SHOT Show 2015: How Much Insulation Do I Need in My Hunting Boots

Jeremy Scotton with Lacrosse Footwear discusses insulation and the 4X Alpha boot, new for 2015.

Jeremy Scotton with Lacrosse Footwear discusses insulation and the 4X Alpha boot, new for 2015.

If you’ve ever deer hunted in truly cold weather, and I mean 10 or more degrees south of 0° F, you’ve hoped and prayed your hunting boots would wouldn’t fail you. At the 2015 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, I got to talk insulation with boot manufacturers and see their latest wares.

By Darren Warner 

First, no hunting boot will perform flawlessly in all hunting conditions. Select the right boot and insulation combination based on the type of hunt you’ll be doing (e.g., still-hunting vs. sitting), the weather conditions, your level of cold tolerance and even how physically fit you are. For instance, a guy on a spot-and-stalk hunt in early season will need something different than someone sitting all day in a box blind in northern Wisconsin in December. And remember that the socks you select are just as important as the footwear.

“You want a sock that’s 50 percent or more merino wool when you’re hunting in cold weather,” said Lacrosse boot technician Jeremy Scotton ( “If your feet sweat a lot, wear a polypropylene liner against your skin.

Cold weather hunters should also buy boots at least one size bigger than they normally wear to provide ample room for thick socks. And don’t assume that a boot with 1,200 grams of insulation will keep your feet twice as warm as one with only 600 grams. That’s not what manufacturers promise, and making this mistake could lead to frozen feet.

Also, when a manufacturer provides a rating of cold tolerance for a pair of boots, the rating is based on an active user walking down a trail, and not one sitting for hours in a treestand.

To get the right boot for your deer hunt, contact footwear manufacturers and tell them where, when and how you’ll be hunting. They’ll be able to provide helpful recommendations that’ll help you keep your feet warm and dry.