Since you’re here right now, we know there’s no need to lecture you on how important it is to choose the best boots for elk hunting. In reality, choosing the wrong boots for any outdoor activity can quickly derail a mission. Our goal is to bring you the best of the best to give you the assurance of knowing your feet are protected and comfortable at all times.
In the case of hunting boots, you undoubtedly get what you pay for. The main players have been around the block. Therefore, they don’t cut corners when it comes to sourcing quality materials and building a boot.
In this guide, you’ll find:
- Boots for bitter-cold conditions (200 to 1000 gram insulation)
- Various shaft heights from 7″ to 12″ to suit everyone’s taste (taller shafts are preferable for negotiating streams, snow, and other moist conditions)
- Suitable boots for hunting in the Colorado Rockies, Montana, Wyoming
- Non-insulated boots for early season
- Good archery elk hunting boots
- Models that fit every budget
Needless to say, the boots in this guide are built to be durable, waterproof, and comfortable for hiking long distances. Also, as you already know, it’s wise to break in all elk hunting boots before your first hunt in them.
Elk Hunting Boot Reviews
Now, it’s time to unveil our top choices and share the key considerations for each boot. Under each review, you’ll find highlights & features along with important pros & cons to consider before making your final call.
#1) Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 Insulated Hunting Boot
The best overall elk hunting boot is the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme. It’s available in non-insulated, 400 gram, and 1000 gram Thinsulate, making it a great choice for any part of the season. Additionally, this boot is one of the best boots for archery elk hunting available. The first spec to consider is the 10″ shaft that gives you enough height to hike in any condition.
Next, the Windtex waterproof & breathable flexible membrane – similar to Gore-Tex – keeps your feet dry and protected at all times. As far as materials, these boots are made in Italy with premium full-grain leather that’s actually premium. If you’re familiar with the quality of Italian leather, then you already know what we’re talking about.
Additionally, the uppers feature one-piece, seamless vamp construction to prevent rubbing and keep out moisture. Lastly, we really enjoy the lightweight K-Talon outsoles that add smoothness to each step and reduce foot fatigue. Overall, for western hunting, it doesn’t get better than the Mountain Extreme.
- Available in non-insulated for early season
- Perfect for hiking over snow in the West during cold months
- The most reliable waterproof elk hunting shoes
- Lightweight outsoles reduce foot fatigue
- Ultimate stability in all hiking conditions even when side-hilling
- Made in Italy with full-grain Italian leather
- Available in wide sizes
- Men’s & women’s versions are available
- The highest upfront cost of the boots in this guide
- You might want to replace the stock insoles
- Not the best performer on slick surfaces
#2) Lowa Tibet GTX Hiking Boot
The best early-season elk hunting boots are the Tibet GTX made by one of our favorite boot brands, Lowa. This non-insulated waterproof boot is built to tackle even the most treacherous terrain without failing you. Plus, if you’re hiking in mostly dry conditions, you’ll find that the 7″ shaft is more comfortable and lighter when hiking long distances.
The Tibet GTX features premium Heinen Terracare Nubuck Leather uppers, a seamless waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, and a cozy Vibram/DuraPU midsole & outsole combo for superior comfort. One reason you may want to choose the Tibet GTX over the Mountain Extreme is the traction. Of all the boots in this guide, the Tibet GTX has the best traction for gripping slippery surfaces.
Similar to Kenetrek, Lowa boots are designed, sourced, and handcrafted in Europe (Tibet GTX is made in Germany). In other words, they aren’t cutting corners, and their boots are built to last for years before needing to be re-soled, not weeks or months. Moreover, Lowa provides a comprehensive resoling service directly in its German factory.
- Our top non-insulated boot pick for early season
- These stand up for years of heavy use (plus there’s the resoling service)
- Perfect for off-trail hiking and rugged terrain
- Made in Germany
- Lighter than insulated boots with tall shafts
- Short break-in period
- I-Lock lacing cam to customize tension between ankle and foot
- You might prefer a taller shaft for stream crossings and snow
- No insulated version
#3) Irish Setter 880 Elk Tracker Hunting Boot
The name says it all. What could be better than a hunting boot made for elk hunting? Well, we prefer our top two picks, but the Elk Tracker is a very worthy third choice. First, you might prefer the 12″ shaft on these for stream crossings and other wet conditions. Second, there are 200, 400, 600, and 1000 gram insulated versions available to suit everyone’s needs.
One key difference between the versions is the waterproofing. The 200 and 1000 gram versions feature Gore-Tex while the 400 and 600 versions feature UltraDry lining. Also, the same goes for insulation. The Gore-Tex versions have 3M Thinsulate insulation while the UltraDry versions use PrimaLoft insulation. Overall, with all the options, the Elk Tracker is one of the best cold weather elk hunting boots available.
Regarding specs, the uppers are 100% leather (though not on par with Kenetrex and Lowa), there’s a removable EVA footbed with memory foam, a shock-absorbing cork midsole, Irish Setter’s Bulls-Eye rubber outsole, and the added touch of ScentBan to help prevent foot funk.
- Irish Setter boots are always super comfortable
- A wide insulation range to choose from
- Almost no-break in period required
- Tall 12″ shaft for negotiating streams
- More affordable than Kenetrex and Lowa
- Recommended for elk hunting in Montana
- Not quite as durable a Kenetrex and Lowa
- Made in China
- The leather quality doesn’t match Kenetrex’s or Lowa’s European leather
#4) Danner Pronghorn 8″ 400G Gore-Tex Hunting Boot
The Pronghorn 8″ is the best Danner boot for elk hunting, especially if you prefer a camo boot. There are two camo varieties: Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity and Real Xtra. Danner calls it the CamoHide upper, and it’s built with full-grain leather and durable 1000 denier nylon. However, the toe and heel caps are both 100% leather for better protection.
Similar to the boots that came before it, the Pronghorn features waterproof Gore-Tex lining for navigating wet terrain. Plus, a lot of elk hunters find that an 8″ shaft is the sweet spot if you’re on the hunt for a full-season elk hunting boot. Other features we like for added comfort are the Vibram outsole and Ortholite footbed. Compared to other boots, there’s a very high chance you won’t want to replace the stock insole in this boot.
Finally, the Pronghorn is one of our favorites for elk hunting in Colorado when hiking long distances. It may feel a bit bulky at times, but the high level of comfort and stability makes up for that small shortcoming. Plus, you’ll enjoy the wide toe box that prevents pinching.
- More affordable than our top three picks at the time of this writing
- 8″ shaft is the sweet spot for most hunters
- They hold up well in rain, snow, and rugged terrain
- Available in 400G, 800G, and 1200G for even the coldest conditions
- Comfy stock Ortholite footbed
- Premium Vibram outsole
- A longer break-in period required
- Made in Vietnam
- They tend to run large
#5) Rocky 8″ Retraction 800G Hunting Boot
Our final choice is our top budget pick and another great cold-weather elk hunting boot. If you’re low on scratch, then these boots will get the job done without digging deep into your pockets like Kenetrex and Lowa boots. Having said that, Rocky is not a budget brand because the company does make some of the best boots, particularly its tactical boot selection.
The great thing about the Retraction is that it’s built to withstand cold weather right out of the box with its 800 gram Thinsulate. Next, fans of camo boots will enjoy the Realtree Xtra Camo blended into the full-grain leather uppers. Plus, the 8″ shaft is another good sweet-spot elk hunting boot size.
Several final highlights are the comfy EnergyBed footbed with memory foam, waterproof construction, and their low weight makes them some of the best lightweight elk hunting boots. Overall, the Retraction is a good bang-for-your-buck boot, just don’t expect it to last as long as a Kenetrek boot or provide the same level of waterproofing.
- The most affordable in this guide at the time of this writing
- Optimal 8″ shaft height
- 800 gram Thinsulate insulation in a budget boot
- Rocky boots are always comfortable
- Sure-footed performance on all terrains
- Not the most durable pair of boots
- The waterproofing is not Gore-Tex
- Too warm for most during the early season or in warmer climates
Always remember that picking the best boots for elk hunting relies mostly on your preference. If you’re familiar with the brands in this guide, then choosing one of these brands without trying the boot on in person becomes easier. If you prefer to buy online, it’s a wise idea to try on some of these models to see which one(s) fits your foot the best.
Depending on your preference, you might prefer a different shaft height than the next guy or a different level of insulation. Once you know what you like, it becomes a lot easier to pick your favorite boot. Also, the fact that most of these boots are available in several versions gives you the ability to easily find the insulation that matches the climate you hunt in the most.