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Boot Up For Success

No matter what the assignment, make sure your footwear is up to the task at hand.

December 01, 2000  |  by Scott Smith - Also by this author

In police work, situations can change in a heartbeat. You should rest assured that you can keep your feet under you, no matter where your shift takes you.

If your feet are cold and wet or your bunions are acting up, life can be bleak, indeed. In the world of police work, one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment is footwear. While hours of thought often go into the purchases of duty gear like vests, belts, firearms, batons, etc., footwear is often left in lonely last place. In reality it should be first. A beat officer can be on his or her feet for an entire eight-hour shift, at a vehicle accident for hours, or involved in a SWAT operation for anywhere from a matter of minutes a whole day. "Performance and safety are key when it comes to footwear for law enforcement officers," says Jon Kaplan, President and CEO of Hi-Tec Sports USA, parent company of Magnum." "Tactical footwear needs to be designed with optimum slip resistance and traction for those demanding situations that law enforcement personnel deal with on a daily basis." Cops aren't UPS drivers. Their lives can literally depend on the ability of their boots to keep them on their feet!

Quality footwear can help make the day go a little better and also help end the, "My aching back," "My feet are killing me," or the favorite of those up North, "I wish my feet could be warmer and drier." Modern technology can be a wonderous thing, especially when applied in the right location. If applied correctly, all of these problems can be handily fixed. "Today, law enforcement personnel want a "duty" boot that is lightweight, comfortable and will hold up in all the various conditions these individuals find themselves in on a daily basis," said Todd Dunaway of Original S.W.A.T. Footwear.

When looking for duty footwear, as with bullet-resistant vests and other gear, consider how it's going to be used and ask yourself, "How will I get the most for my dollar?"

As with anything else in life, you get what you pay for. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to bet your mortgage on a new pair of boots, but don't be shy about opening your checkbook!

What's Out There?

Fortunately, a wide variety of boots are available for the officer on the street. Some designs have a waterproof barrier in them like Gore-Tex, Sympatex, or the latest -tex of the day. "Thermal properties are important. Gore-Tex waterproof membranes let the boot breathe while keeping feet dry," according to Steve Francis, Director, Product Design from Bates Uniform Footwear.  Many are insulated, usually with Thinsulate, a lightweight, fast-drying insulative material made by DuPont. Generally, a good weight is 400 grams; that's also the heaviest gram weight DuPont manufacturers.

Many boots use a combination of leather and Cordura nylon in their construction. A Vibram sole wears well and is the industry standard. A quality sole should be attached to a stable shock-absorbing midsole, generally of an EVA compound (which is a rubber, shock-absorbing material) and compressed polyurethane. One manufacturer is now using an air unit similar to that of a popular athletic shoe company.  An important feature of some boots, like the Danner, is the fact they are easily resoleable. "When the outsole wears out you simply strip on a new one and it extends the life," said Renee Henry, Vice President of Sales for Danner Shoe Company. Sometimes the increased cost is justified because you can increase the life of the boot.

So what's out there for duty wear? Actually quite a bit, from a number of manufacturers. Boots can range in price from $75 to $200. Remember, your feet are going to be on-duty with the rest of you for at least eight hours a day . . . do the math.

Danner Shoe Manufacturing

Long known for its Gore-Tex boots, Danner Shoe Manufacturing Company has introduced the Trooper II to augment its duty line. Unlike like other boots in the duty/uniform line, the TrooperII has a glued-on sole instead of the welted, sewn-on type. This is said to reduce weight and make the boots a little more flexible. These Gore-Tex-lined boots are waterproof and feature a leather and Cordura upper portion - again to aid in making the boot lighter.

The TrooperII's aggressive sole provides excellent traction in all but the iciest of conditions.

Danner Trooper II


For 2000, Hi-Tec/Magnum has redesigned the line of Magnum boots that have set the standard in lightweight duty boots. Said the company's Director of Marketing Pam Aberle, "Hi-Tec didn't want to change the successful Magnum line, only improve it." Of note, the soles are now the Vibram type as there were a number of complaints that Hi-Tec's soles were slippery in oily/wet road and sidewalk surfaces. It's a case of you asked for it and you got it.

A change that is important to those of us who walk all day, is the addition to M-Pact technology. Simply put, this is an outsole and an insole that absorbs the daily shock of walking, running, just plain old standing around and doing the daily office grind. Yes, the boots are still available in both Sympatex waterproof lined and unlined versions, to fit the needs of those in both Washington State and Arizona's deserts.

Hi-Tec Magnum

Rocky Shoes & Boots

Another standby in the world of uniform footwear is Rocky Shoes & Boots. Long known for the Eliminator, Rocky has introduced the Code Red series. These are available as 6- or 8-inch models and are incredibly lightweight. In reality they feel like a good pair of basketball shoes and are just as responsive on the street. The only major drawback to the Code Red is that they are not waterproof. For summer wear or for an administration officer who requires a good piece of duty footwear, while not wanting that "boot feel," these would be an excellent choice.

Rocky Code Red

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