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The Under Armour UA CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots are a lightweight hunting boot with an innovative dual BOA lacing system. Under Armour designed the boots with legendary archery hunter Cameron Hanes.
To get us a closer look, Under Armour sent Man Makes Fire two review units to test. This is what we learned during our initial testing process:
UA CH1 Hunting Boots Review
The UA CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots aren’t like any other hunting boots I’ve ever worn. For starters, the all-synthetic boot has an upper made into a lattice-like exo-skeleton that resembles something you might find in a science fiction movie.
Next, the boots use a dual BOA lacing system. Lots of manufacturers use BOA lacing systems on a wide variety of boots, including wading boots, snow boots, and even cycling shoes. In our experience BOA lacing systems have been very durable.
To create these boots, Under Armour set out to deliver a rugged hunting boot with an athletic feel. Under Armour says it’s made for “treacherous side-hilling and demanding pack-outs.”
So far I’ve only put the boots through some moderate hikes, tiny streams, and bow-shooting sessions. Man Makes Fire publisher Chris Maxcer has also been testing a pair, and he’s early in the process, too.
However, he wants to get a first-look review out the door to help guys who might be looking to buy this boot before hunting season.
The UA CH1 Fit: ‘Outstanding’
The UA CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots fit is outstanding right out-of-the box. They are super comfortable and yet they’re also very supportive. Incidentally, Maxcer concurs: “The initial fit is truly excellent,” he reports.
In our experience so far, the UA CH1s don’t require a break-in period at all. They haven’t stretched. They just fit really well and the sizing is spot on for a hunting boot — just big enough for a thick pair of wool socks or a dual layer of thinner socks. But they also fit well with just a regular single sock because they tighten up and adjust so well.
In fact, I believe I’m more sensitive to the fit of these boots than most people these days. Here’s why: This spring while running a CrossFit course outside of my local gym, I was hit by a pickup and thrown into the street where I had a compound dislocation of my ankle and compound fracture in my lower leg.
However, with my elk season in jeopardy, I dove into the physical therapy. After a lot of hard work, I’ll now be able to archery elk hunt in Idaho this year.
The UA CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots were the first boot that I felt comfortable wearing on non-level ground, and I appreciate the support. For me right now, the support has a bit of flex to it that heavier boots don’t have — and I think that lets my feet and ankles send me more information as I walk on uneven ground. And right now, as I recover, I think the feedback is more important than ever before.
I am a big fan of the dual BOA lacing system. The system took a bit of getting used to, but now I don’t want to go back to regular lace ups.
If it were just a single BOA system, I might not be such a fan. Sometimes single BOA systems end up spreading the tension throughout the wire laces, which is good if your particular foot fits the boot exactly. If not, it can be hard to fine-tune the tension over your forefoot and ankle with single-BOA designs.
The dual-BOA system, on the other hand, lets you choose your tension over your forefoot, which locks your heel back into the boot properly. Then you can tighten your ankle separately to get the most comfortable and supportive blend.
Once you’re on the trail, if you need to make an adjustment, you can go right to the section of the boot you need to tighten or loosen. When you first put the boots on, I wouldn’t say the BOA system is significantly faster, but when it’s time to adjust your boot on the trail, the BOA system is definitely a fast and easy system.
Are the Boots Waterproof?
Because Under Armour is such a popular brand, we’re not sure how much we can trust the customer reviews online. We’ve seen a couple of reports that say the UA CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots are not waterproof and that they leak. You can definitely get a bad boot that will leak, but then again, we don’t see many boots with GORE-TEX leaking. Sure, sometimes someone will put in an aftermarket insole with hard heel edges that wears a hole through the GORE-TEX liner over time, but generally high-quality gear made with GORE-TEX works pretty well and takes some hard use to wear out or fail.
That said, both of our review unit pairs are not leaking and haven’t over small stream crossings and walking through dewy meadows. Maxcer even walked around in 3 inches of water for 5 minutes just to see if he could find a leak while flexing the boots a lot. Nothing. Dry socks.
I can see, however, how some people could get water over the top of the GORE-TEX liner without noticing. How? The GORE-TEX liner ends a whopping three inches below the top of the boots. If water goes in over the top, it’ll stay inside the waterproof boot all day. GORE-TEX is breathable, but not that breathable.
What’s our take? We can’t see any reason in the construction of the boot itself that would compromise the GORE-TEX liner any faster than any other boot — unless cactus spines are poking in between the exo-skeleton. But if you do plan to hunt in wet areas, we would tend to recommend a boot with a higher, more traditional tongue that would give you more waterproof height to work with.
Got a Squeak?
We noticed a customer review at Under Armour that said the boots squeak, which for us, is an absolute no-go for hunting. I have noticed a very light squeak in one boot, but Maxcer hasn’t had any squeaking in his boots.
So far, that one occasional squeak is not an issue for me. Like I said, it’s very faint and unlikely to overshadow footstep noise in the woods.
I’ll report back right away if anything changes.
The UA CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots have a modern, technical design that looks even better in person. Right now UA appears to be sold out of the Black option but still has its Ridge Reaper camo version in all sizes. Our review units look surprisingly good with pants and they wear well in non-hunting settings — that is, after you hose them off.
Maxcer put it this way: “I wasn’t expecting to like the look, but I have to say, they’ve grown on me — I’m surprised at how much I like the style.”
The UA CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots are quite a bit different from most hunting boots. Out of the box, they are super comfortable and supportive. Interestingly, they’ve been available for two years now, and the customer reviews are mixed. Some customers are all in with 4 and 5-star reviews, and they’re generally a bit better at places like Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse. But at Under Armour directly, which is where I would expect the most dissatisfied customers to end up, there are handful of 1-star reviews that tend to cite long-term issues with durability and/or waterproofing, giving the boots an average 2.6-star score. I’ve noticed these boots coming in and out of stock over time, which means Under Armour keeps the factory busy for a reason. If customer returns were truly higher than average, I would have expected Under Armour to discontinue them — and they haven’t.
On the other hand, in our experience, lightweight boots never last as long as heavyweight leather boots with heavy rugged soles. The benefit of lightweight hunting boots is the sneaker-like feel — but we don’t expect lightweight boots to last as long. That’s just physics.
Because the UA CH1s are nearly as costly as many heavyweight hunting boots, I think customers expect them to last just as a long as heavyweight hunting boots. That’s a fair expectation for your gear dollars — but maybe not realistic. Still, Under Armour set the expectations by saying the CH1’s were designed to be the “ultimate Western hunting boots.” Right now, I think these boots are best for guys who want a lighter, faster feeling boot . . . but who also understand that, over the long haul, they might wear out sooner than heavy leather hunting boots. If you want to cover a couple hundred very hard miles over multiple years, you should choose a leather boot with a solid sole. Even then, you may wear out the sole and/or wear a hole in your GORE-TEX liner. I have ‘lightweight’ expectations for the CH1 boots, but I must admit, I am far more pleased with their performance than I was expecting. And they do sidehill surprisingly well!
Competition & Alternatives
While there are many lightweight hiking boots available these days, they tend to be short and lack the durability needed to spend days far off the trail. So we’re not going to include hiking boots as competitive options here. If you’re looking for a true lightweight hunting boot, one of the best alternatives might be Under Armour’s own HOVR Dawn Hunting Boots.
The UA HOVR Dawn is a few ounces lighter and has more cushion than the UA CH1 boots. The UA HOVR Dawn also costs less and has a traditional lacing system. The drawback is that the cushy soles might not be stiff enough for heavier guys carrying heavy loads. Read our full HOVR Dawn review for more detail.
Alternately, for a slightly heavier option, consider the Danner Vital. It lacks the innovative style of the UA CH1 and is a bit bulkier, but it costs less and Danner has a sweet 365-day warranty on its hunting boots.
The Verdict So Far
The Under Armour UA CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots are stable but also supportive. They’re not as stiff as heavyweight hunting boots, but for me right now, that’s a good thing. Remember my ankle injury? I really appreciate the UA CH1 blend of support and comfort right now. If you’re looking for a lightweight hunting boot that’s comfortable yet supportive, so far I’ve had a great experience with the Under Armour CH1 GORE-TEX Hunting Boots. In fact, I have enough confidence in them to wear them after my ankle surgery — and to use them during this year’s archery elk season.