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Fancy Footwear

New features in today's law enforcement boots provide enhanced fit, comfort, and performance.

July 25, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

"As you exit the aircraft and fast rope down, the inside of your instep on your boot can generate up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit of heat. And with that, most nylon, leather, or rubber would disintegrate," says Magnum CEO Bob Kaiser. "With our system, the Superfabric material can withstand up to 1,500 degrees before it starts to melt."

Cooling Off

Whether you're sliding down a rope, walking, or running, it's easy for your feet to feel hot after sitting in boots for a while. Especially in warmer climes, innovations to alleviate such discomfort are welcome. 

This is why the uppers on 5.11 Tactical's new Taclite boot feature a more progressive design incorporating less traditional materials. "Panels of breathable air mesh instead of Cordura Nylon give us windows of breathabililty," says Joel Alarcon, director of strategic business unit footwear for 5.11 Tactical. "And behind the airmesh we use a high-quality backing foam. None will absorb water."

Also focusing on materials used to lower foot temperatures, Haix boots feature Sun Reflect leather. "It's a specially treated leather that reflects sunlight so it keeps the leather, and in turn your feet, cooler," says Longarzo. Depending on where you live and work, one such simple feature can make a big difference in overall comfort throughout the day.

Danner's new DFA boot is designed for vertical insertion, witjh its patent pending V.I. outsole and low-oil nubuc for effective fast roping.

Danner's DFA boot comes in a waterproof version, but the company also sells a "hot version" that is unlined and features spacer mesh lining. "It's not waterproof, but in hot weather environments, it's significantly more useful for an operator to promote foot health and allow for additional breathability," says Cade.

Instead of relying on materials to cool feet, other companies have developed systems that literally push air through and out of a boot. To deliver on customer requests for cooler, more breathable footwear, Bates developed its cross-channel circulation, or C3, technology.

"It's quite a challenge to make a boot extremely breathable and still retain the rigidity you need and the level of water repellency a customer needs," says Fowler. "But we built a system of channels through the sidewall of the midsole of the shoe, so the wearers as they walk and move can almost pump air into and out of the foot cavity."

To make room for this "portal system," designers had to use less lining materials behind the boot's nylon panels, which also significantly increased breathability. In fact, breathability can be measured in the lab with what is called the moisture vapor transfer rate, and a boot with C3 technology has twice the MVTR of the industry qualification standard of a "breathable" shoe.

Magnum's C3 system promotes air circulation throughout the boot to keep feet cool and dry.

Along the same lines, Magnum's Vent Guard is a one-way valve at the front of the boot near the little toe on the outside and on the back of the big toe on the inside. This allows air heated inside the boot by friction where the boot bends to leave through the vent as the wearer walks, creating what Kaiser jokingly refers to as "whooshing." Haix boots have a similar feature in the company's Climate System.

CONTINUED: Fancy Footwear «   Page 2 of 3   »

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