Safari Boots

Getting your safari boots right is essential as you're going to spend a lot of time on your feet.

Though probably not as much time on your feet as W D M Bell who wore out 24 pairs of boots a year while walking an average of 75 miles for each elephant he killed.

Early African hunters often wore leather officers boots known as 'Veldtshoen', the descriptive name originating from the Boer War. The upper part of the boot is turned outwards, rather than inwards, then stitched to the sole, just like the desert boots of today. In fact the original veldtshoen was the forerunner to desert boots, which are still called 'vellies' in South Africa.

Early safari boots were often topped with puttees - strips of cloth wound in a spiral from ankle to knee, originating in the 19th century in British India. Puttees became part of the regular British army uniform in the 20th century when they changed from wearing high boots to ankle boots. The forerunner of the gaiters, we know today, the military puttees were found to be extremely practical when hunting in the African bush.

John T McCutcheon, who accompanied Theodore Roosevelt on the 1909 safari, took 3 pairs of Abercrombie 'lightest shoes'(one pair with rubber soles), 3 cloth puttees, one pair of mosquito boots from Lawn and Alder, London and a pair of leather top boots for evening wear in camp.

Essential Safari Boots Guidelines

Buy the best quality possible you possible can rather than a cheaper option.

Safari Boots Size And Fit

Getting the right size and fit of your safari boot or shoe is essential. As with all footwear, size and fit may vary with different boots or shoes plus you will have accommodate any foot irregularities you may have like bunions, hammer-toes etc. This can be hard to do if buying new boots or shoes online.

  • Check that you can easily move all your toes.
  • Check your foot does not slide around in the boot.
  • Check that no part of your foot is being squashed within the boot
  • Check the whole of your whole foot is comfortably contained in the boot.

Right Safari Boots For The Terrain

Check the terrain that you'll be hunting before the purchase of new boots. This will help with the decision on boot height and tread pattern.

  • If the terrain is primarily hilly, uneven and rocky, you may prefer a medium-high boot which will protect your ankle if you go over on it. You can also tuck your trousers in a higher boot, if you need to, which will also help to keep out tsetse flies and other debris.
  • A low-cut hunting shoe will be fine in a mostly flat level terrain. If necessary add gaiters to keep out grass seeds and debris.
  • For African hunting opt for the softest sole you can get away with on the terrain you are hunting. Hard soles, though more durable, make more noise when walking.
  • Your choice of tread pattern also depends on the terrain you will be hunting. A deep, thick tread will improve traction in the wet or on sloping surfaces.

Safari Boots Durability & Water Resistance

  • Check whether the upper boot or shoe is stitched or glued to the sole. Stitched soles tend to be more durable than most adhesives in hot conditions.
  • Some water-resistance may be useful especially when hunting in the early morning when there is a heavy dew. Fully water-proof boots are probably unnecessary for most African hunts and they may make your feet very hot and sweaty.

Safari Boot Height

  • Use whatever boot height is comfortable for you. It is often useful to be able to tuck your trousers in, so tsetse flies and grass-seeds etc cannot gain access.

And...

  • Always take a spare pair of equally comfortable boots in case your main pair get broken or wet. There is nothing worse than walking in soaking boots.
  • Don't forget to take spare laces.
  • Make sure your boots are well worn-in. Don't arrive in Africa with brand new unworn boots. This is particularly important if your boots are made completely or partially of full-grain leather or Nubuck. Boot or shoe uppers made of synthetic material do need wearing-in but not as much.

Recommended Safari Boots & Shoes For Men

Please note, this page contains affiliate links, which means Shakari Connection receives a commission if you make a purchase using these links.

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The Merrell men's Wilderness boots offer a wide, stable platform underfoot and a top-grain leather upper. A bellows tongue keeps debris out. They come with metal eyelets, microporous rubber midsole for comfort and Vibram sole. Buy Now


This lightweight men's Merrell Capra Sport hiking shoe makes quick and easy work of the toughest trails. Constructed with a supportive midsole for protective cushioning over varied terrain. A synthetic-and-mesh upper is fitted with a traditional lace closure, while a bellows tongue keeps debris out. Breathable mesh lining and contoured footbed with organic odour control. Buy Now


This Merrell leather midboot is waterproof, breathable and highly slip-resistant. It comes with Merrell's air cushioned heel to absorb shock, M-Select Grip outsoles for sure-footed stability in all conditions, breathable mesh lining and waterproof full grain leather and mesh upper. Removable EVA footbed and odour-preventing 'M Select Fresh' for fresh smelling feet. Buy Now


The Valsetz Tactical boots from Under Armour feature a low profile rubber lug sole and 'ClutchFit' technology which wraps your ankle with a lightweight, powerful support. Comes with synthetic leather & textile upper with welded, abrasion-resistant film around the perimeter of the foot. They have a lightweight TPU shank for mid-foot support and the right amount of rigidity. Buy Now


These Merrell's lightweight mid-height men's hiking shoe have an impact absorption system for soft landings, firm takeoffs and reduced impact so you can go farther and longer. The omni-fit lacing system provides a precise, glove-like fit. Bellows tongue keeps out debris. Molded polyurethane heel counter adds stability. Breathable, antimicrobial mesh lining. 6mm heel drop. Rugged, aggressive Vibram outsole with 5mm lug depth. Buy Now


The men's Moab Ventilator from Merrell is a breathable hiking shoe that's lightweight and the perfect fit. A lattice-like overlay of Dura leather strapping supports and protects your feet while enhancing the open-window venting of the breathable mesh upper. Enjoy full bumper protection at the toe and around the heel with the Vibram Multi-Sport sole with TC5+ rubber compound for grip and durability. Buy Now


Merrell Men's Crestbound Gore-Tex hiking boots have waterproof breathable uppers that keeps your feet dry and cradles your heel with a snug fit, preventing blisters. Underfoot, the lightweight, durable hiking platform lets you feel the trail while protecting by absorbing rough terrain. Buy Now


**NEW** The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hikers are comfortable and breathable with a leather-and-mesh design. A bellows, closed-cell foam tongue keeps moisture and debris out. Compression-molded EVA midsole for all-day cushioning and support. An EVA contoured footbed with added zonal arch and heel support. Buy Now

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This rugged hiking boot has a softly padded leather collar, fully gusseted leather tongue and rustproof brass hardware. It also has a board last with a steel shank for added rigidity, a lightweight compression-molded EVA midsole for superior comfort and a carbon rubber hiking outsole for traction. There's even a Comfort-Tec contoured sockliner to help support feet. Buy Now


This sturdy leather Caterpillar boot has a rubber sole, stitched overlays and padded collar. Buy Now


This hardy boot has a tough leather upper and slip-resistant soles keep your feet secure, even on slippery surfaces. Breathable leather uppers promote natural air flow while a removable EVA sockliner delivers support for all-day wear. Buy Now


These Caterpillar boots are crafted from full grain leather, nylon and nubuck. They have a comfortable moisture-wicking microfiber lining and sock liner. Buy Now


Men's Footwear For Around Camp

It's always great to get back to camp after a long day in the bush, shower and put on some comfy shoes for the evening. Also if you need to get up in the night to visit the bathroom it's advisable to always slip some shoes on first, in case you tread on something unpleasant like biting ants or a scorpion. Flip-flops are quite popular but they leave your feet exposed to mosquito bites and thorns. Slip-on shoes with a protective upper are ideal. They are also perfect for flying if your feet swell and ordinary shoes become tight and uncomfortable.

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These Merrell sandals have a hook-and-loop closure for easy on and off, a breathable liner to keep your feet cool and gripping rubber soles for solid footing. Buy Now


A waterproof nubuck leather version of Merrell's Jungle Moc is one of the most comfortable shoes you'll ever wear. The anatomical foot bed provides stability and comfort thanks to an air-cushioned midsole. Elastic stretch gore at the opening for comfort and fit. Compression-moulded foot frame provides extra cushioning. The outer sole provides superior traction in any conditions with Merrell's custom sticky-rubber sole. Buy Now

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With a full-grain leather and suede upper, this casual slip-on features a one-piece sole for superior cushioning and a responsive feel underfoot. The breathable mesh lining in these Merrell Bask leather mocs has been treated with M Select Fresh technology to prevent odour. Buy Now


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