Boots for Your Alaska Adventure

Who knew Alaska had a “State-Boot”?

Not me…

Anyhow, I have given up answering questions about what boots to bring to Alaska for this Alaska Adventure or that Alaska Big-Game Hunt.

Unofficially, the XtraTuf® wins the dubious honor of being our “state boot”. Personally, I would think the Bunny Boot would be the proud winner, but that is just my opinion.

(Remembering, please, I am talking about my own experiences here in Chisana where Pioneer Outfitters offers Horseback Adventures, Horseback Big Game Hunts and Winter and Spring Excursions year-round.)

First, if you are coming for a Winter or Spring Excursion there is only one option: Bunny Boots. Period. End of discussion. It is a point of safety.

It is the rest of the year that is tricky when choosing your boots for the Alaska Adventure of a lifetime.

Boots for your Alaska Adventure

Boots for Your Alaska Adventure

Here are the facts:

You will be spending a good amount of time in the saddle with your feet in the stirrups.

We use what we call “Bunny boot stirrups” which are extra wide, plastic stirrups on most of our saddles to allow for the extra wide and heavy boots many of our clients prefer to hunt in. These slightly ugly stirrups also offer safety to riders with those heavy lugged soles on their boots- no sticking or getting caught up in your stirrup.

Alaska is by her quirky and somewhat nasty nature: cold and wet. Even riding across the creeks and rivers on horseback, your boots may still get wet. Hiking across a stretch of tundra, walking across the mountain stream as you are climbing or riding for hours in the rain, your boots will get wet.

Here is something else to consider:

Do your feet sweat?

Will you have to dry your boots out, even if you do not immerse them in water or get rained on, each night?

Boots for Your Alaska Adventure

Ok then. There are insulated boots that will keep your feet roasty-toasty, as long as they are dry. There are insulated boots that allow you to pull out the lining to facilitate easier drying out. The issue is, no matter how your boots get wet; you will need to be able to dry them while camping in the wilderness.

The flip-side to that issue is as Master Guide Terry Overly prefers himself, an unlined leather boot. The unlined single layer leather boot can be dried much easier but also has some drawbacks of its own. The first drawback in my humble opinion is “ouch!” If you are going to be hiking and climbing and dealing with rocks, gravel, shale and boulders, then you are going to feel each and every poke and hit. The second drawback to my dainty girl-mind is that the chances are really very good that your feet are going to get cold!

One great trick I have learned in the field to help dry your boots out over night is first, always have a pair of “camp shoes” so that when you return to your camp at night you can take your boots off! Then, wad-up newspaper (yep, regular old newspaper) and shove it into your boots- fairly tight and if you can tie your boots to hang above a heat source all the better but don’t risk burning your boots! Another morning trick is have a few rounded, toe-size rocks that you can place near the fire or on the wood stove to heat them up- and place these in your boots (AFTER you have removed the newspaper!) while you have breakfast and before you put them on for the day.

IMPORTANT!! Do not melt or burn your boots! Be careful and ask your guide for help if you are worried!

Boots for Your Alaska Adventure

There are a lot of recommendations for good boots on the Internet. I have bought and worn out many different kinds myself. What I have learned is that no amount of money spent or recommendations for a pair of boots is going to guarantee that they are comfortable. There is no way to know if this or that pair of boots is going to be your next favorite or an exercise in misery.

You will have to wear them and wear them a lot, before you head into the Alaska Wilderness and your life depends on them, to know if they are going to be comfortable, warm and if they are going to protect your feet and ankles.

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6 Responses to Boots for Your Alaska Adventure

  1. “…dainty girl-mind …” Huh? What have you done with Amber-Lee? LOL This has been a great read. Thank you for brightening my day! gotta tell you though, I’m a little skeptical about your campfires and this note. “IMPORTANT!! Do not melt or burn your boots!” Well alrighty then. I once warmed a flannel nightgown on a space heater. I wish someone would have told me that for the remaining years of that apparel I would be wearing the image of a radiator.

    • Ha!
      About… umm, 14 years ago now (?!) I lost over 100 pounds and have kept it off and gone. The only downside I have found in doing so is that it is MUCH harder to stay warm! LOL, I used to sneer at pals because they would want to stop having “fun” because they were COLD! Sheesh! It’s not cold! Umm, maybe I was mistaken.
      Ha! I have myself, burned gloves and socks, trying to get them just “a little closer” to the fire- so that they would dry and be warm… Bummer when now there is nothing left. Definitely NOT an improvement. And really, spending $450. on a pair of boots that you immediately burn or melt the top edge padding of your boot off- well, needless to say, life can be a bit tense in camp too. Although the award (that is probably still mine…sigh) goes to when I moved my guiding partner’s insoles from his boots just a bit closer to said fire and woke the next morning to a clump that we could ONLY assume was them.
      LOL! I survived!

    • LOL!
      A pair with a low heel to walk around in town in, a pair with heels to dance or be pretty if you go out to dinner in, a pair to ride in, a spare pair, a warm pair, a spare warm pair… I could keep going….

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