What are the best bushcraft boots available right now? That would have to be the Kenetrek Mountain Guide boots, which are incredibly comfortable, durable (even resoleable), and waterproof.
For winter hiking, you’ll want a second pair that’s insulated, and fortunately, Kenetrek makes a version of the Mountain Guide with 400 grams of Thinsulate insulation or 1000 grams for exploring the tundra.
Last update on 2020-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Bushcrafting is all about survival, and to do that, you need a good pair of boots on your feet. Boots that fall apart, allow your feet to get wet, or aren’t warm enough can easily ruin your day (or week) of backcountry adventure.
While Kenetrek’s are some of the best, they’re not for everyone. There’s a lot of different ways to enjoy bushcraft, and they don’t all require the Rolls Royce of boots.
Finding a pair that can stand up to the rigors of the wilderness can be a challenge, so keep reading to learn more about leather quality, boot design, and levels of protection, so that you can make an informed purchase.
Reviews of the Best Bushcraft Boots
1. Kenetrek Mountain Guide Boots
Not enough good things can be said about Kenetrek’s boots. The Bozeman, Montana based company builds all of their boots by hand in Italy, using techniques that have been perfected over the centuries to create some of the most durable bushcraft boots on the market.
The uppers on Kenetrek’s Mountain Guide Boots are made from 2.8mm-thick full-grain leather. In addition to the high-quality materials, they build the vast (the section covering your toes and ankles) from a single piece of leather. Since stitches are the first point of failure on a boot, their absence goes a long way towards making a pair last for several years.
The Mountain Guides also utilize a welt, the section of fabric where the outsole and the uppers attach. The welt allows them to be resoled, should the sole’s lugs wear down, as the uppers are stitched, rather than permanently bonded to the outsole.
Given the quality of the uppers and the ability to resole, the only reason you’d need to completely replace the Mountain Guides is when the midsole wears out, which could take a decade.
If you’re looking for a boot with great protection, the Mountain Guides have it in spades. The uppers are 10 inches tall for maximum protection against thorns, brush, and the occasional snake (note: these are not considered snake-proof boots).
While the basic Mountain Guides are great for three-season bushcrafting, the company also produces an insulated version using either 400 or 1000 gram Thinsulate insulation to keep your toes nice and warm.
These boots are not for everyone, though; they’re pretty heavy at 4.5 pounds per pair, and their tall uppers, combined with the stiff outsole, make them less suitable for steep trails.
They’re also very expensive, costing the same as three or four pairs of budget bushcraft boots. They’re definitely worth the cost, but be prepared to make an investment with them.
- 2.8mm full-grain leather uppers are incredibly durable and waterproof
- 10-inch high uppers provide excellent ankle and shin protection
- Also comes in two insulated version for winter bushcraft
- They can be resoled
- Cost up to 3x what other bushcraft boots do
- Stiff uppers and thick soles make them less comfortable
- Quite heavy, weighing over four pounds
2. Timberland Euro Hiker Boots
If the Kenetreks seemed overkill for your purposes, then the Timberland Euro Hiker might be the perfect boot for your bushcraft needs. Not only are they considerably less expensive, but they also weigh half as much, coming in at just under two pounds. As the saying goes, a pound on the foot is worth five on the back.
The uppers are still made from full-grain leather, but the material is thinner and there’s a lot more stitching. Each of those stitches is a possible entry point for moisture and a possible point of failure with long term use.
The Euro Hiker goes to just above the ankle to give some protection to the joint, but not enough for carrying heavy loads. If you’re hiking in snake country or through thick brush, they provide no protection for your shins.
On the other hand, they won’t be as hot and they have a better range of motion. Shorter uppers give the Euro Hikers a more casual look that’s better suited for post-hike drinks too.
The Euro’s outsole is glued to the upper material, which means that it cannot be resoled and that they’re more likely to detach from each other.
Bonding rather than stitching is common with less expensive boots, so this is to be expected. Still, the Euro Hiker is a great alternative to the Kenetreks, especially if you aren’t spending a whole season out in the wilderness.
- Relatively inexpensive
- Flexible fit that’s good for steep ascents and descents
- A casual look that works on and off the trail
- Lightweight – just under two pounds
- Less durable than its competitors
- Provide no protection for your shins
- They cannot be resoled
How to Choose the Best Boots for Bushcraft – Buyer’s Guide
Getting a good pair of boots is no easy task; there’s a lot to consider in terms of features, materials, and style. These are some areas you’ll want to think about before picking up a pair.
You might assume that since bushcraft is all about survival, comfort would not be the first thing you’d need to look for in a pair of boots. But let’s be honest, uncomfortable boots live in the closet, never to see the light of day. It doesn’t matter how durable, waterproof, protective, and warm they are if you never wear them.
Just as important, uncomfortable boots cause sores and injuries that make bushcraft more difficult and dangerous. It’s always a good idea to give yourself an ample break-in period with a new pair of boots, but some will never be comfortable.
They might not fit the shape of your foot, or they could be too stiff for the kinds of activities you like to do. Either way, comfort comes first in footwear.
That being said, bushcrafting boots are usually not as comfortable as hiking boots. They are stiffer and have a thick shank running between the outsole and the midsole, which reduces flexibility and makes walking feel less natural.
They are harder to move in, but they should never have pressure points that will later form blisters. Always try on boots at the end of the day; your feet swell throughout the day, and you don’t want to buy a size too small.
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Most bushcrafters like to spend several days or even weeks living in the wilderness. Do you know what’s hard to do in the wilderness? Repairs.
A good pair of bushcrafting boots should last several seasons and should never have a catastrophic failure. Gradual wear and tear can be observed and planned around, but if your boots suddenly fall apart several miles into the backcountry, it’ll be a challenge just to walk out.
You should definitely carry a sewing kit in your best bushcraft backpack on your adventures, but that won’t suffice if you need to stitch together some leather panels or reattach the sole to the uppers on your boot.
Look for boots made from full-grain leather, which is the most wear-resistant grade of leather, or synthetics constructed of thick nylon. Check the stitching too – a high-quality boot will have the uppers stitched directly to the outsole.
Soles that are directly attached can be resoled, while pairs that use glue or a chemical process to attach them cannot, which makes this a good marker of quality.
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Moisture is dangerous when you’re far from civilization; it can lead to fungal infections, blisters, and of course, frostbite when the temperatures are low. Most bushcraft boots are made from breathable, but waterproof materials like full-grain leather, or synthetics with Gore-Tex liners.
Despite these materials, moisture finds its way in, through the stitching and where the uppers and outsoles come together. Less stitching and sealed seams are critical and if you’re camping in extremely wet areas, boots with partially rubberized uppers might be necessary.
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The level of protection that bushcraft boots provide is one of the biggest factors setting them apart from your hiking boots.
They’re usually taller and provide better ankle protection, which is critical when carrying a heavy load. If you hit the trails in the desert, thick snake-proof boots might not be a bad idea.
Most bushcraft boots come with a hard plastic or steel shank between the midsole and outsole too. This creates a barrier between you and a rocky trail that would pummel your feet over several hours.
Boots with a shank have less flexibility, so they’re not great for steep uphills, but they’re a lifesaver if you’re carrying a heavy pack on a rough trail.
Bushcraft is for all seasons, and unfortunately, boots are not. If you camp in all four seasons, you’ll need at least two pairs of boots.
Your winter pair should be well-insulated, as toes are often the first thing to get frostbitten. Insulation is typically synthetic and has a rating to indicate what range of temperatures they will be comfortable in.
Winter boots usually have taller uppers to prevent snow from coming in the top, though you can wear gaiters to mitigate this problem with shorter boots.
They’ll often have a rubberized panel or coating that covers the bottom portion of the upper, which prevents moisture from seeping in, even if you’re standing in a puddle.
My Choice for the Best Bushcraft Boots
Finding a good pair of boots will be your first step towards having a safe and enjoyable bush crafting adventure. The Kenetrek should be your top choice for the best bushcraft boots – that is if you’ve got the money to spend.
They’re the most durable, most protective, and some of the most comfortable boots out there right now. The only real downsides are their weight and slightly reduced mobility with the taller uppers.
The Kenetrek is a bit much for some bushcrafters, though. Timberland’s Euro Hiker is a solid option for those needing less protection and more comfort. They are much cheaper and have a more casual look.
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Last update on 2020-08-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Last update on 2020-08-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API