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The 5 Best Jungle Boots For Tropical & Wet Forests

staying safe and comfortable in the jungle requires jungle boots

That’s La Isla Escondida in Putumayo, Colombia, an isolated bird-watching lodge and research station in Colombia’s northwestern Amazon and somewhere I’ve done multiple month-long stays over the years.

In a place like this, there are really only two footwear options: jungle boots or rubber boots. I’ve worn both, and while I like rubber boots if the mud is really thick, in most cases jungle boots are going to be more comfortable. 

I’ve done 15km hikes in rubber boots, and they are definitely hard on your feet. Jungle boots are made to get wet, dry quickly and keep your feet secure and comfortable. Here are my picks for the best jungle boots for all occasions–whether you’re looking for something lightweight or heavy duty:


The Best Leather Jungle Boot: Altama PX Men’s Slip Resistant Jungle Boot

The Altama PX Men’s Slip Resistant Jungle Boots are great anti-slip boots made by a company that has been manufacturing military spec boots for the US department of defense since 1969. 

A Dutch military friend told me that when he was in Kosovo on a peacekeeping mission in the 90s, these boots were the envy of all the other militaries. They are a lightweight, breathable mixture of sturdy nylon and leather that drains water, sand and dirt effectively–an ideal boot for topical climates. 

Specs

Weight:
1.75 lbs
Waterproof
– Water-resistant exterior;
– In-step drainage vents are designed to keep water and moisture flowing out of the boot. 
Durability:
– LENZI non-metallic anti-penetration board to keep your feet safe.
– Steel plate foot protection
– Heavy duty 1000 denier Cordura nylon breathable and tear-resistant upper
Comfort
– Removable, cushioned, polyurethane insole;
-Thermal barrier for hot surfaces;
– Molded thermoplastic heel counter and toe box for comfort and lateral support
Fit: 
Reviewer comments are all over the place when it comes to size. (just search “fit” in the “customer questions and answers” bar)
Zipper system for quick on/off:
Yes

Demerits

A few reviews commented that if you don’t break these in properly, they hurt your heels. While there is a break-in period with all new jungle boots, definitely something to keep in mind if you have sensitive feet or don’t have time to break them in a bit before taking them on any serious trips in the jungle or forest.


The Most Comfortable Jungle Boots: Rocky S2V Tactical Military Boot

The Rocky S2V Tactical Military Boot is the most comfortable pair of jungle boots on the list. They use a Vibram sole, which is a more flexible and grippy rubber compound that is made to stand up to harsh environments while treating your feed kindly. 

The SV2 also has a perforated air-port cushion footbed that provides better metatarsal ridge support and enhances the insole performance. These are the kind of features that I really like in a jungle boot because I’ve suffered from sport-related orthopaedic problems for a long time. 

Just because the S2V was designed with comfort in mind doesn’t mean that these jungle boots are less robust or up to the task in hot, humid, muddy environments. They are still engineered with 1000 denier CORDURA heavy-duty nylon, have been treated with PTFE for flame resistance (not that you need that in the jungle) and flash and water-resistant leather. 

Specs

Weight:
3.5 lbs
Waterproof:
– Water-resistant leather, but not designed for submersion.
– There is a water evacuation port near the heel that allows water to escape and air to enter.
Durability:
– 1,000 Denier CORDURAFlash and water-resistant leather
– Plenty of serious outdoorsmen attesting to the durability of these
Comfort:
– high-walled Vibram soles
– perforated Air-Port cushion footbed
– Polyurethane midsoles (heavier than EVA but more elastic and bendy)
Fit:
See reviewer consensus  (just search “fit” in the “customer questions and answers” bar)
Zipper system for quick on/off:
N/A

Demerits

I don’t like that these jungle boots aren’t ported on the sides (only the back), so there are fewer places for water, moisture and dirt to escape. Your feet will definitely get wet with these if you are trudging through water, but thankfully they won’t stay wet. 

They are also somewhat heavy, at 3.5lbs. This makes sense given the materials they are made from–high-walled Vibram rubber soles, heavier polyurethane midsoles–but you are getting superior comfort. 


Best Budget Jungle Boots: Danner USMC RAT MOJAVE

The problem with spending less than $100 dollars on a pair of jungle boots is that you are often getting poor quality–poor water resistance, uncomfortable, bad stitching, subpar sole and upper materials that rip easily. 

The Danner USMC RAT (Rugged All Terrain) MOJAVE boot, developed in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps is an exception. Made in the USA, it features a comfortable polyurethane sole, the same heavy-duty denier 1000 nylon in the other boots above, and PU-coated toe and heel protection.

Anyone who has ever owned anything Danner before knows that it’s rare to find Danner boots at this price point

Specs

Weight:
4.375 lbs
Waterproof:
insole ventilation/drain grommets
Durability:
– Tear-resistant 1,000 Denier heavy-duty nylon
– Nubuck top-grain (more durable part of the hide) leather upper
– abrasion-resistant polyurethane reinforced toe and heel caps
Comfort:
– Vibram outsole
– A plethora of people loving how comfortable these jungle boots are. (just search “comfort” in the “customer questions & answers bar). 
Fit:
Danner says that the boots run narrow and that men should size up by at least half a size or go with the next wider fit. Women should size down by 1.5-2 sizes. 
Zipper system for quick on/off:
N/A

Demerits

At 4.375 pounds, these are the heaviest jungle boots on the list–something to keep in mind if you are planning on packing these for a trip. 

Another thing to really pay attention to when buying these boots is whether you are getting the “temperate” or the “hot” version.


The hot (Mojave) version is what I’ve covered in this review, and it is the version I personally would want for the jungle because it has drainage holes for when you step into a stream or puddle. The temperate version with the Goretex lining does not, although they are still a great boot and provide nice water resistance.


The Best Snakeproof Boot: Rocky Men’s Lynx Waterproof Hunting Boot (aka the Rocky Snake Boots)

If you are a field herper (someone who goes out looking for reptiles and amphibians to photograph) like me, Rocky snake boots are world famous.

**Before I get into reviewing them, however, it’s important to note that when snake boots claim to be snake bite proof, they haven’t been tested as such, it’s an assumption based on the material. While it’s likely accurate, you’re better off being as cautious as you would be without rocky snake boots protection. 

I’m of the opinion that the Rocky Snake Boots are the best snakeproof jungle boot because it has everything you would want in a jungle boot–durability, highly water resistant (I won’t say proof because you probably can’t stand in shin-deep water with these for hours and remain totally dry) reinforced, lightweight and very comfortable.

Specs

Weight:
10(mens) weighs 2.25 lbs
Waterproof:
Yes, but are designed for walking through wet environments, not prolonged submersion.
Durability:
– Compression moulded foam (harder, denser foam)
– Reinforced toe & heel abrasion protection
Comfort:
– Shock absorbing Terra Suspension polyurethane footbed
– Impact-absorbing EVA midsole
Fit:
See reviewer consensus. (just search “fit” in the “customer questions and answers” bar)
Zipper system for quick on/off:
Yes

Demerits

The main downside of the Rocky snake boots as a jungle boot is that the insulation is more than what you’d ideally want from your jungle boots. They aren’t cold weather boots per se, but if you’re trekking through a moist lowland rainforest somewhere in Costa Rica or Borneo, your feet might get a bit hot. 

All in all, the rock snake boots are worth it, IMO, for how lightweight, durable, and comfortable they are and, importantly, for the protection they provide in areas (especially remote ones) with a high concentration of venomous snakes. I’ve been in places where I’ve seen 10+ fer-de-lances (the viper species responsible for the most snake bites in the Americas) or Malayan pit vipers in an evening. It’s the ones you don’t see, though.


Best Lightweight Tactical Shoes: Salomon Forces Quest 4D GTX 2 EN Tactical Shoes 

I’ve included a pair of tactical shoes on the jungle boots list because these are still well suited for jungle environments, but only if the trails you are using aren’t bogged down with mud. 

I’ve been at remote bird-watching lodges in places like the Amazonian piedmont in Colombia, where so much rain falls, the trails are so waterlogged, and there are so many creeks and rivers to cross that this style of jungle boot would not have been a good choice. 

Where the Salomon Forces Quest Tactical shoes would be a good choice, however, is in a drier forest environment (i.e., not a tropical wet forest) or during the dry season in a normally humid forest.

Specs

Weight:
665g
Waterproof:
Gortex so yes, up to the ankle, but better to give them an additional waterproofing treatment. 
Durability:
– Puncture-resistant soles
– Leather upper material
– Designed with military and law enforcement in mind
Comfort:
– Trademarked Contagrip outsole for improved traction on wet surfaces
– EnergyCell midsole and high-performance EVA foam for excellent shock absorption
Fit:
See reviewer consensus (just search “fit” in the “customer questions and answers” bar)
Zipper system for quick on/off:
N/A

Demerits

These are amazing tactical shoes, but if it is important that your feet stay dry and you’re in a very wet environment, they are not the ideal jungle boots. Additionally, if you are somewhere with dense vegetation and a high density of venomous snakes (or even large numbers of army ants), these are not going to afford much protection above the ankle

If, on the other hand, you are looking for something to use in a tropical dry forest, any dry environment (desert, mountain, savannah), or a typically wet and humid environment during the dry season, the Salomon Forces Quest 4D GTX 2 EN Tactical Shoes are fantastic jungle boots. 


What Went Into My Selection Process for the Best Jungle Boots

Over the past seven years, I have spent thousands of hours in jungles throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia. I’ve lived for months at a time at the remote and spectacularly beautiful Isla Escondida Nature Reserve in remote southwestern Colombia, in the Amazonian foothills of the Western Andes: 

a sea of green: the view from one of La Isla’s bird-watching towers

I know what it’s like to spend extended periods of time in the rainforest and the kind of gear required to stay comfortable and safe.


What Exactly Are Jungle Boots? 

While they have since become high fashion (especially for women), jungle boots first came about during the 1940s and were, above all, practical.

They were adopted by the U.S. military in 1942 for soldier fighting in the pacific theatre, and the idea was that it simply wasn’t possible for a boot to keep out water while still providing the ventilation that feet need in humid, swampy environments where foot-rotting bacteria fungi thrive. 

Jungle boots, therefore, are, by definition, designed not to be entirely waterproof but rather water-resistant up to a point and then water-expelling while remaining breathable. The idea is that the design should be airy so that feet dry faster while incorporating purge technology that gets rid of moisture.


The modern boots have retained all of the best parts of the post-war jungle boots while incorporating a bunch of modern features. The ones the modern U.S. military uses are made by Rocky and featured on the above list.


Main Evaluation Criteria When Choosing Jungle Boots

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing jungle boots: 

  • Waterproofing/resistance/wicking
  • Grip/traction
  • Comfort and fit
  • Material and durability
  • Weight

Waterproofing/Resistance/Wicking

The best jungle boots are going to be some combination of waterproof, water resistant and water wicking. You should be able to stand in and walk through water or trudge through the soggy ground or dewy fields without the boot or your feet becoming inundated. 

Over time, however, your feet are going to get wet. The most important thing, however, is that the boots have a way of expelling the water (i.e., some kind of purge valves or grommets).

Make sure that the jungle boots you are evaluating don’t have a Goretex lining meant for more temperate wet conditions because while they might be more “waterproof” in the traditional sense, they are the breathable style that you need for humid environments like jungles where your socks and feet will be covered in sweat and moisture either way. 

Grip/Traction

Jungle boots, because of their military history and current application, are designed to provide maximum traction in slippery environments.

The brands and boots on the above list are made to grip water-covered rocks, roots, leaves and the other slippery jungle substrate you encounter in tropical wet forests. They have heavy-duty Vibram rubber outsoles with deep, multidirectional teeth that are great at gripping harsh terrain. 

I’ve made the mistake of entering very rugged and remote areas of jungle with just your ordinary hiking shoes, and the sole design and grip specifications just won’t cut it. 

You want jungle boots for a place like this: 

The grip on jungle boots is made to pass specific coefficient of friction and slip tests, especially the ones that are designed for and in conjunction with institutions like the U.S. military, where only the very best gear will do. 

Comfort and Fit

Good jungle boots are also made for comfort. All of the options on the above list have rave customer reviews when it comes to comfort. You see things like “the most comfortable boots ever” and similar variations because the best jungle boots are made to both pamper your feet and hold up in tough, wet conditions. 

When I’m in the jungle, I usually out there for hours at a time, looking for birds, monkeys, reptiles and amphibians. Many of the places I’ve been to require multi-hour hikes in just to get to the lodge or research station I’m staying at. I need something that is going to keep my feet comfortable. 

The best jungle boots will have comfortable insoles and great arch and heel support. They will likely have polyurethane padding on the toes and heels to protect you from bumps against rocks and roots. Consider jungle boots with removable insoles if you need additional arch or heel support so that you can take out the factor originals. 

One last point I would like to make is that it’s always better to have taller boots when possible.

If you are heading out into the jungle in the tropics, you are entering snake country (vipers in the Americas, cobras, kraits, and also vipers in Asia and Africa). Taller boots provide better protection against snake bites, and one of the pairs of boots on this list (the Rocky Snake Boot) is made specifically for that purpose. You don’t want one of these tagging you: 

A male Wagler’s pitviper in Khaosok National Park, Thailand found a couple of feet off the ground.

Taller boots are especially important when you can’t see the ground in front of you (a situation you should avoid whenever possible). In the Americas, the fer de lance is an omnipresent threat, and its hemotoxic venom can do gruesome things to a foot or leg. 

Material and Durability

The best jungle boots are going to be made from a combination of polyurethane, Vibram rubber, heavy-duty denier 1000 nylon and leather. Polyurethane for the midsoles, footbeds and toe/heel protection; Vibram rubber for the sole and treads; and a mix of nylon and leather for the body of the shoe.

All of these combine to create a durable, jungle-appropriate piece of gear that will stand up to the, perhaps, uniquely destructive environment that is a tropical jungle.

Weight

Weight is always a consideration for me because I travel so much. I’m packing jungle boots in a checked bag and I might get, what, 23kg? A 4-5 pound pair of boots is going to take up 10 percent of your total weight allowance. 

A boot that is made from the rugged and durable materials listed above while still remaining light (a couple of pounds) is the ideal jungle boot.


Reasons To Bring A Pair of Jungle Boots When Traveling

If you travel to the tropics and plan on spending any length of time in the rainforest (which I highly recommend you do), then a pair of jungle boots will keep you the most comfortable–especially if you plan on doing any arduous treks. 

They are much better suited to jungle terrain than hiking boots and way easier on your feet than a pair of rubber boots that you might find at a hardware store.

I’ve worn those in the jungle and while they are definitely waterproof and keep your feet relatively mud free (the jungle almost always makes its way in), they kill your feet, and if you’re trying to buy them in a developing country, it could be hard to find your size (especially if you have larger feet).


Looking After Your Jungle Boots 

The most important thing you can do to look after jungle boots is to dry them properly.

  • Get them as mud-free as possible before drying so that there are no permanent stains left on them. 
  • Remove any inserts and dry them separately
  • Remove the laces, or they may shrink while drying and warp the leather
  • Avoid heat-drying jungle boots because it will dry out and damage the leather faster, as well as the glue that holds the leather to your boot. 
  • Instead, dry by wrapping clean boots in a towel and leaving them hanging over a fan.
  • You can also dry jungle boots by placing them in the sun after removing the insoles and laces and pulling the tongues out as far as possible. 
  • If you are trying to dry out wet boots in a completely wet environment, you can make some progress by placing sticks in the ground and fitting your boots over the sticks so that they are suspended.

Why Investing in Good Quality Jungle Boots Makes Sense 

There’s a reason jungle boots were invented in the first place and why a very similar iteration of the originals continues to be used today: they work. They do a good job of providing excellent comfort, performance, and durability in harsh environments while keeping your feet dry (and foot fungus at bay). 

I hope the above list of the best jungle boots helps you pick a piece of gear that will make your next trip to the tropics a comfortable, safe, and happy one.

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