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The Best Tactical Combat Boots For Modern-Day Operators

Best Tactical Combat Boots 0 Hero

Military kit comprises some of the most rugged garments and pieces of gear that money can currently buy, with soldiers literally trusting these items with their lives while operating in some of the most hostile and unforgiving locales on the planet. As such, mil-spec equipment and apparel has to withstand the extreme and unparalleled rigors of combat, while serving a very specific function. And few product spaces encapsulate this notion better than modern mil-spec footwear — the latest and greatest of which we’ll be counting down today in this guide to the best tactical combat boots for military and outdoor use. 

The Best Tactical Combat Boots Breakdown

Defining The Segment

What Exactly Is A Tactical Combat Boot?

Combat-specific footwear has come a long way over the centuries. In the First and Second World Wars, soldiers primarily wore leather boots that look similar to modern-day leather biker boots or full-length workwear boots. In more recent times, combat boots have evolved into more specific and purpose-built items that are engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of today’s fighting forces. As such, modern combat boots are designed to offer solid protection for their wearer without overly mitigating mobility or range of movement. As a result of this, most contemporary tactical boots exist as something of a hybrid between hiking boots and work boots, with the traction and mobility of the former coupled with the stability, protection, and generally-hardwearing build quality of the latter. 

Mil-Spec Footwear Shopping 101

The Most Important Areas To Consider When Buying A Pair Of Tactical Combat Boots

Being fairly unique pieces of footwear that differ pretty hugely from normal day-to-day kicks, tactical combat boots can be a bit tricky to shop for, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Well aware of this reality, we’ve saved you the legwork, rounding up the top ten most pivotal aspects to take into account when shopping for a pair of tactical combat boots. 

Primary Construction: One of biggest factors that will ultimately determine the overall quality of any pair of tactical boots is the primary material used to craft their uppers. On modern military-style combat boots, uppers are typically cut from either leather, suede, nylon, canvas, or other textiles — or a combination of two or more of the aforementioned materials. It’s also not uncommon to see these primary constructions fortified via wax coatings or other treatments or finishes such as DWR or PU. 

Membrane & Liner: In a bid to afford full waterproof status, some modern combat boots feature waterproof GORE-TEX-style membranes — which are also often breathable in addition to being impervious to water. As a result, a boot’s membrane is another crucial area to explore when shopping. The same goes for a boot’s liner, as this element can also have a decent impact on the overall user and owner experience, with some offering qualities such as quick-drying or antimicrobial properties. 

Lacing System Or Closure: While tactical combat boots have hugely evolved over the last few decades, one area that’s gone largely unchanged is the lacing systems that these pieces of footwear utilize. Sometimes using a speed lacing setup, the vast majority of tactical boots use standard lace and eyelet configurations that ensure a super snug fit across the entire boot. With that said, some of today’s combat boots have also been supplemented via side zippers, buckles, and other pieces of hardware. 

Insole & Midsole: Sandwiched between a pair of boots’ outsoles and uppers, the insoles and midsoles of a boot play a major role in several areas, with the biggest probably being stability and comfort. While once more of an afterthought, modern tactical combat boots are designed with highly-calculated midsole configurations and equally-well-thought-out insoles that have been engineered for everything from rucking to close quarter combat scenarios

Outsole: Outsoles are of immense importance on any pair of boots, and tactical combat boots are no exception. The outsoles of a pair of combat boots will directly determine the level of traction and grip available, as well as the boot’s performance on wet or slick surfaces. There are also a decent number of proprietary compounds and constructions used on modern outsoles — many of which are also resistant to oil while some are even impervious to electric shocks. 

Build Quality & Construction Techniques: The materials that comprise a pair of tactical combat boots will play an enormous role in their overall quality, though how those materials are pieced together is also of great importance — making build quality and construction technique two more areas that are essential to review when shopping. Examining this area basically just means looking at how the boots were manufactured and what type of stitching or construction techniques were utilized.  

Waterproofing & Insulation: Different tactical combat boots are designed for use in different climates and locales. As such, some are completely waterproof while others offer water resistance and others are completely devoid of protection from the elements. What’s more, there are also highly-breathable pairs of tactical combat boots made for use in warmer climates, as well as cold-weather-specific combat boots that usually feature insulation and other elements to bolster heat and warmth when being used in the frigid temperatures. 

Padding: Combat boots can also vary in terms of the level of padding that’s present, as some pairs feature more streamlined designs while others boast beefier, more robust layouts. Most commonly, padding and armor on tactical boots is found around the toe and ankle — not unlike modern motorcycle shoes or boots. 

Length: Just like with work boots or loggers, tactical combat boots are offered in a variety of different lengths and cuts. Because they need to afford high levels of proaction and stability, pretty much every modern tactical boot will be at least 6” to 8” in length, and can go up from there. While some of this boils down to personal preference, this is nonetheless a vital area to consider when shopping. 

Comfort: Pretty much every pair of modern tactical combat boots has been designed for all-day use, though these items can still pretty hugely vary in terms of comfort. As a result, you’ll want to explore areas such as the membrane and liner, footbed, and insole, in order to get a better sense of a pair of boot’s general level of comfort. It’s also worth pointing out that you can typically bolster any pair of boots’ comfort level by adding an aftermarket insole. 

Maelstrom Mil Lite

Maelstrom Mil Lite
Photo: Amazon
  • Offers unbeatable value
  • Uppers cut from combination of suede and ballistic-grade nylon
  • Equipped w/ EVA foam midsoles
  • Meets AR-670-1 requirements for optional wear
  • Materials & build quality not as rugged as other boots on this list

Most Affordable/Best Value Boot: Maelstrom’s Mil Lite Combat Boots are lightweight military sole protectors that meet the AR-670-1 requirement for Optional Wear. They are made with breathable and flexible cow suede and 1,000-denier nylon for a professional aesthetic and superior protection. The midsoles on the Mil Lite boots feature EVA for flexibility and excellent energy return. What’s more, they have footbeds that provide amazing shock absorption, making them ready for any mission on any terrain. Collectively, these factors made for a solid pair of tactical combat boots, though they’re undeniably made all the more impressive by their wildly affordable price point — making them accessible to just about anyone, no matter their budget. 

Upper Construction: Suede & 1,000D Nylon
Outsole: Rubber
Waterproof: No

Oakley Coyote Boot

Oakley Coyote Boot
Photo: Oakley
  • Crafted around CORDURA uppers w/ breathable synthetic suede inserts
  • Built atop single-piece EVA foam midsole and outsole
  • Super breathable
  • Excellent shock absorption
  • Features odor control system
  • No water protection

Best Warm-Weather Boot: Though undoubtedly best known for its eyewear, anyone that’s served in the military since the turn of the millennium is well-aware of how popular Oakley’s gear has become with modern-day soldiers. And with offerings like the Oakley Coyote Boot, it really isn’t hard to see why. Engineered for everything from desert combat to urban warfare, the Coyote Boot is built atop a soft and grippy single-piece EVA foam midsole and outsole that provides incredible levels of shock and impact absorption. Secured via braided nylon laces with a top quad-speed-hook setup, the boots also sport uppers crafted from lightweight CORDURA that’s been supplemented via strategically—laced patches of  breathable synthetic suede — giving them durability where it’s needed most, and breathability everywhere else. Oakley has also bestowed these boots with its proprietary Odor Control System. 

Upper Construction: CORDURA & Synthetic Suede
Outsole: EVA
Waterproof: No

Nike SFB B1

Nike SFB B1.png
Photo: Nike
  • DA PAM 670-1 compliant
  • Secured via dual-zone lacing setup
  • Equipped w/ internal rock shield
  • Sports visual elements borrowed from Nike sneakers
  • Uses proprietary Nike materials & systems like Nike Free tech & Air cushioning
  • Devoid of membrane found on other Nike SFB tactical boots

Best Mil-Compliant Boot: Part of the athletic wear giant’s SFB Collection — which honors Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman and his service during the Second World War — the Nike SFB B1 is a thoroughly modern take on a pair of tactical combat boots that benefit from a host of Nike’s proprietary footwear advancements and technologies. Constructed around a set of rugged yet breathable full-grain leather and nylon canvas uppers, the SFB B1 boasts a removable sockliner, an internal rock shield, side ventilation ports, reinforced stitching and rubber at the toe, foam midsoles, and a dual-zone lacing setup that integrates with a durable webbing system to ensure high levels of stability and an ultra-secure, locked-in fit. DA PAM 670-1 compliant, these trail-ready tactical boots also feature a rubber outsole that’s inspired by Nike Free technology. Equipped with Nike Air cushioning in the heel, the bottom of this boot also sports an outsole with a sawtooth design at the arch and anatomically placed shallow flex grooves. 

Upper Construction: Leather & Nylon Canvas
Outsole: Rubber
Waterproof: No

Merrell Moab 3 8″ Tactical Zip Waterproof Boot

Merrell Moab 3 8 Inch Tactical Zip Waterproof Boot
Photo: Merrell
  • Tactical 8” version of brand’s super popular Moab hiking boots
  • Boasts unparalleled levels of comfort & stability
  • Boots are Cleansport NXT-treated for natural odor control
  • Completely waterproof yet breathable
  • Stellar impact absorption
  • Wealth of features required for comfort & stability result in bulky silhouette

Best Rucking Boot: Based on the American footwear brand’s immensely popular Moab hiking boots, the Merrell Moab 3 8″ Tactical Zip Waterproof Boot offers the protection and stability one would expect from a modern combat boot while delivering unparelled levels of comfort, traction, and stability. Cleansport NXT-treated for natural odor control, the Moab 3 Tactical Boots come loaded with waterproof-coated leather and mesh uppers with an underlying breathable and waterproof membrane and a waterproof medial zipper. Also includes is a Bellows tongue and a protective and abrasion resistant rubber heel and toe cap. What really makes these combat boots stand out from other models on the market is the fact that they’re not only more capable on the trails than a great many of today’s hiking boots, but also their insane levels of comfort — with this latter area having been achieved through a robust combination of a breathable mesh lining, a mesh footbed cover, a COMFORTBASE removable contoured footbed, a molded nylon arch shank, a shock-absorbing and stability-bolstering Merrell Air Cushion in the heel, Super Rebound Compound midsoles, and a Vibram® TC5+ outsole that was developed exclusively for Merrell. 

Upper Construction: Leather & Mesh
Outsole: Vibram TC5+
Waterproof: Yes

5.11 Tactical A/T 8″ Waterproof Non-Zip Boot

511 Tactical AT 8 Inch Waterproof NonZip Boot
Photo: 5.11 Tactical
  • Comes w/ removable 5.11 support plate for carrying heavier loads
  • Benefits from 5.11’s All Terrain Load Assistance System tech
  • 5.11 Tac Dry membrane is waterproof & resistant to blood borne pathogens
  • Uses Ortholite insoles & Achilles pad
  • Limited breathability

Best Waterproof Boot: In typical 5.11 Tactical fashion, the brand’s A/T 8″ Waterproof Non-Zip Boot is a rugged piece of equipment that’s built to last and sold at a fair price. Benefitting from the use of 5.11’s All Terrain Load Assistance System and Tac Dry waterproof and blood borne pathogen-resistant membrane, these tactical boots are crafted around a set of waterproof suede uppers with breathable nylon mesh inserts. Capped off with a dual Density PU midsole with 5.11 Echo high rebound foam in the forefoot and 5.11 Force shock absorbing foam in the heel, the bottom of these boots are lined with slip and oil-resistant outsoles with a multi-direction lug pattern and a removable 5.11 support plate to support carrying heavier loads. Rounding out these boots are Ortholite insoles and Achilles pads, and a locking instep lace eyelet that practically guarantees a precise and snug fit. 

Upper Construction: Suede & Nylon
Outsole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes

Salomon XA Forces Jungle

Salomon XA Forces Jungle
Photo: Salomon
  • Full-size tactical boot based on Salomon’s XA PRO 3D trail-running shoe platform
  • Engineered specifically for special forces use
  • Has drainage holes, non-water-absorbent materials, & quick-drying interior
  • Every element of entire boot is reinforced
  • Zero protection from water/the elements
  • Minimal padding

Best Special Forces Boot: Engineered from the ground up for special forces use, the Salomon XA Forces Jungle is a full-length tactical boot that’s modeled after the brand’s XA PRO 3D trail-running shoe. As such, the entire boot is built atop the same 3D advanced chassis that was designed specifically for trail-running use. Weighing just 21oz per pair, the XA Forces Jungle boot is made from a combination of non-water-absorbent materials including leather and textile uppers, a textile lining, and textile inlays. Furthering its conduciveness to use in the jungle are a series of drainage ports and a quick-drying interior. It’s also worth pointing out that, from the laces to the outsole to the mesh, every element on this tactical combat boot has also been reinforced to ensure immense levels of durability. 

Upper Construction: Leather & Textile
Outsole: Rubber
Waterproof: No

Danner Reckoning

Danner Reckoning
Photo: Danner Boots
  • Built on Danner’s 851 Last & DAT outsole
  • Berry-compliant & made in America
  • Great build quality
  • Fantastic lacing system
  • Not re-craftable/re-soleable
  • Expensive price

Best USA-Made Boot: Built with the top-notch quality that Danner is known for, the Danner Reckoning boots are a Berry-compliant  pair of tactical combat boots with a highly-calculated design that’s been brought to life using a combination of top-shelf and proprietary materials. Made in America, the Reckoning is built on Danner’s 851 Last platform and features a Danner Vibram All Terrain outsole. Stacked atop the DAT outsoles is are fiberglass shanks, breathable, moisture-wicking air mesh liners backed by Danner’s ventilation technology, and shock-absorbing removable open-cell polyurethane footbeds. The boots primary upper construction consists of a combination of full-grain leather and DWR-treated textile panels with a double-rivet lace-to-toe speed lacer setup, and a polishable synthetic leather toe for meeting uniform requirements. And, while they don’t come cheap, these boots are legitimately made to last a lifetime. 

Upper Construction: Leather & DWR-Treated Nylon
Outsole: Danner Vibram All Terrain
Waterproof: No

Rocky S2V Insulated Military Boot

Rocky S2V Insulated Military Boot
Photo: Rocky
  • Super rugged materials & build quality
  • Built on proprietary high-walled Vibram soles
  • Berry-compliant & made in America
  • Reduce injuries with Roll-Stop Ankle Stability system
  • Has shock-absorbing perforated Air-Port cushion footbed & PU midsoles
  • Expensive price

Best Cold-Weather Boot: Everything you need in tactical combat footwear can be found right here in the Rocky S2V Flight Boots. The waterproof boots are constructed with water-resistant leather and 1,000-denier ballistic-grade CORDURA nylon, proprietary high-walled Vibram outsoles, PU midsoles, and perforated Air-Port cushion footbeds. They benefit from durable triple-stitched construction and have fiberglass shanks, ensuring protection for years to come. Stuffed with 400 grams of thermal insulation, this pair of boots also has Roll-Stop ankle stability and PTFE coating for flame-resistance. And they’re made right here in the USA.

Upper Construction: Leather & 1,000D CORDURA
Outsole: Vibram
Waterproof: Yes

The Best Tactical Knives Proven For Combat

Best Tactical Combat Knives 00 Hero

A quality blade is another must-have essential for any operator or law enforcement officer. So, if you don’t already own one, then be sure to head over to our guide to the best tactical knives proven for combat for a curated list of rugged and deadly fixed blades and folders engineered for specifically tactical use.