Like most serious deer hunters, I have spent the last twenty years of my life wearing rubber boots for deer season. I have used them all, from cheap bargain boots, to the mid-priced boots, and even the high end name brands with the fancy designs.
When LaCrosse Footwear asked me to provide an honest review on their new AeroHead boot I was happy to do it. But I told them I was very picky about boots and I was going to be brutally honest in my feedback. They had no problem with that, they wanted feedback from experienced bowhunters and were happy to receive any constructive criticism.
I broke this review into the priorities for which I rate a boot:
Rubber boots can be brutal on your feet and ankles. Unlike leather boots - that can take the shape of your foot after the wear-in period - rubber boots are pretty much locked in from the jump. I also suffer from heel spurs from years of running and 90% of my previous rubber boot purchases have issues at the heel. The other problem is that rubber boots may fit and feel great in the store, but after walking a mile back and forth to your stand you may not be liking them as much. So fit and comfort is my number one priority.
Like all my boot purchases I ordered my AeroHeads one size larger than my normal shoe. This is to give me some breathing room in heavier than normal socks. The first thing I noticed was my foot and ankle fit felt great in these boots. The second thing I noticed was a good amount of cushion with each step. This was a delight, but I wasn’t sure how that would translate to my long hikes back and forth to distant tree stands. My first real test happened in September during the warm, early season hunts. I never developed any sores or blisters including my normal heel spur locations. I wore the lighter (3.5mm) pair of boots until late October and then I switched over to the heavier, (7mm) cold weather model. Both models were remarkably comfortable. Best I’ve ever tried - as a matter of fact - and that was a welcome relief for someone who’s suffered with rubber hunting boots for a quarter of my life.
Comfort Rating - 5 out of 5
My deer property is located in one of the coldest spots in the lower 48 states - New York’s Adirondack Region. Temps reached -32 last year and we had 217” of snow last winter. To say warmth is a consideration is an understatement. Warmth is imperative to my hunting success. This past October was pleasantly mild and I rarely used anything more than LaCrosse’s 3.5mm AeroHead boot. Mid-November was a different story. It dropped to single digits two weeks before thanksgiving and I experienced one brutally cold day in the stand (-6).
Normally I would be wearing my Mickey Mouse military surplus extreme cold weather boot for hunts like this. But the LaCrosse 7mm AeroHead boot performed exceptionally well even though it’s not really designed for temperature extremes that low. I was able to stick it out for six hours in that temp. While my toes did get cold, and I would likely use boots specifically designed for subzero temps for future hunts, the fact that I was able to tough it out did impress me. No other rubber boot I owned ever came close. That day was the most extreme during our tests, the rest of my hunts averaged in the high teens to high thirties and these boots rock in those temps. I found the AeroHeads to be very warm all the way down to 15 degrees - and that’s pretty darn impressive for a hunting boot.
Warmth Rating - 5 out of 5
This is my third most important priority and not for the reasons you would think. Sure, a lightweight boot is easier on the legs, but where I really crave lightweight anything is while flying. I travel a lot for hunting and my boots always come with me. If I can shave off a couple pounds that is a plus. These boots are very light, probably the lightest I own, and they don’t sacrifice insulation over it. Weight is definitely a major plus.
Weight Rating - 5 out of 5
It’s hard to define features when talking about a hunting boot, but believe it or not they do exist. Let’s take a very simple feature that I loved about the AeroHeads and that is the flared top that cinches down to a custom fit. Like many serious deer hunters, we tuck our hunting pants or insulated bibs into our boots. This is scent control 101, it also keeps your pants dry and free from mud and stickers.
Most boots don’t allow you to tuck in your pants since they either don’t flare, or they don’t flare enough. These boots have a generous amount of room at the top. I don’t consider camouflage a feature but if I did, these boots have that too in a variety of patterns. Anyone who has ever worn a Neoprene upper boot knows that these can become badly worn out. The AeroHead has incorporated a "Brush Tuff" material on the neoprene which addresses this problem. That concern was also addressed by fusing an injected polyurethane (a material that is more flexible, durable and lighter weight than rubber) protective shell covering only the shin section on your leg. Those design features are brilliant, it resists brush and stickers and provides more scent protection where you need it most. While these may seem like small design features - they have a big effect on the longevity of the boot, at least where I hunt.
Features Rating - 5 out of 5
5. Scent Control
– this is why we wear rubber boots and I think just about every rubber boot gets this right. My LaCrosse AeroHeads are scent free and easily washable. I’ve always wondered if Neoprene holds scent more than straight rubber, but since I’ve never seen a deer react negatively to my trail crossing I’ll assume they do.
Scent Control Rating - 5 out of 5
Price is always subjective and some hunters believe any boot over $60 is expensive. The AeroHeads are priced higher than these cheap boots, but far less than many other brands of rubber hunting boots costing more than $200 a pair. This level of quality is never going to be found in a $60.00 boot and I don’t mind spending north of $100 for a quality boot that fits me perfectly - and provides the functionality found in the AeroHeads. They list for $130 a pair.
Price Rating - 4 out of 5
Pat Lefemine is the Founder of Bowsite.com and an avid hunter. He is shown here with his 2013 trophy Kansas Whitetail
ConclusionWhen I first heard about LaCrosse marketing a quality hunting boot that was going to be different than all the rest I was a bit skeptical. No more. These are the best boots I have slid over my feet. They are priced within reach of most budgets, lightweight, and have subtle design features that put these boots ahead of the rest. But don’t take my word for it, check them out yourself. Your feet will thank me.