Hunters are typically on their feet for long hours at a time, often through tough terrain. During a usual hunt, or while training our dogs, we might trudge through damp fields and cross a few creeks to get to those prime spots where the birds and rabbits or other game animals like to hide out. Having a solid pair of hunting boots is arguably the best gear item a small game hunter can possess.
At one point or another, you’ll need to invest in a good pair of boots. A novice hunter might base their choice mostly on looks, but seasoned outdoorsmen know that there are many other factors at play when it comes to selecting the ideal pair of hunting boots.
Best Small Game Hunting Boots for 2020
Small game boots are becoming more popular with people outside of the hunting world as many outdoorsmen and women are realizing the benefits of having a lightweight pair of boots that can keep their feet shod and dry in rough areas.
There are five main factors that you’ll want to consider when looking for a new pair of boots.
Durability – There are some items that serious upland bird hunters can choose to take the cheap route on. Boots are not one of those items. Nothing ruins a hunt faster than having cold, wet feet or, worse, developing painful blisters.
Sole – When selecting a pair of boots, it’s important to look at the material of both the boot and the sole. Remember, you’ll usually be walking many miles on an average bird hunt, so it’s smart to go with a boot that doesn’t have deep tread. The lighter the treads, the less mud you’re likely to accumulate on your feet, making it easier to trudge through those soggy days in the wild.
Length – Boots come in a variety of lengths that are designed to provide optimal coverage for your feet and keep them warm and dry. Some hunters like to keep an early-season pair of shorter boots and opt for a longer pair during the colder portions of the year when you’ll need more protection. A good pair of medium-height boots can serve as an all-purpose pair that will keep your feet comfortable year-round.
Waterproof – If you’ve been hunting for any amount of time, you’ve likely realized that having boots that aren’t waterproof will put you at a severe disadvantage in the field. It’s also important to pay attention to whether the boot’s manufacturer bills the product as waterproof or “water-resistant.” The latter option is usually less capable of repelling moisture, even though it may be advertised to do so.
Insulation – It’s not recommended to select a heavily-insulated boot for early-season hunting since temperatures are usually above 50 degrees. However, if you take to the field late in the season with a poorly-insulated pair, you’ll be dealing with freezing temperatures and cold feet. As the saying goes, “If your feet get cold, you’re just cold all over.”
I like to have two main pair of hunting boots, one shorter pair with light insulation for early-season and another longer, more heavily-insulated pair that will keep my feet warm and dry during those icy winter months.
Let’s take a look at some of the best upland small game hunting boots for 2019 and review some of the pro’s and con’s for each brand and style based on what an experienced hunter should look for.
The Danner brand has been a mainstay in the hunting boot market for nearly a century. I’ve always had an affinity for Danner boots as they are some of the best quality on the market and remarkably comfortable. The Danner Sharptail is designed with small game hunters in mind.
- Lightweight design makes it ideal for longer hunts and plenty of miles.
- Modest tread pattern that will help you keep your footing, but won’t bog your feet down with extra weight in muddy conditions.
- Available in a variety of different models such as snakeproof, lace-up, rear-zip, and short (non-insulated) for each hunter’s preference
- Leather and nylon material for toughness and comfort
- Although it is advertised as being waterproof, that doesn’t mean your feet will remain bone-dry when walking through creeks or streams. If water seeps into the nylon material, your feet could get soaked.
Takeaway: These are a great pair of small game hunting boots and will likely last for many years if they are properly cared for. Many upland hunters choose Danner boots because they are arguably the most comfortable brand on the market.
Irish Setter Wingshooter
Bearing the name of the legendary breed of hunting dog, Irish Setter is considered to be one of the top brands in the industry. Made by Red Wing, the Irish Setter Wingshooter comes in a wide variety of different styles and sizes. If you’re looking for a solid, American-made brand of boots, this is it.
Red Wing has been crafting high-quality boots since 1905 and many hunters stay loyal to the Irish Setter brand as they are designed for optimal comfort and durability, and best of all—totally waterproof. If you’re hunting on land that has lots of creeks and streams, the Irish Setter Wingshooter is a boot you can rely on to keep your feet dry and let you focus on the hunt.
- American leather design for premium durability and comfort that has that “broken-in” feel from the first time you wear them.
- Removable footbed for comfort.
- Heel-molded design to prevent the boot from slipping and causing blisters
- Available in insulated or non-insulated options
- More affordable than most premium boots
- Only available in 7-9 inch models
Takeaway: These are considered to be some of the best small game hunting boots for good reason. Anyone who has owned a pair of Irish Setter Wingshooters knows that you’re likely to get many years of hunting out of them. If you’re concerned with keeping your feet dry, look no further.
Wood ‘N Stream Men’s 6006 Flyaway
The Wood ‘N Stream brand is another American-made boot that brings plenty of quality, but for slightly less than its competitors. The Wood ‘N Stream Men’s 6006 Flyaway is a great boot for the novice hunter who might not be looking to spend a small fortune on a good pair of boots.
Wood ‘N Stream is a popular boot among small game hunters as they manufacture a wide variety of styles and models that allow you to choose just the look you want.
- Affordable cost makes these more attractive to hunters looking to save money without sacrificing quality
- Waterproof design keeps water out
- Available in 6-8 inch models
- Insulated and non-insulated options
- Synthetic sole might not be as comfortable as other brands
- Not quite as comfortable as premium hunting boots
Takeaway: If you’re just getting into hunting, or are looking to save money on a decent pair of boots, the Woods ‘N Stream Men’s 6006 Flyaway is a great choice. Hunters can find plenty of different styles and options to fit their needs.
Bob Timberlake Men’s 61 Series Waterproof Chukkas
Ideal for early-season hunting, the Bob Timberlake Men’s 61 Series Waterproof Chukkas are a solid all-around pair of boots. The Timberlake brand is well-known for making quality boots and these are no exception.
This boot is a “chukka” style which is shorter and suited for warmer, dry days as these are not insulated. If you’re looking to purchase two pairs of boots that are intended for early-season and late-season hunting, these will make a great warm-weather selection.
- Lightweight design
- Leather material makes them durable for tough terrain
- More affordable than super-premium brands while not lacking in quality and comfort
- Heavy tread is likely to pick up more mud than most styles of boots
Takeaway: The Bob Timberlake Men’s 61 Waterproof Chukkas are a good pick for anyone looking for an affordable, all-purpose outdoor boot, but these aren’t the best of quality. If you’re looking for a moderately priced-pair of early-season footwear, look no further.
The Filson brand has long been associated with making high-quality hunting gear and the Filson Highlander is a great pair of hunting boots. These boots are exceptionally comfortable and feature moccasin-toe design that are more comfortable than other styles.
These boots are taller and more heavily insulated, which makes them perfect for hunters expecting cold, snowy conditions. While these might not be ideal for warm, early-season hunts, many small game hunting enthusiasts prefer to wear these as their year-round hunting boots as you won’t find a more durable pair that will keep your feet protected.
- Moccasin-toe designed for optimal comfort
- Heavily insulated for frigid weather
- Extremely durable
- Heavier leather may take time to “break-in” these boots
- Not ideal for early season or warm weather hunts
- Higher cost
Takeaway: These are some of the most-high quality boots on the market—especially for anyone hunting in colder weather. Once broken-in, you’ll be more than satisfied with purchasing the Filson Highlander and can get many years of hunting out of them.
Orvis Featherweight Kangaroo Upland Boots
Serious hunters know the Orvis brand and are well-aware that they are commonly associated with some of the best quality products in the business. The Orvis Featherweight Kangaroo Upland Boots are some of the best small game hunting boots you’ll find for a number of reasons.
These are probably the lightest boots on the market, given their height and ability to keep your feet warm and dry. Orvis is an American-made brand and you’ll be able to enjoy the comfort of their Featherweight Kangaroo Upland model right out of the box.
- Kangaroo leather is the toughest on the market
- Waterproof and breathable design
- Well-insulated to keep your feet warm
- Reinforced toe for premium durability
- Higher cost
- Not ideal for early-season hunts
Takeaway: The Orvis Featherweight Kangaroo Upland Boots are what avid small game hunters look for in a quality pair of footwear. These will last many years and live up to the high standard of Orvis products.
Russell Moccasin Featherweight Double Vamp Birdshooter
If you’re looking for super-premium quality boots and cost is not a concern, the Russell Moccasin Featherweight Double Vamp Birdshooter boots are among the best of the best. The Russell Moccasin brand has been making boots for hunters since 1898 and they’ve all but perfected creating just what the seasoned small game hunters are looking for in footwear.
Russell Moccasin offers something that is hard to find—custom-made boots to fit your specific hunting needs. The cobblers at Russell Moccasin take specific foot and leg measurements to size your boots specifically to meet your needs in both performance and comfort.
These feature silvato crepe soles, rubber midsoles and black Silvato “S” Tread non-slip crepe soles for exceptional comfort without sacrificing toughness. The Russell Moccasin Featherweight model lives up to it’s lightweight reputation and still delivers the highest quality. Other brands have a tough time replicating the super-premium features of Russell Moccasin.
- Super lightweight design
- Extremely comfortable
- Brown waterproof Chrome leather
- Highest quality sole
- Fully customized fit
- High cost
Takeaway: The highest quality and best all-around boots on the market, the Russell Moccasin Featherweight Double Vamp Birdshooter really is everything you want in a great pair of small game hunting boots.