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Your most important piece of gear isn’t guns, ammo, or camo, it’s your boots.

Think about it. The one piece of gear that most of us don’t consider much is really the most important. I’m talking about your boots. Unless you are a drive the four-wheeler with 50 yards of the tree stand hunter your footwear is the most important thing you possess while hunting. You cannot motivate in almost any terrain without good boots. In my area the hills seem to get increasingly steeper, and it is usually rocky as hell. To move any distance as you need to for serious hunting, you better have some better than average boots on your feet, and I haven’t even got the part about protecting you from the elements, that is keeping your feet warm and dry. You can’t scrimp on this, if after an hour or so your feet are beat up and tired and or wet and cold, you may as well stay in the truck or just go home. Good boots give us the freedom to enjoy a day in the outdoors, to go and walk where we want and be as free as we can. Good boots are your passport to a great day in the woods.

I know that I have mentioned this more than a few times, I believe the avid hunter needs at least three kinds of boots. Early season, warm weather type boots are the first. In early season and sometimes beyond that many of us want a boot that is not too heavy and too warm. This boot still needs to be sturdy enough to stand up to all of the rigors of terrain and rocks that spoke about a minute ago, but it can’t be 1000 grams of insulation in September and October when you are sweating climbing up and down those hills. (like me) Boot insulation numbers refer to the thickness of the insulation used, not the total weight of the insulation in the boot. A boot with 600g insulation doesn’t have 600g of insulation – which would be close to 1.5 pounds of extra weight. 600g insulation weighs 600 grams per square meter, which is the standard method of measurement for boot insulation. Similarly, 400g insulation weighs 400 grams per square meter, and 200g insulation weighs 200 grams per square meter.

I say all this to bring up I believe most of the time we get boots with too much insulation, if you are doing any walking at all (or maybe you are not) you don’t really need or want excessive insulation. A boot with 1000g of Thinsulate insulation I would never personally wear in the early or mid-season, and maybe not at all in January and February, depending on local temperatures. If you are in an area where you commonly have extreme low temperatures and you hunt in these conditions, then yes, you are going to want cold weather boots, I am just not out there in these conditions very often. So, I am often looking for boots with little or no insulation.

The latest boot I am looking at is the Irish Setter Elk Tracker XD. This boot seems to be well put together, sturdy, and seems tough enough to stand up to the rocky conditions we talked about, although I have not put it through the absolute wringer yet. I little doubt this boot will stand up to the conditions as I have worn pairs of Elk Tracker boots in the past and really liked them, albeit these boots were made slightly different are different in appearance.

Here is some of the lowdown on the new Elk Tracker XD from Irish Setter:

The next generation Elk Tracker XD boots feature the original Elk Tracker’s legendary comfort in an even more rugged, durable boot that take the award-winning boots to the next level.

A full leather camo upper with leather gusset overlay protects feet and prevents debris from entering the boot. Welted construction enhances durability while a wraparound rubber rand offers abrasion resistance against rocks, sticks and other sharp objects. Irish Setter Field Camo Desert Leather, offers superior concealment and coordinates with other popular camo patterns to match a variety of terrain. This proprietary camo Troutbook® leather is made in Red Wing, MN.

TempSens technology helps regulate the temperature within the boot to maintain constant foot comfort. In hot conditions, the system reacts so moisture is hyper-wicked away from the foot, facilitating evaporative cooling. This helps keep feet cooler, drier and more comfortable. In colder conditions, the system also pulls moisture from the skin, but traps it to create a thermal barrier that helps maintain a constant, comfortable temperature inside the boot. UltraDry™ waterproof construction offers long-lasting protection. Primaloft® insulation (200 grams) is available in Elk Tracker XD style #3981.

A lace-to-toe fit allows a tighter fit which reduces discomfort created by movement within the boot, especially when descending steep terrain. A locking hook row assists in keeping the boot tight during lacing. A Cushin™ comfort tongue provides comfort in the shin area while ScentBan™ scent control eliminates odors within the boot.

EnerG material underfoot provides comfort and sustained support through an energy-returning core sandwiched between midsole and outsole. EnerG delivers a recharging burst of energy with every step. A resilient, removable EVA/memory foam footbed delivers long-lasting comfort. An ultra-durable Vibram® rubber outsole features bulls-eye air bobs with a tread pattern that releases mud and dirt for superior traction.

“Hunters have come to rely on Irish Setter Elk Tracker boots when they get their tag,” said Charley Bryant, Irish Setter Product Line Merchant for Red Wing Shoe Company. “Irish Setter Elk Tracker XD boots are extra durable for the most demanding conditions and hunters.”

From past experience with Irish Setter Elk Tracker boots I am optimistic as to how this new boot will perform, stay tuned.

Larry Case