The best boots and other gear for the rain forest

1:44 a.m. on November 5, 2010 (EDT)
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This summer I will be on a one month expedition in the remote rain forest of Guyana. I will be sleeping in hammocks and will have no luxury such as beds, bathrooms, showers, etc. Everything that I will have will be carried on my back at all times (unless we have a designated camp site in which I'll carry a smaller pack) and I will spend each day hiking miles doing field research.

This will be my first time doing a trip like this and I'd like to know of the best gear options if I'm on a budget. I'm most worried about footwear! What boots should I buy? or at least what qualities should I look for as far as function in the wet/humid environment? How about liners or socks? I can't be hiking for hours with soaking wet feet! yikes!

I also would appreciate any brands that have vegan/non leather options!

 

I have already looked up Merrell boots that are vegan:

http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Product.mvc.aspx/20370W/0/Womens/Outbound-Mid-GORE-TEX?dimensions=0

are these good shoes for this climate?

 

Thanks for any advice!

 

 

7:11 a.m. on November 5, 2010 (EDT)
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I have never hiked in rain forest; however, those who did, for weeks at a time, were glad to have jungle boots. This boot style was developed over the years of war in Vietnam. Basically, jungle boots are high to give support and stay on your feet when pulling yourself from deep mud; they have screened in-step drainage vents; and they have an insole that pumps air around the foot.

See http://www.altama.com/products/8852-olive-drab-jungle-vulcanized-boot

I know those aren't vegan, but they show the style. These are vegan, but I doubt that they are made with Panama soles to shed mud or screened drainage - http://www.armynavyshop.com/prods/rc5083.html

 

 

 

5:36 p.m. on November 8, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks! I had never heard of these boots. I'll definitely look into them!

7:12 p.m. on November 8, 2010 (EST)
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hljohnson,

A lot of people have commented here on Trailspace, and I have observed in the field, that there are some strong drawbacks to goretex liners in boots. For one thing, they aren't really all that breathable. So in hot climates, your feet tend to get wet from the sweat. For another, they tend to develop wear holes.

The military jungle boots work pretty well in the conditions you are describing. The old traditional boots, developed by the British Colonial Troops, are the Wellington boots (developed when the Duke of Wellington got sick and tired of wet feet and commanded a suitable boot be made - the link is to one brand that Cabells's sells). I had a pair for a while. They worked pretty well at keeping my feet dry, but they weren't very good for walking around (the Duke apparently rode on horseback most of the time). They were sort of like walking around in workmen's rubber boots.

Important thing (as gets repeated over and over) is to make sure they fit your feet properly. This means putting them on in the store and spending an hour or so walking around. Boots often feel comfortable for the first 5 minutes, sitting in the fitting chair. But after walking around, improper fit problems can start showing up.

Liners - In the hot humid climate you are going, the usual advice of "thin wicking liner inside thick wool sock" doesn't quite work. But the modification of moderate thickness wicking sock inside a VBL sock inside a medium wool or synthetic sock (for cushioning) may work for you. The VBL is waterproof, so it will keep any water that gets into the boot away from your feet ... except ... since it is waterproof (VBL = Vapor Barrier Liner), your foot sweat can't wick through it. The wicking liner does carry some of the moisture up to the top, which helps some. Mostly, you have to change socks a lot in those conditions.

12:34 a.m. on November 9, 2010 (EST)
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You should consult with the organization sending you there.  infection and fungus are relevant issues, capable of rotting both flesh and clothing articles.  The local experts are probably your best information source since local circumstances can dictate the optimal solution.

Ed  

3:33 a.m. on November 9, 2010 (EST)
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I will be looking in something like the montrail one's

http://www.montrail.com/Product.aspx?prod=162&cat=120&top=1

 

I wouldn't go with anything waterproof - don't think it's going to work when you are deep in the woods and you better have something that dry out fast and let the water in and out - socks - the best thing...if you want try to look around in some N.Z forms - when I was hiking there you are wet all the time and just get used to it.

6:58 a.m. on November 9, 2010 (EST)
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Here is one preventive and remedy that might help. Bag balm. I buy it at the Agway in the vet supplies. A big jar is not expensive. Basically it is a wax with anti-microbial additives (I assume). I use it on my feet in the winter; however, in your case it would seal your feet against water if you applied it each morning. Thus your skin wouldn't become soft and blister. Just a thought.

 

10:32 a.m. on November 9, 2010 (EST)
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You should consult with the organization sending you there.  infection and fungus are relevant issues, capable of rotting both flesh and clothing articles.  The local experts are probably your best information source since local circumstances can dictate the optimal solution.

Ed  

Also think/ask about poisonous snakes. In working in the forests in Costa Rica I wore light hiking boots with heavy leather snake chaps that strapped over them. We saw a six foot rattler not far from where we were living, and in some areas there was the possibility of encountering a fer de lance, something you don't want to be on the wrong end of.

Terrestrial leeches can also get in through socks -- you can take your boots off at the end of the day and find several on each foot, and often a lot of blood.

So much for rain forest as garden of eden...

1:42 a.m. on November 12, 2010 (EST)
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military surplus jungle boots should be fine, and inexpensive.  usually, the bottom part of the boot is leather, but from the foot up, they are cloth or nylon, so they breathe in hot weather.

-change socks regularly, bring pairs that will wring out water (wool, not cotton).  #1 way to avoid jungle rot.

-bringing bag balm or the functional equivalent, a tube of lanolin for example, it can help your feet.

-bring hand sanitizer.  it helps heal feet that get jungle rot, believe it or not.

make sure your feet get some air at least an hour a day. 

lots and lots of insect repellant.  deet is your friend.

bug netting that covers you completely while you sleep. 

11:21 a.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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I have been using my Montrails for over 10 years now. Though, having "sewed" the sole back to the main body, now it's quite open to taking water in, and I can wear them only with relatively thinner socks.

In a similar thread, I have also been given advice to avoid Gore-tex.

As I plan to also walk some distances when changing locations in SE Asia, I think I will prefer something more comfortable than the jungle boots.

I look for brands available in England.

I'll keep this thread informed if I find more advice from the other thread I have.

 

1:40 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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In another thread I told of my experinace in Central America...I used jungle boots...But I understand you want a Vegan option..You have Garmont that makes Vegan boots the Kiowa series..I have never used the boots but thought that an option for you also HI TEC has some as well..their both Mid cut boots...Also no matter what!Your foot will be wet or damp..But I reccomend PolyPro sock liners with Smartwool socks to wick the water away as much as possible...Change your socks often and Wash your  feet...I add 3 drops of Tea Tree Oil to my 2oz Dr Bonners..its a natural antiseptic and antibacterial..it helps to prevent athlete's foot and the jungle rot from long exposure to wet conditons....I hope this helps and you have a great trip..

1:59 p.m. on January 31, 2011 (EST)
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I would personally wear a pair of Z/2 Unaweep Chaco sandals for the trip, and carry a stick if you're worried about snakes. I think you'll find most people that live in jungle environs wear sandals for footwear. Now this may be because of cost or availability or any other number of factors, but for the rocky sections that require footwear, they're not wearing army surplus boots.

8:27 p.m. on February 1, 2011 (EST)
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@Pillowthread, I think those are the Chacos I own anyway.

@Denis, i'll check Hi TEC. I used to use them when I was a kid and have a fondness for that brand. They have Hi TEC Magnum's that are used by the army.

Do you know Magnum or other army surplus boots are good for long hikes?

I'd prefer to have a pair that I can use as my main boots even once I return.

What do you think of Meindl Borneo as an alternative? (funny enough, i am heading to Borneo anyway :) maybe it's a sign ).

You'll see in other thread I also mentioned that, like Pillowthread said, locals use their own means and they survive. So, perhaps Meindl's can be good general use boots, whereas in places where i'll get wet as you say, I use sandals and local alternatives.

I noted your suggestion on Tea Tree oil and Dr. Banners, as well as PolyPro sock liners.

 

11:42 p.m. on February 1, 2011 (EST)
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Meindle makes all the British troops boots now..They have the contract...Gortex lined like Danners here...Hi tec has been produceing good products in the last few years and went into the trail runner market also...Take your Chaco's also...I take my Teva's everywhere because I like to get out of my boots.When I can...I got the tip about Tea Tree oil from a Docter.Never knew...Just remember the gear is about what is good for you and will work...it doesn't have to be top of the line but has to function. Military boots  there good for long hikes but rather heavy at times...Pure leather with Gortex liner.There that way to last longer in combat conditions which could be anything now.....

2:15 a.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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thanks Denis,

i'll see in a week or so if the military boots are good. otherwise Meindl Borneo will be second choice. But i chose them specifically because they are not Goretex. I agree with some suggestions here that it is not going to help with humid SEAsia climate. But it can still be relatively waterproof with good care (wax etc.)

the Tea Tree, you mix 3 drops in 2 oz in the bottle, and use the soap while washing your feet? Am i correct?

 

 

2:25 a.m. on February 2, 2011 (EST)
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Yes thats the mix...You can wash all over with it..It works well for the whole body...I am useing the same mix for the Appalachian trail..yeah deffinatly smart move on your part 100%..If there not what you want get the Meindi like your thinking...The chaco's will do you well when you can just head down some trails that are used alot...Hope you get to Cambodia too. That would be cool...

7:58 a.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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Had a chat with a researcher last night. His research is based in Sabah in the forest. He says:

- all leather will get mold on them. It's way too humid for it to survive.avoid leather shoes

- durable sandals and waterproof socks are a good combination (termites and other insects will bite if you wear only sandals

- you can get local plastic shoes for about a $ a pair.

- you can use tobacco to rub on your ankles to keep leeches from climbing up

- all the nice and fast dry fabric that is synthetic is useful but will keep permanent odors much faster than natural ones.

overall, his advise was to rely on cheap stuff and keep in mind that you'll throw them away anyway.

Sabah is much like Thailand, and outdoor location, so you'll find all you need there.

 

 

11:39 p.m. on February 4, 2011 (EST)
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Glad your seeking a plethra of advice..I never knew about the tabaco..I know it's used for natural pesticide here in gardens...Thats great to know...

Have you talked to any film students about a cam corder..I have no idea about camera's personally..I bought a inexspensive kodak for my trip I am taking....yes you can get gear in thailand as well..We brought our own...

12:56 p.m. on February 6, 2011 (EST)
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Bill S, thanks for pointing out the wellington boots. I just order a pair. I live in a very wet environment myself. Any military type jungle boots would be perfect for this trip-and they are least expensive. Plus, millions are spent a year on military research for personal protective gear. They want the best for our troops.

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