Monday, August 24, 2015

Product Review: Rocky Broadhead Hunting Boots

"Take care of your feet." How many times have you heard experienced hunters tell you that? I must say it ten times a year to new hunters looking to upgrade their gear. "Get quality boots first!" I have said it once, and I'll say it again, if you take care of your feet your hunt will be so much better. Recently, in my search for a new lightweight boot for hunting in SoCal, Rocky Brands reached out and asked me if I had heard of their Broadhead Boot. I had not and after discussing the benefits of the boot they sent me a pair to field test and review.

I am going to start this review with this - I have two different size feet, as many people do. My issue is that my left foot is a 10.5 and my right is a size 10. Buying footwear is a challenge for me! When my size 10.5 boots arrived, I was concerned about the right foot and rightly so. Sure enough, the left fit perfectly and the right was loose. The good thing is that I was able to tighten up the right boot enough to reduce any extra play inside the boot. Many boots I have tried are so rigid that they don't allow for that. The Broadhead boot not only allows for it, but you can cinch them up too tight if you aren't careful. The first time wearing them that is precisely what I did. I had to stop and loosen them a bit because they hugged my leg and foot so well.

The boots are insulated with 400g insulation. Many will frown on that for hunting in the heat, but we also get colder temps later in the season. 400 g insulation is a good balance. It is listed that they are waterproof, but I did not test out the waterproofing features due to the drought and lack of standing water.

Some information about the Broadhead Boots from the Rocky website:
  •     EVA footbed
  •     Guaranteed Rocky® Waterproof construction
  •     400 Grams of 3M™ Thinsulate™ Insulation
  •     Rubber EVA Outsole
  •     Cement construction
  •     Ripstop upper
  •     Moisture management lining
  •     8 Inches in height
  •     Each boot weighs 22.75 oz

The first thing I noticed is that these boots are incredibly lightweight. They look heavy, but that is misleading. I truly love how light they are. I have taken them hiking with 65# on my back over miles of dirt and when setting up trail cameras in the high desert of SoCal. I never even thought about them! They truly feel like a great pair of sneakers on the trail. I took them out on our recent scouting trip where we hiked 2,000' vertically and the boots made a difference. Keep in mind that if you hunt in snake infest areas, these are not snake-proof.I wore snake gaiters on each trip, over the top of the boots, and everything was very comfortable.

The tread is unique and holds up well in dirt, rock, and sand. I did everything I could to get the boots to slip when hiking on rocks. I even hit up some jagged rock to see if it would go through the tread or the fabric. They not only held up well, there wasn't any damage to the boots at all (SEE FOLLOW UP BELOW). I played soccer in them with my daughter and they felt like sneakers. they gripped the grass well. I hiked on dirt, sand, rocks, wet leaves, and the Broadhead Boot owned every one of them. After the hikes over rocky terrain and vertical climbs, I checked the tread and it held up well!

Here was one of the best parts of the field test. I always tell people not to wear cotton socks when they hike as they absorb moisture and you get more blisters, but who listens to me all the time, right? I know many of you wear cotton, so I decided to wear my old, cotton socks on a recent scouting trip. The weatherman said it was going to reach 95 degrees by 10:00 am and I was wearing cotton. I hit the trail at 5:45 am and hiked four miles in 75-80 degree weather. My feet got warm, but that was it. There were zero hot spots, no blisters at all, and my feet didn't slip around inside the boot. In fact, the socks stayed put. Sometime they can crinkle down inside your boots when hiking. Not with the Broadhead boots from Rocky. I was impressed. I continued to wear cotton socks throughout the entire field test. The socks again soaked with sweat, but not once did I get a blister or even one hot spot. The interior of the boot is well designed and hugs the contour of your foot. My feet thank you Rocky!

Normally, on our hikes out of the canyons we hunt, we complain and whine about how hot it is and how our feet hurt. We actually cracked some jokes and talked about how well my boots were holding up. My feet did not hurt at all. In fact, it felt like I was wearing sneakers. There was no ankle rubbing and no aching in my feet. My feet were loving the boots.

This is with the boots completely laced up. Plenty of extra lace to go around.

The only thing that really bothered me about the boots was extremely minor and it was the laces. They are sooooooo long! They don't need to stretch to the moon and back. I think if Rocky reduced the laces by at least 20" they would be much better and not catch on things. I had to wind them around the top of the boot, tie extra knots and there was still plenty of room. 

FOLLOW UP: My Rocky Broadhead boots are definitely waterproof, but I did notice that they are starting to peel at the edges of where the rubber meets the fabric. Not sure how long that will last. That's not looking too promising as I have been wearing them in the SoCal heat and they seem to be coming unglued. I'll be keeping an eye on that.

EDIT: The Rocky Broadhead boots retail for $164.99. Initially, I thought this was a great price, but in my opinion, if the boots are peeling and I've only had them a couple months, something isn't right. Your boots should be an investment in foot care and comfort, but also quality. While these are super comfortable and very lightweight, they are showing wear from the field testing I am continuing to do. I am not so sure that $164.99 is such a steal. I am going to continue to wear them throughout the hunting season in California (which goes until Dec. 31).  If I have anything more to add, you'll see it here!

Great news! Rocky Boots is offering you, the readers of the SoCal Bowhunter blog, a great discount! The code below is good for 20% off a purchase at   


Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think and share if there is something else you want to know about the Broadhead Boots!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fire Season and Hunting - Prepare Yourselves Before You Go

I mentioned in my last post that fire season is on top of us. It's going to get worse before it gets better. One of the things that has been bothering me this entire year is what to do in the event of a fire and you are out hunting. I enlisted the help of my friend and firefighter, JD Heller, to share some tips and guidance on what to look for and what to do. Thanks to JD for a great post that we should all review carefully. ~AQ

Opening day of deer season is finally here! You have spent countless hours practicing, scouting, and prepping your gear. You are in your favorite honey hole, glassing until midday when you start to notice the passing shadows of clouds on the ground, but you know there isn't a cloud in the sky. Looking around you notice everything has a brown haze. Then you smell it. Something is burning! If you were hunting from the road it would be no big deal, as you could hop in your truck and get out as fast as you can, but you’re not! You have hiked three miles in to your favorite spot and the smoke is getting closer. How do you get out? Here are some basic factors that affect how a wildfire burns and how we can help ourselves stay safe if we are ever get caught in a fire situation.

Be cautious where you use a portable stove and be sure it's legal in your area.

There are three major factors that influence the starting and spread of a wildfire; Fuel, Weather, and Topography. 

Fuel Types: 
  • Light fuels - Grass, small shrubs, leaves and pine needles. These fuels will ignite rapidly and burn quickly but burn out quickly and are easy to put out.
  • Medium fuels - Sagebrush, smaller manzanita and yucca. These fuels take longer to ignite but burn intensely.
  • Heavy fuels - Trees, limbs and logs that might be on the ground. These are very difficult to extinguish once they get going.

What is the importance of the three types of fuel? The lighter the fuel the quicker it will ignite, burn, and go out. Conversely the larger the fuel the longer it will burn and the more difficult it is to put out.

Weather: Weather is a broad subject, so I will just cover wind.  Just like in hunting, the wind can either be your friend or your enemy. If you have been in Southern California for at least one fall you have experienced our Santa Ana winds. When you have low humidity, dry conditions and a Santa Ana episode you can have a fire storm. Look what happened in 2007 when more than 970,000 acres were burned in a two-week period. Winds can push the flames incredibly fast even when you don't have a slope. It can create a sheeting effect.

Topography: Topography encompasses aspect, slope and shape of the mountain. I think topography affects the hunter the most when dealing with our safety in a fire situation. Remember you will not be able to out run fire burning up hill!

Aspect: This is the direction the slope faces. Aspect determines the amount of preheating of the fuels and when they will heat up. Generally your south and southwest facing slopes are more directly exposed to sunlight. They have higher temps and lighter fuels. North facing slopes will get more shade, heavier fuels, and cooler temps.

Slope: Fire will burn more rapidly uphill than downhill. The reason is the steeper the slope the more preheating of the fuels above the fire. Another concern about steeper slopes is the possibility of burning material rolling down the hill and starting fires below you. Also watch out for rocks and boulders that may get dislodged.

Shape (Chimneys/draws and saddles, in turns and out turns): Fire, like water will take the path of least resistance. This is why it is so dangerous to get caught in a chimney, saddle or if you are driving on a road an “in turn”. Let me explain. Just like in your fireplace at home smoke and heat want to travel up. When you have a narrow draw that is on fire it is preheating the sides and ahead of the fire. This will cause rapid upward fire spread. Fire is also drawn into saddle areas. The reason why “in turns” in a road are so dangerous is because that is where the road turns into a chimney. The fire will be drawn to that area. It is safer in general to be on an “out turn” or the ridge portion of the slope. 

L C E S – (Lookouts, Communication, Escape routes, Safety Zones):
In the fire service we use LCES to remind us of these 4 things when we fight a wildland fire.
  • Lookouts: In a hunting situation this just means to stay aware of what is going on around you, such as changing weather and wind.
  • Communications: Make sure you have some way to communicate, like a cell phone, emergency locating device or even a signaling mirror. Make sure people know where you are and if things go bad you have a way to call for help.
  • Escape Routes: If you find yourself with a fire coming your way you should have multiple ways to get to safety, hopefully in different directions. This would be a wise thing to look for when you go scouting.
  • Safety Zones: A safety zone is an area that you can survive in case you cannot get out of the fires way. Examples of a safety zone are large rock slide areas, previously burned areas where the fuels are sparse or gone, lakes, streams and possibly roads.
Staying safe in the backcountry takes a little planning and avoiding a forest fire shouldn't be a big concern. It is a rare occurrence which will probably never happen, but we are in Southern California and hunting season is fire season! Keep your eyes open when you are scouting. Make note of ways to get to a safe area when you are out scouting. Make sure you are well hydrated and have an ample supply of water with you. Always protect your airway at all times. Be careful when using an open flame as you don’t want be the one who starts the fire!

Some of this info is taken from the Student Handbook for Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior S-190. May, 1994. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Deer and Fire Season Planning

For many of us in SoCal, deer and bear seasons have just begun or will hit on September 5. Are you ready? I don't just mean have you been shooting your bow and driving tacks at 60 yards. I mean are you ready mentally, physically, and do you have a plan? Do you have a back up plan? How about a back up to that plan? I'd be willing to bet you don't and the reason I ask is because we are in fire season and it sucks. Do you have the proper gear? Have you made the proper arrangements should you get caught in a fire? These are all things to consider if you are hunting in California this year.

Fires have shut down some of the best hunting areas for years. I am still waiting to get back into my original hunting spot after six years of it being closed due to the Station Fire. Has that deterred me from hunting? Heck no! I love it too much and continue to scout new areas. Plus, I love to hunt and I really need some quality red meat in my freezer that doesn't come from a factory farm. 

First, let us talk about the back up plans. In the past, I have usually had my goals set to find deer in one part of the forest. Some would say I am limiting myself, and normally I would disagree.  I focus on one area (a vast area) and set up cameras, scout it, and get to know it like the back of my hand. I have to as the deer are difficult to find down here. Now that I have hunted California for many years, I do agree that I have limited myself due to great hunter numbers, the drought, and forest fires. In order to have more opportunity, Brett and I are scouting more property, putting more cameras up, and planning more. Why? We want to kill a deer or two and fill our freezers. It's a good start, but we have a lot of work to do.

The back up plans are the ones that sometimes are thought out in advance and some out of necessity. For the past couple years it has been out of necessity as there were far too many hunters in our spot and too few deer. This year, it is a bit of everything. There is no water where there once was a flowing spring. The hunter numbers are high in our prime spot. Worst of all, it's very dry and all the land around seems to be catching fire when someone farts the wrong way. So we have been scouting on Google Earth and putting boot rubber to trail. We are going to do more of that this weekend, too. We want to be sure that if one area does burn, we have other options. I think our plan is a sound one, but we cannot predict the future. We are also planning a third option because we must.

What are your plans during this fire season? Do you have a back up plan? Have you informed your loved ones where you are hunting? You should have a back up plan or two and be sure to leave exact locations with your loved ones complete with local hospital information. 

I leave you with this question. What is your plan should a forest fire hit your hunting spot with you in it? We will discuss that in a not-so-distant post. Good luck and be safe this year!