American Made Hiking Boots?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by nathangardner, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. I'm looking for a good pair of hiking boots that are made in America preferably, but if that's too much to ask, then at least not made in China. They don't have to be absolute top of the line, but a decent pair of boots for trails and some rough terrain to get to the perfect spot. Would like them to be waterproof. Any suggestions? Thanks.
  2. I believe that most if not all of Danner's products are made in the US. I suppose it's possible that some of their textiles are imported. Great boots, though.

    And if you really want something lovingly made to perfectly fit your foot, have the people at Russell Moccasin do it. Beautiful work.
  3. Get ones that fit you. Look at LL Bean web site for possible choices. If you want ones made in America, you might have to have them custom made by a Texas bootmaker, and these are not hiking shoes. I do not think anyone makes shoes anymore in the US. Maybe in Mexico.
    Joe Smith
  4. Red Wing Shoes is an American company. Mostly work and safety shoes, they do have a few models suitable for hiking. The website doesn't say, but I believe some, if not all, are made in the US.
  5. SCL


    True hiking boots have special characteristics, which you pay for. Not only the issues of waterproof construction, but also boot height, specifics of your particular feet (do you need orthotics, do your feet turn in or out, etc?), type and flexibility of the shank, type of terrain you expect to be hiking on, and the load weight you expect to carry (your feet flatten out with increased weight), the type and weight of your socks, etc. I mention all this, because when I was an avid wilderness hiker, I tried a lot of different boots and considered handmade ones....but was lucky after a few years to find a manufacturer who used lasts which very closely matched my feet. They were not made in the USA! The italians have one or two manufacturers who produce specialty hiking boots, Danners and Merrill havea good range of products, Beans is consumer oriented but good. I strongly suggest you get a good outdoor hiking magazine - usually the spring and fall have issues testing new hiking boots by a staff which actually hikes several weeks in them. If you're seriously hiking, you really need to pay attention to your feet and boots or you will be paying a lot of money later to an orthopedic surgeon to correct what could have been prevented.
  6. Limmer makes their own boots, in North Conway, NH. Not cheap, there's a waiting list, but you'll only ever need one pair.
  7. The custom-made Limmers are US made, but their off-the-shelf boots come from Europe (I have a pair of off-the-shelf Limmer Walkers that are very nice).
  8. I highly recommend Danner boots. They have two lines, one made in Portland, the other made somewhere in Asia, possibly China. I have two pair of their American-made Acadia boots, one purchased in person at their outlet store in Portland for $50, and the other ordered from the Danner website. The boots are extremely well made, and the follow up customer service has been superb. When I needed replacement footbeds (commonly called insoles), I called and a real human answered the phone and handled my request.
  9. Years ago, I had a pair custom made by Mekan boots of Salt Lake City. They are heavy-duty (I can't imagine ever wearing them out), beautiful, and of impeccable quality, and there's no question about where they are made. They weren't cheap and they aren't lightweight.
    At the time, they mailed me a tray of compressible foam. I stepped in it and mailed it back. Gary Mekan and his staff then custom made my boots to fit the impressions in the foam from my individual pair of feet. They then went even further -- they sent me the half-finished boots for me to try on, giving me a chance to ask for any needed adjustments before they put on the soles and did the final finishing. A classy operation making a really fine product.
    I'm not sure if Mekan makes custom boots anymore. They don't seem to have a web site. I did find a picture of one of their boots here:
  10. When it comes to hiking boots, the only way to buy them is to try them on. Trying them on also requires wearing the right socks. Polypro liner socks are a minimum. Liner plus an outer sock of wool is the recommended combination. This is important as your socks will affect whether you get blisters and it can increase the effective boot size by up to one size depending on whether you get light, medium or heavy weight hiking socks.
    I get my boots from REI where I can try them out and the staff actually know what they are talking about. If you have one local to you, it is well worth the drive.
    BTW I do not recommend waterproof boots unless you plan to do a lot of hiking in marshy land. They are much hotter than regular boots. When water gets into them (e.g. you wade into water that goes over the boot top) they will not dry out quickly and you will be hiking in wet squishy boots for a long time. You can get goretex outer socks if you do hike in marshy land. Better yet, carry extra socks and change them as needed. What I do is treat my boots with Nikwax waterproofing wax and carry extra socks.
  11. Danner boots are excellent, but very pricey. My preference is Red Wing and their division Irish Setter or Rocky boots. I've owned and used both for hunting and hiking. Rocky makes boots from light hikers to Gor-Tex, 1200 grams Thinsulate Ultra extreme cold weather boots. Their website lists their original manufacturing plant in Nelsonville, OH, but it doesn't say if they are still made there. I currently have three pairs of their boots and they are all comfortable and durable.
    I would second the recommendation to try them on. I wear a certain size in tennis shoe, but usually a different size for hunting boots. Don't forget to factor in the kind of socks you'll be wearing and take them with you when you try them on. Most quality boots now are fairly comfortable right from the start. The long break-in period isn't really necessary anymore, so you'll know right away if they are going to work for you. Don't assume that because they are expensive, they'll be OK. They may be great, but not for your feet.
    I do, however, recommend waterproof (Gor-Tex) boots. You can hike through anything and as long as the water doesn't go over the ankle, your feet will stay dry. Gor-Tex (and some other waterproof membranes) breath so they allow heat and body moisture to escape. With the added security of waterproofing, you won't be stopped by that shallow stream, or you can set your tripod up in the shallow water to get the shot.
  12. Vasque boots can be found at most Red Wing shoe stores and other outdoor stores. Meindl makes top of the line hiking boots as does Raichle. Meindl can be found at Cabelas.
    Nick's Boots, White's Boots (and Hathorn) are made in the US - are generally aimed at loggers + smoke jumpers, but they do have walking boots, and hunting boots. Filson Uplander boots are field hunting boots that are made in the US, and Gokey boots from Orvis are made in the US. Danner makes some boots in the US but a lot are now made in China - so you have to look very carefully at the individual model.
    I have a pair of custom made Russell thorn armored Safari PH boots as I wanted something higher than standard hiking boots that were breathable, and would not be punctured by cactus spines. The boots fit perfectly as the lasts are custom made to the measurements of each foot, and then the boots are constructed on the individual lasts - the most comfortable boots I've ever had.
  13. I like Asolo, but Vasque are also good. I do a fair amount of hiking, canoe trips, etc. . . I am probably better at this than photography. I personally use Asola with Gortex and they keep my feet extremely dry (during colder rainy or snowy days). Expect to pay about $150 for a very good, reliable pair of hiking boots that will last you for years. Make sure to wear them before going on any major trip to break them in. Also, it is worth the extra 15-25% by buying them locally versus ordering out of a catalog or on-line as a good store will help make sure they really do fit properly. Some things you definately want to buy locally - foot wear is one of them.
  14. It's really important that you buy boots that fit well. Asolo works really well for me, but not at all for my wife (she has a wider foot).
  15. I think several of the Chippewa models are still made in the States, but you have to read each one's description. I own a pair of their work boots, and jeez, what an incredibly well made product. When the sole finally wears out, they'll be re-soled, and these things could possible last my lifetime! I'm 100% with you on not buying China's products.
  16. REI has Asolo all leather boots, they used to be $215, I think they are $235 or maybe a bit more now. All leather, goretex, waterproof. In my size 12/13 I can walk in 5 inches of water and I have. They did fine for 2 years in Colorado, but I had to get another pair in Arizona when they shrank over a period of a year, felt like a size smaller. Happened 2 years in a row, so now I got a size 13 and even if they shrink it should be ok.
    I prefer all leather for water protection in rain or stepping in shallow water (don't let water go over the top, especially don't submerge them, leather boots will stiffen and age prematurely, I did that at the end of my Danners' lifecycle not exactly by choice).
  17. I recently went through this same experience myself, that of picking a pair of hiking boots for the same reason that you are shopping for a pair yourself.
    The best advice that I can give you is find somewhere that has knowledgeable staff that can actually help you find a pair that FIT you properly. If you think that you will find this type of experience at any big box or large retail chain, I wish you the best of luck. All you will find at such stores is the personal experience and opinion of the sales person/store clerk. What has worked well for them, may not work well for you, and the last thing you want is to spend $200 on a pair of boots to find out that they turn your feet into bloody hamburger stumps after a 7 mile hike in, and you still have to hike 7 miles out.
    Find a pair that are as light weight as you can get away with given the terrain you anticipate trekking over. Breathable is always good. Water proof is, in my opinion, secondary (you can always carry a pair of Gortex socks in case you come to some significant water on the trail). Lightweight and breathable are more important.
    Don't be sucked into thinking that a stiffer boot gives you more ankle support either. Take a stiff pair and a not-so-stiff pair, set them on the floor and step on the ankle part of each boot with all your body weight and ask yourself if one of them offered more resistance than the other. Ankle support comes from our ankles (bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments) and a good, well fitted, foot bed. (a pair of foot beds is a good thing to consider adding to your purchase. Stiffer usually means heavier. 1 pound on your feet is equal to 5 pounds on your back. Of course if you anticipate going over really rough, jagged and sharp terrain, a heavier, stiffer boot may offer the protection that you will need.
    Socks are also extermely important as has already been mentioned. I think a two sock system is best, a liner sock (very thin, moisture wicking, form fitted) with a good wool sock on top. There are a lot of socks out there that claim to combine the two into one, but I have not tried any of those since the two sock system seems to work very well at minimizing friction. The liner stays in place almost like a "second skin" and protects the foot from any rubbing of the wool sock or the boot. I don't see how a combo sock would perform as well in this regard.
    I would leave country of origin out of it as that will probably just narrow the selection and adds one more criterion to an already difficult set to deal with.
    I would try to find a store that has staff that are trained in the Dr. Phil Oren Fit System I live in Canada where there aren't any, but I managed to find a store that was run by podaiatrists and most of the staff were overly trained in shoe fitting. I actually didn't end up buying a pair at that store since they didn't have the right pair, but the sales person was able to steer me towards a model that they didn't carry and I found it at another store, tried it on, and was able to evaluate the fit based on what I had learned at the podaiatrist shop and have been extremely happy with it since. I have been on a couple of short hikes with them and my feet have been more than comfortable. Not even a hint of a blister or sore spot. I have never had a pair of footwear (hiking or otherwise) that feels as good as the pair that I ended up with. (for what its worth I ended up buying a pair of Vasque Breeze GTS XCR)
    My two cents. Hope it helps.
  18. I used to sell hiking/backpacking/mountaineering boots at REI for years while in college.
    My best advice is to get to a store like an REI (etc), find a/the one good/knowledgable salesperson they have (most stores have at least one), and let them fit you.
    I'd basically have to right a small pamphlet to summarize what I was taught and what I learned over those years, and so I instead refer you to (again) trained personnel at outdoor goods stores. Fitting hiking/backpacking/mountaineering boots is NOT rocket science, but there are definitely ways to go about it and "rules of thumb" etc that are the difference between blisters (etc) and a good-fitting pair of boots.
    I also would not worry about where the boots are made per se, but rather worry about what kind of welt, rand, upper materials, midsoles, outsoles, lacing system, footbeds, etc they have. In other words, short of buying very expensive handmade boots made here or abroad, you are going to end up getting on overseas product, that's just the way the world has gone.
    For myself and because (at 54) I now have knee problems that are greatly exacerbated by unstable footwear or insufficient foot/ankle support, I bought a pair of the Asolo all-leather-upper heavier backpacking boots (they keep reinventing them but year by year they're also basically the same boot.) They are a little heavier/stiffer/clunkier than other offerings, but being closer to a traditional heavy leather woodsman/backpacking/mountaineering boot, they offer excellent support and protection.
    I also removed the removable insole and replaced it with appropriate SuperFeet OTC orthotics, something else I'd recommend.
    Good luck.

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