This Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 review summarizes my experience wearing these boots for over 300 miles during Montana’s 2020 hunting season. If you’re not already familiar with Kenetrek boots, here is a little background. Jim Winjum, the founder and president of Kenetrek boots, happens to be a sheep hunting fanatic, which provided his inspiration for designing the original Kenetrek boots. Kenetrek is an American owned company, headquartered in Bozeman, Montana. However, the production of Kenetrek boots occurs at a manufacturing facility located in Italy. Kenetrek boots have earned a reputation as one of the premier hunting boots on the market.
Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 - Specs
- In a size 12 Wide, these boots weigh in at 2 lbs 8.3 oz per boot.
- The Mountain Extreme 400 is a 10″ tall boot made with a 2.8mm thick, premium, full grain leather uppers.
- One piece construction eliminates the separate tongue typical of most footwear, greatly enhancing the boots ability to stay dry.
- Speaking of staying dry, the Mountain Extreme 400 is constructed with a Windtex waterproof, breathable, flexible membrane. The material is similar to GoreTex in that it is breathable, while remaining almost completely waterproof. I’ve yet to get a wet foot while wearing these boots.
- Take a look at the stitching on this boot (pictured below). The entire boot is constructed with reinforced double or triple stitching.
- The boot also includes a 7mm nylon midsoles. The midsole sits in the middle of the “sole sandwich” and provides the boot with incredible rigidity, which really helps alleviate pressure points on the bottom of the foot when navigating rocky terrain. It also provides increased stability for packing heavy loads. The sole itself features Kenetrek’s lightweight and proprietary K-Talon outsoles, which provide excellent traction.
- The Mountain Extreme 400 has heavy duty hardware. Notice the boot hardware on the lower portion of the boot swivels. This helps prevent hardware failures, such as broken lace loops when navigating rough, rocky terrain.
- The lower portion of the boot is wrapped with a reinforced rubber sole guard which protects the leather and provides extra abrasion resistance.
- The insulated version of this boot features 400-gram Thinsulate insulation for warmth without the bulk. This year, I wore these boots during the late season while tagging along with several friends on their mule deer hunts. We experienced temperatures in the single digits, and with a wool sock, my feet stayed warm and dry on every hunt.
- Sizing – Kenetrek boots are constructed from templates built from a Brannock Device. What the heck is a Brannock Device? Well, you’ve probably seen and most likely even used a Brannock device, without realizing its proper name (pictured above). If you want to ensure a properly fit Kenetrek Boot, measure your foot on a genuine Brannock Device, and you should be good to go.
Warranty & Repairs
Kenetrek’s website advertises a no-cost replacement warranty within 12-months if, and I quote, “any Kenetrek product fails due to defective materials or poor workmanship within 12 months from the date of purchase and before the soles are worn 75%, they will be repaired or replaced by Kenetrek” Then there’s a disclaimer that boot damages resulting from “improper care, alterations, accidents, or natural wear and tear are not covered. Send your defective or damaged products to Kenetrek for evaluation.”
Repairs – The boot can be shipped back to Kenetrek for evaluation and repair outside of the warranty period at a reasonable expense to the owner.
Initial Impressions: Mile 1 through 35
The boots looked to be incredibly well constructed. The maiden voyage consisted of a 3-mile break in hike, and I’m happy I didn’t attempt a more ambitious first hike. During the first outing, I found the boots to be incredibly and almost unusably stiff. The initial stiffness prevented anywhere near the full range of articulation in my ankle and caused me to walk like a saddle chapped cowboy straight out of a spaghetti western. I also wore a standard weight cotton crew sock, which resulted in several hot spots after only 3 miles. After the initial hike, I was honestly concerned I had made a pretty expensive mistake, because I found the boots to be uncomfortable, bordering on unusable.
The following weekend, I planned a 4-mile hike, and I switched to a mid-weight wool/synthetic hiking sock. The sock made a huge different in comfort, and by the end of the 4 miles, the leather and laces began to loosen up. I felt a little less regret about my purchase, and perhaps a bit of optimism.
I continued logging hikes in the three-to-six-mile range for the next several weekends. It wasn’t until the 35-mile mark where I felt the boots were truly broke in, so I would definitely advise against buying this boots the week before a hunting trip.
In-Season Performance: Miles 35 through 300
After the initial 35 miles, once the boots were broken in, I really started to enjoy them. Any buyer’s remorse faded with every additional mile logged. Around this same time, I also noticed the relationship between lace tension and comfort. I experimented a bit with lacing the boots with different levels of lace tension, and found a good balance between support and comfort.
Prior to purchasing the Kenetreks, I had been wearing a pair of Danner Pronghorns. One of the things I noticed immediately on the rocky trails of the Beartooth Mountains was how much more support the stiff 7mm mid-sole provided when navigating rocky trails. The stiffer sole offers two major advantages. First, it alleviates pressure points on the bottom of the foot when traversing rocky terrain. Second, it greatly increases the stability and ankle support of the boot. While it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that a purpose-built sheep hunting boot excelled in rocky terrain, the difference, when compared to the pronghorns more pronounced than I anticipated. The one piece upper of the Kenetrek’s also excelled at keeping my feet dry, again, when compared to the Danner Pronghorns.
I hunted quite a few days during early elk season with temperatures north of 50 degrees. I found the 400-gram Thinsulate a bit too warm under these conditions, which resulted in sweaty feet. If I had the money, I’d buy a second pair of Uninsulated Mountain Extremes to wear in temperatures above 45 degrees. In temperatures below 45 degrees, the 400 Gram Thinsulate makes the boot incredibly comfortable on all day active hunts interspersed with glassing stops.
Recap – Pros & Cons
- Extremely durable
- One piece upper provides excellent water resistance
- Ideal boot for rugged terrain and heavy pack loads
- K-Talon sole provides excellent traction
- Constructed true to sizing devices (Brannock Device)
- Relatively long break-in period
I would buy these boots again. If you’re in the market for a premium hunting boot with enough insulation for the mid-to-late season, look no further than the Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400.
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