Gearing Up:Have You Got the Right Boots?
The best footwear for bird hunting.
Keeping up with your bird dog and getting into position for a shot calls for nimble footwork. Proper boots provide comfort, support, and mobility, allowing for a quick and effortless step. The wrong boots will simply torture your feet and throw off your shots. All the boots listed here were field-tested in the uplands and rate very well for durability. Get a pair and go ruffle some feathers. ** 1. Nick’s 25VLTT Hotshot**
Built for serious bushwhacking, riding, and hiking, Nick’s high-toppers are American boot art. Nick’s custom-fits and builds these boots from premium select domestic leather and other materials that are too expensive for mass-production manufacturers to use. The sole, with a custom arch, supports your foot in the most extreme conditions. The 16-inch lace-to-toe upper keeps your foot locked in place while protecting your ankles and calves (think cacti, rocks, and snakes). Completely rebuildable, they’re finished with traditional oil-and-wax waterproofing. They’ll take a bit of breaking in before you go afield. $425; 800-824-2685; www.nicksboots.com
** 2. Wolverine Stealth Max **
Featherlight but with surprising support, they’re comfortable as soon as you slip them on. While not designed for a grouse hunt in the mountains, these are perfect for a walk in quail country. The exterior is a combination of 1,000-denier Cordura and nubuck leather with a Gore-Tex liner. The molded sole reaches around the foot bed for good lateral stability. $150; 800-545-2425; www.wolverinebootsandshoes.com
** 3. Filson Uplander Field Boot **
The light, noninsulated Uplander has one of the most comfortable interior leather liners of any boot. The midsole is sewn with two layers of leather, rubber, and steel. A low-profile Vibram Gumlite outsole won’t slip on rocks. Inside is a removable cork insole. The upper is a combination of waterproof cotton twill and premium leather with a pull loop that you can actually slip two fingers into. If you tear them up, they’re rebuildable. $315; 800-297-1897; www.filson.com
** 4. Irish Setter Wingshooter 855**
These boots are light enough to wear all day, and you can tighten the adjustable buckle so that your foot won’t slip, giving a proper walking fit. A full-length side zipper lets you kick them off easily (which I found helpful during airport security checks). The stout lug sole gives excellent support. $200; 800-261-0326; www.irishsetterboots.com
5. Avery Pit Bag
Many upland bags are just too small for a long day in the field. When I switched to this new Avery pit bag, I could carry everything I needed comfortably. Nine separate pockets give quick and easy access to choke tubes, shells, collars, and gloves. The central compartment will hold a pair of boots, a change of clothes, rain gear, cameras, and lunch. The bag is water resistant, with waterproof pockets inside, and measures 20x11x11 inches. $40; 800-333-5119; www.averyoutdoors.com -P.B.M.