Hunting from horseback presents a unique footwear challenge. You require a quality riding boot to sit in the stirrups but also need something comfortable for hard hikes. The best option depends on your hunt, needs and comfort level in the boots themselves.
Here are a few things to consider for your next horseback hunt.
Hunting In Riding Boots
Some cowboys live in their boots and have no problem hunting in them as well. Personally, I can’t stand walking around in cowboy boots. The heels and slick bottoms are less than ideal for traction and comfort on the ground. Riding boots are essential for safety as the heels catch the stirrups and the slick bottoms pull away from the stirrups easily. That said, most hunting boots will work fine in the stirrups and are much more useful on the ground. In most situations, don’t plan on hunting in riding boots.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Crossover Boots
There are a few crossover boot models that work well. The Kenetrek Cowboy Pac is a popular choice for bridging the riding/hiking divide. The boot has recessed traction so it slips from stirrups but also grips the ground. The Cowboy Pac and most crossover boots have some sacrifice on both ends. The grip is nothing compared to hunting boots designed for aggressive hiking. The boots are also heavy and better suited to shorter hikes. High supports reach well above the ankle and provide great support but very little ankle flexibility. If your hunts involve walking less than a mile or two each day, crossovers are a good option. Any rigorous hiking is typically hindered by these boots unless you are very accustomed to wearing them in a active state.
When Two Pair of Boots Makes Sense
If you’re getting in the saddle every day of a hunt, there’s no sense in brining a separate pair of riding boots. It would be crazy to change boots every time you hop off the horse. However, bringing two pair of boots might make sense if you have a long ride into a base camp, and then plan to hunt from there. You could wear a dedicated riding boot into base camp, and then wear your hunting boots for the duration of the hunt.
In summary, most hunters will be comfortable wearing their hunting boots throughout a horseback hunt. Hunting boots may not be perfect when you’re in the stirrups, but they will be much more useful on the ground.