What’s the difference between regular boots and tactical boots?
Tactical boots are a type of footwear that is specially designed for intense activity and/or harsher environments. Typically worn by police, the armed forces, security personnel, door supervisors and emergency services, among others, tactical boots often sport an array of features that are not necessary to the design of average boots or shoes.
On the outside, tactical boots are usually fashioned from a tough, durable material such as leather, nu buck or suede. They are often extensively waterproofed and feature protective elements such as steel toecaps, thick rubber soles and reinforced collars.
So what else do tactical boots have?
A supportive midsole is vital for a tactical boot. Midsoles basically act as shock absorbers, making it easier for the wearer to walk, run or climb over difficult terrain. Midsoles are usually fashioned from ethylene-vinyl acetate or polyurethane.
Without the softness and support of a well made midsole, tactical boots would be very uncomfortable indeed.
Some boots feature a protective toe rand that covers the front of the boot, while all will feature deep lugs (the indentations in the sole of the boot) that allow for added traction and grip, lessening the chance of slipping on ice or mud.
In many cases, protective coatings of materials such as Gore-Tex are also used.
LOWA GTX Combat Boots
Magnum Strike Force 8.0
Under Armour Boots
Adidas GSG 9.2 Boot
Haix Airpower XR1
What are the advantages to Wearing a tactical boot?
Tactical boots have a lot of advantages over regular footwear. For starters, tactical boots are often very breathable, with the better models maintaining a light, airy feel even through all the added layers of protection.
Tactical boots are also highly flexible, as they are designed to allow for maximum movement during strenuous activity. Tactical boots are quieter too, never squeaking or making any noise.
One of the main selling points, however, is the added protection provided by tactical boots. Steel or plastic toecaps prevent broken toes in the event of heavy objects being dropped on the feet, while the strong materials, tougher tongues and reinforced collars protect the feet and lower legs from sharp objects and other dangers the wearer may encounter.
Keeping up Appearances
Although boots are often the last item of clothing we put on each day, and seemingly the most straightforward, shoes are as responsible for our self-image and confidence as any other part of our dress. Shoes are part of the way we present ourselves to the world, and a way that other people create an impression of us.
The best Work boots need to prevent injury but that doesn’t mean they need to be ugly. There are many types of tactical and military boots, and one to fit each person’s aesthetic needs.
A lot of attention these days is paid to the working needs of folks with office jobs. We hear about backaches, eye strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. For those of us that spend our working days as security guards, doormen or bouncers, our needs are very different. From a good warm coat to a strong flashlight, workers in the security industry have specific needs, a good pair of boots.
A good pair of boots is the foundation of a safe and comfortable shift on your feet. In this article, I’ll review the specific concerns that security industries personnel must take into consideration when it comes to their footwear, and offer suggestions for a solid and durable investment of a good pair of security boots.
Choosing Quality Over Quantity for your tactical Boot
Good work boots, like anything made with craftmanship out of quality materials, will have a hefty price tag. If you are budget-minded, this might cause you to look around for something cheaper.
The thing is, in the long-run buying the more expensive boots will save you money. Investing in a good pair of boots now means you won’t have to keep buying cheaper pairs of boots that will wear out within a few months. Buying cheaper boots regularly will add up to a higher overall cost than buying a higher-priced but high-quality pair of boots that will last.
It’s worth the investment to get something that will last years and keep you comfortable and safe at work.
Best Way to Prevent Injuries
For those working in industries that require long periods of standing or walking, foot injuries are a major concern. The human foot is designed for movement, and long periods of time spent standing is not only tiring, but can cause permanent damage. Without proper footwear, the joints of the feet can become mis-aligned in a condition called flat feet, along with plantar fasciitis which is one of the top complaints of workers who stand for extended periods of time. There are a couple of quick methods of pain relief that could help in a pinch. These can cause inflammation that may later lead to arthritis or rheumatism.
Feet and ankles can be injured from slipping, tripping or falling. Even if your foot itself is not injured in a fall, improper footwear could easily cause the fall itself. Foot injuries can be incurred from punctures and lacerations if you step on a sharp object. Dropping something heavy on your foot can result in crushed or broken bones.
Blisters, ingrown toenails, calluses or bruised toenails are simple physical complaints that can make all the difference if standing is a part of your job for many hours of the week. Fungal infections are also common, and preventable.
Why you should have Steel toe caps
One reason to invest in good steel toe cap boots is to avoid feet being crushed by falling objects. Steel toe caps are one way that good military boots accomplish this level of protection. Toe caps are a protective reinforcement of the front area of the boot.
They aren’t all made of steel. Genuine steel caps are strong, but can be heavy. Alloy toe caps are made of metals like aluminum or titanium. Allow caps are up to 40% lighter than a steel cap, but can be more expensive. Both steel and alloy will set off metal detectors, making these a problem for anyone that works at a facility with this kind of security.
Composite caps are made of non-metal materials such as plastic, fiberglass or carbon fiber. Although they are made to pass safety standards, they aren’t as strong as the metal toe caps. They are lightweight, and will pass through metal detectors.
If you work at a facility with in which you’ll need toe cap boots, you’ll want to be aware of the impact and compression ratings and find a pair of boots with the ratings relevant to your specific job.
Should you Choose a Waterproof or Water Resistant tactical Boot?
Any good boot will have enough insulation to keep your feet dry outdoors, but you’ll want to take into consideration your particular climate when choosing a boot. The insulation could be made of many different materials, depending on the company. 200g of insulation is good for a job that includes a lot of walking, where 400g is better for a cold climate or a job in which you’ll be standing still a lot.
A water-resistant boot will repel water while a water-proof boot will keep the water out entirely. Keeping the water out isn’t the only consideration though. Sweat and condensation must be able to move out of the shoe, away from your foot, or else your feet will be soggy.
How to Maintain Your Boots
Dry Your Boots – Allow your security boots to dry after a long day on the job. Boots like to air dry without excessive heat. Never subject your boots to more heat than your hand can stand. Remove insoles to speed drying. If your boots get soaked, fill them with wads of newspaper. It will draw out the moisture from within.
Keep Them Clean – Remove mud to keep the leather from drying out. A stiff brush works well and avoids getting your boots wet. Remove salt with a mild solution of vinegar and water.
Waterproof leathers do not need the same level of conditioning as regular leathers but all leathers benefit from conditioner. Boots should be clean and dry before applying conditioner. Oil-based treatments (SnoSeal, Mink Oil, Redwing Boot Oil) will soften the leather. Silicone- or PTFE- (Nikwax, Graingers) based treatments add waterproofing without softening the leather.
Knowing the Parts of your tactical Boot
Boots have a few different parts, and it’s good to know the differences in design of each section.
- The outsole is the strip of rubber along the bottom of the boot that contains the tread. The tread differs depending on the intended function of the boot.
- The midsole sits between the outsole and the insole and acts as the primary shock absorber.
- The upper is the part of the boot that wraps around your ankle and lower leg. This can be made of natural or synthetic materials.
- A liner might be included and is generally intended to add a waterproof effect to the boot.
LOWA GTX Combat Boots
Magnum Strike Force 8.0
Under Armour Boots
Adidas GSG 9.2 Boot
Haix Airpower XR1
Lowa Men's Renegade GTX
A functional, modern design helps to ensure that the LOWA GTX combat boots look smart enough to seamlessly blend with just about any outfit or uniform. They will be especially well suited for police and security officers.
The outer material used is leather, while the soles are made of a very tough rubber. The boot is coated with Gore-Tex and is therefore highly water and weatherproof, easily one of the best we’ve seen in this regard.
The self-cleaning soles have great gripping ability thanks to their specialised design that includes brake, propulsion and stability zones located throughout the sole.
Both the heels and toes of the boot are reinforced with hard plastic. Steel would probably be better, but the plastic works well enough, while also being lighter than most steel equivalents.
The boots weigh just under 2kg, about the weight of two pineapples, which is fairly lightweight by tactical boot standards.
The build quality of these boots is simply outstanding. They are robust, yet comfortable, reinforced yet relatively lightweight and boast plenty of considerate design elements (such as the tongue being attached to both sides of the boots in order to prevent water ingress).
Two minor issues with these boots include the lack of real steel heel and toe protectors and the fact that they can get rather hot if worn for extended periods. These boots would be excellent for winter or colder climates, but they won’t do you any favours in summer.
Overall, this is an excellent tactical boot that combines attention to detail with high functionality and finesse. Great stuff.
Magnum Strike Force 8.0 (Men’s)
Sporting perhaps the manliest name in footwear history, Magnum Strike Force sounds like it could be either an action movie, a video game or a second-tier brand of prophylactic. Instead, it’s a tactical boot.
With a solid, comfortable looking design that fills the heretofore unplugged gap between trainers and army boots, these Magnum Strike Force boots appear well suited to any number of activities.
The outer parts of the boot are fashioned from hard wearing leather that is both waterproof and highly protective. Towards the top of the boot is a pair of mesh panels. These are an odd design choice that appears to be both a type of armour as well as a way of keeping the feet cool. It’s certainly a unique and interesting feature.
The rest of the boot’s exterior is also intelligently designed and highly protective. The ankles, for example, feature sacks of ExoGel that act as a shock absorber as well as providing an extra layer of ankle support.
The polyurethane sole is very tough indeed, while the treads on the underside of the boot are actually made by Michelin tyres, allowing for expert grip and support. They are even oil resistant.
Inside the boot, you’ll find a responsive foam insole, as well as a special compression moulded midsole and extra cushioning on both the collar and the tongue, making for an exquisitely comfortable fit.
The presence of a zipper in addition to the bootlaces is also a welcome feature, as it allows the boots to be easily put on or taken off in a hurry.
Although the Magnum Strike Force boots are not reinforced with steel, they are still quite solid – and do provide a decent standard of protection for the wearer. The plus side of using plastic, of course, is that these boots won’t set off metal detectors.
The only real downsides to these boots is that they could be a little more protective and that they really ought to be slightly better insulated, as it’s quite easy for your feet to get cold while wearing them.
Apart from those (admittedly minor) points, this is a great pair of boots. They aren’t the most protective pair we’ve seen, nor are they the warmest, but they have the best soles money can buy, they’re extremely comfortable and they boast a number of other excellent design features that are all equally impressive.
Prospective buyers would be wise to consider issues like the weather where they live or the environment in which they will be wearing the boots before purchase, as there may be models that are better suited in certain cases. Apart from that, you can’t go too far wrong with these.
Under Armour Boots (Men & Women’s)
Advertised by the manufacturer as being “hiking boots as comfortable as running shoes”, these Under Armour hiking boots are designed to be lightweight yet hardwearing, sturdy yet comfortable and protective yet functional.
The outer layers of the boot are fashioned from synthetic materials blended with traditional leather. As a general rule, synthetic materials are not usually as good as their traditional counterparts (although this isn’t always the case). The use of such materials does raise some doubts as to exactly how weatherproof these boots will be if seriously tested.
The boot is very well made, however, with a specially designed ankle support system that protects the ankle without sacrificing any of the comfort of the boot. Toecaps provide a measure of extra protection for the foot itself.
Elsewhere, a welded PU film surrounds the perimeter of the boot, providing abrasion resistance that minimizes scuffing and general wear. This is a lovely feature, especially for wearers who require their appearance to be sharp at all times (e.g. people in uniform). This film also helps to guard against slipping, even on slick surfaces such as oil or ice.
The boots are also very lightweight, weighing just 350g – the same amount as a can of fizzy drink. They also come in a small variety of different colours.
The boots themselves are very comfortable indeed, with a special micro G-EVA material that you won’t get from any other manufacturer. There’s even an anti-bacterial ortholite insole that helps to combat foot odour. It seems as if the manufacturers really thought of everything.
Criticisms might include the lack of steel toe caps, (although such protection is not totally necessary for a hiking boot), as well as a few lingering doubts about the boot’s ability to withstand water or extreme weather conditions due to the outer materials. Additionally, the ankle areas, though supported, are not as supported as they would be with a more traditional tactical boot.
These boots work really well as a hybrid of sorts between tactical and hiking footwear. They probably aren’t suited to extreme environments and they definitely aren’t as protective as some other boots you can buy. Having said that, these boots are supremely well designed and made and are absolutely excellent for hiking and long walks.
Adidas GSG 9.2 Boots (Men & Women’s)
We don’t generally think of Adidas when we think of tactical footwear (although fans of Run DMC might beg to differ). Don’t get us wrong, Adidas sports shoes are easily among the best in the world, but for protective wear, they aren’t necessarily the first designers you’d look to.
Having said that, Adidas have been making this type of outdoor boot for decades, and if anybody knows about making quality footwear, it’s these guys, so let’s take a closer look.
The design is striking, angular and really quite cool. There is definitely a sporting feel, as opposed to the usual blandly functional or quasi-military designs. This lends the boot an air of uniqueness among others of its type. One possible downside, however, is the trainer style lip that may be too casual for some wearers.
Indeed, these boots really do have the feel of trainers to them. They are very comfortable and would be well suited to running, climbing and other outdoor activities. They also benefit from a special chemical treatment that helps to cut down on foot odour.
Adidas’ patented Climbaproof protective layering on the outside of the boot appears to be very similar to Gore-Tex, which makes these boots exceptionally weatherproof and consequently an excellent choice for walking or running in the rain.
The full-grain leather also features a seam-sealed membrane (known as ADITUFF) that helps prevent water ingress while at the same time cutting down on abrasions and general wear and tear.
The TRAXION (also an Adidas patent) outsole is decent enough for improving grip, and acts well as a shock absorber for the feet when the wearer is walking or running. This is the most self consciously ‘tactical’ element of the boot, with special attention clearly paid to the lugs and the outsole.
Despite being fairly tough and weather-proof, these boots feel light, very well aerated and supremely comfortable. They have a feel that’s closer to tennis shoes or trainers than hiking boots, which is lovely.
The boots are very well constructed all round, with even the synthetic materials feeling strong and dependable. The overall design of these boots represents a cunning fusion between the comfort, breathability and lightness of trainers with the extra protection, weatherproof qualities and basic durability of hiking boots.
On the negative side, the underside of the boot doesn’t have the best grip we’ve encountered and is inclined to slip a little on wet or slick surfaces. The boots are also not as easy to get on or off in a hurry. This is due to the lack of quick lacing on the shaft, which makes these boots something of a pain to take on or off. They also lack toecaps, as well as a lot of other basic protections that we might reasonably expect from a boot.
As much as is possible, Adidas have successfully fused two distinct styles of footwear with this one. It’s really quite an achievement.
Therein lies the rub, however, as this boot is really neither one thing nor the other.
Too cumbersome and padded to truly qualify as sportswear, but not protective enough to ever sincerely be considered tactical, the Adidas GSG is something of an oddity. It’s a good hiking boot, well designed and made, with great care and attention being paid to every aspect of its design, but it may prove too niche to meet the needs of a lot of consumers.
Pros and Cons
CLIMAPROOF membrane very similar to Gore-Tex
Leather upper and synthetic/cloth part of upper, very durable -inner and insole of boot is well constructed and stays intact
Waterproof as described, and breathes pretty well
Haix Airpower XR1 Safety Boots (Men & Women’s)
The design brief for these boots appears to have been deceptively simple: produce a boot that can be comfortably worn for extended periods of time that will also protect the wearer’s feet from all manner of potential dangers.
In large part, the designers appear to have succeeded in this task.
These boots are certified safe to S3 standards (meaning that they have enough grip to withstand oil and petrol spillage). However, they aren’t the most slip resistant soles we’ve seen and we have doubts as to how well they might hold up when faced with slippery surfaces such as snow or ice.
The boot features a number of other design elements that make up for this particular shortcoming, however. For one, there’s a sun reflecting system that prevents the boot from overheating, which is a very welcome feature indeed.
The boot is also fairly waterproof, with an abrasion resistant lining and a very strong composite toecap. On top of that, it is both breathable and well aerated, which helps guard against overheating, but also makes it ideal for long-term wear.
Another excellent feature is the boot’s ability to be easily put on and taken off, even while laced up. This feature comes courtesy of the zipper, which offers wearers the dual function of also enabling a snug fit.
The zipper does present a minor problem, however, as it tends to get caught in the underlying leather flaps. It’s not a major issue, but it is honestly somewhat annoying.
Nevertheless, the Airpower XR1 is a very good boot. It is robust and durable, combining the demands of protection with the desire for comfort. It is also practical, lightweight and easy to pull on and off after a hard day.
These boots can be worn for extended periods of time without overheating or becoming uncomfortable and they are fairly easy to keep clean and care for.
The soles don’t grip as well as we might like and the zip gets stuck occasionally, but these are relatively minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things.
The designers clearly paid attention to their brief and came up with something special – and we’re grateful to them for that.
Pros and Cons
Very robust, comfortable and durable
Zip is interchangeable and is quick release – the tongue is interchangeable if the zipper fails or it has deformed too far.
Adjustment on the laces a fantastic way of adjusting the width of the boot around your foot