Best Jungle Boots Reviewed for Performance and Durability
Designed before World War II, jungle or hot weather boots were issued to U.S. 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.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 105 hrs of research
Nubuck Leather Upper
- Salomon Forces
- Garmont T8 Bifida
- Ryno Gear CoolMax
- ATAC 8 by 5.11
- Danner Tachyon
- Salomon Forces Jungle Ultra
- Oakley Light Assault 2
- Belleville TR900
- Speed 3.0 by 5.11
- Fox Outdoor Products Vietnam
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Jungle Boots
1. Salomon Forces
Nubuck Leather Upper
Wide Sizes Unavailable
Perfect for hot weather use, this is a solid choice by Salomon, who specialize in producing high-performance footwear for extreme conditions. This boot is made of nubuck leather and an anti-debris mesh. It’s a breathable and dry boot that also has a number of comfort features to ensure you can use this hard worker all day easily. A stable heel design ensures that you keep your feet securely on the ground beneath you.Read more
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. 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.
2. Garmont T8 Bifida
Suede & Nylon Upper
Breathable Polyurethane Footbed
Heel Pull Tab
Tongue Pressure Points
Outsole Gets Stiff in Cold Weather
This tactical boot was made not just for one type of use, but for multiple environments, including muddy and wet terrain, deserts, steep slopes as well as for use on rocky surfaces. It’s made with quick-drying materials that protect the foot and allow water to be eliminated from the shoe more quickly (thanks to the vents on the instep), and more importantly, feature heavy duty reinforced hardware that’ll not only ensure a secure and comfy fit but will also be less likely to show signs of wear, even with rough use.Read more
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. 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.
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.
3. Ryno Gear CoolMax
Leather & Nylon Upper
Breathable & Mositure-Wicking
Zippers Are Rough
This is an extremely durable model that is breathable – important for a hot weather pair of footwear you'll be walking for quite a lot of time in. It has a tactical/military style and is cut lower than you'd expect from this type of product. Cool, suede and textile, this boot will satisfy you no matter how hot and muggy the weather gets.Read more
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. 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.
4. ATAC 8 by 5.11
Side Zipper Closure
Full-Grain Leather Upper
No Vent Ports
This is a very modern, technological take on the original hot and wet weather boot. It is extremely comfortable and resistant to any weather you throw at it and features some high technical innovations as you'd expect from 5.11. It’s a strong boot for work, and the laces will ensure a great fit. It features a covert pocket where you can store your valuables.Read more
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. 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.
5. Danner Tachyon
Quick Drying Synthetic Upper
Water Elimination Vents
Quick Lace Closure
Abrasion Resistant Outsole
EVA & PU Cushioning
Lacks Arch Support
Made to feel and perform like a sneaker, but with the durability and protection of a boot, the Danner Tachyon is a stellar choice if you’re after something lightweight that will allow you to traverse swampy terrain without having to spend hours in wet footwear afterward. At just 26 oz per pair, the Tachyon has no competition in terms of comfort and wearability and can be worn for a variety of purposes, from professional, to casual, to athletic wear.Read more
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 hot, rainy weather.
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.
6. Salomon Forces Jungle Ultra
Nubuck Leather & Textile Upper
Advanced Chassis Stability
Protective Heel Cap
You’re probably familiar with Salomon, one of the leading manufacturers of running and hiking equipment for extreme conditions developed this boot intended for use in operations in wet and warm environments. The Forces Jungle Ultra features all the water eliminating features you would want from your footwear, including drainage holes, moisture wicking materials, as well as components that don’t become heavy once wet.Read more
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.
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.
7. Oakley Light Assault 2
Removable Polyurethane Inserts
20 oz Per Boot
Not for Muddy Conditions
If you are looking for a lightweight pair of boots that you can wear in Swampy environments, you might want to consider these. They are made out of a single layer of flesh-out suede leather and nylon with removable inserts, which means that they will dry fast. They feature a Vibram sole which may not be our first choice for treading through the mud but will serve you well in all types of environments, from sand to rock.Read more
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.
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.
8. Belleville TR900
Low Profile Lacing
Non-Slip & Non-marking Soles
No Arch Support
This pair of boots emulates the classic Vietnam era boots while providing them with a few modern-day updates such as shock absorption features. They are highly cushioned which will prove to be a good thing after a long day of trekking in these, while still providing superior breathability through the leather and nylon upper and medial side drainage vents.Read more
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.
The durability of these boots is ensured through the choice of high-quality materials and how they are assembled. They feature 360° stitching with double and triple stitched seams that will prolong their use even in the harshest of conditions.
9. Speed 3.0 by 5.11
Rapid Dry Technology
14mm Heel To Toe Drop
Could Dry Faster
This model of rapid drying footwear by 5.11 was made for wet environments where you can’t ensure waterproofing, but still, want to avoid walking around with wet feet for long hours. Utilizing a combination of innovative materials, the Speed 3.0 will keep air circulating, allowing moisture to escape more easily, and you to remain comfortable, even if the weather conditions are less than perfect. Wear these boots to work, hunting, or for everyday use - you will be sure to fall in love with them and reach for them more often than expected.Read more
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 the water, or just have sweaty feet from hard exercise.
10. Fox Outdoor Products Vietnam
Drain Vents for Quick Drying
True to Size
No Break In Period
If you are looking for the most affordable pair of hot weather boots on this list, these are the ones to go with. Featuring Panama soles vulcanized to the leather upper, a reinforcing steel shank, and nylon webbing trim on the sides and collar of the shoe, these boots could be your go-to footwear for a hot and wet trek.Read more
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.
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. Also, they can be bought in wide or regular fit, so you’re bound to find the pair that fits you perfectly. 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.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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.
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.
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.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you're on the hunt for boots to use for wandering outdoors or rucking the jungle, tactical boots are your best bet for protection, weather resistance, and comfort.
Depending on how you intend to use your new boots, lighter and more breathable materials are ideal for hot desert sands or climates, while something more waterproof and over 8 inches makes for a great rucking boot.
If you've purchased a pair of jungle boots, likely you're wearing them in messy conditions, with wet ground, mud, or other environmental challenges. Cleaning your boots will help them last longer, so take a few minutes to care for them after you're home.
Let any mud dry first before removing it, then wipe down with a damp cloth. Check the upper for any snags or small holes that may have happened, and get them repaired as soon as possible to keep the boot's protective qualities intact.
Other Factors to Consider
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.
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 to prevent mud from 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 several 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 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.
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 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What can I do to make my boots more comfortable?
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?
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?
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?
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.