A good safari boot is the one thing that is a must when it comes to safari wear and bushwalks. Sure you can dress up in khaki, leather, leopard print, and dark green, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter all that much about what you wear on safari if you don’t have the shoe.
However, protecting your feet in the bush is important.
If your safari has plans to do any bush walks in search of the “Big Five” picking up a good pair of boots before your trip is a necessity. A good pair of safari boots is not just comfort they are safe for being in the bush.
What Makes A Great Safari Boot
Everything that comprises a great hiking boot is found in safari boots.
- High Ankle: In our experience, we fully recommend anything with a high ankle. On bush walks you can often walk through thick grass, deep mud, or briars so you must protect your legs. In savannah environments, you face the risk of acacia thorns and ticks while jungle environments bring about deep mud and some of the meanest ants. Then to top it all off, there is always the risk of a poisonous snake when walking in the bush.
- Thick Sole: Those acacia thorns can be brutal. Trust me – I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with them puncturing my shoes. Any good pair of safari boots should have a tough sole that protects the bottom of your feet from a sharp thorn or branch.
- Comfort: Anytime you plan to go for long walks in shoe comfort is a main priority.
- Material: Leather, rubber, or synthetic all have their own advantages. What you pick for your safari boot all really depends on personal preference. I’m a fan of leather boots, and they also have that classic safari look.
- Style: They could be the best boots ever, but if they’re dead ugly I wouldn’t wear them so make sure to pick a pair of safari boots you are happy to be seen wearing.
Keep in mind, you don’t need safari boots!
We spend 90% of our time in Africa wearing sandals! Of course, every “cute” outfit that you see of safari clothes involves boots, but the reality is you don’t need them. Most safari guests may not partake in a bush walk. They won’t be self-driving, they won’t be camping, and they’ll likely never have any reason to hop out of the vehicle.
Instead, safari guests ride in the back of a game viewer and participate in activities around camp with no need to be wearing safari boots. However, this guide is for you if you are not one of those people. This guide is for the bushwalkers and individuals who will be spending a lot of time on their feet.
The Best Safari Boots
Men’s Safari Boots
Chippewa Apache Boots
These are probably my favorite pair of boots I’ve ever owned. I spent some time looking for the perfect boot brand and came across Chippewa. They make gorgeous leather boots and they’re all made in the USA. Which, for me, means supporting my own nation and it brings a level of quality when not mass produced cheaply.
The boots are made of thick soft leather, strong stitching, and they’re extremely comfortable. These boots are tough and perfect for both a safari and life in general. As a tip I’d pick up some leather treatment to protect the boot and add a level of water resistance.
Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger
Red Wing comes in a close second for boot brands in my opinion and they’re also made in the USA. These boots are both functional and stylish. Designed with quality materials and solid craftsmanship. Red Wing’s Heritage Iron Ranger’s have a high ankle and steel toe for great protection beyond the bush.
If I was considering a serious self-drive safari into the deep bush I’d go for a pair of steel toe boots. What I love about these boots and the Apaches are they are some of the best damn boots in terms of style, quality, comfort, and longevity. You can’t go wrong with a classic. Now all you need is a hat and a good camera for safari.
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II
Not all boots are about the style. These Columbia boots are about practicality and comfort. The Newton Ridge Plus is a blend of leather and synthetic materials good for breathability and waterproofing. Synthetic safari boots may not have the classic look, but they weigh less and have more flexibility than the more expensive leather boots. In fact, most safari guides these days opt for the new style of boots due to their practicality and comfort. With a low price point, these boots are a clear winner.
Merrell Men’s Moab 2
Merrel is a great boot brand. They specialize in hiking shoes so you know your feet will be comfortable for walking long distances. The boots are a blend of leather, textile, and synthetic. They are waterproof, comfortable, rubber soles, and high ankles.
The soles themselves are specially designed to grip so in muddy or wet conditions they grip. It’s unlikely you’ll ever go for a bush walk in rainy conditions. I would suggest these boots for someone going gorilla trekking in the jungle or if you’re an avid hiker.
Vasque Breeze III Mid GTX
These boots are great boots are well built and loved by hiking enthusiasts. The soles have thick bottoms that will protect from long acacia thorns, rocks, and dry brush. They’re lightweight as they’re designed as trail shoes and are constructed from Goretex for waterproofing.
Women’s Safari Boots
Red Wing Heritage Iron Ranger
I wish Chippewa had a greater option of women’s boots. However, Red Wing does the job with the Women’s Iron Ranger. You know how you know these boots are classics? They look great on both Men and Women. They’re rugged, chic, and sexy on both sexes. To me, it all comes down the superb leather they use to construct their boots. When you buy a classic pair of boots like these you’re making an investment in your feet.
Dr. Marten’s Pascal Combat Boot
The Pascal Combat Boot has been a fashion staple for decades now. Combined with both a classic combat boot look, solid design, and comfort these boots are great for a bush walk. A large selection of styles and colors ensure you can choose whatever suits your mood. After all, women’s safari clothes do not need to be all khaki and leather. The long history and great build quality mean the boots should also hold up against the elements. I wouldn’t recommend them for a hard adventurer, but they’re more than enough for the average safari.
Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator 2 Mid
These aren’t the best looking shoes in the world, but they’re nowhere near a pair of crocs. Tasha spent months trying on different hiking shoes and finally settled on the Moab Ventilator and has been wearing them ever since. They are well constructed and have held up well over the years. The Moab’s are well padded, comfortable, and for about a $20 different you can get the Gortex version (waterproof). Boots like these are great for people who need comfort and looking for a good hiking boot.
The North Face Ballard Lace II
I love the look of the North Face Ballard. These aren’t good just for safari, but they are also very stylish and go well during any season. The Ballards are made out of durable coated canvas and leather uppers. They are great for walking for long periods with their OrthoLite footbed and blown rubber sidewalls. These boots are durable enough to last for years and have rust-proof hardware.
Safari Boot Tips
- Dry Feet: This is the age-old boot tip, but keep your boots dry and change your socks often. Most people won’t face these challenges on safari. However, keeping dry feet while gorilla or chimp trekking in Uganda, the DRC, and Rwanda will certainly prove to be a challenge. A great pair of socks is always your first line of defense in protecting your feet. Check these out for a good pair.
- Leather Care: If you’re going with some of the more expensive boots on this list like the Red Wings or Chippewas I suggest taking care of the leather. With boots like these, they can literally last a lifetime if maintained. The soles can be replaced when they eventually wear. However, the leather must be protected against the elements this is why I use a leather sealant and conditioner. Like Obenaufs, which you can buy it here.