Anyone who has worn the uniform will tell you good boots are worth their weight in gold. If your feet aren't happy it can make for a miserable shift and a more miserable officer. Bates is one of the most well-known boot makers around and offers several different styles to suit almost any mission. One of the company's newest is the Delta Nitro series. Mine arrived in the 8-inch size with the side zipper, which I feel is the best configuration for patrol duty use as the extra height provides additional ankle support and the side zipper makes suiting up a little easier.
Right out of the box I was impressed with the styling and construction of the Delta Nitro boots. They start with thick rubber soles with aggressive tread, move up to a sturdy leather lower, and end with a thick padded nylon upper. The laces are robust and make cinching them up a, well, you know. Having owned Bates boots before, I ordered "my" size and they fit perfectly. Bates seems to do well standardizing their sizes across their model line. This is a nice feature if you like the brand as it may save you some time hunting for your size at the uniform store.
The Delta Nitros also feature Bates' iCS+ adjustable comfort system, which is basically a cushioned disk in the heel that can be rotated to adjust the support and feel of the boot. It is a nice feature and allows the wearer to achieve a custom fit without buying extra insoles or orthotics.
I didn't give these boots the normal "break in" period; instead, I rolled the dice and immediately put them on for a full 10-hour duty shift. The fit was just about perfect and there was ample room between the eyelets to tighten them if needed. There are just a few things I think could use some tweaking.
The nylon YKK side zipper works well but is a little thin and I question its ability to hold up over time. My bigger complaint is the speed-lace hooks on the upper portion of the boot. Although they work well to get the boots nice and tight, they don't work well with a side zipper design. The reason I want a side zipper is to allow me to lace the boots once and then take them on and off repeatedly without having to mess with the laces again. With this design, as soon as the boot is unzipped, the pressure on the laces is released and they come undone. I found myself ignoring the side zipper from this point forward and just laced them up the old-fashioned way.
Once I sorted out the laces I began my walk to the briefing room and was sold after only a few steps. The Delta Nitros are extremely comfortable, flexible, and supportive without the need for insoles or breaking in, something few boots can claim. They do this and still maintain the feel of a real boot, not the running shoe character found in some of the newer styles. Although there is value to athletic shoe comfort, I prefer a true pair of boots because I feel they provide better protection, last longer, and look more professional. At the end of my shift my feet were cool, dry, and most importantly still happy.
I wore the Delta Nitros for over a month and they have held up well. A few coats of polish have kept them looking new and they're still as supportive as the day I took them out of the box. If you're looking for a new pair of real boots with out-of-the-box comfort, try on a pair of the Bates Delta Nitros. You'll be glad you did.
Bates Delta Nitro 8" SZ Boots Specs:
- Durable full-grain leather and nylon upper
- iCS+ adjustable comfort technology
- Breathable Lining
- YKK nylon side zipper
- Cushioned EVA midsole
- Slip-resistant rubber outsole
- Cement construction
- Price: $149.95