Kenetrek DESERT GUIDE Boot Review

Editor: Randy


Basic Description of item:


Non-insulated, very tough, mid-ankle hiking boot.
Just the Facts:
The new Kenetrek DESERT GUIDE hunting boot that made its debut on the market in July was specifically designed for the incredible punishment that the harsh, abrasive terrain of the desert Southwest and Mexico is famous for throwing at hunters, hikers and even desert sheep! Believe me, these boots were built to withstand the relentless abuse and pounding that the sandpaper grinding sandstone, needle sharp cactus and grinding lava flows can throw at you daily. The Desert Guide is made with thick 2.8 mm premium full grain leather uppers that are precisely padded and lined with durable synthetic to enhance breathability and the wicking of perspiration from your feet. Kenetrek’s Desert Guide boots are ideal for walking long distances in rough terrain while carrying a heavy backpack full of gear as well as the meat, antlers or horns of trophy animals. The spiderlike traction of their Vibram Vertige outsoles help keep you from slipping. Extra padding ensures a soft and supportive collar around your ankle. With the special flex notch upper design, the Kenetrek Desert Guide Boots are also surprisingly comfortable. At the end of a brutally long hard day out on the mountain, you still will not want to take them off! Average weight 4.0 lbs.

As a desert sheep guide who spends hundreds of hours each year scouting and hiking the geologic disarray of jagged, erosive landscape in the isolated canyon country of southern Utah, I demand a boot that will stand up to the abuse this terrain represents. I can’t afford to have sore feet and depend on a rugged but light boot that will provide comfort as well as support while trekking mile upon mile. Several years ago I thought I had found the perfect guiding boot in Kenetrek’s Hardscrabble Hiker. It held up reasonably well to all the punishment and miles but with its Windtex membrane, I found that it didn’t breath as well as I would like in extremely hot weather on my grueling marathon hikes into the scorching desert. After submitting a detailed review on the Hardscrabble and communicating my thoughts to Jim Winjum regarding a few minor issues, I was really pumped to learn last year that Kenetrek would be coming out with their new DESERT GUIDE boot this summer. Well, after using this boot for the past month and a half I can attest that Jim and his team have hit another HOME RUN. The new Desert Guide is no doubt the toughest, most comfortable boot I have worn to date!
At 4.0 lbs the Desert Guide is slightly heavier than the Hardscrabble Hiker that weighs in at 3.7 lbs but believe me, you don’t notice it. The Desert Guide doesn’t fit as snuggly as the Hardscrabble but it is still firm on my feet. I actually prefer this sizing feature. By eliminating the water proof gortex lining this new boot provides a wickable membrane for moisture to escape through when your feet are perspiring in hot temperatures. My feet have been really happy with this “breathable” feature. They remain cool and comfortable in the most difficult conditions and terrain. Although they are not waterproof like the Hardscrabbles I can address any waterproofing issue by thoroughly coating my Desert Guides with Kenetrek’s special boot wax.
(New DESERT GUIDES, down and dirty “out on the mountain”)
As is customary with Kenetrek boots they feature a stiff insole that provides a solid support system. I truly believe the Vibram Vertiage outsoles have provided me with better traction and wear than the Hardscrabble K-Talon outsoles. The Desert Guide’s “tread” clings to rocks and has made me feel very secure from slipping on slick, sidling slabs of sandstone. These outsoles almost seem resistant to the grinding action of sandstone and lava sharp rock.
(New Desert Guide Vibram Vertiage outsoles on left) (Hardscrabble’s K-Talon outsoles right)
Another design change and prominent feature on these new boots that I endorse is a slight extension on the end of the toe of the boot to the outsole that the rand attaches too. This slight, tough extension acts as a sort of “bumper guard” against sharp rocks, cactus, other obstacles, etc.
(Desert Guides protective “outsole” – notice the slight extension)
As with my other Kenetrek boots I have not experienced a problem with the wearing of painful blisters during the break-in period. In fact, I felt comfortable with the boots the first day I laced them up. The 2.8 grain leather uppers provides great support, comfort, and doesn’t seem to show any wear from the razor sharp rocks I test them against. The lacing system is highly effective as Kenetrek has continued to craft and design the grommet to rotate so that you can easily tighten and lace your boots. My new Desert Guides have basicly proven themselves to be “bomb proof” and appear to be virtually indestructible.
When it comes to hunting gear and boots in particular I’m not one to hand out positive accolades easily. However, I honestly believe from my early field testing that Kenetrek has built an extremely high quality boot for the hardcore hunter and mountaineer. At a price of $340, the DESERT GUIDE is an expensive investment but it will prove its reputation to you for invincible quality when you are out on the mountain. You should expect this boot to provide extensive durability free of wear for countless expeditions into the field. For the money, there is no doubt that the hunter should demand outstanding wear and tear. I can’t afford to have a boot fall apart when I am literally miles from my truck or nearest trailhead. With the new Desert Guide, I’m confident that these boots won’t fail me when Mother Nature chooses to test my gear to the max. I highly recommend the Kenetrek Desert Guide boot for the avid hunter who is willing to test their “metal” and gear against the landscape of the desert southwest.

What could they do better:
Kenetrek is a great company. I’ve found Jim Winjum and his team very receptive and helpful every time I have contacted them. I do believe that all boot companies should include a high quality pair of insoles with their boots. I personally always purchase the best insoles I can find and exchange them with the factory insoles in all my new hiking boots. Quality insoles are “feet savers.”

Check out our video review of the Kenetrek Desert Guide Boot

Kenetrek Desert Guide Boot Review
  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability