US Special Forces have an interesting habit of using sneakers in active warzones. Altama Boots saw a need and an opportunity. They created the Altama Maritime Assault Boots, an excellent land-and-sea tactical sneaker that’ll make you rethink your on-duty footwear.
Why do special forces operators wear sneakers?
Surprisingly, shoes like the Converse Chuck Taylors are quite versatile in combat. They’re grippy enough for quick sprints over wet asphalt and sandy shores. For SEALs doing water insertions, Chucks easily fit into a pair of fins, so forget about changing into a different shoe once you hit the beach; just lose the fins and keep moving.
But Chucks weren’t designed as tactical shoes from the start, so they don’t perform like them in all areas. Canvas doesn’t dry out very well when it get wet, meaning the shoes squish and squeak. Being quiet is kind of a requirement for special forces work, so that was a problem. Lastly, as a pair of everyday cotton sneakers, they just don’t stand up to the abuse that operators subject their shoes to. That’s why Altama went to work to see if the classic shoes could be improved upon. Could they take everything an operator loves about the classic shoe and infuse it with the qualities that tactical work requires?
Challenge accepted. Working with SEALs in Virginia Beach and Coronado, they started designing the world’s first tactical sneaker. The OTB Maritime Assault Boot is one of our fastest selling tactical shoes, with the GovX reviews to prove their popularity, which is funny considering it was inspired by a shoe originally designed for basketball players. And I got to try them out.
Most people who buy this shoe aren’t Navy SEALs. I am definitely not. But I can see why the SEALs like these. They’re lightweight, durable, and walking feels great, the toe landing with a reassuring pressure with each step. I found the fit snug at first, but after a day of walking, I acclimated to how the mids wrapped around the ankle and fit on my foot.
How Altama Boots built a tactical sneaker
The brand gave me the rundown on how these Altama boots came about. Designed as an amphibious assault boot, they used the design of the All Stars to make a more tactically purposeful shoe. The iconic rubber toe cap is wider and flatter, making the boot fit even better into a standard fin. They added a shank into the outsole that acts as armor on rough terrain. This shields the wearer from bruising rocks, while remaining flexible, stable, and mobile enough. The outsole uses a rubber compound that Altama has been working with and improving since the launch of their iconic Vietnam-era jungle boot. It’s a compound you find in mountain climbing shoes, and makes the Maritime capable of moving over rocks and swampy terrain. It stays put on slippery boat decks, and keeps the wearer stable even in rough seas.
Speaking of water, the Maritime boot lives up to its name. The nylon exterior and the laces dry much faster than nanvas. It also siphons water out of two drainage ports, so right out of the surf, the boot is quieter than its Converse ancestor, with each step physically pushing water out of the shoe. Get a look at the drainage ports in action:
A note about the insoles:
When I first put on the shoe, it felt too tight against my socks. Then I I realized that the polyurethane insole requires you to be barefoot. The ridges and the material aid in the drainage of water, which is why most operators go barefoot when they wear the Maritime. If you’re not planning on invading any beaches (can’t say I’ve got anything like that on my schedule) Altama recommends replacing the PU insole with any standard cloth insole. Since getting mine, I’ve been running them with basic Nike insoles, and they feel great.
Altama Boots did not build this tactical sneaker for someone like me. I assure you, our country should not rely on me for amphibious warfare. But while Altama Boots do sell this shoe to real gunslinging operators, and the Maritime HAS appeared in warzones, most of its customers are Americans who love the sweet spot this shoe occupies—right between a military boot and a world-famous sneaker. It’s tactical, cool, comfortable and sturdy at the same time. I never expected to wear them personally, but damn, they look good with a pair of jeans or prAna hiking pants.
The Maritime OTBs are intriguing shoes, and I am fully aware that as I wear them right now, I’m not even close to using them to their maximum potential. I don’t know where my career is going, but if I choose to become a commando, at least I’ve got the right shoes.