Gear test: Le Chameau Condor LCX hunting boots

Grouse season always sneaks up on me, and I’m lucky if I can get out for a day or two early in the season when the weather is still nice and the birds haven’t been walked over too many times. But this year, thanks to the folks at Le Chameau, a quality bootmaker who sent me a pair of the company’s new Condor LCX hunting boots, I made the time get out early and go after ruffies in the shadow of the Tetons.

Known for making perhaps the best rubber boots in the world, Le Chameau incorporates the company’s long-standing, high-quality standards into these leather boots that, as I crashed through brush and followed my dog, Phoebe through brambles and huckleberry patches, felt damn near bomb-proof. They ride high on the calf, offering excellent ankle support, but they don’t feel tight or constricting. I’m a guy who has to “wear in” boots and shoes before they’re truly comfortable, so I was skeptical that a single hunt would give me a really accurate perspective on the fit and feel of the boots. I was surprised, after a morning spent in thick cover and covering quite a bit of ground, that my feet weren’t at all bothered.

And now, after two hunts through heavy brush chasing an eager wire-hair mix that points well, but doesn’t hold back too often, I’m convinced that these boots are going to last years, and they’ll be a comfortable, durable product for as long as I wear them. The company has invested quite a bit of technology into these boots, so I suspect they expect them to last a long time, too. Not only are they durable, but they’re marketed as waterproof and warm in wintertime temperatures down below 15 degrees (-10 celsius). This makes them almost an all-season hunting boot. And, I can attest to the waterproof claim—the second hunt culminated in an hour or so of chasing brookies for the smoker in a small Idaho mountain stream. I dunked them more than once as I navigated the creek’s banks, and my socks were dry when I got back to the truck.

One note, if this boot interests you. The company recommends buying them in a size too big because they are snug. It’s good advice. With a pricetag approaching $400, it would be a shame to order a pair that don’t fit exactly right. Like a lot of folks might be, I was skeptical that the price was prohibitive. But, after wearing them, I have a feeling I’ll get more than their value out of these boots.

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.