Foot Soldiers: The 7 Best Tactical Combat Boots

Your average job doesn’t involve chasing down perps, kicking in doors, stalking prey, evading insurgents, or any of the innumerable other obstacles that soldiers, law enforcement officers, and professional hunters face on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need a good pair of tactical boots. The common misconception is you have to be a SWAT member to need tactical footware, combat boots, or military boots, but the truth is that anyone who demands reliability, versatility, flexibility, and unbeatable toughness can benefit from a decent pair.

The type of boots you need will depend on your environment. If you plan on using them for work in an urban environment, you’re going to need something with a little more padding and the ability to protect your feet and ankles from the asphalt jungle. If you intend on using them as hiking boots, you want something with greater support and flexibility for taking on unusual terrain. If you want them for working on a job site, you need a harder exterior that can take punishment. Whichever way you’re employing them, one of our 7 best tactical boots will happily foot the bill.

Rothco Deployment

Rothco Deployment

Pro: Durable and affordable
Con: Heavy

Most for the Money: The Deployment boots are made to take a lot of punishment at a fairly low price. The thick sole and steel shank are intended to reduce impact and increase support whether you’re on a forced march, a leisurely hike, or a run through the sandbox. The soles have a deep tread that work like water shoes for crossing wet stones or oil-slick pavement. The trade off is that they are a little heavier and feel much more like a boot than a sneaker than some other tactical boot choices out there. This doesn’t make them uncomfortable, but does mean they aren’t quite as quick or light, so if speed is essential to your purpose you’ll want to look elsewhere. The inner sole is cushioned so extended plodding feels perfectly fine and a mesh upper helps ventilation so that your feet aren’t in the sweathouse day in and day out. A zippered side allows you easy on/off access, but reduces the water and weather resistance slightly. [Purchase: $68+]

Rocky Mens C4T

Rocky Men’s C4T

Pro: Very light
Con: Limited tread

Phantom Weight: The C4T is going to feel more like a military boot than many consumer-grade tactical boots because it was designed by soldiers with experience in the trenches. They took everything that was good about their standard issue gear and improved on it. These are exceptionally light which allows for quieter movement even over dry brush, making them perfect for hunters who operate during any season. The lining breathes very easily which helps with hot weather and allows for fast drying if you need to ford a stream. An 8 inch shaft gives your ankles a sturdy house that comes complete with a padded tongue to prevent bruising from impacts as you stalk. The EVA outsole is flexible and lets your foot land naturally to reduce impact even if moving at a fast pact. The one detractor is the semi-minimal grip and texture isn’t ideal for extreme levels of debris. [Purchase: $70+]

Magnum Spider 8 0

Magnum Spider 8.0

Pro: Work in any season
Con: Wear out quickly

Complete Comfort: These are easily one of the most comfortable tactical boots you can buy and are perfect for wearing for long hours on your feet. The spider mesh lining allows your feet to breathe without feeling too light or airy. The leather and mesh upper hugs the contours of your calf and ankle so they won’t slip or move independently so even if you walk long distances over disparate terrain you can be assured that they won’t rub or abrade causing blisters. The tactile feel of the sole actually made them work great as motorcycle boots since they have all the proper padding and protection along with the ventilation for touring along America’s highways. The EVA midsole is compression molded to fit your foot easily with a minimum breaking-in period. With a pair of good thermal socks these can work in any season. The one drawback to the extreme comfort they provide is the relatively short life span if you really put them through their paces. [Purchase: $85+]

511 ATAC 6 Inch

5.11 ATAC 6 Inch

Pro: Oil and slip resistant
Con: Limited protection

Worker/Warrior: Each of the 5.11 ATAC boots have their advantages, but we found that the shorter, 6 inch model offered the most versatility as a lightweight work boot that gives solid protection for average active jobs where moderate weight and maneuverability were paramount. Firemen, EMTs, and even beat cops will enjoy the full grain leather exterior that uses a fabric interior complete with a shock mitigation system so that running across concrete isn’t nearly as jarring or as tough on the joints as with many of the other boots on this list. The soles are slip resistant, even when walking across oil yet are soft enough to be very quiet if approaching a suspect. The lining wicks away moisture and reduces bacterial buildup to prevent foot odors even if you’re stuffed into these for a double shift. The feel is more like running shoes that true boots, since they are built for comfort and speed. [Purchase: $88+]

Bates GX-8 GTX

Bates GX-8 GTX

Pro: Highly versatile
Con: Lengthy breaking-in period

Anytime, Anywhere: Bates Boots are one of the most prolific and beloved of any tactical boot on the market today. They work reasonably well under just about any circumstances with their comfortable, waterproof body that comes in light and heavy weights depending on your needs. They can be your work boots, hiking boots, winter boots, and fulfill just about any function without costing you a small fortune. The EVA midsole is comfortable while the outer sole is good for either varied terrain or flat, hard surfaces. Bates is the company behind Merrell, Wolverine, Hush Puppies, and even work with Harley-Davidson footware, so there should be no doubt that whatever you want these to do, they’ll be able to meet the challenge. Waterproof and Gore-Tex lining are just icing on the cake. [Purchase: $100+]

Under Armour Valsetz

Under Armour Valsetz

Pro: Made for running
Con: Poor tread for rural settings

Speed Freaks: These just barely sneak in under the barbed wire to be considered tactical boots, since they perform almost exactly the same as some winter running shoes we’ve found. Under Armour’s ClutchFit technology helps these to wrap around your foot like a second skin for maximum support with very little girth, making them good for speed and even better for stealth. The insole is Micro G foam which is made to cushion every landing – even from a height – but also rebound to help you stick and move with explosive takeoff potential. A TPU shank offers some rigidity through the middle, but support is certainly sacrificed for speed with these boots. If you plan on doing some serious roadwork while wearing these, they’re ready to go. Conversely, if you’re hoping for more protection or a longer life span, these will not be able to give it to you. The Valsetz are ideal for urban settings, but not much for trail running or going cross country through the forest. [Purchase: $120+]

Danner Acadia

Danner Acadia

Pro: High stability
Con: Expensive

Skull Crusher: These are serious combat boots that transcend their tactical moniker. Made for kicking down doors or busting out of POW cells, there is nothing gentle or subtle about the build of the Acadia. They are an aggressive boot with an equally aggressive price tag. The platform is exceptionally stable which will give you a better stance on the target range or in a shootout whether you’re a weaver or isosceles shooter. The outsoles are Kletterlift Vibram for outstanding traction and balance. At 8 full inches with laces running up the entire exterior, these are high and tight and built for support. The heft will keep your speed at a minimum, but the enhanced protection is ideal for walking along the mean streets or tackling a serious outdoor excursion. Gore-Tex lining helps enhance breathability and wick away moisture for a more comfortable interior. U.S.M.C. approved should tell you all you need to know. [Purchase: $255+]

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