Foot Forward

Lightweight high-performance footwear is the name of the game in 2006.

Field & Stream Online Editors

In the past two years, footwear designers have created new products that are warmer and much more breathable. And they have reduced weights by more than two pounds a pair. This year the trend continues, and you'll see more lightweight high-performance footwear.

Bates
Constructed with full-grain leather and Ballistic nylon, the eight-inch Stingray Side Zip boasts all of the same elements as its six-inch counterpart, and it's available with or without a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. The Stingray has an inside zipper that allows for easy on and off, with a durable strap to prevent zipper movement. Its outsole and removable Comfort-Flex sock liner combine to provide impressive protection and flexibility. Booth #1119 and #6323. (616-863-3998; batesfootwear.com)

Danner
Kestrel, Danner's new patent-pending EXO platform, combines quality and durability with the lightweight performance of an athletic shoe. By replacing the standard shank system used in conventional boots with a lightweight TPU exoskeleton chassis, the new platform reduces weight, increases support and enhances toe-to-heel flexibility.

The Kestrel's upper is constructed of Tech-Tuff leather and Cordura for durability and reduced weight. It also features a Gore-Tex waterproof liner, an EVA midsole and a PU footbed that provides ample cushioning throughout the foot. A molded heel counter and a speed-lace system that pulls the boot into the right position every time work together to ensure proper fit. SRP: $190 to $220. Booth #1219 and #6224. (800-345-0430; danner.com)

Georgia Boots
The full-grain eight-inch leather upper for the G8428 and Mossy Oak's Break-Up Cordura combine to form an exclusive waterproof system. There are 400 grams of Thinsulate for warmth. The vamp has a "Flex point" comfort system that provides a cozy walking platform. It allows the leather to move without creasing or losing its shape over long periods of time.

Georgia Boot's double-stacked airflow comfort core also provides cushioning for long periods of standing or walking. The polyurethane sole is oil resistant and bobbed for gripping. SRP: $129. Booth #1419. (877-795-2410; georgiaboots.com)

Irish Setter
Built with durable nylon-screen protection over Airmesh panels, the new Breeze hunting boot is designed for active hunting that requires a lot of walking in warm conditions. The Breeze features the exclusive Vibram Contact outsole currently used for the Vasque line of hiking boots. The outsole uses a TPU plate for protection and stability, so hunters can explore rugged terrain. The boot also has a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane. It's available with 800 grams of insulation or without insulation. SRP: Starts at $149. Booth #6901. (888-738-8370; irishsetterboots.com)

Lowa
Lowa boots, including the Mega Camp, are used by government, professional and military organizations all over the world, including the U.S., German, Swiss, Spanish, and British armies. These boots are currently on the feet of Special Forces units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Mega Camp, the non-Gore-Tex version of the Combat Boot GTX, is comfortable in hot climates. It offers finely detailed German craftsmanship, with more than 200 hands touching each boot during production.

The all-black Mega Camp features Lowa's trademark perforated glove-leather liners, which conform and contour to the shape of the foot, for enhanced breathability, increased comfort and a precise fit. Vibram Tsavo outsoles and PU midsoles provide stability and cushioning. A patented climate-control system pumps heat and moisture away from the foot, keeping it dry and less prone to blisters. SRP: $290 Booth #7047. (203-353-0116; lowaboots.com)

[NEXT "More Boots"] Muck
From the guys who arguably make the most comfortable rubber boot around comes a superlightweight leather bboot for turkey or early-season deer hunting. The Original Muck Boot Company introduces its first leather boot for turkey hunters. Whether you're chasing longbeards in the mountains of North Carolina or on the prairies of South Dakota, the Longbeard offers support and waterproof construction for long walks afield.

The boot is wrapped in a waterproof yet breathable Hydroguard membrane, and its Airmesh lining removes moisture in high-activity situations. Inside, a comfortable contour-molded polyurethane footbed rests on a molded-rubber aggressive sole with an EVA midsole. SRP: $159.99. Booth #6801. (877-438-6825; muckbootcompany.com)

Ranger
Ranger Outdoor Footwear has released the Manitoba, an insulated ankle-fit rubber boot with a full-length zipper and a new EVA midsole that's 30 percent lighter. Hunters will find the ankle fit is very snug for walking yet the boot is easily removable. The 1,000 grams of Thinsulate answers the needs of cooler-climate fall and winter hunters in a wide range of temperatures. The comfort insole is removable. SRP: $79.99. Booth #6801. (800-777-9021; rangerboots.com)

**Rocky **
Waterproof construction and 800 grams of Thinsulate make the TrailBlade ideal for hunters in uneven mountainous terrain. The three-part TrailBlade sole with external shank and heel stabilizer is the key to this boot's ability to deliver excellent vertical stability. The strong sole foundation is great on sharp rocks and protects the wearer from fatigue. The heel is stitched for durability. The upper is constructed of brown leather and Mossy Oak Break-Up camo nylon. SRP: $149. Booth #1419. (740-753-1951; rockyboots.com)

| Wolverine
Although it's stuffed with 800 grams of Thinsulate, the new trim-looking Impala from Wolverine is as light as it looks. With very little bulk and surprising warmth, this boot will work well for mid-season deer hunters or active upland winter bird hunters.

The upper is a mix of full-grain leather and Cordura, with a Gore-Tex membrane. Inside, the well-cushioned insole is removable for drying; outside, the compression-molded EVA midsole is camouflaged, and the bottom has a mud-shedding lug outsole.

The Impala is available in Brown/Realtree Hardwoods HD Green Mini Print and Brown/Mossy Oak new Mini Print. SRP: $160. Booth #6323. (800-545-2425; wolverineboots andshoes.com)

| Lacrosse
Quad Comfort
The Broadside is a performance boot ready to take on any hunting situation or terrain. The foundation of the boot is LaCrosse's Quad Comfort platform, which has been extensively field-tested.

The new boot's cushioned shock pads provide maximum pressure relief and mark an advancement in boot construction. Continuous layers of cushioning from the footbed through to the outsole offer uncompromised support. The boot maintains the lateral stability and torque needed for firm footing on any terrain. It is constructed out of a combination of full-grain leather and Cordura and has a waterproof Gore-Tex liner and a speed-lacing system to ensure a proper fit. The durable toe and heel caps make for a tough-wearing boot. Available in 400-, 800- and 1,200-gram Thinsulate insulation packages, in men's sizes 7¿¿¿14D and 8¿¿¿13EE (with half sizes to 12), with a Realtree Hardwoods pattern. SRP: $149 to $169. Booth #6230. (800-323-2668; lacrossefootwear.com)