Boots are the most quintessential piece of gear, in my mind, that you take into the back country — that single piece of equipment can make or break any trip. In the beginning of 2013 I finally had to retire a pair of hiking boots that I had been using for the past decade. As I began researching and investigating what boot choices currently existed I had to prioritize what was important to me: waterproofing, comfort and stability/support. My demand of these new boots was to include bow hunting and back packing so they needed to offer ankle support, have good tread, be waterproof and be able to handle the steep terrain of the Cascade mountain range.
I choose to go with the Cabela’s 9″ Uninsulated Outfitter Series™ Pro Hunting Boots for $169.99. These are boots that I believe with proper care should last at least a decade of use if not longer. They are not in the same price range as Schnee’s or Lowa’s but they are also about half the cost. My reasons to select these boots was 9″ boot height, leather, gortex waterproof lining yet the biggest reason is that these boots can be resoled by a cobbler. Which in my mind provides long lasting options. There are numerous boots in this price range that do not need to be broken in, but they also don’t have the ability to be resoled. This was a huge deciding factor for me. I purchased these in the middle of winter knowing that I would have time to break them in prior to the fall archery season and it seems like it has been worth the work. As of this time I’ve already put 30+ miles on these boots and feel like I’ve used them enough to assess a fair opinion on them at this point.
Sizing on these boots is accurate to actual foot size. I’m a 10-10.5 depending on the cut of the shoe. With these boots I wear a 10. I’m so happy that I purchased an uninsulated boot. These boots seem to run warm. While in my local Cabela’s I was having a conversation with my sales rep and he basically said for the insulation you just change up your socks to reflect the current conditions you will be hunting in. I picked up a pair of the Cabela’s lightweight socks to use with these boots and last weekend I developed a hot spot under my big toe on just one foot. Now with that said, I don’t think of that as a con with this particular boot but more I need to make adjustments to the socks I wear when (as a side note the sales rep said to always purchase wool socks with a min. of 70% wool in the blend). These boots are comfortable to wear, and offer the support required for carrying loads. At this point I’ve typically carried my son in a kid carrier backpack with my 3L water bladder for a total pack weight of 45lbs.
One issue that I’m still trying to flush out as I am unable to tell if the problem is with the boot design or with how I lace my boots, but the one of the eyelets above the ankle seem to dig into my skin a bit when I have the boots laced and tightened strongly. I’m still looking into this as it doesn’t feel like a poor design on the boot and I keep thinking it will work itself out once the boots have been thoroughly broken in and sometimes it’s an issue and other times not so much which leads me to user error vs bad boot design.
All and all I’m very happy with these boots and would recommend them. If you do decide to proceed with these boots just make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time to not only break them in, but to also use them out in the field a bit so you can flush out the correct sock to boot relationship for your feet.