Gear Up: Top Rated Survival Boots For Men And Women

survival boots

In our last post, Alex Park from covered the key steps to choosing the best outdoor boot, discussed how to break them so you do not cause damage to your feet, and provided great care tips for making them last. We followed his advice and searched for survival boots that stood up to vigorous wear and tear in a variety of environments. In this article, we discuss which boot features are most essential to survival, define boot anatomy terms, and list our top picks for men’s and women’s survival boots.

Getting Started

When it comes to boots, there are loads of options. For survival, the weather resistance and durability will play a significant role. Also, you need to consider the long-term comfort, as you will be spending long days on your feet.

The upper can be made of leather or nylon blends. A combination of leather and synthetic mesh offers good structural support and is lighter than an all-leather upper. For keeping out rain and snow, make sure the boot is rated waterproof and has a gusseted tongue to prevent seepage through the lace holes.

Many boots offer some type of breathable liner that draws moisture away from your feet. This, in conjunction with a secure fit, will help prevent chaffing and blisters from forming.

The best fit will need to be supported by a strong lacing system. Check the way the eyelets, D-rings, or hooks are fastened to the boot, as they will need to withstand repeated stress. However, even the strongest hardware is nothing without a sturdy pair of laces, such as 550 paracord.

To choose the best type of sole, consider the terrain you will most likely be traversing. If you plan on a lot of up-and-down on steep trails, you may want to look for heel and toe brakes. Self-cleaning treads will prove helpful in muddy or rocky areas. Also, shock absorbency and flexibility for running and jumping may come in handy.

In order to properly compare different boot designs, it’s important to know the terminology. Here are the terms most commonly encountered when researching survival boots:

Key Terms To Know When Looking For Boots

survival boots
Image via Chris Greeveblester on flickr.

Collar – runs around the top of the shaft. The collar can have internal or external padding, both of which serve to protect the ankle from impact, keep debris from getting in, and provide comfort.

Carbon Rubber – a chemically altered form of rubber that is more durable, lightweight, and provides good shock resistance.

Crampon/Snowshoe Compatibility – some survival boots are specifically designed to integrate with crampons or snow shoes.

EVA  – ethylene-vinyl acetate, it is a high-density durable foam that absorbs shock.

Gore-Tex – a multi-layer lining material that is designed to create a dry environment inside by shedding internal moisture from perspiration and blocking external moisture from getting in. Can be used in warm-weather gear to shed heat or can be insulated for colder temperatures to trap heat.

survival boots
Image via Adam Kahtava on flickr.

Gusseted Tongue – a tongue that is sewn to the boot behind the lace eyelets to form a barrier to debris and water.

Heel Brake – a tread design that provides a better grip when descending steep areas.

Heel Cap/Heel Counter – cradles the heel and prevents the foot from slipping up and down when walking.

Insole – the layer in direct contact with the bottom of the foot. Often removable and can be specialized for antimicrobial, anti-shock, or pressure relief performance.

Midsole – the layer above the outsole that provides structural support to the bottom of the foot using shanks.

Neutral Foot Position – when the ankle and feet form a straight vertical line and weight is evenly distributed. This reduces strain on feet, as well as the joints of the knees, hips, and back.

Outsole – the bottom most part of the boot that touches the ground. It can be stitched, cemented, or stitched and cemented to the upper.

Rand – seen in waterproof and water resistant styles, the rand is the rubber strip that overlaps the seam between the boot upper and the sole. Most survival boots will have this feature.

Self-Cleaning Treads – a tread pattern that utilizes the natural flex of your step to open the space between the treads and shed debris, such as pebbles and caked mud.

survival boots
Image via Russ on flickr.

Shaft – the part of the boot that goes up the leg. Shaft height is measured from the point where the boot meets the sole to the maximum height up the leg. Occasionally, the circumference measurement will also be given, which is the distance around the widest part of the shaft.

Shank(s) – supportive metal or plastic strips that shape the arch of the boot. Can be a full shank, which runs the entire length, or a ¾ shank which ends at the ball of the foot.

Suede vs Nubuck vs Leather – Suede is the softest of the three, created by brushing the inside surface of leather. Nubuck is made by roughing the outside or grain surface of leather, making it stronger than suede and more resistant to abrasion and water. Full grain refers to leather that has not been brushed or roughed on either side, making it more stiff than nubuck or suede.

Toe Cap –an extra piece of material that protects the front of the boot from abrasion.

Torque/Torsion Control – how well the boot’s structure resists twisting at the ankle.

Vibram Outsole – refers to a patented diamond tread pattern, also known as a Lug Sole, that is recognized for providing excellent traction.

Vulcanized Rubber – natural rubber that has been chemically altered to resist deformation and loss of elasticity with change of temperature, making it harder, longer lasting, and more durable.

Survival Boots For Men

Mens Survival BootsKey Features
KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
• ESS shank provides ankle stability
• Dual-density EVA foam midsole is contoured for comfortable support
• Keen.Dry membrane lends a breathable barrier against rain
Danner Men's Radical 452 GTX Outdoor Boot
• Toe cap resists abrasion in rough terrain
• Ultra strong GORE-TEX insulates against snow
• Terra Force technology supports from all sides and prevents torsion
Salomon Men's Quest 4D GTX Backpacking Boot
• Keeps out debris with gusseted tongue
• Heel and toe reinforced with rubber to protect against wear
• Lace locking system allows for independent tightening of each section
Garmont Men's Zenith Mid GTX Trail Hiking Shoe
• Hardware is rust-resistant
• Excellent traction, even on wet rocks and mud
• Gore Tex lining provides breathability in heat and insulation in cold
Rocky Outdoor Boots Men S2V Substratum Direct Attach
• Waterproof nubuck and ripstop nylon exterior for flexible durability
• Tall 8" shaft for a higher fit
• Crampon and snowshoe compatible
• Laces are 550 military grade paracord
Rocky Men's S2v Jungle Boot
• Ideal for hot, humid climates
• Drainage holes allow water to shed quickly
• Ultra lightweight design offers support without excessive padding
McRae Footwear Men's Hot Weather Desert Boot
• Deep treads shed mud and debris
• Vulcanized rubber outsole is engineered for durability
• Fast drying Suede/Cordura upper is padded for comfort
Belleville TR960ZWP KHYBER Lightweight Waterproof Side-Zip Tactical Boot
• Discrete style tactical boot for urban bug-out
• Side zip closure allows for easy-on/off
• Lightweight athletic fit enables freedom of movement
Ariat Men's Terrain Hiking Boot
• Lower profile style includes Torque Stability composite shank
• EVA midsole absorbs shock on impact
• Removable gel orthotic for long-lasting comfort when on your feet all day
Click on the image to view current price on Amazon.

Survival Boots For Women

Womens Survival BootsKey Features
KEEN Women's Targhee II Waterproof Hiking Boot
• Toe cap protects against impact
• Keen.Dry membrane is waterproof yet breathable for comfort
• ESS shank prevents ankle rolls on rocky terrain
Ahnu Women's Montara Boot
• Neutral positioning of the foot encourages balance and reduces strain over long hikes
• Exterior padding on collar protects ankles from bumps
• Gusseted tongue locks out rain and snow
Ariat Women's Terrain Hiking Boot
• Lining keeps feet dry with moisture wicking
• Duratread outsole is self-cleaning for optimal traction
• Shock absorbing midsole reduces strain on joints
Lowa Women's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot
• Full-length nylon shank adds extra support on rough terrain
• Climate control lining draws moisture away to prevent blisters and chaffing
• Heavy duty Vibram outsole is also shock-absorbent
Salomon Women's Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boot
• Braking pattern in the rear outsole gives extra traction when descending
• Lightweight and flexible for trial running
• Cushioned gusseted tongue alleviates lace pressure
Belleville F390 Women's Hot Weather Combat Boot
• Lightweight and breathable for trekking through hotter climates
• Running shoe outsole provides ease of manuvering
• Deep treads power through mud
Danner Women's Danner Light II Outdoor Boot
• Patented Stitchdown construction provides a durable and sturdy fit
• Gore-Tex lining breathes well while locking out water
• Superior wet and dry traction with Vibram outsole
Hi-Tec Women's Ohio WP Hiking Boot
• Outsole is carbon rubber for lightweight durability and traction
• Collar and tongue are padded to provide comfort and support
• Cushioned EVA insole is also removable for a customized fit
Oboz Women's Sawtooth Mid BDRY Hiking Boot
• Natural roll of outsole propels each step
• Molded rubber heel and toe stand up to rocky terrain
• BDry membrane is both waterproof and breathable to keep feet dry and comfortable
Click the image to view current price on Amazon.


outdoor boot outdoor boots
Click the image above for great tips on choosing survival boots and how to take care of them to maximize their performance.

Your Thoughts

Do you look for boots for a specific climate or prefer all-weather survival boots? Are there any other key terms we should add as a reference? Let us know in the Comments section below, thanks!


Chris Ruiz

My name is Chris and I created this site to help ordinary people prepare for the uncertainties of the modern day world. I believe that a well-prepared society is the best safeguard against any natural or manmade disaster.

6 comments on “Gear Up: Top Rated Survival Boots For Men And Women

  1. Logger boots can make excellent survival boots. That style of boot has been adopted by wildland firefighters as well, and they are made to be durable, rigid, and comfortable enough to wear if you have to be on your feet all day. Hawthorn smoke jumpers are some of the toughest boots around, they’re made in America with unmatched quality.

  2. If you are going for best contents like myself,
    simply go to see this site all the time since it presents quality
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  3. I was a paramedic in Florida for almost 12 years, and routinely worked in screwed-up environments around car wrecks, industrial accidents, beach terrain, scuzzy nursing homes, crack houses, shooting galleries, and so forth. I found that a good pair of military jump boots (I like Corcoran) were best. They need to be broken in by gradual use (do not take any shortcuts here. Just wear them, and exercise patience. No standing in water, no stretching in the freezer with bags of ice, no using cold cream, and so on) , and cared for with Kiwi shoe polish, water, and either cotton balls or cloth diapers that have been washed a few times. A soft bristle toothbrush helps to get polish in the stitching. The metal shank (originally intended to protect from punjii sticks) protects your feet from a junkie’s dirty needle, broken glass, and so forth. Use odor eaters, and stay away from exotic leather care stuff unless you’re working in a strange and/or extreme environment like saltwater, a chemical plant, or an oil rig.

    Substitute paracord for standard laces, and try not to expose the boots to too much DEET and/or permethrin if you use such things for ticks and chiggers. Wearing no-run pantyhose (no comments, please) will protect your feet and legs from leeches and most ticks, as will tucking your pants in the boots.

    Carry extra boot socks (Sears carries padded boot socks near their work boots) in your bug out bag, and unwaxed dental floss to sew up holes in your socks.

    I stay away from side zipper jump boots. They’re way cool (and look even cooler when you put a split ring through the zipper tab hole), but it is a possible point of mechanical failure. If you want zippers, aftermarket zippers can be purchased for a pittance and threaded where the laces go. Use Chapstick to lube the zippers once in a while.

    Corcoran 975’s are, in my mind, the best…but there are Corcorans for a hot swampy environment, others that are better for desert travel, and so on.

    If you follow these ideas, a pair of Corcorans will last for many years. They can be resoled for a reasonable cost, and your feet will thank you.

    One last thought: Everything I’ve said goes by the wayside if you have diabetes. If you are diabetic, consult a podiatrist and follow his or her suggestions, and get special boots custom-made.

  4. I agree with everything Kevin said.

    Gore-tex and insulated lining sounds like a great idea, but really isn’t. When you live in your boots for weeks, or months, at a time and experience every kind of terrain imaginable, including watery, the last thing you want is for the inside of your boots to get wet and then take days to dry, and that’s if you have the luxury to keep them off your feet for days. If you have to continue wearing them wet, they won’t dry out until long after you have some serious problems with your feet. Unless you are willing to carry an extra pair of boots. Then you have to lug the bricks, I mean wet boots around. What do you do if your second pair of boots get wet before the first pair dry out?

    The best thing to do is to get a pair of boots that have a quality sole and upper, but with no lining at all. Then you get a high quality insole, like a Sorbothane (spelling), really good socks, and Gore-tex socks. When your boots get wet, change into a pair of dry socks and put the Gore-tex socks on over them. Then, when you put on the wet boots, your tootsies are still dry. You hang your wet socks on the outside of your gear and, unless it’s raining, they are dry in hours. No heavy wet boots to lug around, and, if you go through more water, you can just dry out the Gore-tex socks and put on dry socks again.

    I know that there are tons of so-called experts that think that the high speed gear is what you need in every situation, but sometimes the best solution to your problem is common sense.

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