Hunters all have different preferences for hunting boots. Some value comfort and warmth. Others are more concerned about waterproofing. Some are downright anal about scent control. 

When choosing between leather and rubber boots, be aware that each material is suited for different weather conditions and terrain. 

Rubber boots are good if you plan on crossing standing water or deep mud. 

Leather boots are best for keeping your feet warm. 

Your choice will depend on both your needs as a hunter and your personal preference.

This article will be tackling the question of rubber vs leather hunting boots, identifying the pros and cons of each.

Boot Material and Scent Control

When hunting deer, according to Terry Rohm from Buckmasters, “the first thing to do is get rid of your own scent.” Scent control is not only crucial for boots but all of your hunting gear. 

Hunters have gone to great lengths for scent control in boots, such as storing them in an airtight bag when not in use.

If you want to practice good scent control with your boots, don’t wear them for anything other than hunting. 

When you wash your boots (or anything you wear while hunting), make sure whatever you use contains only scent-free products.

Rubber boots are better than other materials for controlling scent. Because rubber is impermeable to air, it keeps sweat odors well-contained. 

Many hunters on forums complain about rubber boots having a rubbery smell. 

Still, there are many different ways you can amend that by exposing the boots to the outdoors before hunting season to eliminate the rubber smell.

Support and Comfort

You always want the most comfortable boots for hunting. Still, depending on the terrain and the temperature in your hunting ground, you’ll want to focus on a different kind of comfort: 

  • Insulation

  • Boot height 

  • Ankle support

Focusing on these three features will help you get the most comfortable boots. 

Insulation

Rocky FX 800G Insulated Boot

The insulation of your hunting boot varies depending on the weather and what part of the country you’re in. 

In warm weather, boots with insulation lead to sweaty hot feet. If you’ve ever worn a woolen sweater in a really warm building, you know what I’m talking about.

In cold weather, however, insulation is a must. Without insulation, you’ll spend hours outside with freezing cold feet. 

If you are sitting in a blind or a stand for several hours, you’ll find that boots with a lot of insulation are the most comfortable boots.

Insulated rubber boots are not unheard of, but in climates where you’ll need insulation, there are many more leather boots to choose from.

Boot Height

The height of your bootleg is essential, too, especially if you’re hunting in swampy wet areas. 

If you’re wearing a hiking boot that only reaches just above the ankle, you’ll find yourself with wet feet from stepping in a bog. You also want high boots if your hunting ground is in snake country. 

You can find high boots made of leather and rubber, but a rubber boot is better suited to the wetland areas where you are more likely to encounter standing water or deep mud. 

Ankle Support

Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 Boots

If you’re hunting in mountainous areas where elevation is higher, you’ll want to have proper ankle support on the uneven ground. 

In rough hunting terrain, you’ll want to wear a lower boot that has good ankle support. 

Ankle support is also vital if you plan on hiking around the hunting ground a lot. You don’t want to twist an ankle out in the wild.

Leather hiking boots are more comfortable for ankle support since rubber boots provide notoriously little ankle support.

Traction and Grip

When hunting prey with keen senses like the deer, you don’t want to miss your shot because of a slippery boot. 

Traction is a must-have in your hunting boot, regardless of whether you’ll be on the move or waiting out your prey in a tree stand.

Leather boots are overall the best boots for traction on uneven ground like forested hillsides and mountain ridges. 

If you know you’ll be climbing into tree stands, you will want a boot that not only has good traction but will support your ankles during your climb. 

For this, I recommend leather boots, although if your tree stand is in a swampy area, you’ll have to compromise somewhere.

The grip of the sole can vary depending on the terrain you’re hunting in, as long as your boot isn’t smooth. 

Boots without grip are a banana peel moment waiting to happen. 

You can’t go wrong with a boot that has excellent sole grip, as long as you don’t mind the extra weight of mud that’ll get packed into the ridges.

Waterproof 

If you hunt in hot weather, your feet will be hot and sweaty in waterproof boots. However, sweaty feet might be an acceptable price to pay if you’re hunting in a wet environment like a swamp. 

Waterproof boots are also necessary for cold weather. 

Getting freezing water in your boots is considerable discomfort, especially if you plan on sitting in a blind all day. 

Grubs Treeline 8.5 Camo Boots

If you can, find a boot that is both waterproof and insulated against the cold.

Overall, rubber boots are better than leather boots for waterproofing. Rubber is a tight material that blocks out moisture from the inside and the outside. 

If you don’t mind trapping the day’s foot stink in your boot, a pair of rubber boots are the most effective waterproof boots.

Conclusion

Leather boots are more effective if you want support for uneven terrain and insulation for colder climates. If you’re hunting in wintertime or on a hillside forest, you’ll want a pair of warm leather boots.

You can’t beat rubber hunting boots in the waterproof category, and the impenetrability of the material makes them the best choice for scent control.

However, hunters have reported that rubber boots fall short in temperature regulation. Your feet will be hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

Leather boots and rubber boots are equally good choices when it comes to traction and grip. Although, the ankle support of some leather boots makes the traction more effective when climbing.  

Choice of the material comes down to the personal preference of hunters. 

Overall, as long as you aren’t hunting in an area with standing water or deep mud, leather boots are a better pick for comfort, support, and warmth for those long hours in the tree stand.

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