When it comes to footwear I’m not one to cut any corners. Even as a child my dad would always tell me you’ve got to take care of your feet. That advise has proven accurate and something I have not taken lightly. Think about it this way, every single step you take while in the field your feet have to balance on whatever terrain you’re on and transmit the force from your body to the ground and back up again. If you’re not on your feet then you’re not going to get much hunting done. With all that being said, I had the pleasure of being introduced to a company I had never heard of before, Le Chameau. While I believe their bread and butter for years has been their outstanding rubber boots they also offer a leather hunting boot. I had the opportunity to try out the Condor LCX this year leading up to and during the hunting season.
When I opened the box after the Condor’s arrived I instantly knew that great care had been taken in constructing this pair of boots. There were no blemishes in the leather, no extra glue squirted out along the sole, and perfect stitching. These things don’t necessarily guarantee a great pair of hunting boots but what they do tell you is that painstaking effort was put into designing and building them so I knew I was getting a quality product. The other thing I noticed was how light they were. Most of the time when you pick up a boot you accept the heaviness in exchange for support and durability. Not this time.
Waterproof – Le Chameau uses their own complex 5-layer LCX technology to provide a waterproof and breathable boot that proved to be very effective for me. Prior to hunting season I would wear them during early morning hikes where the dew was extremely heavy and kept the boots saturated for the duration of the hikes. During hunting season I wore them through snow for days and multiple creek crossings where they were submerged. Never did I have wet feet.
Weight – These boots are deceivingly light. At approx 3.3 lbs they blow similar boots out of the water when it comes to weight. Comparable boots from other manufactures come in at 3.9 lbs, 4.2 lbs, 4.4 lbs (400 gram ins), and 4.5 lbs (200 gram ins). That’s a huge difference and advantage for the Condors. That’s a lot of extra weight to lift when you count the number of steps you take over the course of a hunt.
Height – Depending on size they range from approx. 7″ – 8.5″. In my opinion this turned out to be an optimal height. Previously I wore boots more in the 6″-7″ range and they didn’t always give me the support I needed on difficult climbs. I also didn’t feel I needed the additional bulk and weight of a 10″ boot either. The Condor height delivered the ankle support I needed and were high enough to keep water out of the tops during all my creek crossings.
Temp Rating – Their website states the boots are good for year round use down to 14 degrees F. They are not insulated and I wore them during the summer here in Texas so I agree that they can be used for warmer hunts. As far as the 14 degree rating, well I wore them in temps very close to that this fall and honestly, they did just fine. I wore a light polypropylene sock with a heavy wool sock over it and spent hours in the field in relative comfort. If I was going to be in a treestand all day in frigid temps I doubt they would be my first choice but in temps well below freezing while elk hunting they performed better than I expected.
I always break my boots in before taking them on a hunt. The Condors were no different in that I started using them months before season both on and off road. Most of the break in period I was lugging around a 40 lb pack too. I can say that never once during the first 20 miles or anytime after that did I have blisters or any type of foot discomfort. I was very impressed. I’ve gotten some pretty good hot spots and even a blister or two with boots I’d been wearing for years but not these. I would say break in time for the Condors is minimal.
As you can tell from my break in comments the boots were extremely comfortable from the get go. A major reason for that is the soles Le Chameau designed in partnership with Michelin (yes, the tire company!). They used the same technology they use in their motorcross tires and let me tell you, not sure how the bike tires turned out but they nailed the boot soles. The tread pattern provided superb traction in all types of conditions. Another advantage of the “Deep Forest” sole is that while stiff enough to provide all the support you need it is not so stiff that it makes walking on relatively flat surfaces awkward and clunky.
I could write a big technical paragraph on the how the toe box was roomy but not wide, the leather was pliable and supple so there was no unruly heal or ankle rubbing, the support offered was the best I’ve seen, etc. The bottom line, these boots were comfortable right out of the box, during training leading up to, and throughout the hunting season including a week in the Rockies. The Condors are the most pleasant pair of boots I’ve hunted in when it comes to logging miles in rugged terrain.
When I was presented with the chance to test a pair Le Chameau boots out I was excited and nervous. I’m always in the market for a better pair of boots and I’ve dished out some serious cash in search of them, thus my excitement. Having never heard of Le Chameau I had no idea what to expect, thus my nervousness. Any and all doubts I had have been completely erased. These are now my go to boots for any hunting that will have me on my feet traveling long distances in rugged terrain. However, they are so comfortable they could easily be worn for just about any hunting situation. I’m serious, these boots completely amazed me. I highly suggest that if you are in the market for a top tier hunting boot you give these a consideration. In my opinion, you won’t be disappointed.
Disclaimer: I was provided these boots at no charge for a fair and honest product review. To my best abilities I have done this. I receive not compensation if you chose to purchase a pair. No joke, these things blew me away during my recent elk hunt. For your benefit I hope you give them a shot.