POLICE magazine asked three police officers from the Redondo Beach (Calif.) Police Department to wear five pairs of patrol boots for one shift each and tell us what they thought. Officers Dave Atwater, Denise Brenner, and Corey King have their favorites, but all had their own reasons for the ratings they gave their test boots.
Atwater prefers a high shine on his boots at all times, something that's not important to everyone. He also wants his work footwear to be comfortable and sturdy. But he says he goes through phases as far as the style he prefers to wear. Some years he wants to wear a bigger, heavier boot, while others he wants to wear lighter-weight boots.
Brenner is concerned with the comfort of her boots, especially their cushioning. She also likes a boot that looks good-and doesn't make her feet look big. Shine is only somewhat important to her.
King's biggest concern is comfort. He wants his patrol boots to fit comfortably right out of the box. If they don't break in within a week, he doesn't want them. He's not concerned with shine because he knows how quickly his boots get scuffed up every day at work.
Brenner admires the look of the Striker 45 GTX Danner boots she tested. "They go really well with the uniform," she says. "They almost look like a tennis shoe mixed with a boot appearance, which I like."
She also appreciates the way the two metal hooks at the top of the eyelets on the boots make undoing the laces faster and easier, which means she can get her feet out of them more quickly.
However, the Striker 45s don't fit Brenner as well as she'd like, although she feels the padding is adequate. "Because they're not a very high boot on me, the ankle portion of the boot rubbed on my ankle bone the whole shift," she says. She admits a higher boot probably wouldn't cause the same problem.
Another problem caused by the height of the boot was more of an annoyance than an issue of comfort. A bootstrap, a leather loop at the top of the heel, had a habit of catching Brenner's pant leg every time she rose from a sitting position.
"That pull-up strap on the back heel constantly got caught on my pant leg when getting in and out of the car," she explains. "I was constantly trying to pull my pant leg over the back of my boot."
King had the same experience with the Striker 8-inch GTX Danners he tested. Atwater didn't have an issue with the Striker boot because it was high enough to clear his pant leg. But he offers a solution to the boot strap issue, if it poses a problem and you prefer to wear shorter boots.
"I had a pair of Danner boots several years ago and the same thing kept happening to me," he says. "So within the first hour of wearing them I just cut the strap off. And it was never a problem after that."
Atwater is a fan of Danners, and was happy with the boots he tested. He found them to be, "professionally stylish and rugged."
In fact, all three officers noted the Danner boots' overall durability and sound construction.
What most impresses Atwater about the Danners he tested is the comfortable fit. "The boots felt right when I first put them on," he says. "They are a very good fit and have a supportive feel."
During the day, he noticed the boots' light weight and good traction, which made them comfortable and effective on the job.
King liked the boots overall. They were true to size, the laces were easily adjustable for a tight fit, and there was plenty of toe room. But he noticed that the size of the toe box could pose a slight problem.
"The toe is really wide. Comfort-wise, it isn't a problem. But as far as scaling a fence, it's hard to fit the toe in between slats in a fence to get a good toe-hold. Other than that, all around I liked the boot."
Atwater, for whom shine is of great importance, says of all the boots he tested he got the best shine on the Magnum Elite 900, an 8-inch-high boot.
"This is a well-made boot that is supportive, comfortable, and resistant to dirt. The drawback that I see is the large toe box and sole creating the feeling of wearing a large boot. It seems large and tall."
But he liked it overall and was impressed with its durability.
King has mixed feelings about the Magnum Elite.
"It was easy to get on and off because it had the side zipper. And it looked fine with the uniform. But I didn't like wearing it because it was too stiff in the ankles and it made it uncomfortable."
King feels that the fit just isn't right for him, but that others might like the boot for its heavily padded ankles.
"If someone has bad ankles and needs extra ankle support, this might be the boot for them," he suggests.
Brenner liked that the Magnum Stealth Side Zips she tested were so easy to get on and off.
"The Magnums I really liked because they had the zipper on the side," she explains. "I kept forgetting and would start to untie them but then I'd remember they had a zipper. It was a lot easier after I got used to that idea."
She didn't rate them highly for looks because at the end of her shift the left boot had wrinkled in the front, which she felt didn't look neat. She also didn't like their simple design, although others might prefer it. "They're simple. They just don't stand out in the crowd at all," she says.[PAGEBREAK]
The New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade was the testing ground for the Original SWAT Classic 9-inch Side Zip King tested. It impressed him because it was so comfortable and easy to wear.
"I liked this boot because to me it felt more like a tennis shoe than it did a boot. It felt like I had enough support, yet it was very lightweight."
While marching in uniform, King found that the boots have good traction and look good. He definitely put the boots to the test.
"I marched 40 blocks in them and never had any soreness or any problems with them. And it was snowing that day, but my toes were never cold." He also appreciated the zipper on the side of the boot.
"I did like the fact that it was easy to get on and off with the zipper on the side. You couldn't just leave them tied and get them off with the zipper, but you could unzip it and then just loosen your laces a bit and the boot would come right off."
Brenner agrees that the zipper makes getting the boots on and off much easier. She also noticed a bonus in the zipper design.
"I liked that the top portion of the zipper has a velcro strap that holds down the zipper pull. The strap covers up the zipper pull and makes it look more uniform with the boot itself."
Brenner gave these boots a high rating for comfort. "They're definitely light weight, which makes them easy to move around in. They also have very comfortable cushioning."
A design element in the boot intrigued Brenner. "when you stand straight, you can feel that the boot curves up in the toe area. That's the way the style is. It looks kind of funny, but it doesn't bother me at all. I still gave them a high rating for looks. Someone told me they look like tennis shoes."
Atwater especially liked the ease with which he could remove Original SWAT's Classic 9-inch side zip. The zipper made getting in and out of the boots faster and easier, although, like King, he needed to untie the laces somewhat to do so. "It was easy enough to get on and off," he says.
Cushioning and good arch support provided comfort for Atwater. But he noticed that his feet got warm in higher temperatures. Atwater says, "It has a good fit and I would recommend it to others."
Rocky Shoes and Boots
The appearance of the Rocky boots he tested really stood out to King.
"I noticed the Rocky Eliminator 2 boots already have a sheen to them that none of the other boots had. As far as someone looking for an instant shine from a brand-new boot, Rockys are really sharp-looking. They look good in a uniform."
He also thought they had a good weight for moving quickly on a beat.
"They were light and easy to move around in," says King.
Because of his narrow ankles, Atwater couldn't get a good fit with the Rocky Eliminator 2. While he owns a pair of Rockys that he likes, the Eliminator 2 didn't fit him the same way. "The neck at the top of the boot was too wide," he explains. "I couldn't tighten the laces enough to give me good support."
Brenner, although she liked the look of the Women's Eliminator 2 boot, felt the fit of it just wasn't for her, at least after only one day of wearing them.
"I think the padding around the top portion of the boot is meant to be comfortable, but for me it felt more constricting."
Brenner says the toe box of the Rocky boots she tested seems too narrow for her, but that it might become more comfortable over time.
"These are a kind of boot that might stretch out. The area that was tight on me may just have been related to the leather being brand new. I think after a while they would loosen up in that area," says Brenner.
She likes the look of the Rocky boots with her uniform, as well as the quality of their traction.
"The tread is good. It's solid. It's probably one of the best of those I tested, actually," Brenner says.
The Thorogood lightweight 8-inch waterproof Commando Deuce was especially comfortable, Atwater says.
"It's a nice boot with good comfort and support. It's breathable and fits me well. It's light weight and flexible."
He also likes its appearance, although he didn't think it could get a good enough polish for him-which he admits is a difficult task for a soft-leather boot.
"It looks slim, nice, and not overly rugged," Atwater says.
He just has one small complaint.
"The boot laces up and stays laced well, although the small holes in the eyelets make a tough job of lacing them the first time," says Atwater.
He liked the sturdy construction of the boot's tread and sole, as well.
"I was somewhat surprisingly impressed by this boot. The company may have a new customer in me," he says.
Thorogood's Commando Deuce didn't impress King quite as much.
"It's a lightweight boot that has a tennis-shoe style feel to it and sturdy construction," says King.
He's not sure it's a boot for him.
"What I noticed about this boot is that it seems to have a lot of rock in the sole," observes King. "It almost feels like walking in a pair of cowboy boots. You have that heel-to-toe kind of rocking. It might be that I haven't broken them in or gotten used to that feeling."
He also has some reservations about the Thorogoods' appearance.
"Looking at them, they look like snow boots or a space shoe to me. I don't care for the style," says King.
Interestingly, Brenner likened the same Thorogoods-they're unisex-to a snow boot because of their padded comfort, which she liked. She also found them durable.
"They had the standard heavy-duty laces and just using a damp rag to clean them up was fine. The soles appeared to be durable." Overall, Brenner found the Thorogood Commando Deuce boots very easy to wear.
"They were simple to get on and off, although they had no zipper. The laces were easy to undo. They're OK to run in, easy to move around in, and the weight of the boot is light enough to not weigh your foot down and feel too heavy walking around in them all day."
When you're looking to purchase your next patrol boot, you might want to think about its comfort, durability, ease of use, and appearance. Everyone has a different list of criteria for the ideal boot, so find the one best for you.
Original SWAT Footwear
Rocky Shoes and Boots