If you still prefer regular hunting boots over rubber hunting boots, this article is for you.
So for this comparison review of the best leather hunting boots, I contacted Rocky, Irish Setter, and Danner.
Rocky recommended their popular Rocky Cornstalker GTX Waterproof Insulated hunting boots, Irish Setter chose their Deer Tracker Big-game hunting boots, and Danner opted for their new Danner Pronghorn 8″ Mossy Oak Break-up Infinity 800g boots.
If you prefer rubber hunting boots, you need to check these 5 great rubber boots for hunting.
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3 best leather hunting boots
ROCKY CORNSTALKER GTX
Waterproofing is accomplished with a layer of gore-tex between the outer shell and the inner liner. Gore-tex has billions of microscopic pores. Water in liquid form cannot penetrate the gore-tex to get in but moisture vapor can pass through to get out.
For insulation, the Cornstalkers have 600 grams of Thinsulate ultra type I insulation. According to 3m type I, ultra insulation offers one and a half times the warmth of down and nearly twice the warmth of high loft fiberfill insulations when equal thicknesses are compared.
Since Thinsulate ultra fibers are finer than most other synthetic or natural insulations, it traps more air and less space to retain body heat for warmth but allows moisture produced by sweating to evaporate.
The outside of the Cornstalker is made with full grain leather and 900 deep Cordura panels that are double or triple stitched. Cordura is a good choice for hunting boots since it is tear, abrasion and scuff resistant. Cordura in the toe area is given an additional protective coating.
Goodyear welt construction is used to attach the upper part of the boot to the outsole. The outsoles are made from durable polyurethane with an aggressive tread pattern.
The tread pattern in the toe and the heel area is designed to give extra traction. A layer of EVA separates the outsole from the footbed for added support and comfort.
When you lace up any type of outdoor boot or shoe, the first eyelet above the ankle is a point of high stress. For that reason, Rocky double rivets this eyelet for additional strength.
On the inside, the top two inches around the collar and the tongue are padded for added comfort. The rest of the inside is covered with a moisture controlling mesh.
As for the footbed, Rocky uses its contoured Airport cushion footbed that is molded from polyurethane. It gives more cushioning than other commonly used materials, doesn’t break down or lose its shape, and is designed to allow air circulate.
If you look at a cross-section of the Rocky Cornstalker boots, there is leather, Cordura, gore-tex, Thinsulate, an airflow padding, a lycra lining, and a comfort lining.
Each layer serves a specific purpose, and when you put it all together, the Cornstalker is a rugged waterproof, warm and comfortable boot.
Rocky’s customer service policy about the fit of a boot basically says: “If it doesn’t fit, return it within 28 days as long as it’s unworn, unwashed and unaltered.” That should make any potential buyer feel more at ease.
Rocky first made the Cornstalker boots 30 years ago, and that says a lot about the quality of a product, its popularity, and the satisfaction of anyone who wears them.
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IRISH SETTER DEER TRACKER
To keep your feet dry, Irish Setter uses ultra dry waterproofing that combines a moisture management lining with waterproof components.
In addition to the UltraDry, insulation material is enhanced with a permanent water-repellent treatment.
The Deer Trackers are insulated with 800 grams of Primaloft Gold Insulation Eco. This insulation is designed to be comparable to goose down, weight compressibility and warmth. It can retain 96% of its insulating capabilities even when wet.
On the outside, the Deer Trackers utilize RPM that’s rapid performance material on the tongue, the foot, and the upper part. This is a modern composite material engineered to provide durability and strength without added weight while being waterproof.
5 premium leather panels are double or triple stitched on the outside to further reinforce the Deer Tracker in areas having the most stress.
The Deer Tracker has ArmaTec panels on the toe and the heel area. This material is both tough and abrasion resistant. The ArmaTec heel also incorporates a heel kick.
The outsole is made from rubber and dual-density Rapid Performance Material (RPM). It has an aggressive tread pattern for any terrain and it wraps around the front of the boot to protect the toe area. Both the heel and the toe incorporate a tread design for improved traction.
The midsole is made with EVA. This material is tough, flexible, and stress-crack resistant even in low temperatures. The sole is attached to the boot using StableFlex technology that combines welt construction in the heel for stability and cement construction in the forefoot for flexibility when you walk.
For comfort, your Tracker boots incorporate an Achilles comfort panel, the cushioned comfort tongue, and a thick cushiony contoured layer of polyurethane in the footbed.
The inside of the Deer Tracker is treated with ScentBan scent control. This is an Irish Setter exclusive scent control process.
Irish Setter boots have been made for over 60 years. Their goal with the Deer Tracker was to make a boot for hunters based on the importance of stability, flexibility, and warmth.
To be waterproof, Danner uses proven gore-tex material, plus the full-grain camel hide leather that covers most of the outside of the Pronghorn boots is waterproof.
The tongue and the side panels are made from denier nylon. While not 100% waterproof, it is non-wicking.
Warmth in the Pronghorn is accomplished using 800 grams of Thinsulate ultra insulation type U. Danner chose the type U Thinsulate ultra insulation since it offers a mid loft alternative while keeping the bulk down.
On the outside, all the leather panels are double stitched with the toe and heel caps being triple stitched for added strength.
The camel panels are made with 1000D denier nylon that is heavier and more abrasion-resistant than other common grades of denier. The leather has plenty of overlap on top of the nylon panels to create very strong seams connecting the two materials.
The upper is stitched to what is called a board. This is a flexible polyester non-woven material that is saturated with a resin. Then, the midsole and the outsole are cemented to that board.
The collar and Achilles area are reinforced with a nylon mesh material that is also abrasion-resistant.
TERRA FORCE PANEL
Pronghorn boots are built on Danner’s patented TERRA FORCE platform that is lightweight, stable and durable.
The outsole is made from a combination of rubber compounds. The outsole’ s tread pattern is suitable for anything from slick mud to rugged underbrush.
A shank made from thermal polyurethane, also known as TPU, is embedded into the midsole for arch and foot support.
On the inside, the liner is used in the collar, the quarter panels, and the tongue. Below the liner, there is a spacer mesh that is very soft to the touch, adds cushioning, and allows for better breathability and flexibility.
Danner uses their Ortholite footbed made with three density open cell polyurethane for improved comfort.
Quality boots are built around a carefully crafted foot-shaped model known as a last. Danner chose a new athletic fitting last for the Pronghorn boots. This last gives good heel capture and an open toe box to create a wider platform and a better fit.
This makes the Pronghorn boots fit true to size.
Danner is so confident about the sizing that they make this commitment: “Rest assured that if the boot you receive does not fit correctly, we pay for the return shipping back to us. You can order with confidence knowing return shipping is always on us”.
This year marks the introduction of the fourth generation of Pronghorn boots. With each generation, Danner has enhanced this line of boots so the outdoors person is getting the best possible Pronghorn boot for the money.
To test for waterproofing, all three boots were put in a tub filled with four inches of water enough to get to the seam at the bottom of the tongue.
At the end of three continuous hours, none of the boots showed any sign of leaking and they were all completely dry on the inside.
Obviously, the first question anyone asked is:
WHICH HUNTING BOOTS ARE THE BEST?
The Rocky Cornstalkers are built to be durable. There is a special protective coating over the toe area, double riveting of the eye hook at the stress point, and a Goodyear welt construction.
Even though the Cornstalker boots for this review are a regular width and my footwear of choice is wide width, they were still comfortable.
Of the three boots in this review, the Cornstalker is the least expensive, which can be a big factor for anyone on a tight budget.
The Irish Setter Deer Trackers remind me of an old song titled “These boots are made for walking”. If you don’t lace up your boots to the top because the tongue rubs your shin, the cushioned comfort tongue will appeal to you.
On the back, the Achilles comfort panel is designed to give you added support and comfort when you’re walking.
Leather has been used for centuries in making outdoor wear because of its durability and natural resistance to weather conditions.
About two-thirds of the upper exterior of the Danner Pronghorn is leather. The other one-third is rugged 1000D denier nylon. The tough exterior is given a spacer mesh liner on the inside that is very comfortable.
The Danner Pronghorn boots were the lightest of the three in weight.
All three boots are of very good quality and craftsmanship, and any of the three will meet the needs of an outdoors person.
The final choice should be based on personal preferences and the features of each boot that are most important to you.
Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison chart.