Upland boots must tackle wide-ranging terrain from the occasional treks through water to jagged rocks, slippery mud, briars, and miles upon miles of all of it for hours at a time. What you want from a top-notch upland boot is a seemingly impossible duality — the comfort of an athletic shoe combined with a tank-like indestructibility and traction.
I own various dedicated outdoor footwear for various specific tasks, but a solid, do-it-all boot is crucial to my outdoor pursuits. Hunting small game, big game, birds, and hiking to far-flung creek access away from the crowds means durable, capable, and comfortable footwear is essential.
Irish Setter boots came out with a model for 2021 that seemed like the perfect tool for my multiple applications. The new Pinnacle boot is available in heights of 7, 9, and11 inches with insulated and uninsulated options. I settled on a pair of Pinnacles in the nine-inch, uninsulated, Earth Field camo model. While I’ve not yet put them through the onslaught of full season, over the last couple of months they’ve proven to be up to task.
Based in Red Wing, Minnesota, Irish Setter is a division of the Red Wing Shoe Company and introduced to the world way back in 1950. The Pinnacle boot hopes to continue Irish Setter’s heritage of building footwear geared toward outdoors endeavors paired with a blue-collar work ethic.
That’s a fancy way of saying you can sense the ground beneath your feet with susceptivity. The Pinnacle is a burly-looking boot with a surprisingly sensitive side. With eyes skyward toward the rustling of a gray squirrel in the oak branches, I slipped from tree to tree intuitively “feeling” twigs and rocks throughout the boot’s soles that could blow a stalk. It was nothing like a thin-soled moccasin, of course, but a moccasin wouldn’t have been much fun on the long walk down the hollow through small creeks, rocky mini-bluffs, and briars. Still, the Pinnacle boots’ soft-side helped tremendously in my quest for a supper of fried squirrels and biscuits.
Honestly, I never considered the boot’s traction while wandering about because I never had any issues. But the science behind my lack of thought is interesting. Irish Setter says the Pinnacle is equipped with a “patented ATC outsole with Ground Sensing technology,” an anti-torsion TPU Chassis, and a rubber outsole with multi-tiered, self-cleaning lugs. What all of this means is that the sole is flexible enough to wrap lugs around objects and contour to uneven surfaces. This technology means that more of the sole’s surface area stays in contact with the ground. And, if you’ll recall junior high physics, more surface area contact translates to more friction, and that’s where traction comes from. Double-check my science here, but the fact remains that I did not slip nor slide one time, even on creek rocks.
My Pinnacles were among the comfiest out-of-the-box boots I’ve worn. The concept of flexibility in the sole seems to have carried over to the entire boot. Also, there’s a cushiony feel that would seem counterintuitive to both the boot's durability and sensitivity. Irish Setter’s EnerG material, an energy-returning core sandwiched between midsole and outsole, and an EVA/memory foam footbed are probably why.
Though I’ve been traipsing through the squirrel woods and scouting treestand spots, it’s definitely still summer here in the South. But the Pinnacle is built with Irish Setter’s TempSens technology. The claim is that it regulates temperatures in the boot—wicking moisture when it’s hot to aid in evaporation but somehow also trapping moisture when it’s cool to create a thermal barrier. I don’t know how it could do both of those things. What I do know is that my feet have stayed relatively dry and cool with a pair of Merino wool socks under the Pinnacles during some muggy, near-90 degree hikes.
The camo-dyed Troutbrook leather paired with a mean-looking tread gives the Pinnacle a rugged and capable appearance. They look great when topped with camouflage pants. They look great topped with earth-toned quick-dry britches. They look great under jeans. And if you tell me that you never purchase outdoor gear based in part on sex appeal, I’m calling you a liar.
Irish Setter’s UltraDry waterproofing works as advertised. No leaks after several fordings.
Though I’ve not put heavy mileage on them yet, they don’t stink … not even a little. ScentBan odor control seems to be living up to the hype.
I’ve had zero issues with lacing up in the predawn darkness — I’m talking first-try success every morning — which is an incredible attribute that I had not even considered as such before now.
My 9-inch uninsulated boots retail for $209. The other models range in price from $199-$239, which is right in line with similar style boots.
It feels a bit like I’m nitpicking, but I wish they were lighter. My size 10.5 Pinnacles weigh 28.8 ounces each — that’s 3.5 pounds for the pair. For comparison, my 18-inch snakeboot tandem with fang-proof armor weighs in at just five pounds and my waterproof trail runners, which are built on the heavy side, are together a couple of pounds. Yes, the Pinnacles are a lot of boot decked out with aggressive, off-trail features, but I think a few ounces could be shaved. Overall, though, the weight never slowed me down.
The more I wear them, the more I like them. We’re still early in our relationship, but I feel like the Pinnacles will be on my feet quite a bit this fall and winter, and even on into spring when the turkeys are gobbling and the smallmouth shake off their lethargy in some far-off Ozark river pool. Heck, they feel so good and look so good they might even go to town with me a few times, too.
Foot candy? Sure they are … if you’re into the brawny, comfy, and competent type.