By RANDY JOHNSON
iReview Gear Lead Field Editor
HIGH DESERT WILD SHEEP GUIDES
Alti2ude Outdoors Pro Staff
Worldwide Trophy Adventures Hunting Consultant
Overall Rating: *4
The Russell Moccasin’s High Country Extreme is a custom fitted and made to measure hunting boot built for comfort and toughness. The “moccasin” style boot has a long, rich history. The rugged, extremely sturdy triple vamp uppers are designed as a true moccasin, wrapping around your foot in a U-shaped piece, connected with a leather midsole and one of the finest mountain soles ever designed, the Montana Claw Air Bob outsole. These boots are specifically built to fit your individual feet. You have the choice to customize your High Country Extremes, choosing from over 100 different leathers of the highest quality in the world, to the selection of more than two dozen different sole options as well as taller or shorter boots, even two tone if you like. In other words, you have a say in the final product.
JUST THE FACTS:
The highly skilled cobblers or “boot craftsman” at Russell Moccasin have dedicated themselves to crafting the finest hand made; custom fit moccasin style boots anywhere in the world for well over 115 years. They take tremendous pride in their company and have created an outstanding hunting boot in the High County Extreme. Designed with a new single piece Montana Claw Air Bob Sole that is built to bridge the gap between the arch and the ball of the foot for additional support and improved wear, the outside cleat pattern of this outsole will also help you gain better traction while side hilling across steep terrain. Russell believes that their Montana Claw sole is the finest sole ever designed as it grips like no other sole they have ever worn. The hollow air filled cleats give and grab in slick terrain so that you don’t have to worry about falling down.
The Extreme is highlighted by a True-Fit® fiberglass shank that is 68% lighter than steel but equally as strong. This unique shank provides additional strength to the arch area, making the Extreme more rigid for sure-footed traction. (68% lighter than steel but equally strong), solidifying the arch area, thus making the boot more rigid for sure-footed traction.
Although you can choose the height of your High Country Extreme, (I went with 8”) Russell custom height for this boot is 12” and it is still very light in weight. In fact, the 12” High Country Hunter Extreme at 80 oz. weighs only 2.4 ounces more than a 9” or 10” model at 77.6 oz. Providing you with additional protection and the ability to seal out water when crossing streams to prevent wet socks, boots and possible blisters, 2.4 oz. Is a very minimal amount of weight for the additional support you are given to avoid injury in high altitude, rugged terrain. The rugged sure-grip Montana Claw sole on the High Country Hunter Extreme weighs more than the boot itself…so the height of this boot is an added bonus.
A thick layer of Poron Technical Foam, (that doesn’t compress under walking pressure), is built into the bottom of the Extreme which translates into great walking comfort during very long, difficult days while hiking out in the mountains, The uppers of each High Country Hunter are lined in Turtleskin and leather. This feature provides outstanding lower leg and ankle support as well as protection from sharp, jagged rocks. Double vamp, made in a fine grained wear resistant Ebbtide leather; the 12-inch Extremes are available in women’s sizes too.
Russell Moccasin, specifically designed this high, non-insulated hunting boot, for your comfort, support, traction, durability, and to help you stand up to the challenges of rough, rugged terrain. Providing outstanding stability, the Extreme’s moccasin design is amazingly flexible and quiet. There’s no doubt that the boot artisan’s at Russell Moccasin know what they are doing.
Choice of Leather Option:
Uppers: Turtleskin and Leather
Weight: 80 ounces/12” boot
Footbed/Padding: Poron Technical Foam
Construction: Moccasin Boot, Double Vamp Design
Shank:True-Fit® fiberglass shank
RUSSEL MOCCASIN BOOT COMPANY HISTORY
To gain an understanding of the pride that goes into each Russell Moccasin boot it’s important to note that this company has been around since 1898 but can trace its origin back as far as 1850. Amazing! Now, this company has been making high quality “custom” boots for a very long time, dedicating itself to providing hunters and outdoors men and women with the finest handmade, custom fitted moccasin style boots and shoes available anywhere, one step at a time, one stitch at a time. The cobblers of Russell Moccasin take tremendous pride in making what they believe are the finest hunting boots and outdoor footwear in the world. Their motto is not “more of” and not “cheaper”…. just THE BEST! Russell Moccasin is a small company who isn’t interested in mass-producing thousands of boots for wholesale each year. It should be noted that they employ a small number of highly skilled and dedicated craftsmen who take their work extremely seriously. Working at Russell and building the finest outdoor footwear in the world, is part art, part culture, and part pride! Russell Moccasin utilizes a traditional method of manufacture that has operated virtually unchanged for more than 115 years and they have no intention of changing what they do. Mass production methods are just not possible at Russell. That’s why it takes 20 weeks for your new Russell custom-made boot to arrive at your doorstep. It is Russell Moccasin’s business philosophy to fulfill their customer’s expectations each and every day!
I love to hunt, backpack, explore mountainous terrain and have been an outfitter/guide for 25 years so I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time out on the mountain and have worn out countless boots. Because of my thorough field reviews I have also had the opportunity to test a lot of different boots. Many of the boots I’ve worn have been outstanding but there have been a few that have caused my feet to suffer with the wearing of painful blisters, hot spots and bruises. A quality pair of outstanding hunting or hiking boots is definitely worth their weight in gold and can make your experience enjoying Mother Nature much more pleasant and successful. The boots I choose to wear must be durable, comfortable, provide support to my ankles and feel light on my feet. It’s mandatory that they are capable of standing up to the abuse mean, rugged, dangerous terrain can present. Cactus, sharp rocks, abrasive volcanic rock, gritty sandstone, mud, water, etc., should not phase the boots that I wear to protect my feet. In other words, the boots I choose to lace up will provide me with the same kind of confidence as the weapon I have sighted in for hunting.
I’ve been aware of the famous Russell Moccasin name for many years but had never worn a pair of their boots. After a great discussion with Joe Gonyo, Vice President of Operations for Russell Moccasin, he convinced me that their custom made High Country Extreme was capable of standing up to any terrain or the miles that I could put on them. Joe took careful measurements of both my feet and I chose to have him make the boots 8” high instead of the standard 12” in this boot. The leather Joe chose to use was “Horween Backbay.”
Let me say up front that this is the first “moccasin style”-hunting hunting boot that I have had the opportunity to wear. As I took the boot out of the box I wondered how the double moccasin vamps would hold up against the razor sharp rocks, cactus, covered terrain, etc., where I spend much of my time as well as the rugged high Altitude Alpine basins. After all, most of my hunting boots feature heavy-duty rubber rands that wrap around the entire boot.
Immediately out of the box Russell’s custom fit High Country Extreme boots felt very comfortable on my feet. My first hiking trip was a two hour butt kicker in hot temperatures wearing an 85 lb. backpack. The brand new boots performed remarkably well with virtually no extended break in period. They felt comfortable, soft and perfectly fit my feet. Great job Joe! I only developed one small hot spot on my right heel packing all that weight. What impressed me the very most is the fact that the Poron Technical Foam pad use in this boot’s foot bed protected a very painful neuroma I have between the metatarsals on my right foot much better than some of the extremely firm soles of the high end boots I wear. I’m been told by my Podiatrist that scar tissue has built up on the soles of my feet from so many years out on the mountain backpacking along with the literally thousands of miles I’ve hiked which puts “burning hot” pressure on the nerves between two of my metatarsals. Believe me, Neuroma’s can be extremely miserable. Nevertheless, to start my field test off with this result was impressive!
At 80 ounces, the Mountain Extremes also felt very light on my feet, which is always important. The flexibility, yet sturdy True Fit fiberglass shank of the High Country Extremes impressed me with its overall strength and comfort.
The soles on any boot I use must provide me with not only great traction but they must have to have the ability to grip as well as and brake when I’m crossing slick, steep side hill or descending steep inclines. I was surprised at how well Russell’s
“Montana Claw Air Bob” Soles functioned. Designed to bridge the gap between the arch and the ball of my foot to provide additional support and improved wear, the outside cleat pattern of this outsole will has provided me with outstanding traction while side hilling across steep terrain. Russell believes that their Montana Claw sole is the finest sole ever designed as it grips like no other sole they have ever designed or worn. The hollow air filled cleats give and grip in slick terrain to provide individuals like me the confidence that we’re not going to fall down. I have not had an issue with breaking any of the “Montana Air Bob’s” and I’ve absolutely pounded the heck out of them. The only issue I have had is that one in a while I will get a small rock lodged between the wedge and Air Bob. This is not a big deal however.
Because these boots were custom designed and fit for me by Russell the toe box has been very comfortable, even when I’m descending very steep declines in rugged mountain terrain with a lot of weight in my pack. The design of the Russell’s Moc Boots has no “heel to toe” drop in them that helps tremendously with comfort when doing a lot of “down hilling.” Believe me, I’ve worn some outstanding boots over the years and NONE OF THEM will totally prevent the ends of your toes getting sore when you are carrying extreme weight and doing a lot of side hilling and descending mountainous terrain. I’ve lost my share of toe tails over the years but I haven’t had one of my toes go black and blue yet while wearing my Extremes. I appreciate the stabilization that these boots have given to my feet.
Because of the rugged country I spend my time backpacking and hunting in there is a lot of sharp cactus as well as sharp rocks that can raise “hell” with your boots. The double vamp design of my Russell Moccasin Extreme boot has been tougher than what I anticipated and there hasn’t been an issue of protecting my feet from sharp objects and the elements. A vamp is the leather that surrounds and cradles your foot. Thus, a double vamp means two layers of leather, completely around and under your foot. The Horween Backbay leather that Joe chose for my boots has been tougher than steel, has provided my feet with the protection I need, and hasn’t shown any alarming wear or tear yet.
The boots I wear are also going to see some very wet weather and must be capable of keeping my feet dry. If you are hiking in extremely wet weather day after day I don’t believe that most boots will stay dry, even after water proofing them. In regards to my Russell High Mountain Extremes I have not used any water proofing on them yet and put them to the test by purposely submerging them water to see if they were waterproof. Up to now they have not leaked. I had read some articles by other hunters who loved their Russell Boots but indicated their boots had leaked. Personally, I have not had this issue with my boots. Perhaps the Horween Backbay leather is the answer. Simply put, the seams in my boot have functioned well.
When ordering a pair of Russell Custom Made boots you have a lot of different options of leathers and other features to choose from. Many of their boots are already designed with these options but you do have a choice. I guarantee that if you call one of the Russell specialists they will work with you on designing the perfect boot for your needs and feet. Here are various options that you can consider:
Snake proof, thorn proof Turtleskin Snake Armor or ThornArmor. Turtleskin, an aramid fiber material about the thickness of two sheets of paper will stop thorns and snake bites cold. The Russell Ultra-Lite Turkey Hunter boot is fully lined with SnakeArmor and is certified snakeproof. For thorn protection you can order a slip sole of ThornArmor to be added to any of our popular Safari “PH” boots or you can order a fully lined Thormproof Safari “PH”.
If you have “tender feet” and like more cushioning underfoot specify our new high-density Poron technical insert slip sole. This can be inserted between the vamps of any double vamp, triple vamp or double moccasin boot or shoe to absorb shock and soften up hard terrain.
While you may have any sole you wish on most any model of Russell boots and shoes, we invite you to visit our custom sole department to explore your many options.
Heel counters provide added support and stability for hilly terrain. They also prevent walkover at the heel area. If counters are not specified in the Russell boot or shoe you intend to order, you can add them to almost any of our models as an option. If you have a tendency to walk over your shoes and boots, or plan on hunting in steep, hilly terrain, heel counters are highly recommended.
Heavy Duty Toe Caps
If you hunt in thick cactus and thorns or extremely abrasive rocky terrain, you may want to consider adding a Heavy Duty Toe Cap to your new boots at the time of order. The toecap is molded right onto the last at the time your boots are lasted up, then cemented and stitched directly onto the midsole. Many of our South Texas customers who hunt in thorns and cactus swear by our toecap, saying it greatly increases the life of their boots.
We are often asked, “What does double vamp mean?” Simply put, the vamp of a Russell Moccasin boot or shoe is the leather that surrounds and cradles your foot. A single vamp means one layer of leather, completely around and under your foot. A double vamp means two layers of leather surround your foot. Double vamp construction is employed for two reasons, (1) for improved waterproofness, (Russell’s double vamp true moccasin construction blocks water passage through all needle holes and seams), and (2) for added foot support and stoutness in boots or shoes designed for heavier duty applications.
Many Russell boots and shoes, those intended for heavy duty applications where waterproofness is imperative, including the South 40 Birdshooter, High Country Hunter, Sheep Hunter, TLC, Art Carter Traveling Sportsman, Judy’s Boot, Snake Boot, Imperial and Turkey Hunter, are all built with this double vamp construction.
You may specify “double vamp construction” on most Russell models that do not already come that way if you desire a stouter, more waterproof boot or shoe. This option must be requested at the time of order.
Reinforced Upper Ankle Support
If you have weak or injured ankles, Russell’s Reinforced Upper Ankle Support may be a good option. Another layer of heavy leather is molded to the interior of the boot during construction, providing an extra measure of stiffness.
Thinsulate Insulation: 200 gram – 400 gram
For cold weather applications, Russell offers lightweight Thinsulate insulation as an option on all boots and most shoe models. 400 gram Thinsulate is the warmest and then 200. The 200 and 400 gram Thinsulate adds very little weight or bulk to boots or shoes. For an even warmer boot, (In triple vamp boots only), you can optionally include a 400 gram slip sole between the second and third vamps for $6.00 extra.
For easy on and off you can add a pull strap to the backstay of Russell boots and shoes on those models not offering it as a standard feature.
For quick and easy lacing of Russell boots you can add Army Studs to any model not already equipped with them. These are heavy-duty solid brass studs that will not bend or collapse. Standard on high Country Hunter, Sheep Hunter, TLC and Turkey Hunter boots. A real time saver and worthwhile option. Studs are normally placed in the top 1/3rd of the eyelets only. Can be added after boots are made.
Speed Lace loops can be added to any boot or shoe as well, The loops allow you to open the gusset for easy on and easy off, without pulling the laces out of the loops. To lace up, simply pull the laces tight. Another great time saver when you’re in a hurry. Speed laces must be specified at the time of order
Leather Lined Uppers
When ordering your boots, if you desire a bit more internal ankle support for tough going, you can specify Aqua Tan leather lined uppers as an option. Aqua Tan leather is a soft silicone tanned leather that adds additional waterproofness as well. Many mountain hunters order their Sheep Hunter and High Country Hunter boots made with insulated lowers, (foot), and leather lined uppers, providing the best of all worlds…warmth and added support.
If you want a stiffer, less flexible sole, you can add a sturdy steel shank to most boots and shoes. A steel shank with prevent foot bridging, (excessive bending between the heel and ball), which lessens foot fatigue. A steel shank is standard on our best selling Sheep Hunter.
At Russell they like to say, “You name it…we’ll make it.” From what I’ve seen this is a true statement as the craftsman at Russell can make just about anything you might want in a moccasin style shoe or boot fashioned from the very best leathers money can buy.
I have a positive recommendation in purchasing Russell’s High Country Extreme Boot for mountain hunting, upland game or backpacking. This family owned and operated business is dedicated to detail and quality in the custom boots and shoes that they build. With Russell you receive hand lasted and hand sewn boots that are comfortable, tough and extremely well designed. I’m confident that these boots will leave you very satisfied with your purchase and expectations. With their custom made boots Russell stands behind their product and will address your needs regarding repair and replacement. Their craftsman “live their skill” each and every day. If I was ordering another pair of High Country Extreme’s I would have speed laces included as well as a padded collar.
What Russell Moccasin Could Do Better
Russell is a great boot company. They believe in outstanding quality and excellence. When ordering a boot make sure you have their craftsman include the options that work best for you.