All the Muscle, None of the Fat: Kenetrek Bridger High Hunting Boot Review

(Photo/Paul Kemper)

I’ve worn Kenetrek boots on and off for years. Despite trying different brands and styles of boots, quality and dependability always bring me back to a pair of Kenetreks.

The new Bridger High offering fills the gaps in the straight leather heavy-duty hunting boot market. While every boot fills a different need, the Bridger High will surely be a go-to when the climb is steep and the temperatures are warm. They are lightweight but rugged in ways that just make them different and more capable, depending on your chase.

In short: The Kenetrek Bridger High is the company’s lightest true boot offering, but lives up to the Kenetrek reputation for the trails less traveled. It’s lightweight but built for heavy-duty days on the mountain. From spring bear hunting through fall bow season, this boot is light, stiffer than expected, and will get you in and out of almost anywhere.


Kenetrek Bridger High Boots

Specs

  • Lace-to-the-toe
  • 7" tall leather and nylon uppers
  • Kenetrek Supportive Footbeds
  • Pronounced heel pocket
  • Protective rubber rand
  • Windtex waterproof membrane
  • Full-length nylon midsoles
  • Kenetrek KT-Light outsole

Pros

  • Lightweight

  • Durable

  • Lots of support

  • Great traction

Cons

  • Pricey (but you definitely get what you pay for)

  • Long break-in period

Kenetrek Bridger High Review

Overview

The Kenetrek Bridger High is sleek, has no frills, and is tough as nails. It’s a facelift from the traditional brown leather many Kenetrek loyalists are used to. But the new look ushers in an era of lightweight yet heavy-duty footwear that Kenetrek lacked for a while.

Kenetrek hiking boot being weighed on a digital scale
(Photo/Paul Kemper)

I weighed these boots in at a hair over 54 ounces. The website says the Bridger High weighs 2.9 pounds or 46 ounces. I wear an 11, and I believe the standard for measuring is a 10. So, these fall well within that window of grace.

These boots feature a lace-to-the-toe design with 7-inch tall leather and nylon uppers. As billed on the Kenetrek website, the Bridger Highs have plenty of arch support. The pronounced heel pocket is noticeable and can take some getting used to if you aren’t used to wearing a mountain boot.

The rubber rand protected the boot while scrambling shale slides and hiking off-trail. The boot has a Windtex waterproof, breathable, flexible membrane and performs well in mixed conditions. The KT-Light outsole is a trimmed-down version of the standard K-Talon and offers plenty of traction in a broad mix of conditions.

My Experience in the Bridger High Boots

A black bear walking through a grassy clearing
(Photo/Paul Kemper)

I traveled to British Columbia in May for a spring black bear hunt with Primitive Outfitters. In the 6 weeks leading up to it, I racked up miles under a medium load with these boots in preparation for my first-ever guided hunt. It’s been a while since I had to break in a pair of Kenetreks, and the Bridger Highs let me know quickly that I would need to put some miles on before these boots felt “right.”

Don’t get me wrong; the Bridger Highs felt good on my feet out of the box, but these are boots — not a pair of slippers. I would strongly advise against wearing these for a challenging hunt on day one.

Kenetrek is known for high-quality boots that will protect your feet in the harshest conditions, but if you jump into these without some due diligence and some work to break them in, they’ll take your lunch money and likely leave your feet paying the price.

Secure, Non-Intrusive Feel

One of my favorite things about these boots is how secure they feel on my feet. These boots were never in the way. I’ve often felt clunky wearing a heavy-duty boot, getting in and out of rigs, or even just trying to be stealthy in the moment of truth.

While sneaking logging roads on my bear hunt, I felt light and had plenty of control of my foot placement. Even with the control, I will bring a pair of moccasins to close the distance the next time I head north.

Close-up of a Kenetrek hiking boot with orange stitching and Windtex label
(Photo/Paul Kemper)

Spring bear season runs the gamut of weather conditions, especially in British Columbia and my home state of Montana. Snow stuck around for ages, so I spent most of my bear season at lower elevations, where the grass was greener and the mud was thick.

These boots stayed bone dry in heavy rains, and though I wore gaiters, I have no doubt they’d do so regardless. I never felt like I was slipping, even in the snottiest mud, and I was impressed with the support and grip they provided while charging up steep draws on dry ground.

Recently, these boots have gained major favor for summer scouting missions. They’ve proven breathable on oppressively hot days, stable while lugging treestands, and dry when getting in and out of my canoe. 

Who Should Buy the Bridger High

Close-up of a boot splashing through mud during a hike
(Photo/Paul Kemper)

Hunters looking to strike the balance between robust features, old-school reliability, and proving light on your feet, take notice. Kenetrek has entered the chat.

Warm-weather hikers, spring bear hunters, and archery elk hunters will get the most out of the Bridger High. They offer plenty of support for packing heavy loads over many miles, but they’re light enough to keep you moving and not feeling extra pounds on your back.

They breathe well in the heat and shed water effortlessly. Because they’re a 7-inch boot, you’ll want to keep gaiters handy for bigger creek crossings or rainy forecasts.

What I Love

Three things stood out to me about this boot: the weight, the traction, and the stability. 

Bridging the gap between a lightweight trail shoe and a boot that can handle a broad swath of the season has been challenging. Typically, boots that are up for the rigors of a season are on the heavy side and often cause more issues than they solve.

A trail shoe allowed me to cover miles and remain light on my feet but left a lot to be desired once I got an animal down. The Bridger Highs fill that gap and fill it well.

The traction on these boots was impeccable, from slick logging roads to steep hawthorn coulees. The trimmed-down K-Light outsole maintained Kenetrek’s reputation for a surefooted boot with noticeable weight savings.

While packing a heavy load or even getting in and out of my canoe, my feet and ankles always felt locked in and secure. All I had to do was keep my eyes forward and go.

What I’d Change

Sole of a Kenetrek hiking boot, showing its rugged, dirt-covered tread
(Photo/Paul Kemper)

The break-in period seemed to drag on and on. For about a month, I kept thinking, “Finally, they’re almost there,” but that end was still on my horizon. They’re broken in nicely now, but I wonder if a wide might serve me better in the long run.

The boots are fitted. There isn’t much wiggle room, so if you like space for different-sized socks or varying degrees of tightness, I’d recommend a different boot.

I paid special attention to which socks I wore with these Kenetreks. I noticed that a looser sock wanted to pinch and fold underfoot, causing discomfort that wouldn’t work itself out.

Every time, I had to take the boot off, fix my sock and retie. Since the Bridger Highs are ideal for warm weather hunts into an early rifle or spring bear, keep in mind a sturdy and well-fitted sock will save you some irritation.

Final Thoughts

The Kenetrek Bridger Highs are a great all-around boot that will carry you through a variety of hunts and terrains from spring until the snow flies in the fall, and maybe then some still. They’re lightweight, can handle whatever weight you throw at them, and are built to last. Just make sure to ease into the break-in process and give yourself plenty of time to get them molded for your feet.

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