These boots are made for walking (and hiking and hunting)

McKinley boots twoI do a lot of walking. Sometimes it’s in the woods in pursuit of wild game. Often it’s along the road, picking up trash. I try to walk at least 2 to 3 miles a day if I’m not doing something else that is a good workout. So I’m always looking for comfortable footwear.

You won’t be surprised when I tell you I have several choices of footwear for hunting, from my LL Bean boots to a very warm pair from Cabela’s that I wear in deep snow. On my road walks I usually wear sneakers, but lately I’ve noticed that they’re not giving me as much support as I’d like, now that I’m getting (ok, I am) old. And they’re not warm enough for winter walking.

And that’s why I am so pleased by the new pair of Northside Men’s McKinley Waterproof hiking boots that James Menta of SoleLabz sent to me recently. You can check out SoleLabz here. The boots are described as “rock-solid and rugged hikers for all your backpacking adventures.” Initially, I thought they might be more than I needed, because I no longer tackle rugged hikes and I have no interest any more in backpacking adventures. Yes, I now prefer my adventures to be comfortable.

When the boots arrived though, I liked them immediately. The distressed leather upper top adds comfort with a padded tongue and collar. I particularly like the front-up lacing system with metal eyelets and hooks that provide a tight fit without a lot of adjusting and tightening. So far, they have not come untied once, a regular occurrence with some of my footwear.

I decided to work my way into them gradually, first by simply walking around the house in them. I figured they’d need some breaking-in time but they were comfortable right from the get go. I ordered a half size larger than normal because I intended to wear them mostly in the winter with a pair of heavy socks.

Next, I wore them on my garbage-walk, spending an hour and a half walking the road adjacent to my woodlot, filling a bag with trash tossed out by road slobs, who infuriate me. But my mood on that day was brightened by the comfort of these boots. So I stepped it up one day last week, wearing the boots on an all-day hunt.

The farm where we hunted that day includes a very wet bog and I was concerned about keeping my feet dry. Normally when I hunt there I wear rubber boots. The Northside boots are advertised as, “completely waterproof, but with the benefit of a breathable lining.” And they are not kidding. I stepped into plenty of water and the boots stayed warm and dry. Impressive!

When I first got the boots, I read that, “the outsole is rubber, the midsole is compression molded EVA, and the insole is Northside’s contour cushioned. The midsole also features a steel shank for comfort and support. And the boot has a brushed rubber heel stabilizer and toe guard, plus slip/oil resistance.” Well, I really don’t know what all that means, but I am certain it’s one reason these boots are so darned comfortable!

You can buy the boots on Northside’s website for just $48, very reasonable for boots I expect to be wearing for a long time, even in the house!


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.