This year I was treated with the opportunity to test out some Hoffman Explorer Boots throughout my scouting and hunting season. While I know boots are one of those things that you just have to try to know if they are going to work for you, I can personally speak to how these Hoffman Explorer Boots did for me while testing them out over the last year. Even though I can’t tell you if these boots will be comfortable for you, I CAN lay out how they performed for me as well as their build quality, durability, break-in period etc.
Hoffman Explorer Boots Review: Specs
Hoffman Explorer Boots come in a number of heights (6 inch, 8 inch, and 10 inch) and are available in both insulated and non-insulated versions. Since I do a lot of early season archery hunting, I chose to test out the 8 inch, non-insulated model. Here are the specs for the Hoffman Explorer Non-Insulated Boots:
- 2.8-3.0 mm Amphibious waterproof leather
- 38oz each (size 11.5)
- Solid nylon mid sole
- Vibram 1212 Masai high-traction outsole
- Heavy duty rubber rand
- One piece vamp construction
Hoffman Explorer Boots: Build Quality
These boots are flat out top notch quality. From the stitching, top quality leather, waterproof liner to the Vibram outsole, The Hoffman Explorer Boots scream quality. Lets dive in to details of these boot.
Hoffman Explorer Boots: Comfortable out of the box
I’ve tested a number of boots in recent years, and some have been comfortable right out of the box, while others took a lot of miles for me to break in. These Hoffman Explorer Boots were one of those pairs that were comfortable right away. They literally took no time at all to break in.
Hoffman Boots Review: Initial Care
While the Hoffman Explorer Boots didn’t require any time to break in, I did need to put some boot dressing on them after a couple of uses, as they started to squeak a little when flexing. This isn’t abnormal at all in my experience, especially given that my first trip out with the Hoffman Explorer Boots was in the pouring rain. When the leather gets wet and then dries, it can cause a slight squeaking noise when the boot flexes, but with a quick application of some Kenetrek Boot Wax that I had lying around, it fixed the problem and never came back.
Hoffman Explorer Boots Review: Factory Insoles
With pretty much EVERY pair of boots I’ve ever worn I’ve ended up replacing the insoles with some of my favorites; the SuperFeet Trailblazer Insoles. I gave the insoles that these boots come with a fair try, but after a couple of trips with these Hoffman Explorer Boots I decided to go back to my favorites, the SuperFeet Trailblazers. I noticed some hot spots on the bottoms of my feet after some long days of hiking, which made me switch back. I will say that the insoles provided with the Hoffman Explorer Boots are much better than others I’ve tried, but I found my trusty SuperFeet Trailblazer Insoles to still be more comfortable.
Hoffman Explorer Boots Review: Sole Stiffness/Support
The Hoffman Explorer Boots are a stiff boot that gives you great ankle support and a really stable platform. I’ll have to admit that I’ve been a fan of lighter weight and more flexible style boots for while, so these took a little getting used to. They are much stiffer than the boots I had been using (the Solomon Quest 4D GTX). While I love those Solomon Quest boots (especially for early season hunts), I had some durability and waterproof issues with them, which is something I’d just been dealing with.
Hoffman Explorer Boots Review: Lacing Eyelets
The eyelets on the Hoffman Explorer Boots start at the toe with your standard d-ring, then move to an enclosed eyelet for the next four, and then moves to an open hook design from the ankle up to the top of the boot. The hook located at the ankle is recessed farther back, closer to the ankle to keep your foot locked into place. This isn’t uncommon in high quality hunting boots as it’s a proven design to keep your foot in place, and it did exactly that for me.
Hoffman Explorer Boots Review: Nubuk Upper/Rubber Rand
The Explorer Boots also features a Nubuk leather upper for comfort and a full rubber rand for additional durability. Both of these features do exactly what they are designed to do. The Nubuk upper is super soft and keeps any potential hot spots at bay at the top of the boot, while the rubber rand proved durable. I’ve used other boots where the rubber rand started pealing after a years use, but there was absolutely no sign of that happening after wearing the Hoffman Explorer Boots for a full year.
Another feature unique to these Hoffman Boots is that the Nubuk leather is featured all the way down on the tongue as well. This seemed to increase comfort without sacrificing durability (at least not in this first year of testing). Other boots I’ve used have either a Cordura or full grain leather tongue, so these have a little different design here.
Hoffman Explorer Boots Review: Waterproof Testing
Hoffman Boots are equipped with Sympatex waterproof liners to help keep your feet dry, while still allowing your feet to breath. I can attest to these liners’ effectiveness after testing, as well as their ability to breath. I wore these boots on a 15+ mile day of hiking through some nasty terrain in the 95 degree heat while scouting and my feet stayed comfortable. Granted, you can’t expect any waterproof liner to breath as well as an unlined boot, but I’d say they performed extremely well, even in the super hot temperatures.
I also did a bit of hunting in some really wet weather with these Hoffman Explorer Boots. On one trip the boots stayed wet for several days straight, but my feet inside stayed bone dry. I can unequivocally say that these Hoffman Explorer Boots, while not light weight or flexible like the Solomon Quest Boots, are MUCH more durable and MUCH more waterproof. It’s not even close.
I seemed to tear up a pair of the Solomon Boots just about every year, while these Hoffman Explorer Boots look like they’ve barely been used after a full season of scouting and hunting from June through November. I’ll keep testing out these boots over the coming years, but after one year, I’m impressed.
Hoffman Explorer Boots Review: What I liked
- Out of box comfort
- Excellent value
- Top quality materials
- Price point
- Vibram outsole
There was a lot to love about these boots. It’s not every day you get to test out a pair of boots for a year, but I really feel like that was the best way to put together this Hoffman Explorer Boots review. They were comfortable out of the box and took almost no time for me to break in. They proved to be absolutely waterproof in every condition thrown at them, extremely durable, and really comfortable even after wearing them on multiple 6-day hunts that I did during early archery elk season as well as late season mule deer.
Hoffman Explorer Boots Review: What I didn’t Like
- Had to replace insoles
- Just okay snow traction (shallower tread pattern)
There really wasn’t a lot to dislike about these Hoffman Explorer Boots. They performed nearly perfectly and are some of the highest quality boots I’ve used. The only real issue I had with them is that they didn’t seem to give me quite as good of traction in the snow as my brother’s Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Boots did. Granted, the out-sole of the Hoffman Explorer uninstalled isn’t really designed with snow traction in mind like the insulated version of this boot is. That being said, I did find myself wishing for a little better traction in the snow. The tread seemed to be a bit too shallow for snow, lending itself to me slipping more often than I’d like.
My brother’s similarly uninsulated Kenetrek Mountain Extreme boots seemed to provide better traction in the snow as they have a deeper tread pattern than the Hoffman Explorer Boots. Over the course of hunting together in the snow for 5 straight days, I definitely noticed that I slipped more than he did.
These Hoffman Boots were also on the heavy side. Coming in at 38 oz each, I noticed the significant weight difference vs the Solomon Quest Boots I’d been using. Now, I completely understand that these are a TOTALLY different style boot, so it’s really hard to knock them for their weight because if you are ordering these boots, you know you are getting a heavy-duty boot, not a light-weight, flexible one.
Still though, the Explorer Boots were a few ounces heavier than others in their class like the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme Boots (another boot I’d been using for over 6 years) or the Lowa Hunter EVO Boot. The Hoffman Boots offer a better price point without sacrificing quality. In fact, they use an extra thick 2.8mm-3mm leather to ensure long-term durability. Yes, it makes them a touch heavier, but also provides more durability.
Hoffman Boots After a Full Season’s Use
After a full season’s use, the Hoffman Explorer Boots still looked, felt, and functioned great. As you can see above, I need to give them a good cleaning and treatment, but they held up excellently after using them hard from summer scouting to late season hunting.
Hoffman Boots: Annual Care
Each and every year I like to take a wet, soapy brush to my boots and clean off the dirt, then put a treatment of boot dressing on them. In some cases I’ll do a treatment mid-season if I’ve really gotten into some wet or nasty weather in order to keep the leather from drying out, but most of the time a treatment at the end of the season works well.
Hoffman Boots Review Conclusion
It was a real treat to test out these Hoffman Boots all summer and fall. Many miles were put on them in some very rough country. I packed out some animals with them (one load weighed over 115 lbs) and these boots kept me dry, comfortable, and on the trail. They are top quality boots made from some of the best materials out there.
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