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Cold Weather Footwear Reviewed
The Cold Weather Clothing review spurred some great conversation regarding footwear. Living in the frozen tundra and having my feet be the first thing to go when it gets cold, I thought I’d tell you all what works for me after years of trial and tribulation. Above are just a few of the options I’ve tried.
A couple “musts” first: Number one, you must manage your feet from sweating. Anti perspirant is good but to me, dry socks once you get to your spot are a must. Number two must, is if you’re in a tree-stand you must have something between your feet and the stand. I use a section of ZLite foam sleeping pad. A piece of carpet would do, just use something as it’s critical.
Boots: I feel like I’ve tried every cold weather boot imaginable. For me anything rubber is BAD in extreme temps during a stationary sit. Off the top of my head, here’s a list of what I’ve tried with a few quick thoughts:
I put dry feet at the top of the list. Second is blood circulation. Too many layers of socks in tight boots is a way to get cold feet. As Kota-man pointed out insulation pointed out insulation outside of the boot is important. I also feel the need to point out the need to keep the whole body comfortable. Good gloves ,for instance , help to keep your feet warm.
PAC Boots: Hoffman’s, Schnee Extremes, Sorel Caribou, Baffin Impacts, Sorel Glacier XT, Cabelas Trans Alaskan. These are the ones I can remember. They are all good to great boots, but don’t do much for me sub zero stationary. Of this list, the best for me are Sorel Glacier XT’s. The Hoffman, Schnees are great for a more “active” type cold weather hunt but don’t work for me sub zero sitting, The Baffin Impact is probably the most respected extreme cold weather boot and I’ve owned two pair, but when that rubber foot freezes, my feet become blocks of ice. In fact, that is pretty much the case with all rubber bottom boots for me.
what ever boot you decide is right for you ALWAYS get a size or size and a half BIGGER
Green mountain and SB Schindler make a couple great “must do” points as well. Warm hands and warm headwear are critical as well. And always size up!
In the first photo you’ll see a couple other options. LaCrosse 1200 gram insulated rubber boots, Military Bunny boots, my Crispi Wild Rock 800’s and some “Hot Mocs”. The 1200’s are into the teens for me but that’s it. Again, when the rubber freezes they’re done. The Hot Mocs are a slipper over boot system that you put a Hot Hands hand warmer in and put them over your boot. Again, I can sit into the low 20’s with these and the Arctic Shield Boot Covers. . The Military Bunny boot is the best boot option I’ve owned/tried. The rubber stays fairly soft and as long as I have dry socks on I can sit well into the teens. I’m currently playing around with using the Bunny boots with oversized Arctic Shield Boot Blankets but don’t have enough use to report anything yet.
For me, the second picture says it all for what works on stationary sub zero hunts: NO BOOTS. Like I’ve said a hundred times before, rubber is my enemy on sub zero stationary hunts. Here are a couple solutions that work great for me:
I came up with the idea on a Polar Bear hunt. Temps were -20 and the Baffin Impacts the Inuits provided were not working for me. My feet would get dangerously cold. We’d pull over on the sled, get out the Coleman Stove and a blue tarp. I’d crawl under the make shift tent, fire up the stove and hold my feet over the stove until they thawed. After a couple days of doing this one of the guides broke out a pair of native Mukluks to try. They were like putting on several layers of heavy wool and felt socks . The outer layer had a leather bottom. This was the most comfortable my feet could be. Here’s a pic where you can sort of see them…
On the way home, I got to thinking how I could come up with my own version of the Inuit Mukluks. I have two systems that are similar that work for me and a few of you here have come up with similar solutions.
did you put the mukluks on over your boots, or remove them? if removed, what were you wearing inside the mukluks?
Great post. Carpet on stand in extreme cold also dampens stand “creak”.
This time of year, I usually have to snowshoe in to the blind/stand. I like to wear my Crispi Wild Rock 800’s snowshoeing. Once at my location, I ditch the snowshoes and Crispis and put on a pair of dry socks. This is not easy to do treestand hunting, especially if the snow is deep. I hate changing footwear in the stand but if the snow is too deep one almost had too to stay dry. After putting on a heavy wool sock, I slip on a thinsulate bootie that I found on eBay. After the bootie, I pull on an army surplus wool pac boot liner. The final cover is either my Wiggy Mukluks or Ice Breaker Boot Blankets. I’ll typically use the Boot Blankets in the blind and the Wiggys in the treestand as the Boot blankets are more bulky. If it’s REALLY cold, I’ll slip an Arctic Shield boot blanket in between the wool liner and the boot blanket. This May all seem like alot but if my feet aren’t comfortable I’m not comfortable. All of this stuff is fairly bulky but not heavy. I just stuff it into my huge Stone Glacier 7900 Guide pack along with my outer layer and go. ND Backpack hunt! That’s it…That’s the system I’ve found that works in extreme cold. Questions…Comments…Dialogue?
Ron…Like the system I use at home, I just wore heavy wool socks inside the mukluks. I’ve tried wearing my Crispis inside my Wiggy’s but stay warmer without the boots. I sat a few nights ago (-17/-40 Windchill) in a treestand. I didn’t want to take my boots off as there was 4 feet of snow at base of my tree, so I wore them inside the mukluks. Didn’t work as well and my feet got cold. For me…no boots is key.
Have you tried the heater body type systems and if so what are your thoughts?
Hey John…I think there was some talk of that on the Cold Weather Clothing thread. I’ve used them, and for most, they are love/hate. I was more in the hate camp. The zipper on mine was crazy loud and I hated trying to get into it on the stand. But, they do work if you can get past all of that.
Great information, thanks!
Do they keep your feet warm as good or better than your system?
i have a real issue with cold feet and do not hunt in anything close to the weather conditions you do, so i appreciate this thread.
i have another question...since the wiggy mukluk's have a rubber bottom like pac boots, why do you think they work for you and why not try and find something with a leather bottom like the native mukluks?
have you tried the steger mukluks?
This is some really great info, thanks for sharing it with us!
The Wiggy’s just have a thin, vibram sole. You foot is not surrounded by rubber.
Yes John, the HBS does a good job keeping feet warm but I still wore booties over my boots when I used one.
I just cannot imagine bowhunting in temps that require that kind of footwear.
Another thing…Don’t be shy with hand warmers. I stuff them everywhere on a cold sit. If they have a little room to breathe in boots they work ok, but those things need air to work. The toe specific ones and the insoles just don’t work great for me and are usually cold after a couple hour sit. I’ve also never been a fan of the battery insoles. One thing I need to try are battery socks. I had an old pair I liked, but these newer style socks look interesting. Especially if they can blue tooth.
Regarding Steger Mukluks…I have not tried them. I’ve looked at them several times but think I’d like more layers. They seem to get good reviews but haven’t 100% sold me they’d do better than my Sorel Glacier XT. They look interesting though…
Thin silk liner sock wool sock over that then into my original USA made Military Mickey Mouse boots.
Thanks for the info. Totally agree with the use of hand warmers. I use the toe warmers, Alpha Burlys and boot blankets. When it's REALLY cold, I put a hand warmer in the boot blankets too. I am very lucky in that my feet don't sweat.
Tracker…Micky Mouse or Bunny Boots? I have both and the MM aren’t nearly as warm as the Bunny’s. How cold can you sit in the MM boots? I can maybe get down to 18 degrees in the Bunny’s but hope to get to zero by adding the Arctic Shield Boot Blankets.
Well I guess I had one of each. Type 1 Black ones (Mickey Mouse) and Type II white (Bunny Boot. I grew up in PA and in the 60-70s everyone wore them. I have two pairs one white like you have shown (they eventually dry rotted). And my current black ones. One thing I do is if I have a long walk to the stand I change socks or just walk in with the liners and add the wool or Alpaca socks when I get to the stand. I remember spending 12 hours on stand in Colorado when the tempe were near zero. Im not going to say my feet were toastie but I was able to maintain.
Rubber band some hot hand body warmers to the top of your boots and then insert into boot covers and stand on some thick cardboard, no problem. Ive worn my Merrill hikers out In the cold and I never get cold feet.
Had a tip from another website to put a sheepskin liner made by Ugg in the Alpha Burlys. Works great for comfort and warmth.
Good stuff, Cory. Have you tried the Ororo heated socks yet? My wife has a pair that she loves, but she’s using them during her walks, not sedentary activities.
No, I haven’t but will be ordering a pair to try sooner than later.
kota-man, i am curious that if you wore a leather insulated boot with 400 gram insulation, and installed artic shield over-boots when you got to your stand, what temperature would your feet be comfortable to?
Great review. Cold feet are the one issue I haven't completely solved. If I wear my full Fanatic set with my heated vest and heated bottoms everything stays comfortable to below zero except my feet. I have been using kennetrek pack boots with the Hot Mocs with a hand warmer over the toes. It helps a lot but not perfect. I have the black bunny boots and I think my feet stay warmer with the kennetreks and hot Mocs. On my annual hunt in WY it was below zero almost every morning I hunted this year.
Cory, I've been eyeing the Baffin Apex boots. But many of the reviews claim they run up to 2 sizes too small. I wear a size 13 EE regular shoe. I'm hesitant to order a 14 or 15 because I'm afraid they will be HUGE and cumbersome to hike or drive in. What is your experience with the sizing on Baffin pack boots?
Matt…The Impacts I had ran WAY small. I’m a 12, bought 13’s but could’ve easily had 14’s. You’re also gonna struggle with the width of Baffin. I did and I’m not an EE.
Ron…I don’t have a ton of experience with 400 gram boots in cold weather, but if I had to guess I would say 25-30 with that combo for me.
Steve…My feet would freeze below zero with either of those set ups.
Have you tried the Cabela’s trans Alaskan? They may be called Saskatchewan boots now. I suffer from extremely cold feet, worse now after last years goat hunt. These things have like 2” insulation between your foot and the ground. Normally I’m a 9.5EE, bought these in a 12 I believe ( eBay…. 50$) wool socks and a hand warmer, never had a cold thought again. I run these with my Cabela’s stand hunter extreme coveralls. You can’t get cold. Now if I could just keep my hands warm
Yes, caribou…I’ve had a couple pair. First pair was way too small. Just never loved the second pair. I prefer the Sorel Glacier XT to these, but mostly due to fit.
Kota-man - have you ever tried crocs and socks?
Even though I live in MS I’m following. My feet is the only thing that gets cold and I’ve never figured out a solution
Treeman…Only the fur lined crocs for me. No socks needed.
Great post Cory. Like you and Charlie mentioned, some type of pad to stand on while in your tree stand helps a lot…….I have been using a fairly thick piece of carpet for years which blocks the transfer of the cold metal to your feet. For Christmas this year my wife is getting me the Arctic Shield boot insulators (actually got them early), so will try them out after Christmas. I wear a size 10 1/2 Ice Kings and had to finally buy the 2XLs (size 14-15) to be able to fit them over my boots. As for heated socks, my wife went on an Oregon Columbia Blacktail hunt this past November with the morning temperatures in the low to mid twenties. She used the Fieldsheer brand heated socks which uses Bluetooth to control the temperature levels……she swore by them and never complained about cold feet. Happy Holidays to you all!
Down is the answer to warm feet. The western mountaineering booty is the real deal. The only way to use them in the stand is add a thick insole. I made insoles for mine out of some old knee pads that came out of my old core4 hunting pants. Chemical warmer in each and I'm as snug as a bug in a rug. I've used them down to -12 and my feet were as toasty as sitting in front of the fireplace. They really are that good. I just wear a pair of 400 gr insulated boots with the bowa lacing system so once in the tree slip the boots off and slide into comfort. Imagine being in a really well built sleeping bag. It's just like that for your feet. They breathe great so no sweaty feet to get cold after a few hours. Now order yourselves a pair and come back here thank me.
Others have mentioned how the Hot Hands Toe warmers do not work, but I use them differently (basically trying to use up the ones I have). As mentioned above cold hands are always an issue, so I stick them to the back of my hand then but my glove on or the inside of my glove, so they are against the back of my hand. My thinking was if I kept the blood warm it would keep my hand warm. It is not ideal and I would not buy Toe warmers just for that use, but they do help some.
Like others I am thinking about getting the battery powered heated socks, just have to figure out which ones.
Great subject and feed back. No rubber boots with a steel shank for sure. Placing a pad between boots and the tree stand platform is a must in cold weather. Even while ice fishing, it works. Yep, wool socks, with plenty of toe rooms works. When really cold, I put on my Sorel felt lined boots. I have had a pair of Over Boot pacs, that I have never used the type you show in the second picture, green camo pacs to the right.. What is your assessment of them. Thanks for all of the feed back. Paul
Paul…Those are the Ice Breaker Boot Blankets. I use them like Scrappy does above only I add a few more layers. I bought a size smaller so I can wear them without boots. The Wiggy’s (black with the green inside) can be worn as over boots or by themselves. I prefer to wear the overshoes without boots but with layers instead.
As warm as my fleece lined ones are…. I’m curious to try these lol
There you go Treeman! I wish this place had a “like” button…
The key to warm feet I believe is unrestricted circulation. I've started wearing my hikers around home doing errands and around town stuff, last week in some pretty cold weather. I have not been wear socks, just slip in my Merrill and go. Granted I'm not standing dead still for hours at a time but my feet have never even felt cold. Once you start piling on socks, stuffing them in insulated boots your circulation is impeded, no question. Muks allow for a loose feel and allow the blood to flow, hence they are so warm. Eskimos been wearing them forever, and it's seems you don't see to many Eskimos,with feet cut off or toes missing. So my next pair of boots will be some muks and see how they work , maybe I'm wrong but I'll have to try it for myself and see. Keep,the warm blood flowing and the feet warm.
I hunted at -20 on a whitetail hunt in Saskatchewan. I had on Mickey Mouse boots (White) Never got cold. In a tree for dawn to dusk. They work!!
It looks like your review verifies the system I've used for years. I've posted several times over the years on these cold weather boot threads that my system for all day comfort in cold weather is the following:
Remove the boots I wore hiking into stand, change socks to 2 pairs of dry heavy wool socks, place a pre-activated chemical hand warmer on top of my toes between sock layers, slip on wool felt liners from a pair of pack boots, slip on Arctic Shield boot covers, slip on Icebreaker Boot Blankets. With this system I can sit all day in the coldest weather I hunt in and have warm comfortable feet all day. The system is bulky but not heavy and packs inside of the Icebreakers which I strap to the outside of my pack.