The idea for Jim Manroe’s new company SneakyHunter started with a problem.
When getting himself into hunting position in the morning darkness of the backcountry his headlamp would often flash the game he was after and spook them away.
“If I heard a noise when I’m hiking in the dark before daylight, my immediate response with my ears and eyes is to turn that way,” Manroe said. “It’s a natural thing. Then I just lit up six eyeballs 40 yards away.”
So Manroe, who lives in Salmon, developed bootlamps. SneakyHunter bootlamps, manufactured in Nampa, shine LED light at the foot level in three different colors: white, red and violet. White light for general use, red to not be seen by critters and violet to follow a blood trail. The bootlamps have been on the market for about three months, sold exclusively on the SneakyHunter website.
“It was about a year and a half process from the concept in my head to getting the manufactured product,” Manroe said.
The entire process of making and selling the lamps has been challenging. Manufacturing products in the U.S. costs more than in other places.
“Our production costs are fairly high,” he said. “That’s where we are at. We’re feeling the market out — if the product can sustain a higher price by being made in the U.S.”
A pair of SneakyHunter bootlamps costs $59.99 on his website.
Manroe said so far, response has been good.
“They perform great,” he said. “We’ve had some really good feedback from hunters already this year. So we’re pretty excited about that.”
Manroe a former truck driver, and his wife, Annette, a former dental assistant, have been attending outdoor expos and working on getting name recognition. They’ve attracted the attention of the outdoor television program “Mass Pursuit,” which bought the bootlamps for its entire staff.
The bootlamps attach to the boot with Velcro straps that wrap under the instep of the boot and with hooks that grab the boot laces. The hiker version offers white, red and green LED lights. The lamps run on three AAA batteries that last about 70 hours.
Bootlamps solve a few problems regular headlamps can create, such as lens glare on eyeglasses, blasting partners in the face when you look at them and depth perception issues.
Manroe said if you’re hiking in deep snow, you can mount the bootlamps above your knees.
“When people see it and get the concept, people just have to have it immediately,” he said. “They’ve had the same problems I’ve had at getting into hunting areas and flashing game.”
Manroe said he sees other applications for his bootlamps, such as caving, climbing and mountaineering. “We just need to get the word out there,” he said. “I know we would get some interest there.”
The bootlamps can be found at sneakyhunter.com