable liner you are talking about.

    Mikel
     
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  3. KP513

    KP513

    163
    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks so much for the detailed reply! Super helpful
     
  4. Sidehill Gouger

    Sidehill Gouger

    Dec 29, 2007
    Nicks, Whites or Franks. All custom boots from Spokane. I wear Nicks or Whites every day.
     
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  5. John A. Larsen

    John A. Larsen

    Jan 15, 2001
    I think Mikel_24 is behind times as far as military boots go. The days of "precise military looking appeal" went out the window with the Spit Shinned boots years ago. Many military boots have been developed based on very demanding use in Afghanistan over the last 18 years, like the SOCOM Tora Bora boot. Having said that he is correct that you may not be able to find a boot that meets all of your requirements. SideHill Gouger's recommendations are very good ones. One bit of advice is that if you go for one of those custom makers, you would be better off to visit them, and let them measure your feet to insure you get a proper fit. John
     
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  6. Mikel_24

    Mikel_24

    Sep 19, 2007
    It could very well be! But let me elaborate a bit more. I am from Spain and 37 right now. When I was 16 I went to the US as an exchange student, Fountain City, Wisconsin. At that time I was A LOT into military gear, clothing and footwear. I literaly fell in love with the Matterhorn Gore-Tex military boots (and equivalent models from Danner, Rocky, etc.). My foster Dad was law enforcement, so we received a lot of printed catalogs at home. I browsed through them like I was looking at porn... lol. I didn't buy any because at the time it didn't make much sense and were costly (by my standards).

    Time went by and once in Spain and a few years later I decided to buy a pair of Gore Tex military boots. Not having Matterhorn, Danner or Rocky arround, I stayed "local" and bought the Bestard Army model. Bestard is a spanish brand that still manufactures right here under our noses and cranks out great and highly praised climbing and hiking boots. I think the model is right now discontinued, but you can check the specifications here BESTARD ARMY. Full leather, norwegian stitching, Vibram soles, etc. They had an even warmer model with Gore Tex Duratherm (different stitching, not all they way to the toes) but it was overkill. I used them on and off for a couple years and sold them because they didn't get much use. For urban use, they were extremely rigid, for hiking they were not appropiate, as they didn lock your heel as well as any dedicated hiking boot. And this particular model didn't have locking lace rings to isolate the lacing of the lower part of the foot from the upper. They were nice to tromp arround in the snow for a bit, after that they were cold.

    Just wanted to explain that when I was talking about military boots, I was not reffering to El-Cheapo basic style-leather only boots.

    I checked that boot and well, telling by the looks and specs, that's a climbing boot with subdued colors... I would take those boots to the Alpes in summer no problem. But I will not take them to do low altitude hiking on paths of flat ground as they would be extremely rigid.

    Do you plan on using snowshoes? Most of the semi-rigid and rigid boots (totally recomended as ridgidity is somewhat required to preserve your ankles if you are carrying a heavy pack over rough terrain), even have slots in the heel and toes meant to use automatic or semiautomatic crampons, which you may never need but... most of the snowshoes are available with several binding choices and automatic or semiautomatic bindings are much better than strap-ons.

    If you have a look at modern climbing boots and hiking boots you will find features and upgrades that (still) have not been applied in the military footwear. Many of the climbing/hiking models of footwear don't have any leather, so they are ligther and dry faster.

    Maybe I am byased because all my hiking/climbing is done uphill, mostly in the vertical and all you see arround are climbing/hicking boots. So our needs might be too far appart.

    BTW, what do other people doing the same as you wear? Because maybe that's the answer....

    Mikel
     
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  7. effenoam

    effenoam

    187
    Mar 19, 2013
    Danner RAT boots are the best hard use boots I've worn. Mountains, deserts, marshes, or woods I've never had a blister and it really locks your heel in while remaining flexible. The traction is also great, my other boots feel slippery in comparison especially on ice. A little heavy but when you want a serious boot its well worth it. The RAT is discontinued but the MEB is the same boot without the heel and toe cap, I would get the goretex MEB. However, if you do manage to get them soaked while it's cold out they're very hard to dry, and theyre not good below 30 unless you're moving.
     
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  8. Mikel_24

    Mikel_24

    Sep 19, 2007
    I just remembered that we have another spanish brand of footwear called CHIRUCA. I browsed through the specific hunting catalog (for taller boots) and I came up with three models that might suit you:
    CHIRUCA BASSET
    CHIRUCA FOREST
    CHIRUCA MISTRAL --> Telling by the version of the Gore Tex liner used and the weight, this could be the warmest, and also the most durable since it has reinforcement in the toe and heel area.

    This manufacturer, while not focused in high altitude or ice climbing, has a great reputation for low altitude hiking footwear and their hunting line is also well known. They are not expensive either.

    Maybe you should have a look at huniting specific boots, they may have something that suits you.

    Mikel
     
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  9. KP513

    KP513

    163
    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks, I'll surely check em out, especially if I'm by Washington!
     
  10. KP513

    KP513

    163
    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks for the advice!
     
  11. KP513

    KP513

    163
    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks for the further thoughts! I do wear MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes when I'm out in deep snow, and they've been great for moving all terrain in a variety of snow depths

    I work out in Russia, and a lot of the Russians use local brands that I don't have a lot of confidence in (and that I can't test out/try out while I'm in North America). I do have a buddy that uses Schnee's Western Packer model and it's been great for him, but I just wanted to check out more options, especially since a stick managed to poke a hole into his boot this past season.

    Also, re your further response, thanks again! I'll check out those Chiruca models! Yea, part of the reason I've been looking mostly at hunting and military branded boots is that they tend to be taller than most hiking branded models!
     
  12. LG&M

    LG&M

    Dec 19, 2005
    I have a pair of 6" irish setter vaprtrek. I know they make a taller pair. I really like mine.
     
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  13. KP513

    KP513

    163
    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks for the recc, I have heard some great things about Irish Setter!
     
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  14. LG&M

    LG&M

    Dec 19, 2005
    Your welcome, I have used mine for everything from a go ruck light event to day hiking & backpacking. I would guess several hundred miles. Glad I got them every time I put them on.
     
  15. 315

    315 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2017
    I do not have a pair, so my knowledge is from 1/2 dozen friends that have bought them. You mentioned Kenetrek boots. So far all of my friends love them as they seem extremely rugged. One guy mentioned the soles seem to be wearing out faster than he’d like, but he wears them on pavement quite a bit. A softer sole would give better grip in slippery conditions but may wear out faster on hard rock, but that’s a trade off. The only reason I haven’t bought any is because I am no where close to wearing out my Danner Elk Hunters. But I only wear them in the field so it may take some time. When the time comes Kenetrek will be on my short list.
     
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  16. HopalongCassidy

    HopalongCassidy

    69
    Sep 22, 2019
    If you’re serious about boots; Whites.
     
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  17. Sidehill Gouger

    Sidehill Gouger

    Dec 29, 2007
    Or Nicks, Franks, and JK. All custom boots from Spokane. They are not cheap and it really requires a trip to the factories to be properly fitted but its worth it in the long run.
     
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  18. KP513

    KP513

    163
    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks for the tip!
     
  19. KP513

    KP513

    163
    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks for the advice!
     
  20. HopalongCassidy

    HopalongCassidy

    69
    Sep 22, 2019
    Whites has a series of measurements and tracings you take and send in. Pretty simple, my boots fit perfect, been wearing them exclusively for 30 years. Currently have 5 pair in varying degrees of repair.
     
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