Two Elk Boot Must-Haves

Kenetrek makes great hunting boots, and if you’re in the market for a new pair of elk kicks, look no further than the Corrie II Hiker and Mountain Extreme Non-Insulated boots.

by Mark Kayser

For me, elk hunting is more than just procuring venison for the freezer, and I admit that few of our family meals include protein ingredients other than elk. But it goes beyond hunting. Living in elk country and hunting these cagey critters drives my day-to-day lifestyle. 

That noted, a sturdy boot is required to access most of the public-land elk country in my wheelhouse. Do you have an elk hunt on the horizon? Did you draw a premier tag? If you answered yes, now, not later, is the time to break in your new hunting boots. You want these feet pleasers to be flexible, limber, and comfy before you beat the mountain trails. 

I recall several elk hunts where I rotated between two or more boots, not to allow them to dry or to match the terrain but because they hurt my feet. Some were so bad I may have swapped them for a Netherland Klomp carved from wood. Others failed on my part, and I did not allow for an ample break-in. In either regard, don’t pull a Kayser!  

Here are two boots I have in my current arsenal. Yes, you only need one pair of quality boots, but I prefer to have a backup in case one pair gets soaked, and I like to have another lightweight pair in case I land in country that does not require Everest-like traction. In every case, these boots broke in quickly and tackled the chores I demanded.  

Kenetrek Corrie II Hiker

A rugged yet slim addition to the Kenetrek lineup is the Corrie II Hiker. I was attracted to this boot as a substitute for heavier boots when the terrain allowed a hiking-style boot. As applied in its name, the 7-inch-high hiking boot provides the confidence, stability, and traction to conquer even the roughest terrain I manage to hike into. At 3.2 pounds, the boot offers a break from my heavier go-to models yet gives me ample grip to tackle chores from scouting to archery season and even early fall rifle hunts before feet of snow hamper the landscape.          

If you are wondering where the word Corrie arises from, it is of Gaelic origin and refers to a “half-open, steep-sided hollow on a mountainside.” That definition fits most of the areas I elk hunt — steep, scree and rocky chasms lead to most of the elk hideouts. 

Mark Kayser looks at an elk track during the 2022 archery elk season while wearing the Kenetrek Corrie II Hiker.

Here are the nuts and bolts. The Corrie II Hiker receives its sturdiness from a lightweight leather and nylon frame. A K-strap design re-enforces ankle support, leading to a firm landing with each step. The boot is waterproof yet breathable, with a Windtex membrane protecting the boot from moist environments. 

Thwarting rock abuse are protective caps that guard the toe and heel. Kenetrek is known for ruggedness, and any regions of the boot that receive additional stress are strengthened with double and triple stitching. Moving to the hitching system, metal eyelets, including an upper hook system, secure the boot snugly to your ankles. And true to its hiking designation, the boot has the feel of a running shoe with a 5 mm nylon midsole extending the footbed’s entire length. Kenetrek’s Grapon outsole connects you to the ground with sureness. 

Last fall, I wore the Corrie II Hiker for most of my September archery elk hunting and my October rifle elk season. They did not complain even when I would whine about the terrain where I pointed them to traverse. 

Mark Kayser field-tested the Kenetrek Corrie II Hiker during archery elk and rifle elk hunting seasons in 2022.

Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Non-Insulated

A buddy and I were talking about hunting boots one day, and he mentioned his Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Non-Insulated boots were near impossible to break in. I admit this made me gun-shy on that boot until I decided their attributes held more positives than his negative review. 

Because of his bad-mouthing, I did not wear my new pair last fall. Nevertheless, I decided to break them in over the winter while coyote hunting and daily hiking with my wife and border collie.

Did I make a wrong decision? No! The first time I cinched down the boots and pulled off a 4-mile hike with my wife, the boots were as comfortable as if I had worn them for weeks. To date, I have logged dozens of hikes in these boots and have never received a hot spot or complaints from my feet. That noted, these boots are for the extreme, and everyone’s feet are different, so I advise you to put a few miles in with them before tackling elk country. You have months before the season. Start wearing your hunting boots now. 

This boot looks rugged compared to my Corrie II Hiker. It is built on a 10-inch-high frame, and the uppers include a 2.8 mm leather exterior as a guard against the granite. When you add boot height and heavier construction, weight increases, and the Mountain Extreme weighs in at 3.9 pounds, and that still is not atrocious for a hunting boot designed for the sheep world. 

To ensure the boot stays together, it includes triple and double stitching in the locations seeing the worst of Mother Nature. Reinforced rubber sole guards extend protection for all the scrapes boots receive in the backcountry. 

Since you hope to pack out heavy, the midsoles are constructed of 7mm nylon for added support with heavy loads. Lightweight K-Talon outsoles grab the terrain like Baja racing tires. The entire boot exhibits a wrapping of Windtex waterproof yet breathable membrane to keep your feet dry from outside moisture yet allow foot moisture to escape. 

I wore this boot during many of my winter cross-country coyote hunts, hiking with my wife, and just completing horse chores in the North Pole snow conditions we experienced this winter in Wyoming. They are ready for elk season.

Mark Kayser broke in his Kenetrek Mountain Extreme hunting boots during winter hikes and while coyote hunting.

The Mountain Extreme Non-insulated boot will cost you more than the lighter hiker, but at $500, you receive a boot that will last many seasons with proper care. 

There are numerous good boots out there on the market for mountain hunting. Find a pair that fits well and has the traits needed to tackle your elk real estate. Now wear them! Your feet will appreciate your early efforts to break them in for the season ahead. 


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