Desert footwear

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Aug 27, 2013
Hi all, I was looking for a little advice on appropriate footwear for hiking in a desert and figured you would be the people to ask. I might be spending a month or so in summer hiking the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, we are doing several hundred km over the period and I expect long days on my feet. The desert is a mixture of dunes and firmer ground and temperatures are going to vary a fair bit. I am wondering what kind of footwear would be my best option.

I have been mulling over a couple of options, I've got a pair of Lowa Elite desert boots that I have got good use out of and never had any trouble with but I suspect they are heavier and warmer than I really need. A lot of what I have seen suggests wearing trail shoes or something similar which sounds sensible however I am concerned that anything with a breathable mesh (like the one you find on merrels) will allow sand to penetrate making them pretty uncomfortable very quickly. I'm wondering what options are out there at a reasonable price that are likely to survive the journey.

Any and all advice welcome and thanks in advance!


Apr 25, 2012
Cambs and Lincs
I picked up a set of Meindl Desert Fox boots from the evil bay a while back and they're great. Not at all toasty and pretty comfy too. Might be worth you looking into


A bemused & bewildered
Jan 5, 2013
SE Wales
If you're walking in sand dunes in approach shoe-type footwear you're gonna spend a lot of time emptying your shoes! Walking in Namibia you are going to have hot feet whatever you wear so I reckon good desert boots of whichever make suit your feet and fit you properly is the way to go.

Where you need to do a lot of thinking is in the sock department; that'll be the thing that'll make all the difference between a good trip and foot misery. It's many years since I walked in the hot sand, and sock technology has improved vastly since, but I think I'd be wearing light hikers of the best quality I could find and bring along light-weight wicking liners as well. Some swear by liners, some hate 'em so you'll have to suck it and see.

Think about your footcare regime, whether you'll need medicated talc etc. and a good packable lightweight towel for your feet.

The very first thing I'd do is get in touch with someone local and find out what they do.................Good luck! :)


Full Member
Jul 18, 2004
I wore my rogues out there with arctic socks, no worries, however boots that fit your feet will always be more comfortable than making your feet fit your boots!


Aug 27, 2013
Macaroon, I suspect you are right, it might give me the excuse I need to replace my Lowa Deserts as they are falling about. My concern is whether they are taller and heaver than necessary which is why I am wondering about the Merrels I posted.


Full Member
Jan 31, 2005
All good advice so far, also think of something to change into, sandals are good for 'round camp - BUT don't burn your feet. You'd be amazed at the amount of pale northerners that get badly sunburned feet; which is really bad if you try to walk about. Old fashioned desert boots (suede) are OK as are things like Blundestones. A they breathe and keep the sand/gravel out.

Check 'em for beasties in the morning too!

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
Walking on the SA/Namibian border over a mix of rock and sandy desert type conditions (Augrabies Nat Park) I found my Magnum Desert boots just great and I wore them with Merino socks.
Having said that, the Magnum last fits my feet very well but I added a firmer orthopaedic footbed...


May 14, 2012
North East (UK)
I wouldn't be too concerned with sand getting through the mesh. At the end of the day it doesn't matter what footwear you are using the sand will get in! (From plenty of experience). Good socks will prevent it rubbing against your feet and it's certainly something I haven't found to be an issue.

Go for something light in weight that's comfortable. A trail shoe is good but a mesh vented proper walking boot will help a lot in ankle support when navigating your way down tricky dunes or rocky scree slopes which are common and which has caught me out in the past when walking in deserts with trail shoes instead of boots.


Jul 27, 2010
I've got some desert fox boots, not a fan as they rub around the heel, they are also pretty bulky so pose the same problem as the Lowas.

Thats interesting i have same heel rub problem with Meindl Desert Fox and have other Meindl boots same size from which I've never had a problem.


Feb 13, 2010
I have a pair of Lowa Elite and have been padding about in them for nearly 4 years on average 6 days a week, all day and all evening.
Never once had a blister, i just give the whole thing (including the vents) a scrape with a wire brush every now and again.

I actually broke on of the original laces last week (where it passes through the lace lock) but thats it

The soles have hardly worn really (well they probably have if i was to compare them to a new set)

You will be fine with the Lowas.
I can post you a picture of mine so you can see how they have fared if you want?


Full Member
Aug 14, 2013
Northwest Scotland
It's a difficult subject for softy westerners. I've spent quite a bit of time in the eastern Sahara, in the egyptian eastern and western deserts. The footwear that I found best were a pair of traditional high-ish Redwing leather boots and a pair of Hoggs welted shoes with commando soles. Obviously the shoes weren't much cop in the dunes but they both protected my feet, and stopped them from rotting in day to day use, the leather absorbed the sweat, and then dried out over night.

The Redwings were fantastic, on rock, on sand etc, bombproof; protected my ankles and the leather inner worked much in the same way as that of the hoggs shoes, just had to be a little more careful shaking them out prior to putting them on in the morning, the scorpions liked hiding in them and on occasion, one or two took a bit of shaking out. Should be pointed out that the redwings were well worn in prior to my arrival in the desert, originally I just took them as they were the only decent work boots I had at the time when I got the shout, I liked them but wasn't overly sold on them, but 3 years of wear sold me on their usefulness for that environment, I could and did walk in them all day.

It would be a mistake to go too light weight.

Eastern Desert.jpg

Thats looking west into the eastern desert, there are more dunes and less rock in the western desert but I can't find a photo

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