Product Review: Jungle Boots

Sam Gravestock puts jungle boots through their paces.

Everyone who has ever watched a Viet Nam film be it Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, Good Morning Viet Nam or even Forrest Gump will be to a lesser or greater amount familiar with jungle boots.

But how many of us have actually considered them as a practical boot for the United Kingdom?

I will hazard a guess that the majority of folk, myself included, would have if not dismissed then rationalised to themselves that the jungle boot is a specialised piece of equipment that isn't suited to our native climate. Well I was misguided in this rationalisation and I suspect many others are too - not that I am telling anyone they are wrong, merely that they might want to reassess their views.

Developed in 1968 for the United States army for use in Viet Nam. These boots have been in use ever since so for over forty years.

Firstly the boot itself. This is a no frills leather boot with cowhide leather toes, heels and lace area. A canvas and nylon upper (available in either black canvas or traditional O.D). The lace eyelets are black aluminium.

Olive Green Jungle Boots
Olive Green Jungle Boots

The canvas tongue is stitched onto the boots sides preventing ingress of dirt and so on into the boot and thus preventing irritation and discomfort. This gives the toe and foot plenty of protection from damage from stones and so on but gives the ankle plenty of movement to prevent aches and grumbles.

Leather and canvas jungle boots
Leather and Canvas Jungle Boots

I personally find that high leather tops result in aches in my leg tendons and can completely put me off a pair of boots. The set-up of leather lower and canvas upper completely disposed of this problem.

There is no Gore-Tex or other fancy modern material within this boot which makes for a much lighter boot than some army surplus boots available on the market.

As it has no waterproof lining the jungle boot relies on a pair of side vents to push water out whilst the boot is being worn. Whilst designed for the jungle this is a useful feature for the UK as long as you have somewhere to dry off over night.

Jungle boots with screened eyelet vents
Jungle Boots with Screened Eyelet Vents

The soles are thick set with a good grippy pattern to the tread allowing good purchase in muddy environments but also just wandering around town or the local woods. The soles are manufactured from rubber and are the 'panama' style.

I must give a word of warning here and it is nothing major but something I think will save disagreements with people's significant others. When new or damp the soles can leave marks on tiled flooring and also laminate style flooring. Whilst they easily remove when the floor is mopped it can cause irritation to those who like clean floors.

Panama sole
Panama Sole

Now for the testing part of my review.

The boots do not require much breaking in at all more than likely due to the fact that only part of the boot is leather. As for sizing, I found these boots came up quite generous. I still had enough room to fit a decent pair of hiking socks in them without feeling tight.

I wore these boots for a fortnight solid (apart from at night that would have been silly) and really put the boots through their paces (excuse the pun). At no point did I experience blisters or even hotspots warning of possible blisters to come. I wore them to work where I am constantly on my feet without problems, I wore them for scouts and played football against the scouts without feeling like I was wearing combat boots (we lost but that is besides the point). I took the dogs for several long walks over woodland terrain and tarmac pavements, and apart from the relief everyone feels at the end of the day when boots are removed I had no problems with the jungle boot what so ever. I even wore them down the pub without feeling out of place in them (trousers tend to cover the canvas section of the boot unless you are wearing them completely authentically with combats tucked into them GI style).

So there you have it the iconic jungle boot at home in the jungle but as comfortable in the United Kingdom - rugged, hard wearing but light on the foot. A good purchase at a good price. Don't just dismiss them as something from your favourite war films look at them as potentially your favourite boots.

Mean and Green sometimes also have genuine issue jungle boots although these are usually very limited availability.

Jungle Boots with canvas tongue
Jungle Boots with Canvas Tongue

You can buy Jungle boots directly from this site.

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October 2011