Lathrop & Sons Mountain Hunter Boot Review
by Jared Bloomgren, Rokslide Staff
There are many things to consider when purchasing equipment and gear for your future hunts. Many weigh differently on how your hunt may go and there are many items that should consider special consideration when deciding on what needs to be in your arsenal. Each season, nearly all of us go through our kits and decide what should stay and what should go on any given hunt. If you are anything like me, I am constantly reworking my hunt kit and tweaking it depending on how my previous season went.
Over the years I have had a bit of trouble with finding a boot system that works well for my feet. I have used and tried many top name brands on the market today. Unfortunately I often ended up with ill-fitting boots and blisters on my feet. I think back to when I first started hunting in the backcountry and the times when my heels looked like a meat cleaver got the better of me. These were not fun times and I quickly decided that better boots were a must.
I have used many boots that definitely felt and did better but very rarely was I able to wear a boot that took all my problems away. I was left frustrated many times as I bought new boots that didn't perform how I had hoped they would.
I was clearly doing something wrong. I was selling my feet short and it showed. I was finally put in contact with Stephen at Lathrop & Sons (L&S) and I soon found out the many intricate parts that go into wearing boots that are meant for your feet. The idea of buying famous brand named boots wasn't a fix-all but could be vastly improved with Lathrop & Son's help. It was a no brainer to do the Custom Boot System that they recommended. They sent me carbon imprints to get a map of my feet. I returned them and pictures of my feet from all angles. They then took those images and imprints and tweaked a pair of boots for me to try out. The results were much better but I still formed a blister on one heal on an elk hunt in Montana. After the hunt I was able to send the boots back and they reworked the boots by judging the blister on my heal. I got the boots back again and haven't had a blister since!
Fast forward to the exciting news that came out when L&S decided to design their own boots! To those of us looking for a boot that is the best of the best, this is a no-brainer. L&S took all they knew about feet and boots and built their own. That is a recipe for an awesome boot! Feet down!
I was lucky enough to be on the front end of the first orders that went out and I decided to go with their all leather boot called the Lathrop & Son's Mountain Hunter. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical as I have never had a boot that didn't give me some sort of an issue. As I said before, even the Lowas that L&S did a Custom Boot System fit weren't without some problems. I hoped the new Mountain Hunters would be the boot I have been anticipating and waiting for!
The L&S Mountain Hunter boot
Let's not get confused. The Mountain Hunter isn't a backpacking type of boot. This is a straight up mountain hunting boot. Hunting the big and steep demands a boot with a stiff shank and the support to help a hunter conquer those peaks while carrying a heavy pack all the while delivering the comfort needed to stay proficient in the backcountry or wherever your adventures may take you!
The box was sitting on my porch when I got home from work and I quickly scooped it up and ran inside to peer at what was inside. Initial reaction was great according to my wife because I just stared at the boot with a memorized look! The colors, the craftsmanship and the attention to detail were noticed right away! The boots are made of the finest European leathers and flat out looked great! But looks aren't everything and I needed to test these bad boys out. Also included, was a personalized note from the Lathrop brothers insisting that I call them to go over the fit. This is something very typical and a courtesy of the company. How cool is that?!
When I got a hold of Stephen Lathrop, he went over the fit of the boot with me. He told me how to lace them up and how to try them out in the house to ensure the fit was right. I subjected my feet to numerous moves to ensure the fit was spot on. I had to look like a guy desperately trying to learn parkour. I looked forward to trying them out in the wild!
The fit was spot on due to the prior Custom Boot System fitting I had previously done with L&S. Wisely, they keep every customer's fitting information to apply to any boot purchase. The first trip out took me out in the rolling prairie in 90-degree weather looking for deer sheds. I don't often take up looking for sheds in this type of weather but I wanted to test these boots!
This type of terrain wasn't wild and crazy like the mountains but there was a fair amount of elevation change in both directions; enough to test the boot out initially. The fit was still good and the comfort was great. After nearly eight miles, my feet were still ready for more as the sun dipped low in the sky. I wore the boots on numerous backpack hikes with various pack weights and then three solid days at the Total Archery Challenge in South Dakota. Still to this day the boots have been great! There are some noticeable features that need to be talked about.
The sole of this boot is stiff for sure but remember it isn't a backpacking type of hunting boot. It is a true mountain hunting boot. This type of boot screams for heavy loads and rough terrain! The sole of this boot is also unique. The L&S Rocker Cam midsole is an innovative design in that it increases your gait speed and helps offload pressures all translating into making your strides smoother. The front part of the boot is stiffer which allows it to help push you forward when you walk. The Rocker Cam midsole design flat out works!
The boot also offers a rubber rand around the entire boot to help protect your feet and boot. The improved deep heel-lock was a huge improvement for me as well. Remember me saying that I had trouble finding boots that didn't give me blisters on my heels? Well this boot locks my heel in unlike any other boot which makes the obvious known! These boots are also a cinch to lace up due to the ball bearing hardware that is in the new lacing system which also locks the laces in place allowing you to lace the boots to whatever fits your comfort.
Another question that comes into play with boots is the break-in period. I have heard many say that their boots didn't require a break-in period. I call hogwash on that statement. While I too have worn boots that felt great out of the box and didn't have any issues that didn't mean that they didn't require any break-in to get them to the sweet spot so to say. ALL boots require some sort of break in regardless of what is to be claimed. Pretty common break-in process is around 7-10 days of good use in various conditions. Obviously the amount of time and the condition you have those boots in during that time can change this a great deal. In this time, you should be able to find the best way to lace them which will allow the boot to begin to take the slight form changes to fit your feet.
Personally, I like to start out with new boots with 15-40 pounds in a pack with moderate terrain and put on two to three miles and increase with each time I go out to ensure the boots are good to go. This can all vary a great deal per individual as there is no set "break-in" process. Find what works best for you.
If I was to say that these boots are not the best boot that I have tried to date then I would be lying. I challenge anybody to try the new L&S boots and look for issues that they may have or have had in the past. I would bet that your issues will go away and you will be impressed. I understand that everyone's feet are different but why not get a pair of boots that are custom fit to you? Why sell yourself short by not giving your feet the best that there is to offer? Get a custom boot system and you will never look back! You don't buy a sports car and put the cheapest white wall tires on it? Why should you be any different?! I have to laugh when people struggle with spending the money on boots. Your feet are your first line of defense in the backcountry. If your feet are comfortable, you will be a better hunter. Straight up...can't argue that point!
Boot Specs – L&S Mountain Hunter
• • 3.75 lbs
• • 9" Tall
• • 2.6mm Prewanger Leather
• • L&S PERFECT Shank
• • L&S PU ROCKER CAM Midsole
• • Vibram Mulaz EVO Outsole
• • eVent Waterproof Lining
• • PRO-FORM Rubber Rand
• • PU Heel Stabilizer
• • Full Length removable insole accommodates L&S High Country Synergy Footbed
• • Half Sizes 8-12.5,13,14
You can ask Jared questions or discuss this article here