Best Jungle Boots Reviewed for Performance and Durability
Designed before World War II, jungle or hot weather boots were issued to US Military soldiers serving in Panama. These boots have at their core the idea that a waterproof design cannot be achieved in wet, swampy environments, which means that breathability, the speed of drainage and drying need to be prioritized. The boots have rubber soles, either Vibram or Panama style and, usually, canvas uppers with ventilation holes in the instep which allow for water drainage and good air circulation.
Today, these boots are used equally by military personnel as well as enthusiasts who wear them to camping or trekking trips in hot and humid environments. Although they are not in wide distribution, they still provide a much-needed upgrade from regular leather or rubber boots.
- Danner Tachyon
- Sneaker-like Comfort
- Synthetic Upper
- Garmont T8 Bifida
- Vibram Outsole
- Breathable PU Insole
- Ryno Gear CoolMax
- Very Breathable
- Padded Collar
The reasons for going with this type of boot instead of any other pair of boots are varied. Starting from the soles, hot weather boots have specially designed rubber soles with wide grooves, called Panama soles, and these work so as to prevent mud getting stuck on your shoes. If you opt for Vibram soles instead, they will provide a bit more versatility as they can be used on sand, pebbly surfaces, etc. The second most important aspect of these boots is the breathability which is provided through the vents and the canvas upper.
Jungle boots have high laces, and you are supposed to tuck your pants in them to keep leeches, ticks, and ants at bay. Some will have leather in the toe and heel for additional protection, while a number of shoes used to have a stainless steel plate inside the sole to protect the wearer from punji stake traps. Because of their design, these boots do well in preventing trench foot, blisters and other issues related to spending prolonged periods of time in wet footwear. They will also dry more quickly, which is excellent for camping trips where you want to stay as dry as possible after having spent the day walking through puddles and creeks.
10 Best Jungle Boots
1. Danner Tachyon
With the upper being made out of lightweight synthetics that dry quickly, Danner added some extra durability in the toe area which is abrasion resistant and won’t show any scuffs. Paired with the speed lace system, the regular side vents for water elimination, and the classic black color, you get a boot that’s ready for for hot rainy weather.
Danner Tachyon Outsole
Made out of 100% abrasion resistant rubber with a pentagonal traction pattern, the outsole on these will stick to the ground in any conditions. Furthermore, you will reap the benefits of an open cell PU footbed that allows good air circulation, and an EVA midsole that absorbs shock reducing fatigue and discomfort.
Cost and Value
With a price that’s average for this type of product, but features that make it closer to a pair of athletic shoes in terms of comfortability and performance, the Danner Tachyon is an excellent investment if you require something that’ll both dry quickly, stick to the surface underfoot, and have you feeling pain free at the end of a long day of walking.
Quick Drying Synthetic Upper
Water Elimination Vents
Quick Lace Closure
Abrasion Resistant Outsole
EVA and PU Cushioning
Lacks Arch Support
2. Garmont T8 Bifida
The outsole on the Bifida is made out of Vibram, a vulcanized rubber compound that sticks to multiple surfaces in any type of conditions, wet or dry. It possesses quite good shock absorbing properties, which is important if you’re going to be on your feet for a long time, and is a durable option that won’t flatten after a couple of uses.
Suede and Synthetic Upper
Made with a combination of 1.8 mm suede leather and 600 denier nylon, the T8 Bifida will perform just as you need it to, even once it’s wet. It’s a flexible pair of boots made for tactical use that won’t hold you back in any way: the PU footbed is breathable, while the ventilation holes help eliminate any water that may have gotten in your shoes.
Cost and Value
As you’d expect from a brand such as Garmont, the T8 Bifida is priced in the higher ranges of our list. As it’s a pair of reliable tactical boots made for hot and wet weather, it’s aimed at users who need a very specific, high quality product most individuals wouldn’t need to invest in. If it fits your budget, and you like the idea of a Vibram outsole and suede reinforcements on the upper, then this is the option for you.
Suede and Nylon Upper
Breathable Polyurethane Footbed
Heel Pull Tab
Tongue Pressure Points
Outsole Gets Stiff in Cold Weather
3. Ryno Gear CoolMax
The lining inside this boot is made of a breathable mesh. It is also water resistant so it will keep the water out of your boot and wick moisture away from your feet, leaving you cool, dry and comfortable.
The CoolMax features a leather and ballistic nylon upper which will be both comfortable and durable, in addition to allowing for a faster drying pair of footwear. The removable shock absorbing insole is also a great addition, but it can be replaced with your own custom orthotics if you prefer a customized level of support and cushioning.
Cost and Value
These boots are priced in the lower end of the range which represents excellent value for the performance. They will last a long time, which increases the value you get for your hard-earned dollar.
- Leather and Nylon Upper
- Zipper Closure
- Padded Collar
- Mesh Elements
- Breathable and Mositure Wicking
- Slip-resistant Outsole
- Zippers Are Rough
4. 5.11 Speed 3.0
For those who need these shoes for work and training, you will be glad to hear that the Speed 3.0 features a fence climbing toe and forefoot lugs, which work together to improve the amount of traction you will be getting in this part of the shoe. This means that you’ll be ready for any mission wearing this pair of boots.
With an insole and sockliner made by OrthoLite, you will be getting the same cushioning and feel you are used to in some of your favorite athletic sneakers. With excellent moisture wicking properties, OrthoLite products allow you to stay more ventilated, whether you’ve stepped in water, or just have sweaty feet from hard exercise.
Cost and Value
Boasting a surprisingly low price, the 5.11 Speed 3.0 is a great investment in terms of quality and comfort. While it may not be as durable, or as filled with tech as more expensive models on this list, it’s a great choice for those who need some serious wet weather footwear that’ll dry fast and won’t stop air flow.
Rapid Dry Technology
14mm Heel To Toe Drop
Moisture Wicking Properties
Could Dry Faster
5. Salomon Forces
The EVA molded footbed in this boot is made with a closed cell OrthoLite, which both cradles and cushions your foot. Walk all day, hike all day, hump that rucksack up the ridge… whatever you happen to be doing, you’ll be comfortable.
The midsole in the Forces boot features a molded shank for stability and an injected EVA material for both cushion and shock absorption. The outsole features a gripping pattern and stable heel to keep you in place in most terrains.
Cost and Value
These are the priciest boot in our line up but well worth the value you get in exchange for performance. You will have dry, cool and comfortable feet that are free of debris thanks to the mesh and nubuck construction. They are non-marking and grippy while also being true to the jungle boot design.
- Anti-debris Mesh
- Nubuck Leather Upper
- EVA Sockliner
- Non-marking Sole
- Excellent Traction
- Wide Sizes Unavailable
6. 5.11 ATAC 8
This is a great boot for shock absorption, using 5.11’s own technology to ensure your boots and not your feet, take a beating. In addition to the shock absorption, the boots feature all the cushioning you need for comfort all day.
The full-grain leather and nylon construction of the boot makes it very tough but it’s also breathable for cool, dry, comfortable feet. If that weren’t enough, it features a moisture wicking lining and antibacterial treatment to keep moisture away and to keep your favorite pair of footwear from holding onto odors.
Cost and Value
These boots are priced in the mid-range but that investment is a real value. You get a durable boot, lots of cushion and lots of support. A secret pocket, a great YKK zipper and antibacterial treatment to prevent unpleasant odor from filling the shoe and your space.
- Side Zipper Closure
- Sausage Laces
- Full-grain Leather Upper
- Antibacterial Treatment
- Moisture Wicking Lining
- Shock Absorbing
No Vent Ports
7. Salomon Forces Jungle Ultra
While you are most likely to be concerned with how your shoes will handle water, it’s also important to note that if you’re planning on doing lots of walking, you’re going to need plenty of stability and support. In the Forces Jungle Ultra, this is provided by an Advanced Chassis system placed between the midsole and outsole, that controls motion, ensures proper alignment, and allows for better energy transfer to avoid fatigue.
Combination of Materials
The upper of this shoe is made with a combination of materials that have all been chosen to best perform in wet conditions. Nubuck leather is used for the most parts, ensuring protection from outside elements, while a fast drying textile is added to minimize water retention. The Anti-debris mesh won’t let any pebbles or dirt get into the boot while walking, and the fact that all materials used are anti-reflective will ensure that these are tactical usage appropriate.
Cost and Value
With a cost you’d expect from a brand such as Solomon, the Forces Jungle Ultra ranks high on our list of products in terms of price. Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of this manufacturer’s products, or are looking for a pair of boots that’ll be comfortable in addition to being appropriate for wet terrain, then it’s definitely worth the investment.
Nubuck Leather and Textile Upper
Advanced Chassis Stability
Protective Heel Cap
8. Fox Outdoor Products Vietnam
These shoes feature an insole which is made out of leather. They are comfortable and require less breaking in than many boots in the same category. The cotton canvas shaft and tongue provide a soft, customizable fit which you are bound to enjoy.
Come in Two Different Colors and Widths
If you need these boots in other than black, you can opt for the Olive Drab color which is a welcome refreshment from the standard uniform jungle boots. In addition, they can be bought in wide or regular fit, so you’re bound to find the pair that fits you perfectly.
Cost and Value
These boots are the cheapest item on this list. Although they are not nearly as durable as some of the other models out there, they are an excellent investment if you don’t want to break the bank, but still need some of the features they offer.
- Drain Vents for Quick Drying
- Removable Footbed
- Leather Reinforcements
- True to Size
- No Break In Period
- Marking Soles
- Durability Issues
9. Belleville One Xero 320
These boots are extremely lightweight compared to all others on this list. They weigh little, are made out of well thought out materials which will do wonders to improve your hiking experience, but will also allow them to dry faster when they get wet.
No Break-In Time Needed
The fact that these shoes are made out of suede and nylon means that they are soft enough not to require much breaking in. You can wear them from the box, and they provide ample room for the toes, with enough eyelets to customize the fit as you need it to be.
Cost and Value
The Belleville One Xero 320 is an expensive boot, but it does provide great value at the price. They are suitable both for desert and jungle wear, are lightweight with users reporting that they feel as good as sneakers, they are highly breathable and Berry Amendment and Army Uniform Policy Compliant.
- Removable Polyurethane Inserts
- Suitable for Women
- 20 oz Per Boot
- Vibram Soles
- AR670-1 Compliant
- High Price
- Not for Muddy Conditions
10. Belleville TR900
The TR900 has a Panama outsole suitable for muddy walks, but with a few improvements. They have added rappelling bars, are 100% long-wearing rubber, and are non-marking and slip-resistant on oily and wet floors.
Made to Last
The durability of these boots is ensured through the choice of high-quality materials and the way in which they are assembled. They feature 360° stitching with double and triple stitched seams that will prolong their use even in the harshest of conditions.
Cost and Value
The price of these boots is a bit above average compared to the rest of the items on this list, but they are much appreciated by both professionals and enthusiasts who require this type of footwear. They are a great choice if you expect to wear them for more than just a few occasions, or if you require the additional features such as the non-marking, slip-resistant outsoles.
- Low Profile Lacing
- Padded Collar
- Non-slip & Non-marking Soles
- Shock-absorbing Midsole
- Durable Seams
- Lace Durability
- No Arch Support
And that’s it: our top ten choices for jungle boots that you can use to make sure your feet are comfortable enough despite being in wet, humid or hot environments. You won’t go wrong with any of the models on this list, as long as you consider the pros and cons, and the type of use they are most suited for. This means that you’ll find an equally good shoe if you need something extremely durable for extensive professional use, or even if you just want a pair of boots that you can wear to a hike every once in a while, but which you need to dry quickly.
As jungle boots tend to be expensive and scarce, it may take some time for you to find the pair that works best for you, so make sure to read up on the Criteria for Evaluation and Frequently Asked Question sections in order to gather as much information and tips as possible. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have become an expert on footwear intended for swampy environments.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Jungle Boots
Wearing the right pair of shoes can make or break any experience – be it a simple walk in the park, a special occasion, or a jungle survival mission that is intended to test your limits and skills. A good fit is always a priority, but knowing what you need your shoes to do is just as important. If you’re reading this article, chances are you know what you want – a pair of durable hot weather boots that you will be able to use in hot, humid and wet environments, and that are designed in a way to maximize breathability, mud shedding and speed of drying while also offering protection from insects as well as from underfoot obstacles.
Finding the best pair of hot and wet weather boots is made even more difficult by the fact that they are extremely hard to come by, are produced only by a small number of companies, and due to their scarcity, their prices run quite high. That said, there are a few things that you should keep in mind while searching for the perfect pair.
First and foremost, you want a high-quality pair of footwear that will stand the test of harsh conditions. As you will be using them in difficult, muddy and wet terrain, you cannot have a pair of shoes that will fail you mid-mission. Secondly, you want your boots to have the right features – you know that your boots and feet will get wet, and this cannot be prevented, so you need to look at the best way to keep water out of your shoes, and having them dry as quickly as possible. Finally, you need to know what type of boots never to buy for swampy conditions – Gore-Tex shoes will not protect you from the water, but will, instead lock the moisture in, aiding the development of blisters and athlete’s foot. Here are a few things to look out for when purchasing a pair of jungle boots.
The materials used to make this type of boots are pretty straightforward and universal no matter which maker or price range you opt for. The original models which were developed before World War II and tested by U.S. Army soldiers in Panama had rubber soles and a canvas upper that was intended to dry fast without trapping in any humidity. These boots were much softer than regular soldier boots used up until that point, and also lighter, weighing approximately three pounds per pair.
Through the years, the jungle style was updated, but what remained the same was the use of canvas. By the early years of the conflict in Vietnam, the upper was crafted from canvas, nylon to help reinforce the boot, and leather featured on both the toe and the heel. Through their use for military operations, the boots were worn by soldiers both in black, as well as in a dark green color. Since the end of the Vietnam War, the use of these boots for military operations has significantly lowered, and black boots have been replaced by two versions of combat boots made in tan colors. One is Gore-Tex boots which are intended to keep water out, but which are highly unsuitable for jungle use as they trap water inside the boot, while the other is hot weather boots with no lining and vent holes in the instep.
The materials which are used in these boots are important because knowing them can make your experience of wearing this footwear much more pleasant. Though the rubber soles are simple enough and do not need you to do anything except clean out excess mud, the inner and upper will greatly appreciate the good care.
Most models will have minimal insoles, so as to remove any excess material that could be holding water. Many will have Poron lining, which is an open-cell material that will let water in. A better option is Saran insoles which have ventilating properties and are able to keep moisture away from the feet. These insoles allow air to circulate in the boot, speeding up the drying process, but in cold environments, they will insulate the feet from the frozen ground, thus preventing frostbite and trench foot. Once you have finished walking in your boots for the day, it is crucial to dry them out as well as possible, without exposing them to any more heat than that provided by the sun. This will mean taking the insoles out so that they can dry as well.
As for the uppers of your boots, good care will make them last much longer. The leather needs to be treated well for two reasons: the first one is durability, while the other one is your own comfort. Before wearing them on an all-out mission, you will need to break in your new boots, and you can do this by filling them up with hot water, letting them drain through the vents, putting them on and taking them for a long hike. Treat the leather afterward, and this process will ensure that you have a pair of combat boots that are as ready as you are. Using quality oil or saddle soap will nurture the leather, making it softer and more flexible, which means that they will mold to your feet more easily.
Type of Soles
Before we start talking about the two types of soles you can choose from for your next pair of boots, it is first important to state the basics. Your hot weather boots need to have rubber soles made out of the highest quality to ensure they don’t wear out easily. The second most important thing to note is that the soles should be vulcanized to the leather toe and heel, which is crucial if you don’t want the bottom of your shoes to fall off in a middle of a muddy hike.
Out of the two most common types of sole used on jungle boots, you can go two ways: Vibram or Panama.
- Vibram soles are used in many tactical boots as they will perform well on most types of terrains, including rock, sand and other hard terrains. These are an excellent choice if you know you will mostly be walking on this type of ground, or if you are looking for a pair of hot weather boots to wear outside of the jungle – be it work or casual use.
- Panama soles, on the other hand, were developed in 1944 by U.S. Army Sergeant Raymond Dobie who created a shoe sole with deep grooves that proved to perform well under muddy conditions. The deeper grooves on these soles allowed for much more grip than typical Vibram soles which tended to clog up and become rather slippery. Secondly, a big advantage of the Panama soles is that they can easily be cleared of mud or clay when needed.
In the mid-sixties, the soles on military-use jungle boots were updated to include stainless steel reinforcements in the shank which provided soldiers with protection from punji stake traps. These steel plates prevented sharp objects from entering the boot and harming soldiers, while also providing added durability as the boots were able to retain their shape for much longer periods of time. The downside of steel shanks is the fact that they conduct heat to the foot, which makes boots that do have them unsuitable for wear in climates where temperatures are high, particularly if the terrain is sand.
The single most important feature of jungle boots, with the exception of the materials and components they use, is the draining vents which are placed near the insole and which serve the purpose of aiding water drainage and air circulation. A good pair of boots will have draining vents as close to the soles of the shoes as possible, so that water can easily be removed from the shoes. These screened eyelets will be made out of high-quality material – and properly attached to the boots, as them falling out can prove to do more harm than good. When it comes to size, smaller eyelets are better, as large ones can easily become clogged up with mud or clay, preventing the eyelets from doing their job.
Price and Durability
If there is a pair of shoes where price and value are so directly connected, it has to be combat boots. During the time they were actively used by military personnel, jungle boots were made in the USA, using the highest quality materials and production process, which provided those wearing them with the security of knowing their boots would not fall apart after a few weeks of wear. However, this type of production is rather expensive, which means that since the 1960s, compromises have been made which also lowered the quality of the boots available on the market. The most obvious of these changes was reverting back to Vibram soles. Other alterations were mainly related to low-quality control that resulted in heel blowouts and loss of water drains.
If you can, opt for the highest quality boot available. If, however, you are on a budget, make sure to choose the best pair that is within your price range. As many factories are choosing to produce their footwear in China, you can expect these boots to be made out of lower quality leather, to have eyelets that are attached less securely, and to encounter a higher percentage of sole malfunction. Models made in the USA are excellent choices, provided you can afford them, and they will prove to be a reliable pair of swamp-appropriate footwear for a long time, if you take good care of them (do not be too lazy to polish your shoes – this will not only make them last, but they will be more comfortable for wear).
Another important thing to note is that if you are purchasing boots for duty use, you need to make sure they meet the AR 670-1 regulations. In such a case, you need to stay away from black models and opt for tan ones which are the only ones allowed. Yes, this narrows down your choices considerably, but it will ensure that you don’t end up with an expensive pair of boots that you cannot use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What can I do to make my boots more comfortable?
A: Break them in! You can do this by pouring hot water into your boots, letting them drain, then putting them on. Tie the laces as snugly as possible and take them for a long walk. Once you have dried them, take some high-quality leather oil or saddle soap, and coat them thoroughly so as to make the leather as nourished and soft as possible – this will allow it to fit you better. Other things you can do include protecting your feet with appropriate socks (military socks are best), using vaseline on your feet to reduce friction and prevent blisters, and patching up the hot spots on your feet.
Q: Do I need to tuck in my pants into the boots?
A: If you are going to the jungle, then the answer is yes! This type of wear is to make sure you get maximum protection from leeches, ticks, ants and other insects. And don’t try to get away with pulling up your socks higher, as this does not provide the same level of protection as your trusted fotwear.
Q: Should I get Vibram or Panama soles?
A: This will depend on the surfaces you will be walking on in these shoes. If you are planning on trekking through mud and clay, you definitely want to opt for Panama soles as they provide much better grip, and won’t get clogged and slippery. In addition, you will have an easier time cleaning them. If, however, you wish to wear your boots on harder terrains, rocks, and sand, go for Vibram soles which work better for such surfaces.
Q: Can I just buy a pair of waterproof boots and wear those on a jungle expedition?
A: If you value the comfort and health of your feet, then no. Waterproof boots are made to keep water out of the shoe. However, chances are you will be crossing creeks, stepping in mud and water, which means you will get wet. In such circumstances, while jungle boots would simply drain the water through the vents on the sides, waterproof boots would keep the moisture inside your shoes. This means that your feet would be exposed to warm (or cold) water for prolonged periods of time, which opens up possibilities for watery blisters, athlete’s foot, and more serious infections.