I spent that last 2 months trying different boots to fit my needs. I would call myself an average all around hunter/hiker. I usually hike/hunt/scout around 100 miles a year over the course of 6 different trips.
Anyway, I do some backpacking, some long treks, some short hikes in the early snow, some hikes in the hot August antelope heat, and everything in between.
I narrowed my search to the following boots for my style of all around hunting/hiking:
1. Scarpa Barun GTX
2. Zamberlan Dakota
3. Zamberlan Baffin
4. Lowa Ranger
5. Lowa Renegade
6. Lowa Tibet
7. Cabelas Alaska Hunter
8. Kennetreck Hardscrabble Lights
I know that all of these boots are not in the same "class," but as I mentioned, my needs are very diverse so I needed to try some different options and weigh the pros and cons. I ordered all of these boots and spent approximately two full days in each of them while walking around my office. I DID NOT actually hike in them, because I knew I would have to return them. Here is what I found.
I concur with Wade from HARDCOREOUTDOOR.COM. The Lowa Ranger is the best all around boot for diverse hunting needs. It has minimal seams for leakage, the rubber strip all around the boot for extra protection, and is very comfortable out of the box. It's not too heavy or too light… not too tall or too short.
CONS: The sole is probably a little stiffer than necessary for a nonbackpacker. Also, the rubber strip around the boot should come up another inch or so, as that is where I always wear out my boots and where water generally starts to leak in from after time.
Some other information for the boot novice (that was me until about a month ago) out there:
-The Kenneteck Hardscabbles, Lowa Tibets, and Cabelas Alaska Hunters are all fantastic boots for EXTREME BACKPACK/HUNTING, but way too much boot for the average guy. The soles of the boots are very tall, stiff, and heavy. I'm sure they absorb a lot of shock, but I know for a fact, that the average guy does not spend much of his season with a heavy pack on his back. Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of guys that hike into some pretty extreme areas with heavy packs. Those dudes could get along well with the Hardscrabbles, Tibets, or Alaskans, but 90% of hunters do not hunt this way (thank God, or I could never get away from the crowds) and do not need a boot as stiff and heavy as these are.
-Zamberlan boots now carry a tremendous line of options for all types of hunters. They appear to be very good boots, but just were not the perfect fit for my foot. I especially liked the Zamberlan Dakotas. I almost kept that boot over the Ranger, but I didn’t like that there was a large patch on both sides of the boot that was not covered by leather. I believe it is designed that way for breathability, but I was concerned about durability more.