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 jungle and swamp 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, jungle 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.
The reasons for going with a jungle boot instead of any other pair of boots are varied. Starting from the soles, jungle 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 jungle 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, jungle 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. Blackhawk Warrior Desert Ops
These shoes are actively used by military personnel in hot environments and have proven to be very durable, with reports of them lasting for over 4 years. Whether you intend to wear them on a daily basis or on a few hikes, these will serve you great. The insoles are replaceable while the outer materials are sturdy enough not to break down with use and time.
Not Suitable for Wear in Water
If you want a pair of shoes that will keep your feet cool in hot climates, and that has moisture wicking properties, then definitely go for these Blackhawk boots. However, note that they will not last long before your feet get wet in swampy environments, and they do not have draining vents as most jungle boots have. Sure, they’ll dry quickly enough, but be aware that you should not be using these to cross any creeks.
Cost and Value
For the price you pay with these desert boots, you get high quality, extreme durability and comfort like no other. These are some of the best breathable, hot weather boots on the market, and unless you really intend to walk through water, these could be the perfect choice for you.
- Vibram sole
- Washable, antimicrobial OrthoLite footbed
- Fully gusseted tongue
- Reinforced toe and heel
- Complies with U.S. Army regulations
- No drain vents
- Run narrow
2. 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.
Comfort in the jungle
The CoolMax features a leather and ballistic nylon upper which will be both comfortable and durable. The removable shock absorbing insole is also comfortable or you could wear your own custom insert or orthotic instead.
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
- Durable jungle boot
- Padded collar
- Contrast stitching
- Breathable lining
- Zippers are rough
3. 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 boots smelly like boots rather than stale, sweaty feet.
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 (still can’t tell you…), a great YKK zipper and antibacterial treatment to prevent unpleasant odor from filling the shoe and your space.
- Side zipper
- Sausage laces for fit
- Full-grain leather
- Antibacterial treatment
- Moisture wicking lining
- Shock absorbing
- Sizes run small
4. Salomon Forces
The EVA molded footbed in this boot is made with a closed cell Ortholite as well, 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
- Not available in wide sizes
5. G.I. Combat Jungle Boot
Something that not a lot of jungle boots feature is a fully gusseted tongue. The G.I. COMBAT provides you with protection from dirt and debris that could otherwise find their way into your shoe, making your treck uncomfortable.
The soles of these boots are made so as to reflect the original jungle boots used since before the 1940s. This includes a steel shank that is placed in the sole of the shoe in order to protect the wearer and to prolong the life of the boot. However, the downside of these boots is the fact that the rubber itself is softer than on most jungle boots. While this will give you a bit more comfort, it does considerably shorten the lifespan of the boots.
Cost and Value
These jungle boots are cheap and are a great choice if you need something to wear when working in wet or swampy environments. However, these won’t do well as a pair of everyday shoes, as the soles tend to wear down much more quickly than on a more expensive hot weather boot of this kind.
- Breathable uppers
- Fully gusseted tongue
- Steel shank
- Good ankle support
- No half sizes available
- Only men’s sizes
6. Wideway Military
Military and performance footwear is hard to come by, and usually at a high price. WIDEWAY’s boots are an excellent choice as they cost up to three times less than many other manufacturer shoes, while still providing you with a high-quality pair of boots.
For Men and Women
These shoes are suitable for both men and women and can be ordered in any size you may need them in. If you are a woman, looking for some sturdy outdoor shoes for hiking, you can get these boots in a slightly smaller fitment than what you normally would wear.
Cost and Value
In comparison to any other pair of jungle boots, these shoes come cheap, while still providing good quality and comfort. Still, they are made in China, so their durability may be slightly less than what you would expect if you paid three times the price. Their life can be prolonged through correct care and cleaning.
- Durable Upper
- Suitable for wide feet
- Panama soles
- Removable inserts
- Good ankle support
- Made in China
- Excessive polish reduces breathability
7. 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 jungle boots 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
- Excellent price
- True to size
- Out of the box comfort
- Marking soles
- Not extremely durable
8. 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 ounces per boot
- Vibram soles
- AR670-1 Compliant
- High price
- Not excellent for muddy trecks
9. 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
10. Wellco T930B
These shoes produced in the USA, aiming at achieving high quality, durability and comfort for all those who wear them. This boot will last you years in cruel environments, so it’s no surprise the company still supplies the US Army with their jungle boots.
Fabric and Leather Upper
The leather on these shoes is full grain fleshout leather, while the fabric is nylon which is light and dries easily. The boots feature two drain vents on each instep, and they will give you the added feature of being oil resistant.
Cost and Value
These jungle boots rank average when looking at cost. For the price you pay, you will get a high-quality pair of hot weather boots that will last you years, and which are made in the USA to ensure the best possible production.
- Non-slip DMS sole
- Leather and nylon upper
- Made in USA
- Padded collar
- Removable cushion insole
- Run a bit large
- Slightly heavier
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 boots 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 jungle 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 boots 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 boots that will fail you mid-mission. Secondly, you want your jungle 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 jungle boots are pretty straightforward and universal no matter which maker or price range you opt for. The original jungle boots 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 boot 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 jungle boots for military operations has significantly lowered, and black jungle 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 jungle 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 jungle boots 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 jungle 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 jungle 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 jungle 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 jungle 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 jungle 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 jungle 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 jungle 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 jungle 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 jungle 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 break in my jungle boots?
A: Depending on the out-of-box comfort of your shoes, the answer to this may be no. However, it is most likely that your boots will need to be worn before you can consider using them for prolonged periods of time. Wear them daily for the first few days, for shorter periods of time, just to make sure that they don’t cause your feet any harm once you take them out for a real mission.
Q: Do I need to tuck in my pants into the jungle 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 jungle boots.
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 instead. 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.