5.11's footwear line is no longer limited to purpose-built duty boots. Realizing the demand for covert tactical footwear or just a really solid pair of everyday shoes, they recently unveiled the Norris sneaker and it's in a class all by itself.
At first glance the Norris looks like a very reserved, old-school mid-rise sneaker similar to something you might see at a skate park. The thick rubber soles meet soft suede and nylon uppers with thick laces and padding around the ankles. The toe cap is reinforced for durability and there's a small loop at the back of the heel to help you pull them on. They're only available in black or brown and are anything but flashy.
That isn't to say that the Norris sneakers don't bring a ton of functionality to the table. The Vibram soles are incredibly durable and supposedly puncture resistant up to 1,200 newtons of force. For those of us unfamiliar with the newton scale I think that basically means they're incredibly tough. There's really no tread to speak of; the soles are smooth and designed for a true urban environment but they're also oil- and slip resistant for solid traction. Lining the insoles is 5.11's Ortholite technology which is stable yet very comfortable.
Wearing my Norris sneakers through an average workday I felt no fatigue and they were breathable enough to keep my feet cool and dry. They're true to size and a bit wider than your average shoe, which is appreciated by those of us with wide feet or those who prefer to wear thick socks. The lace pattern and tongue are well engineered; they lace up solid with great lower ankle support. The Norris is definitely heavier than a regular pair of sneakers but that's to be expected with the added durability and protection they provide.
If you're looking for a solid covert duty shoe that is a change from the traditional hiking boots we've all grown to rely on I'd urge you to take a look at the Norris sneaker. They're simple, comfortable, and will no doubt stand up to the harsh conditions we experience in a covert duty environment. With a retail price of just under $100 they're also more affordable than most. Check them out at www.511tactical.com.
A.J. George is a sergeant with the Scottsdale (AZ) Police Department who is assigned to the Technical Operations Unit, Special Investigations Section. He has more than a decade of law enforcement experience in patrol, field training, and traffic enforcement.