Quite a few would-be woodsmen choose to camp in soft hiking shoes, sneakers or even sandals. Of this, I am not a fan. Boots are the only option for appropriate footwear. I currently wear and highly recommend Wolverine soft-toe work boots for outings. Initially purchased at a reasonable price for working, they’ve proved to be incredibly comfortable and useful in the backwoods.
The characteristics most important for backwoods boots are comfort, excellent traction, and a measure of ankle support. Traction and ankle support could easily save your life. At home, a slip and a twisted ankle may only mean a day or two on the couch and a limp for a few more days. Out here, it could keep you from reaching help or walking your way out of the backwoods.
I prefer leather uppers as they tend to be more durable. I am no cobbler so I can’t identify the many materials that can be made into soles. Slip-resistance and for lack of a better word, grit, are qualities to look for. Aggressive tread but not so aggressive as to become “clunky.” Water-proof is a nice feature. However, I’ve made many expeditions with boots that proved to be far from waterproof. As with all of my leather boots, I recommend applying a liberal coating of beeswax or other protective sealant. This will aid in the waterproofing, but also seems to help protect the leather from undue wear.
A possible addition to your backwoods shoes, should you have room for packing them, is a soft pair of camp shoes. Think of these as house slippers for your campsite. These should be extremely lightweight and pack ever so small. I currently use a pair of Crocs and they are perfect for sitting by the campfire or getting up at night for close-by firewood or relieving the bladder.