Jungle Specific Footwear
Unfortunately, jungle boots are not designed for recreation yet. I guess there’s not a big enough world market for it, so I wear military tactical boots, which are the most reliable. In the jungle, I recommend against regular hiking boots designed for other environments.
The most important features of jungle footwear are:
- Comfort: To help prevent blisters and not beat up your feet too much.
- Good Traction: To negotiate slippery and wet rocks while crossing rivers.
- High Cut: To prevent sand, pebbles and other debris from coming inside the boot while crossing rivers.
- Drain Grommets: To eliminate the extra weight of the water quickly.
Running Shoes VS Tall Sturdy Boots
Some people perform better in trail running shoes. They are lightweight, comfortable and have great traction. Unfortunately we also have to think about the possibility of snakebites, therefore we don’t recommend this type of footwear because a snake could bite right through it. We suggest boots with thicker outers (leather or otherwise) that won’t be penetrated by snake fangs. Also unlike tall boots, the low-cut design of trail runners does not protect the ankle, and does not prevent sand, debris and insects from coming inside.
Buying New Boots
If you plan on buying new boots, we suggest getting non-GoreTex, tall military tactical boots, with drain grommets on the instep. In the UK, Alt-Berg makes great boots, unfortunately the traction on their Vibram soles does not do well on slippery rocks. I wear mostly Belleville tactical boots that are designed for the desert. They comply with all the great features that I look for in a pair of boots for the jungle. The downside for me is that they don’t last more than four expeditions. Being designed for the desert, they’re not made to withstand the harsh jungle conditions for very long, so I need to keep buying new boots every few months.
If you have boots you like and trust which you find comfortable, you can take those to the jungle as long as they are used regularly and still have good traction. You want traction that is adequate on wet and slick rocks but also OK on muddy terrain.
If the boots haven’t been worn for a while the outer sole may have crystalised and in the wet conditions of the jungle it can come unglued. If you suspect that this could be a problem, take your boots to a cobbler before the beginning of the trek and ask them to pass a line of stitching along the edge. Fixing a boot that’s come unglued may not be possible in the jungle and you may be forced to hike in your sandals, which is could be a predicament in and of itself.