Best shoes for through the woods and being safe(r) from snakes?

There are a lot of woods where I live, and I would love to walk through them where it’s allowed to make observations, but I am aware that there are also lots of snakes in the area.

I was wondering if there were any styles of shoe that make it safer / help avoid being bitten by snakes if the worst case scenario were to happen? Obviously I would be trying to avoid stepping on any at all, or even getting close to them, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I know it’s supposed to be safer to walk in the woods when it’s winter / colder, but that also means the trees don’t have leaves, so I can’t identify as many very easily. Usually I learn how to recognize plants in winter by first repeatedly finding the same individual during different seasons so I can see what it looks like with leaves, without, and with the leaves budding.

Any shoes I did look into getting would have to be padded pretty well, since I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and standing or walking for a few hours straight makes my feet start to kill me.

Any suggestions? Good styles or brands? Tips for avoiding stepping on snakes besides “watch where you’re walking”? (and half the time I’m already looking at the ground where I plan to step so I don’t step on fire ants, and to look for partridgeberries)

Update November 3rd 2022: I now own a pair of steel-tied leather work boots, and a pair of neon orange snake gaiters I got for $20 on ebay (they’re normally $80!). So I’d say I’m all set :) Thank you everyone for all your help!


What sort of shoes and inserts do you currently wear, may be relevant in case you’ve already found the best option?

Otherwise, I’m assuming you’re more worried about a snake striking above the top of the shoe, in which case something like a rain boot may work, but lacking breathability and quality support, they’re terrible for long hikes. I hope someone could recommend a boot of some kind.

Also, are there any particular snake species that you’re worried about that are highly venemous in your observation area? I’m not sure what can be done to avoid stepping on them, but maybe knowing more about the particularly dangerous ones and their habits may help avoid them?

It’s possible that the shoes won’t matter as much as long as whatever pants you wear are long enough to cover the top of the shoe and made out of something sturdy enough to resist most strikes.


I curretnly wear some special running shoes that came with padding that was chosen for my feet, so they’re comfortable to walk in, but aside from the rubber bottom it’s 100% cloth on the top and sides for airflow.

I wasn’t sure where the most likely place for being bitten was, on the foot or the lower leg, but protection for both areas would be helpful, especially since it’d also stop mosquitos.

I’m in Savannah, Georgia, and I’m not sure of all the snakes that are venemous, but I know copperheads and rattlesnakes can be found here.

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Copperheads are by far the most frequently encountered snakes in your county, followed by cottonmouths. Eastern diamondbacks and timber rattlesnakes are also present in your area, though they are rarer. I know this doesn’t answer your question, but it’s good to know what species you might encounter. Rattlesnakes will probably let you know they’re there before you step on them, but there’s always a chance that they might not see you.


I would suggest looking into snake chaps. They aren’t shoes I know, put they protect the top of the ankle and lower leg which is a common bite site for snakes that are stepped on. They also allow the wearer a +3 bonus when moving through heavy brush and protect against thorns and stickerbushes. They aren’t too expensive and last a long time and can be worn with any boots.


Look at Cabela’s or a comparable joint… a good pair of hiking boots that will legit protect you up to your knees will usually run you about $150-500 USD depending on the brand and quality.

If you’re concerned about snakebites, you want coverage up almost to your knees and that’s not cheap to make light and durable. Also bear in mind a lot of “snake proof” boots and products are marketed generally to hunters, and thus folks with dispensable income to burn on stuff they’ll use once a year, don’t fall for cleaver marketing to sell cheap products.

If you do go that route, I recommend you either first or additionally purchase a quality pair of rubber rain boots, something made for work, not fashion, and put some very high quality insoles in them. There’s some really quality boots available in the US, not just one brand available in the whole country like it is here.

They wont exactly be as comfortable as a $400 pair on long days, but they’re inherently waterproof and (somewhat) snake resistant by design, keep the rubber boots in the car for an emergency, or if you forget your nice ones, you also wont kick yourself if you lose or ruin them somehow.

a lot of folks diss rubber boots once they upgrade, but I’ll be honest, I’d take my $10 black boots over my $150 Colombia hiking boots, I left my rubbers out the rain the other night and had to wear my Colombias when we went out on Sunday, rolled my ankles constantly and my legs feel like I walked twice as far.

All that said, in any rate, boots will only protect your legs and feet from snakes on the ground, I’m not sure of your terrain, but it came as an unwelcoming surprise when I learned that a ton of species of snakes hide in trees where I do seasonal outings.

As much as you need to be adequately dressed, to avoid accidents like snakebites or anything for that matter, you need to practice spatial awareness at all times. The same mindfulness that will help you avoid dangerous critters is the same that will protect you from serious injuries.

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I once added my own preferred orthotic inserts to borrowed rain boots. I wore them off and on for a week, and found them to be surprisingly comfortable.


Honesty, your chances of being bitten are almost zero, tens of millions of people hike in the woods every day, and there are only about 1-5 fatalities from wild venomous snakes in the USA each year. Just wear normal high-ankle hiking boots and don’t stick your hands into rock crevices you can’t see! My personal favorite boots are Salomon brand, super comfy, waterproof, and high ankled, and I’ve worn them specifically looking for venomous snakes! haha. They are pretty pricey though…


I am not sure about protective shoes, but look up Snake Gaiters. They are supposed to work pretty well for protection.


I am a prime example of what shoes not to wear walking the wooded areas of South Eastern VA.


Chances of suffering a fatal bite are low, but bite frequency is much higher: 7-8000/year in the US ( There can be some pretty bad impacts including loss of the full use of a limb, and even minor strikes can lead to a really pricey hospital stay or administration of antivenin (10’s of thousands). So definitely worth taking reasonable precautions!


Are you fortunate enough to be insensitive to urushiol or is it just the price you pay for outdoor comfort?

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I wouldn’t say I’m insensitive to it. I’ve broken out many times before. I guess I’ve either been lucky or minimized exposure enough to avoid the rash.

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I came to this topic because I have a terrible fear of being bitten by a venomous snake, and it really impacts my comfort level with hiking in a lot of areas that I otherwise would love to explore, but now I just have to say: Hey I used to live in Savannah! Howdy former-neighbor! :D

Real-talk tho, there are hunting boots that are marketed as snake-proof (however I can’t vouch for their effectiveness myself). They mostly go as far up as mid-calf, are made of heavy material, and unfortunately I don’t think you’ll find anything that’s under $100. Here’s a review article for a few brands from Outdoor Life.

Other advice (as I said, I’ve got a big fear about this, so I’ve spent a good deal of time looking up tips before hiking trips):

  • If you can tolerate the heat, wearing long, loose-fitting pants made of denim or a similar material are better than shorts
  • Likewise, even if you don’t have specific snake boots, close-toed shoes are a must
  • Bring a walking stick and tap the areas in front of you as you walk
  • Take extra care when observing trees and shrubs that offer a lot of cover/shade at their base. If you’ve ever been down to Harris Neck NWR, rattlesnakes apparently like to hang out underneath shrubs along some of the trails like this one
  • This might already be your current practice when going on hikes, but just in case it isn’t: don’t listen to things on your phone, keep your ears open for rattles, hisses, and slithering

I will say that I never saw any venomous snakes when I lived in the area, but they certainly are there, so it’s good to be prepared!


oh noo haha

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Ooh, that sounds like a really good idea!

@bamm321 ty for the suggestion!

So it looks like either snake chaps or gaiters would be my best bet, and then I’d just have to get some actual proper hiking shoes!

@inkadillo thank you for all the tips!

I never wear flip flops or sandals because they hurt my feet, and there are too many fire ant nests around here for me to even consider it now, lol.

And don’t worry I don’t listen to music or watch videos when I’m out in the woods, I’m usually listening for birds, so I try not to make a lot of noise unless I think there are deer somewhere too-close by, then I’ll call out “Hi deer, don’t come this way I’m walking here”

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I figured if I can get a nice pair of boots, they’ll probably last me almost the rest of my lifetime, lol.

It’s not that I’m super scared of snakes or anything (I actually look forward to seeing a live one someday at a safe distance so I can get pictures), I just keep having this nagging voice in my head every time I want to go explore the woods that says “No, you can’t do that, you should have stuff for protection first. You’re setting a bad example” lol.

I almost stepped on a rattlesnake on the in the Mojave (my wife warned me as my foot was coming down), and I basically look for snakes all the time so they can surprise you. It just rattled a bit and fled under a bush - they really don’t want to bite you.

I’ve been told snake gaiters are good, but they do get hot, I’ve worn them a few times. Honestly I’d be more worried about a standard injury, like a twisted ankle or broken leg, or temperature/dehydration issues - those are much more likely and heat issues can come on real quickly.

I like others have said, some good solid boots (but make sure they’re comfortable) and long pants are key. And be careful around rocky areas and other places that provide cover.


Agreed, good hiking boots that extend up your ankle and long pants such as jeans are probably best protection without going the gaiter route. A hiking stick for poking around where you’re going to walk is a good idea.

I have more experience with rattlesnakes than copperheads and cottonmouths which of course don’t warn with a rattle. I do recall being a little freaked out when night-surveying a marshy stream in Texas — I was wading in shorts for water snakes and one in our group caught a cottonmouth. I thought, what the hell am I doing up to my waist in this water?


I don’t have any sensible advice (says the one who traipsed around the baldcypress swamps in sandals and fortunately saw the white flicker of the cottonmouth’s warning).