Cody Lundin is well-known for trekking the woods without any shoes on. While the man is a knowledgeable survival expert, his choice of footwear is questionable.
No matter the environment you find yourself in, a reliable pair of boots is essential to keep you safe and moving forward.
Out in the backcountry, your feet are your only mode of transportation, so you better take care of them. Rainforests, deserts, and tundras all pose a huge threat to your feet. Whether it be frostbite, trench foot, or stepping on a hidden snake, the best bushcraft boots are made to protect you.
Here, we’ve put together the best of the best for you and your toes in the backcountry.
Best Bushcraft Boots
Rocky Ridgetop Insulated Outdoor Boot
In the winter, you are facing the possibility of wet and cold feet. For this, you need a boot that will not only keep you dry but warm. The Rocky Ridgetop Insulated Outdoor Boot provides what you need for great protection.
First off, any boot that you want to be waterproof needs to have a leather construction. Everything else works for a short time. Leather is the only material (other than rubber fishing boots) I have found to keep my feet dry in wet conditions for a long time. The Rocky Ridgetops are completely leather, guaranteed to keep you dry.
This leather boot is then packed with 600 grams of 3M Thinsulate Ultra Insulation that warms your feet no matter what surface you’re on. These are the kind of boots that you end up standing in a sweat puddle if you wear them in the summer. These are strictly a wintertime shoe unless you enjoy soggy feet.
This boot is an excellent option for cold weather bushcraft. While the tread and rubber sole could be made with better tech, it still gives you a decent grip. I like the high ankle on these boots to prevent any sprains. It means you’ll be supported, dry, and warm throughout the expedition.
Rocky Men’s S2V Tactical Boot
Another boot from Rocky that is meant to be worn for hours on end is the Rocky Men’s S2V Tactical Boot. This boot is designed to meet the strict regulations of the Berry Amendment. It uses all American materials with Berry compliant moisture-wicking lining and an Aegis Microbe shield. This keeps you dry and safe from dangerous bacteria.
The S2V is made from high-quality flesh-side out cattle hide leather. It’s then coated with PTFE (Teflon) to add to its water and flame resistance. The seams are then triple-stitched to keep the boot intact for years.
The 100% leather construction is supported by a high-walled Vibram sole cemented and stitched to the boot for the best support. I’ve always loved a sole that’s stitched in, because there’s far less risk of losing your sole to a failing adhesive.
If this isn’t enough for you, the S2V is even available in a steel-toed version to give you proper protection from everything. That’ll be heavy to carry around, but you won’t be limping with a stubbed toe.
Salomon Men’s Quest Boot
Looking for some modern-day tech to make up a waterproof and comfortable boot? Salomon is the company that I trust to bring the best “modern” boots to the bushcraft game. Every piece of gear I have ever owned from them has done exactly as it promised to. Plus, it’s always mind-blowingly comfortable.
These boots are 100% synthetic and use a Gore-Tex membrane to keep feet dry while still letting them breathe. That makes these boots a good choice for summer bushcraft. These are the best bushcraft hiking boots there are.
SensiFit is designed to give you a comfortable boot that you can hike for miles in without ever feeling hot spots or blisters forming. The Quest boot has an advanced chassis system that guides your foot to reduce fatigue. Its high ankle supports you when hiking over rough terrain and the running shoe style cushioning makes the boot even more supportive.
Salomon likes to claim this boot will give you happier feet. They’ve focused on comfort, and that includes dry feet that can breathe easily.
Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail 2.0 Chukka Boot
A simple, more budget-friendly boot option is the Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail 2.0 Chukka Boot. They target someone who wants to also wear these in the streets, adding to their fashion. Fortunately, this wasn’t their only aim, and they’ve included some features that make this boot great for bushcraft.
The lower half of the boot is waterproof leather, while the top is mesh for breathability. It then incorporates a Gore-Tex membrane to keep the whole boot waterproof. This is a good combination that I like for being able to step in shallow creeks, but not go too high. In my mind, leather is more trustworthy than Gore-Tex when it comes to blocking water.
The 2.0 Chukka has an EVA footbed that can be taken out and replaced with your footbed but gives extra support and comfort. It has an EVA midsole that offers more cushioning to let you wear these all day long without tiring.
This is a good boot if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper. They will be good everydaywear if you’re expecting something to happen where you need to bolt off into the woods. I wouldn’t expect these to last forever, though.
Danner Mountain 600 Hiking Boots
Just looking at this boot, you can tell that it’s a great choice if you want something waterproof but looks nice. The uppers are made from a durable and waterproof suede leather that is coated with Danner Dry waterproofing. I like the lack of stitching in this boot: the less stitching, the fewer blown out seams or points to let in water.
The footbeds are OrthoLite, made to give you cushion and comfort over long hikes. These are complemented by a Vibram SPE (specialized performance elastomer) midsole. This combination provides the boot with a great rebound with a ton of support and comfort.
The outsoles are Vibram Fuga that has a tread designed to give you grip on wet or dry surfaces. Vibram has always been the rubber of choice for me. It’s gotten me across slick rocks on creeks, loose dirt, and icy paths while watching other people slip.
I wouldn’t pick these boots for a long haul with a heavy pack. I’d have them ready for shorter expeditions when I want to move around quickly. They’re also pretty good-looking, and you may want to wear them outside of bushcraft.
Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Boot
I’ll start by saying that my experience with Merrell has been a mixed bag. That being said, when I’ve worn the Moabs, I’ve enjoyed them. The Moab 2 Prime Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot is a redesigned version of what used to be my go-to boot. There are a few upgrades to the old design that make this a worthy boot of bushcraft.
The boot is 100% suede with a waterproof membrane that stops water from coming in while letting your foot breathe. The uppers are leather, which helps add to the waterproofing. The boot also has a protective toe cap and a Bellows tongue to keep random dirt from flying in and scraping you up.
The Vibram sole is designed to give you traction in any environment, but the tread pattern leaves something to be desired. Merrell has attempted to combine function and fashion with the tread, and I would prefer they’d focus on function.
I’ve always found Merrell boots to be right in the mid-range of quality as well as price. You get exactly what you pay for. That means you may not be getting 100% waterproof boots 100% of the time. Just be prepared. They’re still one of the best boots for bushcraft, just for lighter use.
KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Boot
The Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot is a 100% Nubuck leather boot that makes sure your foot stays dry. The leather is treated with a water-repellant that’s free of harmful chemicals. It then has a Keen dry waterproof and breathable membrane on the interior of the boot.
The design of this boot is all about stability, support, balance, and traction. The all-terrain rubber outsole is made by Keen specifically to match all types of environments, even indoors. It features an external support shank that provides torsion stability and a mid-cut height to stabilize your ankle.
Keen is a well-known brand, mostly for its sandals. Today it’s moving more towards boots and shoes, and I would encourage you to see these more like shoes than boots. With that in mind, they are some of the best bushcraft shoes you can get.
Belleville Men’s 770 200g Insulated Boot
Combat boots are made for tough environments, and you know that they will stand up to a lot of abuse. The Belleville Men’s 770 200g Insulated Boot is a prime example of a combat boot that kicks butt.
The overall construction uses both leather and synthetic materials with a Vibram sole supporting it all. The upper is made from 100% leather and high-abrasion nylon to reinforce what is already super durable. The inside is then lined with Gore-Tex to add waterproofing as well as breathability.
It’s a good thing you have breathability because the boot is then lined with 200g of Thinsulate insulation to warm your feet up when the outside world is cold. The Gore-Tex’s breathability helps the warmth not produce puddles of sweat on warmer days or long hikes.
Belleville uses a patented Vanguard running sole construction with a huge amount of cushion and protection for long treks. The high ankle adds to the overall stability and makes sure you aren’t tumbling down any cliffs with a sprain. It also means you can walk shallow creeks in these with no fear of tipping your boots.
Zamberlan Men’s Tofan Hiking Boot
This boot is built for rugged, rugged use. My pick as the best boots for bushcraft, the Zamberlan Men’s 1025 Tofane NW GT RR Hiking Boot, is the kind of boot you want to wear for everything and never take off. It’s found a balance between old-school boots and modern technology that has won them awards in the outdoor industry.
The upper is full-grain waxed leather without any seams to bust. The interior has a Gore-Tex membrane to increase that waterproofing as well as breathability. The sole of this boot is the exclusive Zamberlan Vibram NorWalk outsole that’s highly durable. It’s then stitched to the boot, which, as we may remember, I love.
If this boot were any cheaper, I would have multiple pairs. If it were any cheaper, I also might question its claims to be the best boot. You pay for pure-Italian leather and construction that comes from a cobbling family older than you. If you’re over 90 and reading this, I tip my hat.
You just can’t go wrong with these boots. You’ll be supported and dry in any environment. You’ll just need to fork over a significant chunk of change. If you can take price out of the equation, these are the best bushcraft boots there are.
Lowa Men’s Zephyr GTX Mid Hiking Boot
I’ve known Lowa for a while now and have never experienced a negative comment or review. The brand focuses on making great boots for the outdoors, and the Zephyr is no exception. They use suede leather for the upper that also has Cordura fabric for durability.
The liner is a synthetic textile that is breathable as well as comfortable. They use Gore-Tex as well to make your feet stay dry on long days. The insole gives you a lot of cushions, but you can remove it to add your footbed in as well.
The Lowa Cross II rubber sole has multi-directional lugs to give you traction on unstable terrain, which you’ll need on a bushcraft expedition. The outsole extends upwards to protect the sides and toe, which increases the boot’s durability overall.
I would recommend this boot when you’re heading out a longer trek that isn’t going to be super wet. The suede construction is suitable for light moisture, but if it’s coming down, your feet will likely end up wet.
Danner Men’s Super Rain Forest 200 Gram Work Boot
Here’s another beautifully-crafted boot from Danner that draws your eye, even if it’s just for the way it looks. This high-ankle boot is 100% full-grain leather with a Vibram sole that’s stitched in. The 2.8-3.0 mm leather is sure to keep your feet dry, but just in case, they’ve added a Gore-Tex liner.
This boot has a Vibram 132 Montagna outsole with a simple tread that does its job well. The soles are great for on-site construction or any other work-related function. They are work boots, after all, but bushcraft always feels like work.
On top of the high-quality everything, Danner put in 200g of Thinsulate insulation for colder days without adding a bunch of weight. The leather is chemical-resistant, which makes this perfect for difficult construction sites. This boot would transfer over well to bushcraft, but may not be its primary function.
How to Choose Boots for Bushcraft
Each boot on this list has something different going for it. There’s a lot that goes into making a boot for bushcraft and even more deciding what to purchase.
Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out exactly what you’ll need for your next expedition to give your feet the care they deserve.
Expected Weather Conditions
Practicing bushcraft isn’t going to be like a walk in the park or a day on the beach. Bushcraft boots give the best protection possible, but you need to know what you’re protecting your feet from first.
Is it raining? Are you in a dry spell? When you walk outside, is there snow on the ground? Not only do you need to know the current weather, but you also need to pay attention to the weather patterns coming.
If you expect snow, you need a waterproof boot that also insulates. I’ve always found the snow to penetrate my boots faster than the most intense downpour of rain. That’s why when I go out in the snow, I bring my most waterproof boots, but also boots that are insulated or have extra room for thicker socks.
In the rain, you should expect to step in puddles on top of having rain come down on the top of your boot. Rain is better at slicking off your boots than snow, especially if you’ve treated them recently. If it’s raining, it’s probably warmer out, so you want your feet to be able to breathe alongside staying dry. Synthetic materials do this best, like Gore-Tex.
If you’re headed into a desert environment, you have a bit more freedom but need to focus more on the boot’s durability. Leather holds up well, but when it dries out, it gets a bit more fragile. Either treat your boots well and oil them or go for a synthetic and breathable boot in hot, dry weather.
Ensure you know the type of terrain you will be hiking across before strapping on your boots. If you’re in for rocky and uncertain terrain, high ankles are necessary. This support gives you the stability to not roll your ankle.
The lower ankle, or mid-cut, boots on this list are great for when you aren’t on any terrain that’s too saucy. They’re great for groomed trails or flat forests. Even then, the risk of rolling your ankle is higher. The whole goal of wearing the right boots is to avoid being injured and stranded in the bush all alone.
Another thing to consider while looking at boots is the distance you expect to hike in them. If you know you’ll be going a long way, focus on the comfort of the boot, as well as the weight.
You’re already going to have a pack that’s weighing you down, so the last thing you need is a pair of boots that weigh just as much. If you want a leg workout, then sure, go for the heavy boots. Bushcraft isn’t about getting a workout, though. It’s about living comfortably.
Lightweight and cushioned boots are best for long distances.
Protection often comes in the form of a rubber toe covering or even a steel toe. That’s the kind of protection from heavy and falling objects that you’re bound to come across in the bush.
There’s also protection from the elements. This is where insulation and waterproofing come into play. It’s far more likely that you will end up with an injury from wet or cold feet than from a rock falling on your toes.
You need protection from the elements most. Then focus on other blunt objects flying your way.
Personally, I only buy leather bushcraft boots. There are good reasons to go the other direction, though.
Leather is incredibly durable and waterproof. These boots last a long time until a seam blows or the sole starts to come off. Even then, a speedy stitcher or some shoe glue fixes the problem. Synthetics have always just fallen apart on me. Maybe I’m too tough on my gear.
Synthetic boots, or those made from weaker leather (Nubuck or Suede), tend to be a better option for lightweight boots that are also more breathable. For most, synthetics give you breathability and lightweight construction. It’s the best option for long hikes.
Support is up there with the waterproofness of bushcraft boots. Without the proper support, you’re looking at a potentially serious injury. When you’re far out in the bush, you need shoes that will have your back.
I like high-ankle boots for long expeditions that I won’t be doing a ton of hiking during. They give the best support but aren’t as comfortable to hike in. There are more spots for blisters to form.
Mid-cut boots give alright ankle support and are far more comfortable for hiking.
You also need to consider your foot. With a high arch, a good footbed is required. Many of these boots have decent footbeds, but an aftermarket, the custom footbed is the only way to get the best support.
Leather and Gore-Tex are your best options for waterproof boots.
If you aren’t familiar with trench foot, I hope you never get to know it. It’s more dangerous than it seems, and you have to protect your feet from the water.
I prefer leather and Gore-Tex combination boots. But when we’re talking about waterproofing, even a Ziploc bag over your foot is better than nothing.
Of course, the price needs to be taken into consideration. My favorite boot on this list is ridiculously expensive.
The thing is, with the boots on this list, you get what you pay for. Mid-range boots in price tend to be in the middle performance-wise as well. Budget boots aren’t going to last you forever. Spending hundreds of dollars may get you to a point years down the road.
It’s up to you, but I have always viewed boots as an investment well worth the money.
Boots are one of the most essential pieces of equipment when headed out for a bushcraft expedition. The best bushcraft boots make your life so much easier when you go out into the woods. Bushcraft is about being comfortable, not doubled-over in pain from cramps and blisters.
Lacing up is going to be the last thing you do before heading out. Make sure your feet are strapped into something that will take care of you.