Best Tactical Boots | Reviews and Buying Guide

Few things illicit a contented sigh at the end of a long hike or day on our feet like taking off an uncomfortable pair of boots. Why do we put up with footwear that pinches, leaks, rubs, or cracks for spending so much time on our feet? And for avid hikers, armed forces, or security personnel, those problems are exasperated in high-pressure situations when there isn’t time to think about your feet.

For years, the choice was between standard issue combat boots and hiking boots. Both are still useful in their own sphere, but by bridging the gap between comfort and durability, tactical boots are fast becoming a favourite.

Before we dive into our top picks for best tactical boots, let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences between combat, hiking, and tactical boots.

Combat Boots

Standard issue combat boots are not comfortable. They are uninsulated, heavy, and stiff. They may last a long time, but your feet will be waving a white flag before long. While design innovation has gradually started to improve combat boots, their defining feature continues to be their heavy weight.

Because these boots are uniquely designed to protect your foot and ankle in combat, the construction material is dense, rigid and heavy. Combat boots are a great option for those in the armed services for combat training, but otherwise they provide more protection than is necessary.

Hiking Boots

You’ve probably owned a few pairs, because these are a useful type of boot. Comfortable and plush inside, they are engineered to keep hikers’ feet happy while they embark on long treks and scale rocky terrain. Like combat boots, hiking boots are also rigid in order to protect feet and ankles on uneven ground. However, this stiffness can limit agile movement, and still feel heavy. Also, they are not an option for people in the military as they are not AR 670-1 compliant.

Thankfully, there is now the option of tactical boots.

Tactical Boots: Why They’re Different

Take the protection of a combat boot, the impermeable exterior of a rubber boot, add in the deep tread and extended wear of a hiking boot, and a couple sprinkles of your most comfortable sneaker – and voila! you have a tactical boot. This is a boot that takes the best aspects of previous designs, and puts them together so consumers no longer have to choose between comfort and durability, stability and breathability.

Tactical boots are made of lighter material for easy movement, deep treads for almost glue-like traction, webbing and steel toe for protection against water or hard objects, and (as if it wasn’t enough) also designed for extended wear. They have outstanding durability while also offering support and comfort.

Having the right pair of boots is essential for those on their feet for long hours in harsh conditions or rough terrain. So, if you’re ready to put your feet first into boots that will endure everything you do and provide you with flexibility, support, and stability in any situation and climate – these best tactical boots are for you.

Why Are They Called ‘Tactical’?

Associated with the military, tactical relates to strategic plans or tactics to accomplish a goal, requiring skilful and deliberate movement. However, tactical gear is no longer just for the armed forces but practical for anyone who requires the uncompromising grip and support needed in many outdoor pursuits or active careers. Tactical boots are engineered for that same skilful and deliberate movement, while also remembering that feet like to be comfortable.

Best Tactical Boots: What To Look For

If you’re starting to think that tactical boots might be right for you, there are some differences that must be kept in mind.

Weight

Tactical boots are noticeably lighter than both combat and hiking boots due to the lighter material used in their construction. The advantage is that lighter material allows for more agile movement and greater comfort.

When you’re on your feet all day, every additional pound counts, so a lighter boot can make all the difference. The sole compounds and breathable lining in these boots often feel closer to sneakers while giving you proven durability and protection.

Protection

Keep in mind that lighter materials can mean less protection overall. While some tactical boots may have a steel toe-cap or heel band for safety, overall, they are designed more for agility and long-wear than maximum protection. Consider what activities you will use these boots for and what level of protection you will need.

Sizing

While some tactical boots can be true to your regular shoe size, many run significantly narrower. Each manufacturer has their own size chart which is a great place to start. Also consult consumer reviews as they will give you the best feedback about the fit and sizing to ensure you get the right fit the first time. Don’t forget to account for insoles you may want to add, the thickness of your sock or any bandage or wraps you might wear.

Lining

The lining in tactical boots is far superior to the comfortless void found in standard-issue combat boots. However, this can also dictate what climate it is best suited for. While some manufacturers have found that magic blend that is both waterproof and breathable, a heavier lining can lead to hot and possibly uncomfortable wear.

Tongues

The difficulty in designing waterproof boots is what to do around the tongue. Boots that have a webbing around the tongue (to make them waterproof) can then feel tighter on foot. If the tongue is lined or insulated, loose lacing may cause it to bunch or rub around the ankle.

Closures

While all tactical boots have a traditional lace system, some now come with a zipper closure on the inside of the ankle, making them easier to put on. This can lead to a tighter fit around the ankle, which you may or may not want. Many boots also come with a lace lock system to prevent laces coming undone, however this can make it a little more cumbersome to lace up. Laces are threaded through reinforced eyelets, but this can lead to faster lace wear.

Best Tactical Boots

Here, we have listed eight high-performance tactical boots suitable for outdoor enthusiasts on rocky trails to armed forces personnel completing days of marches or anyone looking for superior traction, durability, and comfort.

If you’re interested in footwear that can hold you up, grip like glue, keep you dry, and keep you going, then fill your boots with this list of winners.


1) Haix Ranger GSG9-X Sporty Boot for Tough Assignments

The Haix Ranger GSG9-X Boot offers durability on both the inside and the outside. Four layers of lining stand up to long wear in all seasons with a quick-dry and replaceable insole. The protection around the toe and heel offers comfort and flexibility.

Haix Ranger GSG9-X Sporty Boot for Tough Assignments

Coming in at 3.7lbs, this boot is medium weight while providing the protection you need. The matching black rubber sole has a high arch and a deep tread that doesn’t leave marks.

Haix brings high-quality German design and construction to all their boots and offers cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.

Pros
  • Highly waterproof
  • Easy to clean
  • Can insert orthopaedic insoles
  • Lace clips mean you can have a tighter hold on the foot, but looser on the ankle
  • Comfortable and plush inside
Cons
  • Available in medium foot width only
  • More complicated lacing
  • Matching black sole

2) GARMONT T8 Bifida Tactical Boot

Don’t let the suede fool you; the Garmont T8 Bifida Tactical boot is easy to clean and easy on your feet. Compliant with army uniform regulations, the T8 Bifida provides superior comfort and deep tread for the roughest environment or terrain.

GARMONT T8 Bifida Tactical Boot

This resilient mid-range weight boot weighs 3.08 lbs and forms quickly to your foot. Ideal in wet environments, the thick sole easily supports the impact of constant wear and heavy loads.

Pros
  • Sizing close to standard shoe size
  • Design shows attention to detail
  • Impressive traction and grip
  • Quick to break-in
Cons
  • Not as lightweight as others
  • No extra-wide sizing available
  • Lacing eyelets and tongue can be uncomfortable around the ankle
  • The taller shank of the boot is more for comfort than support

3) Lowa Zephyr Mid GTX Boot Dark Brown

At the lighter end of the scale, the 2.6lb Lowa Zephyr Mid GTX Boot is sturdy and stable, without the weight. The Lowa Zephyr boot performs well in hot climates and is lined with Gore-Tex to wick away moisture, making it both breathable and comfortable.

Lowa Zephyr Mid GTX Boot Dark Brown

While the Lowa Zephyr Mid GTX boot height sits just above the ankle, Lowa also has both lower and higher profile options.

Pros
  • Lightweight compared to previous models
  • Good ankle support
  • Soft and flexible sole
Cons
  • Glue holding rubber sole could give way with extreme use
  • Requires protection such as Scotchguard
  • Thinner insole
  • Traction compromised on wet surfaces

4) Berghaus Men’s Hillmaster II Gore-Tex Walking Boots High Rise Hiking

This boot may look like a classic (it first came out in 1994), but its performance is state-of-the-art. At 3.3lbs, the Berghaus Hillmaster II is a bit heavier but an excellent choice for walkers and hikers alike.

Berghaus Men's Hillmaster II Gore-Tex Walking Boots High Rise Hiking

The tread design prevents rocks from becoming stuck, so the rough terrain grip is consistently impressive. Cushion backing around the ankle offers welcome comfort while also providing reliable ankle support. Try ordering a size up as these have a narrower build.

Pros
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Waterproof
  • Slipper-like comfort
  • Can choose between locking and non-locking eyelets
  • Great traction
Cons
  • Can slip on wet pavement
  • Can feel stiff
  • Leather can look scuffed and can crack
  • Slim fit doesn’t work for all feet

5) 5.11 Tactical XPRT 2.0 8-in Boot

Available in three colours, the 5.11 Tactical XPRT 8″ boot needs a few days to break in until you will never want to remove them again.

5.11 Tactical XPRT 2.0 8-in Boot

Stunningly light for its size, this boot weighs in at just 1.09lbs and boasts three different materials on the exterior, providing superior durability, ease of movement, and sheer good looks.

Pros
  • Flexible when kneeling
  • Completely waterproof
  • Steel-toe
  • True to size, and suitable for wider feet
  • Insulated
Cons
  • Can feel too warm in hot climates
  • Lower arch support
  • Thinner insole

6) Salomon Unisex-Adult Xa Forces Mid GTX En Military and Tactical Boot

Salomon has been designing boots for over 70 years, and you’ll feel their history of success with every step. With almost every element reinforced, these boots will last a long time. GoreTex lining will keep your feet dry while you’re on the move.

Salomon Unisex-Adult Xa Forces Mid GTX En Military and Tactical Boot

At 2.8lbs, the GTX boot is still on the lighter side with a flexible rubber sole that feels more like a running shoe. More lightweight protection but increased mobility as a result. Perfect for rocky trails or wet paths with the dogs.

Pros
  • Very comfortable
  • Easy lacing
  • Good ankle support
Cons
  • Stiff to break-in
  • Waterproofing seems to compromise breathability
  • Narrow fit

7) Oakley Men’s Light Assault 2 Boots

The Oakley brand may bring to mind wrap-around sunglasses and skateboarding shoes, but in these Light Assault boots, Oakley has shown they can also design the top tactical gear.

Oakley Men's Light Assault 2 Boots

Built to prevent strain and withstand impact, these are also one of the lightest boots you will find, coming in at just .87 lbs. A unique lock system keeps the nylon laces tight, and the sole compound supports agile movement.

While the boots are AR 670-1 compliant, keep in mind that only applies for the Coyote colour. Oakley also offers discounts for those in the armed forces.

Pros
  • Very lightweight
  • It fits true to size
  • Quick to break-in
  • Forms to foot
Cons
  • Soles can squeak if wet
  • Minimal arch support
  • Taller height doesn’t translate to ankle support
  • Thinner insoles
  • Insulation not enough for cold climates

8) Danner Men’s Acadia 8″ Boot

The Danner Men’s Acadia Boot may have an imposing look to them, but inside – your foot will think it’s in heaven.

Danner Men's Acadia 8-inch Boot

At 2.1 lbs, the Acadia is that perfect combination of comfort and durability. A deep heel well and steel toe offer sturdy protection, and the GoreTex lining lets your feet breathe. This boot is ready for dry or wet conditions and is completely waterproof. Besides, the leather can buff up to a nice shine,

Insert a new insole every six months, and if you do manage to wear them out, Danner will resole them. While the Acadia may feel more narrow than other boots, wider widths are available.

Pros
  • Superior comfort
  • Waterproof
  • Sturdy boot with good ankle support
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • Take a few days to be broken in
  • Not insulted, better in warmer climates
  • Narrow construction
  • Thinner insole

What About Tactical Boots Not Listed Here?

Because of the usefulness, comfort and design of tactical boots – they are becoming more popular and more shoe manufacturers are trying their hand at designs. There are so many options out there, but our list of eight collates some of the very top choices found to be tried and true favourites. In extreme situations and terrain, a boot that is both durable and lightweight is an essential ally.

Care and Maintenance

When you have found boots that match your needs, it’s essential to care for them properly, so they last a long time Before you start wearing them, be sure to apply repellent and/or protectant to help the material stay soft and waterproof.

Inspect your boots regularly, checking for any loose stitching or lace wear that could compromise the protection you need, and pick out stones to keep the boot tread clear and clean for the ultimate grip. Use a soft brush to remove dirt or dried mud.

If your boots get wet and need to dry out, take out anything removable (inner ‘bootie’ or insole) to let them dry completely. Avoid using a high-heat source such as a hairdryer as this could compromise any adhesive used.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right pair of boots for your needs will help you finish a long day without blisters on your feet, sore soles, a rolled ankle, or traction slips.

Combining the protection of a combat boot, the tread and comfort of a hiking boot, the water-wading ability of a rubber boot and the dexterity of a sneaker, a pair tactical boots could be exactly the right solution for what your feet need and what they’re expected to do.

So, whether you’re marching, climbing, jumping, or just holding your ground, do it in boots that are there for you every step of the way.


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