Topic ID #20986 - posted 6/23/2012 6:37 PM

What are good boots for surveying in the desert?


I have been surveying in the Mojave Desert the past month and I will be here a little while longer. I bought a $100 pair of Ahnu low top, mesh, light weight, hiking boots but the sand ruined them after a few weeks. Sand got behind the fabric and I can not get it out. Now I just wear my running shoes and they seem to work pretty well. However, I would like a pair of boots that have ankle support, are not low tops, are not too heavy, will work well in the desert (and on other surveying/monitoring) jobs, and if possible, are not to hot to wear. If not a specific pair of boots, what brands are reliable? I have not been to a REI store but I'm hopefully going to one in a week or so to check out there selection. I would rather buy my boots in person so that I can try them on.

Thanks you guys in advance!

Post ID#19654 - replied 6/25/2012 5:43 AM



I used to like boots that were as light as possible for surveying. However, after years of working in rough, rocky, cactus filled desert, I have come to prefer high-top leather boots with a good heavy sole. The light ones let my feet get pretty beat up in rough terrain. The heavy ones give better protection, too, against cactus and snakes. On the other hand, ground temp needs to be considered, too. In summer, in deserts across the Southwest, ground temps can easily get up to 140 to 160 degrees. This will literally parboil your feet, even with light, breathable boots. My suggestion is to tailor your boots to your situation, and maybe even have a couple of types so you can change if the conditions change. Shop around, too, since every store has a few unique ones, especially in the higher end types. Also, take an extra pair of socks in the field with you, and change at lunch. I learned a bunch of this surveying out west of Gila Bend in temps that got over 120 every afternoon.

Post ID#19655 - replied 6/25/2012 6:10 AM


I too prefer the leather high-tops with thick soles.  I've had both the expensive and the cheap kinds and it doesn't seem to matter what the brand or price point is but boots on me don't seem to last for more than 2 or 3 years.  For the past few years I have been getting the Sears Die Hard brand that is a hiking/work boot with steel toes.  They are pretty light weight compared to others, are comfortable, get good grip on rough terrain, and do not cause me blisters.  They can get a bit warm in the summer though.  I wear two pairs of socks and sweat has never been a problem.

Post ID#19656 - replied 6/25/2012 8:23 AM

SHPO Grunt

I am also a fan of heavy leather, high topped boots.  I've always worn Whites (Forester/Original Smoke Jumper), but they are a bit spendy.  However, they last forever and Whites has a good re-build policy.

I also admit that I've only spent small amounts of time surveying in the desert, so YMMV.

I've never been a fan of steel toes.  They can get really hot, or cold, depending on conditions.  I also had a crew member drop a large metate on his foot once, and we had to cut the boot off with a hacksaw.  So while they do offer some protection against smaller injuries, they can make the bigger ones worse.

Post ID#19657 - replied 6/25/2012 9:02 AM


The best desert boots I have found arethe Army hot weather desert boots.  They have a high top, rough out leather bottems with a canvas sides like the old jungle boots from the Viet Nam era.  They are great in sand, on slick rock and in hot weather.  I wear mine when I visit the SW US or Baja Mexico.  They run $80 to 100 bucks a pair.  Most Army surplus stores or military suppliers should have them.

Post ID#19658 - replied 6/25/2012 11:22 AM


I use Red Wing leather boots for all types of fieldwork. I actually prefer the steel toe as it provides a nice roomy shell for my toes. Also, my toes don't get pinched when descending slopes (great if you suffer from ingrown toenails). They are expensive, but can be rebuilt like Whites. Don't expect even the best of boots to last more than 2-3 years of serious fieldwork (unless you rebuild them).

This is my boot of choice:


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