If you’re looking for a fantastic walking boot take a look at the Courteney Suede Hippo Safari Boots from African Sporting Creations. I was introduced to these boots by an associate, who then in turn introduced me to his brother Jim who runs the shop. Jim let me know the story behind this brand of footwear.
Founder John Rice was quite the renaissance man as you can see from his bio taken from the Courteney Boot website. What it does not tell you is that, “during the Rhodesian Bush War every able bodied male had to go on patrol for a part of each month. The footwear issued by the Rhodesian Military was not durable enough so John decided to make his own. Rhodesia was under strict United Nations sanctions, so unable to find any suitable soles he went looking for them in the local junkyard and found discarded military tires he cut up and used. Their iconic “Tyre Tread” pattern is still the most popular sole option today. After his mates saw his boots they began asking him to make them a pair and the rest is history. Many of the military personnel went into professional hunting after the war and they hosted clients from all over the world and helped spread the word about this marvelous product, Today Courteney enjoys an almost cult like following among global adventurers who want a warm weather, all leather boot that is cool when it is hot outside. Professional Hunters (PH’s) affectionately call them the “10,000 mile” boot. While the thick game skin uppers (Kudu, Cape buff, Ostrich, Hippo, Nile Croc, etc.) have a lot to do with their legendary durability, it is the pure rubber sole that really makes the difference.”
African Sporting Creations have sold them all over the world and stock over 500 pairs in Ohio which is the largest inventory outside of Africa. Gale Rice, John’s widow, continues to produce them in modern day Zimbabwe. Forbes did an article on them that was titled, Out of Africa: The Best Boot Company You’ve Never Heard Of. They have shipped dozens of pairs to US bases all over the world with concentration in Afghanistan to Green Berets and 10th Mountain Division. There are two widths and they are cut relatively flat so if you have a boot person they would have to have a quick conversation with him to make sure they get him a pair/ insoles that fit properly.
On a separate note another item ASC offer is their custom-crafted shooting stick that they make in-house. They are the only sporting models on the market covered by an unconditional lifetime warranty and the big difference between them and every other model is that the connector on theirs is the strongest part of the entire device and on every other pair of hunting sticks it is the weakest part. Read our article on it by Green Beret and Sniper Dan. The sticks are too light to support a .50 caliber sniper rifle (they did make some that would). They were featured in Guns & Ammo, Hunting, Shooting Illustrated, etc.. They later said, “Absolutely the finest sticks available today are made by African Sporting Creations….I’ve broken a few sets of modern sticks and have seen many more broken, but even African PH’s, who work their sticks incredibly hard year round, don’t wear out or break those made by African Sporting Creations”.
Okay, now onto the boot. The boot is a pretty nice looking dark brown color. The hippo hide is soft, durable and features a beautiful texture that is similar to elephant hide. It has a pleasant texture that is nice to the touch. The Safari offers a wide-cut fit with a roomy toe box for great comfort. The Safari is a 4″ ankle height boot with the same hand-crafted construction featured on all their iconic footwear. Features are: brass speed lacing, padded ankle collar, soft impala tongue, plus a double-stitched and reinforced vamp, provides the exceptional durability that has garnered the Courteney® boot company a world-wide following among those who seek adventure. The casual cleat sole in natural rubber makes this model ideal for office use or a night on the town. Available in Men’s 8.0-12.5 US. $599
First Impressions: They look great and if you take a closer look there are just some nice details on the boots. The light colored stitching and the laces provide a nice contrast to the hippo suede color. Just one look and you realize these guys are on to something. They are nice conversation pieces; you can discuss conservation, hiking, hunting etc.
The Details: The toe box is roomy which I like. Great when your feet get swollen and roomy enough for thick socks if you need them. The 4″ tall ankle support is enough to give you what you need when walking and it is stylish yet simple. The brass tabs are very useful to help you speed lace your laces. The collar itself is soft but strong, and durable.
Quality and comfort: These are quality boots. I’ve had them for more than a year and walked many miles in them without issue. ASC sent me two pairs of inserts of different sizes so I could find the right fit. The boots run wide so if you have a wide foot (E or EE) they will fit you right out of the box. They arch support is cut relatively flat. I’m not sure what kind of sock you prefer to use with them. Some companies such as the Rohner Trekking socks from Switzerland are heavily cushioned. You want wool that wicks moisture away from your feet.
What to know: All of the Courteney boots are treated to be water repellent but are not water proof. The application of the Courteney conditioner will keep them water repellent. Due to the hot temps in Africa, these boots are designed to breathe so that moisture does not accumulate in them and cause blisters. To be truly waterproof, you need some type of one way membrane (for example GORE-TEX) but boots with that type of material are typically too hot for Africa as they do not allow moisture to evaporate freely.
These are boots worth investing your money in. The price hurts but in the long run are probably a good investment for serious walkers and hikers. Lots of Green Berets and other kinds of Special Operations units use these for trekking. I think you’ll like them.
Functionality: 5/5 Excellent boot. Good for walking, hiking, and looking stylish around town.
Weight: 5/5 about average weight for a typical boot
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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