To the average person, boots might just seem like boots. All the same. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many different kinds of boots have different functional differences. Nowhere is this more true than for hunting and hiking boots. Although both are made for traversing difficult forest terrain, the similarities pretty much stop there!
In this article, we’ll get into the differences between hunting and hiking boots, such as when to wear each, the best brands for each, what the differences are between them, and why it’s important to know and act upon the differences between them.
Differences between Hiking Boots and Hunting Boots
There are a number of important differences between hiking boots and hunting boots. These don’t only come down to looks, but also ability and function as well. Read on to find out the differences between boots made for hiking and boots made for hunting!
The first and most important distinction between these two kinds of boots are their purpose. This doesn’t just mean “what they’re for,” because that answer is obvious: one pair is for hiking and one is for hunting. Think of their “purpose” as what they are designed to do.
For instance, the hiking boot is about walking and walking alone. This means they need to be comfortable, give good support, have great traction on any surface, and be durable while remaining lightweight.
Hunting, although still requiring a lot of motion, doesn’t require the same amount of paces and long-distance travel. For this reason, it is a bit thicker and more insulated, focused on keeping feet that are stationary, staking out prey for long periods of time in all kinds of weather, warm, dry, and safe.
Other than their purpose, the most obvious thing about the difference between hiking boots and hunting boots is their physical appearance. This is informed by the purpose, but it is not quite the same. The look is what will allow you to tell the difference between hiking boots and hunting boots.
Although they oftentimes look quite similar, there are some tell-tale differences between hiking and hunting boots that will allow you to know which is which.
First and foremost, hunting boots will never, ever have any shade of non-earth tone on them. They will be some mix of green, brown, and black, so they can help the hunter blend in with their surroundings as they stalk their prey.
Oftentimes, hunting boots will also sit further up the ankle than hiking boots. This provides more stability and support, but less mobility, which lines up pretty well with the purposes mentioned above.
Hiking boots are often a bit thinner, to make walking long distances more comfortable. They also often have a bit more color or style to them If they have an emblem, colored laces, or some kind of cool design on them, they are more likely to be designed for hiking.
Hiking boots are usually a bit lower in the ankle than hunting ones as well, along with being a little thinner as to be more comfortable for walking.
It is worth noting that some hiking “boots” are more like sneakers or hiking “shoes.” These are even thinner and are made for walking on paths and roads.
Keep in mind, many pairs of hiking boots and shoes are designed to be able to go from hiking through the forest to hanging out in urban areas, and looking great in both! Here is a great article about when hiking shoes are suitable for more difficult terrain.
Another important distinction between these two kinds of boots is their weight. Hiking boots are significantly lighter than hunting boots. This makes them more comfortable for walking long distances for a few reasons.
Firstly, the lack of material makes the hiking boots easier to walk in, as they bend and contour more naturally with the shape of the hiker’s foot. Secondly, it allows for long-distance walking, as it reduces the fatigue from lifting heavier boots off the ground for each step.
The reason hiking boots are often heavier is that they are more insulated, as they are designed for spring, fall and winter, meaning they need to keep the feet warm and dry. This insulation adds some weight to the boot, making it much heavier than the thinner, more flexible hiking boots.
Another difference between hiking boots and hunting boots is how they fit around the foot. Hiking boots need to fit pretty snuggly, giving the necessary support to the foot and ankle.
This is because hiking is done on many different surfaces both slippery and dry, uphill and downhill, and even and uneven. This means that a tight shoe is beneficial, as any movement of the foot within the shoe can cause instability and can cause a fall.
On the other hand, hunting boots should have a little bit of room for air. Boots with strong soles that are well insulated with collared ankles are great for hiking. These will be more comfortable for staying still for long periods of time, but will still allow you to traverse difficult terrain when needed.
When to Wear Hiking Boots vs Hunting Boots
It might seem obvious when to wear hiking boots vs. when to wear hunting boots. In fact, in a lot of ways, it is. If you are planning on walking long distances, on paths, different inclines, or difficult and uneven terrain, hiking boots are probably the way to go. This article is a great read for knowing what outdoor activities hiking boots are suitable for!
On the other hand, hunting boots are for, well, hunting. This means that you should plan on wearing them if you’re in the woods during inclement weather, cold weather, or if you mean to stay still for a long period of time. This is often the case while hunting, but not always.
Hiking boots can also be viable for hunting in certain environments, such as grassy hills where a lot of land needs to be traversed.
Top 3 Brand for Hiking Boots
There are a number of quality brands for hiking boots. Some of the most popular brands of hiking boots include Merrells, Lowa, and Zamberlan.
Merrell Boots are more of a casual hiking boot, with a lightweight, sporty look. They make high-quality, affordable hiking boots and shoes that excel for backpacking, trail hiking, and casual hiking as well.
Lowa boots are lightweight, but made with great quality in materials and are quite supportive. They are flexible and versatile, able to be used for almost any hiking activity. A great all-around choice for any hiker.
Zamberlan boots are super high quality, designed for serious hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering. Zamberlan was among the first brands to introduce rubber soles and waterproofing, and these innovations remain core to their boots to this day. A great choice for those looking to do more extreme hiking activities.
Top 3 Brands for Hunting Boots
Some of the best and most popular hunting boot brands are Irish Setter, Muckboots, and Rocky’s. These boots provide some of the best support, comfort, and protection on the market.
The strength of Irish Setters is their comfortable inside and tough exterior. They are exceptionally durable and are known to last for years. If you buy the right pair, you’ll be wearing them for a long, long time.
The Original Muck Boot Company
Muck Boots on the other hand are extremely versatile and quite inexpensive for a high-quality hunting boot. They are tall, with a durable, resistant rubber shell, allowing for hunting in all weather. Muck Boots are extremely popular because they are reliable and inexpensive. A great choice for any hunter.
Made with full-grain leather and a sturdy rubber sole, Rocky’s are a great all-purpose choice for hunting any game in any environment. Fairly tight for a hunting boot, they are great for traversing lots of ground or chasing game.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about hiking boots and hunting boots!
Can I wear hiking boots on concrete?
Hiking boots are decent for concrete but better for difficult terrain. Hiking shoes might be more suited for concrete and smoother paths. You can read more on boots on concrete here.
Can Hiking Boots be Used as Work Boots?
Hiking boots are versatile, and can be great work boots! Feel free to use any sturdy, protective hiking boots as work boots.
How Long Do hunting Boots Last?
A solid pair of hunting boots can last around 3 years if you hunt frequently, and around 5 if you hunt less frequently.
So, there are plenty of differences between hunting boots and hiking boots. Hiking boots are thinner, more flexible, lightweight, and designed for long-distance walking. On the other hand, hunting boots are thicker and more well suited for inclement weather, cold weather, and waterproofing.
Whichever ones you need, it is important to make the right decision. Buying a quality pair of shoes that are fit for the activities you want to do will avoid a lot of foot pain in the future!