Modern Tactical Boots

A proper fitting tactical boot needs to provide support, flexibility, and durability that allow the user to train and work without the distraction of sore feet.

A proper fitting tactical boot needs to provide support, flexibility, and durability that allow the user to train and work without the distraction of sore feet.

No matter if you are a soldier, Marine, SEAL, or law enforcement officer, if you go into a tactical situation by swimming, marching, parachuting, or patrolling, you rely on two feet to get you there. Without a good pair of boots on those feet you are unable to get into action, and are a liability instead of an asset. Take the time to make an informed decision about your footwear needs. Considering the options an operator now has, the choice should be easy.

Several major manufacturers of tactical boots were sampled for their best and most advanced versions of footwear made for tactical applications and we found the following:

5.11 Tactical

The tactical clothier 5.11 has introduced a line of lightweight boots that the company hopes will be as popular as its tactical wear. The Advance boot is a mid-height boot that is lined with Coolmax and Dri-Lex that keeps skin dry and bacteria free. The non-metallic uppers are constructed with suede and nylon for breathability, durability, and flexibility. The well-lugged aggressive sole is oil and slip resistant on any paved surface or off-road situation an operator might encounter. The toe has a sticky outer layer for traction in all conditions. A side zipper makes for fast donning and doffing while maintaining consistent lace tension—something that occasionally takes time to get just right. The Advance comes only in Coyote brown, although an identical design called the Haste is available in black. A unique feature is that 5.11 offers to send a free pair of the company’s boot socks with every boot purchase.

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Bates Boots

Bates Boots is serious about its “honor bound” commitment, mostly due to the mutual respect developed during Bates’ 100 years of manufacturing footwear for military and law enforcement users. Bates boots are among the most popular footwear worn by men and women on duty. Their new line of tactical boots, the GX-4 Gore-Tex, GX-8 Gore-Tex, and GX-8 Gore-Tex Composite Toe, uses waterproof, full-grain leather, and 1680 ballistic nylon uppers with Gore-Tex lining as well as a molded EVA midsole and slip-resistant rubber outsole. The result is a lightweight, flexible, and breathable boot that respects an operator’s comfort. One operator evaluated Bates Hiker Lites by running up to 10 miles a day. He noted that the pliable, lugged sole gripped well on pavement, concrete, and dry terrain, giving him exceptional sure footedness in urban use. Bates boots are offered in various heights, side zippers, composite toe, and in black or Coyote tan.

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The CEO and founder of BlackHawk Products Group, ex-SEAL Mike Noell is dedicated to supplying fellow operators the best tools to keep them safe and tactically superior. His entry into the tactical boot market with the BlackHawk Warrior Wear Light Assault Boot (LAB) shows evidence of Noell’s SEAL heritage with its water friendly materials and construction. The LAB has excellent ventilation and is quick drying, making it ideal for maritime operations. The Vibram oil-resistant “Train Run” rubber outsole features “TC4 Plus” sticky rubber compound, giving superior grip on all surfaces including swimfins. The LAB has an Ortholite custom molded footbed with a Dri-Lex inner lining that wicks away moisture. The LAB also has a double layer lightweight, breathable, nylon mesh and highly abrasion-resistant upper found in high-quality trail running shoes. It has a quick-close lace feature with a molded lace lock and hidden lace pocket that allows for an immediate closure of the boot with one hand. The Warrior Wear Light Assault Boot comes in Black and Coyote Brown.

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The difference between good boots and great boots is often measured in the time it takes to break them in. Premium Danner boots are broken in “right out of the box” so there is no period where you are thinking about your sore feet instead of your mission. The Danner Striker GTX boot is a lightweight tactical “go fast” boot designed for the professional operator. It is built on Danner’s TERRA FORCE support system that gives the wearer exceptional stability while traversing uneven terrain. The Striker GTX is waterproofed with a Gore-Tex liner and uses Cordura in the upper to provide breathability. Proper boot fit starts with accurate sizing. Danner boots are made on hinged lasts that produce boots consistently and accurately sized boots. The Danner Striker GTX comes in eight-inch black with or without easy side zip for quick access. New this year is the Striker II duty boot that has most of the features of the Striker GTX but is lighter and features the TFX-lite platform. Striker II will be offered in eight inches and 4.5 inches with side zippers or regular lacing.

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HAIX is a well respected German company (pronounced “hikes”) that is a manufacturer of premier outdoor, work, and tactical footwear for discriminating European and American workers, hikers, and warriors. The company’s products have been the preferred wear of European tactical teams like the GSG9 for many years. HAIX’s GSG9 premier tactical boot is approved by the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and has many advanced features. All of the materials in the boot are breathable and the inner lining is made up of HAIX’s patented MicroSoft Lite (MSL) with Gore-Tex to wick away moisture to keep operators’ feet dry. To obtain the best wear, instead of standard cow hide, only the back of the bull hide is used for the HAIX uppers. This provides a thicker and more durable leather to protect operators’ feet. HAIX boots are made on anatomically correct lasts developed from years of experience. The GSG9 is not cheap, but the superb old world craftsmanship together with modern materials creates a tactical boot that many professionals prefer. The HAIX eight-inch GSG9 boot comes only in black.

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Magnum (Hi-Tec)

The Elite Spider, Magnum’s new patrol boot, was designed with an emphasis on light weight and comfort. It is 20 percent lighter than any other boot in its category. It has a tri-density compression-molded EVA midsole usually reserved for running shoes. It is constructed with a full-grain/action leather upper with highly breathable aero mesh for superior ventilation. Magnum’s Spidermesh inner lining absorbs and moves moisture away from the skin. The Elite Spider’s proprietary Vibram outsole is designed to be flexible while generating less noise and a higher level of grip. The Elite Spider comes in three-, five-, and eight-inch styles to accommodate operators and LEOs who want to match their boots with different ankle support needs. The three- and five-inch styles feature a pouch on the tongue to tuck laces into, and the five-inch style will be available in women’s sizes. All styles are available in black and tan. Need FREEinfo? Use #13338


Matterhorn boots have been outfitting the American military for decades. Today, Matterhorn's military and tactical footwear continues to be worn by police forces, emergency personnel, search-and-rescue squads, security officers, and other public safety professionals. Many were in military uniforms when they first experienced Matterhorn boots; they keep coming back as civilians. The Matterhorn Professional Waterproof Leather Tactical Boot is constructed of water-resistant, breathable full-grain leather with a waterproof/breathable GORE-TEX bootie. It has a 1200-denier Cordura tongue and a Blue Omaha moisture wicking lining. For moisture and odor control, the Matterhorn Professional Tactical boot has a removable DRYZ Shock Absorbing Cushioned Insert. For unexpected callouts, it has a high-speed silent lace system. And for climbing, the Matterhorn has a high-tech lug outsole with sidewall traction. The Matterhorn Professional Tactical boot comes in seven-inch black.

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Original S.W.A.T.

Original S.W.A.T. gave us the 411 on the company’s newest boot. Available this year is the SEK 9000 Boot developed in part by a former German GSG9 and S.W.A.T. team officer. The SEK is the “uber stiefel” and the next generation of high-performance S.W.A.T. boots. Built on a Vibram outsole, the boot features an aggressive, multi-terrain tread with a cushioning Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) midsole. The outsole has built-in arch reinforcements for rope rappelling and added foot protection. The EVA midsole is topped by a lightweight, riveted steel shank sandwiched between two flexible lasting boards for superior lateral stability, torsional strength, and additional under-arch protection. For added comfort, the removable molded orthotic footbeds are designed with gel inserts at the heel and forefoot. The SEK 9000 upper is made from supple leather, reinforced with “Armor-Dillo” abrasion resistance in critical areas for durability and added traction when in the sniper position. The Original S.W.A.T. SEK 9000 has undergone extensive product testing on the feet of some of the most elite tactical officers in the world, setting new standards in comfort, strength, durability, and tactical performance. It will be offered in eight-inch black in regular and half sizes and widths.

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Rocky went to the source and asked Navy SEALs and SpecWar operators what they wanted and needed for footwear. The operators wanted a lot. They wanted a boot that would drain easily, was flash and fire resistant, could be worn days at a time, would stand up to rope work or kicking in doors, could be worn with swim fins, and would provide traction on various surfaces. The direct result that addressed all of these concerns was the Rocky S2V Boots, new this year. The Rocky S2V has leather uppers with 1,000-denier Cordura sides and padded collar that are treated with PTFE coating for flame and flash resistance. The instep panel is built with puncture-resistant SuperFabric specifically to prevent wear from rope work. The midsole is hollowed out and filled with polystyrene with a fiberglass midshank to reduce weight and increase flexibility. The multi-terrain high-walled tread is a triple-stitched, aggressive pattern that extends around the edge of the sole for traction during climbing. The wicking Dri-Lex lining and stretch Lycra tongue hug the feet for a secure fit. Drainage vents move water out of the boot and dry air in with each step. The lightweight (less than one pound) eight-inch S2V comes in black and tan and is both uniform and Berry.

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Part of the Weinbrenner Shoe Company that for over 114 years has built a tradition of quality, Thorogood boots recently introduced its line of Omega tactical boots. They are optimized for stealth and performance and are constructed for tactical and combat theaters where noise discipline, visual stealth, and security are essential. The Omega boot is completely non-metallic and blood borne pathogen resistant. The Thorogood Omega exclusive code blue removable insole has triple density polyurethane foam integrated into a solid Ethel Vinyl Acetate (EVA) formed heel-stabilizing cup to form a complete foot comfort and arch support system. The boot sole is designed by Thorogood and co-branded with Vibram for a very special and sure-footed design that will handle any surface or condition. The Omega comes in six- or eight-inch black with side zip and/or durable leather shroud that completely covers the laces. This was offered as a direct result of input from operators that had their exposed laces get snagged during use.

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How you take care of your feet should be of paramount importance to every operator. Some amateurs will quickly blame their footwear even if they have done nothing to help their boots fit and wear well. Great boots will wear poorly unless you consider several things.

Take care of your feet.

An infantryman's primary focus, but usually the last thing you think of until you are blistered and footsore. Keep your feet dry as much as you can, but when they get wet, change into dry socks as soon as you can. Keep your feet warm, but let them breathe; trapped perspiration causes wet feet. During winter ot leads to frostbite, and during the summer it causes excessive abrasion due to the softened skin. Also keep your toenails trimmed.

Buy the right shoe size.

Feet spread out as you get older and should be sized every time you buy footwear.

Don't cheap out on socks.

Why spend good money on a good fitting pair of shoes or boots, but then go down to Dollar General and get a case of one-size-fits-all cotton tube socks? Modern socks will pull perspiration away from your feet and cushion them from the inside of the boot including the eyelets and natural creasing. Cotton socks retain moisture close to the skin, so a blend of wool and polypropylene that "wicks" moisture away is far superior. If you take your socks off after a long day and your feet look "pruney" and blanched, then your boots are retaining excessive moisture. Buy better socks.

Maintain good arch support.

Arch supports will complete the comfort system of good boots, socks and support. No arch support will make your feet hurt and also strain your knees and cause chronic back pain. Most name brand boots come with excellent insoles, but when they wear out, immediately replace them.

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