Kenetrek Kool-Aid


I don't know when I've seen so much enthusiastic testimonial activity by the user of a product. Even at the Scheels store in Great Falls, Montana which sells other top brand boots, the boot salesman just went on and on. He told me about family and friends, himself included, who swear by Kenetrek.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I had come across 3 young hard core MT hunters on the side of the road next to their truck where we were all waiting to sign in for access to a certain Block Management hunting spot. They were ALL wearing Kenetrek. This was opening day of the MT deer season but they had each already killed their bull elk during the archery season. That was in rugged country with difficult extraction of the game trophies. 

My friend Troy from Great Falls, MT uses and loves them. The salesman at another big box store that sells lots of different brands uses and loves them. I've read many, many forum threads where the enthusiasm of the testimonial is unusually high.

In all I talked to quite a few guys on the trail about boots. I had tried on Kenetreks myself two times. So by the time I got to the Kenetrek Headquarters in Bozeman, MT I knew for sure that this was the boot for me. When I walked into the Kenetrek headquarters in Bozeman, MT I walked up to Jim Winjum, co-founder of Kenetrek, and said:

"I am here to drink the Kenetrek Kool-Aid and to become a Kenetrek dealer!"

To his credit, he didn't even look at me like I was crazy. Over the next three hours he told me the Kenetrek story and fitted me for a pair of Kenetrek Hardscrabble Hikers -- which I wore for every minute of the balance of my rock chuck and coyote hunting trip. I did take them off to sleep and shower, however.

Jim Winjum is an avid, hard core western hunter, mostly archery. He has a sheep grand slam to his credit and many other awesome trophies. I saw some of them at their headquarters. He worked for a local outdoor store in Bozeman for almost 20 years, working his way up to manager. As such he had personally fitted by his estimate around 18,000 customers for boots over the years. As a hunter he had put on a gazillion hard miles in the rugged parts of Montana and other states.

It was his job at the former store to design, source, and manage sales of a line of boots the former store sold. The store was sold to a new owner and Jim decided not to stay.  A year later he co-founded Kenetrek with a vison of even better boots for the hard core hunting community -- and for the less hard core like me.

The following is from their website.

-Len Backus-


Hello and Welcome to Kenetrek.

It was August of 2002, and we’d been hunting sheep in the Mackenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories for eight brutal days. I thought I was in marathon shape, but I knew I only had one more climb in me at best. We were going through food like mad men, trying to keep up with the 10,000 calories sucked out of us every day. We just hiked a brutal 10 miles to a hidden basin, killed a beautiful 39” Dall ram and were headed back to camp.

My muscles were crying all out mutiny, and my pack straps felt like they’d cut through my skin and were welded into my shoulders. In an almost euphoric state, I smiled realizing that I must really love this sport if I’m still going when all I wanted to do was lay down and die. And then the blisters started passing the point of tolerance. More like gashes, they finally won when they split my feet open, completely breaking me down. I found myself laying on the ground unsure if I would ever get up again, just hoping a grizzly would eat me and put me out of my misery.

Yeah, I signed up for the merciless exhaustion knowing how tough it would be... but I didn’t count on my boots letting me down, forcing me to quit. That’s when I knew we had to design and build boots that could keep up with the barbarous conditions we mountain hunters subject ourselves to.

Since then, we’ve continually and brutally beat up our boots in the field, brought them back to the shop, and added new design features on the spot. And it’s worked so well, we brought up all of our boots, packs, socks... everything we offer, we put to the sheep hunter’s test. So it doesn’t matter if you hunt like we do, hike, or enjoy backpacking up to a mountain lake... having the owners of our company out there practically killing themselves to test everything, guarantees that from the boots on up, Kenetrek will never let you down.


Jim Winjum

Stuart Hutchins

Robert Sherer


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