Take a look at the only pair of cold-weather boots a lady hunter will ever need: the Arctic Hunter, a collaboration between Muck and Girls with Guns.
Female hunters are one of the fastest-growing groups in the outdoor community. From 2001 to 2014, women's rate of participation in hunting mounted steadily from 10.2% to 18.4%; that's a very healthy number that includes more than one million new hunters. Those of us embedded in the hunting community have seen this firsthand, yet female hunters have been largely ignored--especially by sporting goods manufacturers.
That just changed in a big way. This year, at last, a major supplier of performance boots decided to consult existing industry experts to better serve this emerging market: Muck has joined forces with Girls with Guns to design the perfect all-weather boot for the female hunter. They make a good team, and the proof is in the Arctic Hunter boots!
Here's what the Original Muck Boot Company had to say about the collaboration:
"Women hunters make up one of the fastest growing markets in the industry and Muck Boots recognizes the need to provide custom styles for this population. We are very excited to be working alongside Girls with Guns on a line of boots that will give women hunters ultimate comfort and allow them to show their love of hunting in a way that is in line with the Girls with Guns brand."
For those of us who have been sorely in need of high-quality boots built with women's needs in mind, it is time to start celebrating: the Arctic Hunter Boots go above and beyond expectations and somehow come in under budget compared to the competition.
But don't just take my word for it without learning more: I picked up these boots (in the "mid" height) and gave them a serious stress test. Here's the rundown, step by step (no pun intended).
Size, Fit and Comfort
If there's anything all outdoorswomen have in common, it's high standards for comfort. Look; if we're choosing to hunt, fish or hike, it's not because we're looking to wear uncomfortable shoes around all day. We could do that, well, anywhere. So, when any manufacturer ventures into this territory, they're taking on serious comfort requirements.
No blisters and no break-in required.
You've heard it a million times: don't wear your hunting boots for the first time on a hunt; you've got to break them in first. The beauty of these 5mm CR Flex-Foam boots is that they move, bend, and jostle as smoothly as possible, then spring back to their original shape instantly. The "breaking in" has been done for you via smart design choices.
Perfectly sized for thick socks and tucked-in pants.
Like many outdoorswomen, my calves are my biggest sizing problem when buying boots. Thankfully, the designers of the Arctic Hunter boots already knew this; they designed a slimmer-profile boot, as compared to men's styles, that still leaves plenty of room for wool socks as well tucked-in pant legs.
The Arctic Hunter's comfort insole actually lives up to its name, which is a rare treat. Soft but supportive, the insole makes it even easier to stand all day in these than in my sneakers.
Comfortable to wear and, importantly, quiet.
Traditional waterproof boots can make my feet feel clumsy and difficult to control; the Arctic Hunter boots do the opposite. The neoprene upper allows them to move with your body, so it was easy for me to step lightly and nimbly.
They also have a great high-traction slip-resistant rugged outsole that performed admirably on rugged dry terrain as well as muddy and slippery areas. I don't always score 100% in the "balance" department, so the slip-resistance put me that much more at ease.
At the end of a full day of wearing these, I grew just a little bit too attached to them to take them off. So, I brought them inside for some more stress testing.
Flying colors on the ice-water test...
While Texas isn't known for its intense sub-zero weather conditions, Muck claims that the Arctic Hunter boots will insulate down to -40°. So, I decided to get creative by "chilling out" with my boots in a tub of ice water for about half an hour to find out whether I'd still be a happy camper in cold weather. Thankfully, the insulation package on these boots was essentially impenetrable.
...but still wearable in Fall weather.
At the same time, I was pleasantly surprised that wearing these in 80-plus-degree Texas autumn weather wasn't uncomfortable. The warm fleece lining made the boots breathable despite the strong insulation.
My biggest pet peeve with "waterproof" products is that one poorly sealed seam that invariably lets a trickle of water in, rendering all the waterproofing completely useless. The uniquely shaped extended rubber exterior on the Arctic Hunter boots is a clever design that truly keeps the wetness out.
Durability and Style
I haven't had these boots long enough to speak to their actual durability; however, they do look and feel like they're built to last. Having worn Muck boots in the past, I predict these will be every bit as long-lasting as their other products.
In other words, check in with me in a decade or so. I'm sure I'll have a glowing update for this review.
As for style? The Mossy Oak Break Up Country camo is the only fashion statement I need. After all, it goes with everything! The teal accents are a nice understated and personal touch.
I would recommend the Arctic Hunter boots to any lady hunter or outdoorswoman. There's nothing to say these boots wouldn't work for cool-weather fishing, camping or hiking. (Actually, they would be a great choice for those activities as well). Long story short, the biggest downside to these boots is that they're limited edition.