Vivobarefoot’s Weird Water Trekking Jungle Boots Glow in the Dark

04.25.24 | By
Vivobarefoot’s Weird Water Trekking Jungle Boots Glow in the Dark

If you’ve ever laced up a pair of hiking boots with the intent of sloshing around in the backcountry of a rain dampened forest, across a swamp, or through a tropical jungle, you know keeping water – and the occasional uninvited critter – from socializing with your toes is often a priority. Which makes the Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC an interesting outlier – an expedition-grade barefoot boot built for jungle exploration – that takes on a completely different approach. Instead of keeping water out, these boots are designed to intentionally allow water to permeate in easily… then drain right back out.

Close-up of Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boots on a rock, highlighting their rugged treads and secure lacing.

Shaped by expeditions into the Borneo jungle where humid, wet, and slippery landscapes are all part of the adventure, Vivobarefoot designers recognized the futility of attempting to get feet completely dry in certain types of extreme wet and humid conditions. So, instead of designing a stiff and heavy waterproof boot, Vivobarefoot’s new boots are high breathable and extremely flexible, prioritizing a quick draining and drying construction inspired by nature.

Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boots with a high ankle design, unique contour patterns on the upper, and a thick, rugged sole.

Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boot with a chunky sole, viewed from the side and crumpled into a compact ball shape.

In a case of form following function, the Jungle ESC’s mesmerizingly strange upper design features an intricate biomimetic and biomorphic pattern, a protective layer with an advanced mesh outer engineered to let water drain while also preventing sediment and debris from ever taking a foothold. To the mycologically-minded, the Jungle ESC seemingly borrows its pattern from the underside of a gilled polypore mushroom. And just like some mushrooms, these boots also “glow for adventures in the dark.”

Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boots with contoured texture pattern and rugged sole, isolated on a white background.

Top view of a pair of beige Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boots with one shoe flipped to show the treaded sole, isolated on a white background.

Noting it’s not just water that often finds its way into your shoes while hiking in the jungle, the Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC feature a gusseted tongue that stretches its sizable height to keep flora and fauna from sneaking in from up top.

Close-up view of a Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boot heel with intricate biomorphic designs on the sole and Michelin Man logo near the heel, highlighted by the label "esc" on a textured

If it isn’t apparent at first glance these boots were designed for the most demanding of landscapes, a quick look underneath at the Jungle ESCs beefy heel lug Michelin soles should make it obvious these aren’t your typical weekend hiker footwear. The boots are further enhanced with an additional 0.8mm puncture resistant layer, added to keep sharp rocks or other material from poking through from between the boot’s sizable lugs.

Close-up of a Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boot with perforated mesh upper design and green laces on a white background.

A pair of green and brown Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boots with distinctive Michelin sole patterns, viewed from the back.

Close-up of a rugged Vivobarefoot Jungle ESC boot with detailed tread pattern on a rocky surface.

The $280 Jungle ESC is not a solo expedition, but the newest addition to Vivobarefoot’s Ecological Survival footwear collection, each designed around the theme of the planet’s five biomes: the jungle, desert, forest, aquatic environments, and tundra. The third release joins the Forest ESC and Hydra ESC, with the Desert and Tundra editions launching later this year.

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Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at