Footwear is the point of connection between the operator and their environment. Careful and deliberate selection of footwear is a great place to start when optimizing your kit. While no piece of equipment can make up for poor training or lack of skill, the wrong footwear only makes your job more difficult.
For law enforcement officers specifically, there’s a few key factors to consider when purchasing footwear. Most importantly, you have to realize that there’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. The equipment you carry is a highly personal choice and based on application. Some LEOs need something light with a low-profile so they can run and jump easier. Others want something overt with better protection and stability for static posts.
Enter the Alpha Defender Boots with integrated holster by Original S.W.A.T.
A LEO’s footwear choice.
Starting at the bottom, with a slip-resistant rubber outsole, this boot offers good traction for poor weather conditions. The outsole utilizes a low-density rubber compound, for a lighter, flexible boot with good grip in wet/oily environments. Compared to other tactical boots with harder outsole like Vibram, the trade-off here is that this boot’s tread wears out slightly faster. Original S.W.A.T. seems to be making an attempt at bridging capability gaps by incorporating the flexible, light and fast outsole of a trail running or hiking shoe into a tactical boot.
Moving up, while there’s no GORE-TEX on the upper, the durable microfiber polyurethane synthetic material coupled with an abrasion-resistant toe and mud guard around the toe and shank does offer some weather resistance. Not having GORE-TEX plays into the Alpha Defender’s theme of being light, flexible and breathable.
I took the boots running through some heavy rain, testing puddles, uneven terrain, asphalt and concrete. I ran through puddles and washed out grassy areas with three inches of water without getting my feet wet. Transitioning to uneven and rocky terrain, the boot handled well. And upon reaching asphalt and concrete, I didn’t slip. It took more than 10 seconds of standing still in close to three inches of water until anything seeped in. Even then, it wasn’t much and my foot was far from soaked. This was with nothing in the integrated holster.
The welded seams connecting the toe guard to the material help reduce hotspots that stitching can cause. So whether you’re eco-friendly and want to avoid leather, or just want breathability with anti-odor protection, the Alpha Defender delivers.
In the heel, you have a thermoplastic heel counter to cradle the heel and arch and help reduce over-pronation. This thermoplastic heel counter maintains anatomical alignment of the foot and ankle. This reduces the risk of injury and lower leg and back fatigue. This makes the Alpha Defender a strong contender for LEOs on a static post. And while the thermoplastic molding doesn’t totally prevent penetration, it can stop things like needles or nails from penetrating the heel.
The Alpha Defender also sports a Jersey fabric Stationary Achilles Cushion for some extra padding and protection. In the toe box, you have another thermoplastic moulding with plenty of room to move your toes around and feel comfortable, while still providing protection and some weather resistance.
About the integrated holster in the Alpha Defender
Coming in at 8 inches, the height of the boot makes plenty of room for the integrated holster. This holster supports most 9mm single stack handguns, and also offers an adjustable velcro strap to fit over different handgun frames or added back straps. I tested this holster with both a double stack Glock 19 and a single stack Glock 42 to see how it handled each and performed.
While the Alpha Defender integrated holster is marketed as supporting single stack 9mm handguns, it will fit a double stack Glock 19. This could be important to you if you don’t have to move much and just want another spot to hold some extra firepower. However, I wouldn’t recommend running any further than from cover to cover in these with a double stack pistol in the holster. I took them for a spin and came close to tripping over myself a few times. Though to their credit, the boots held the pistol in the holster with a full magazine.
Regarding the single stack Glock 42, the Alpha Defenders held it just fine. Granted, this is a .380 with a six round magazine, but as I mentioned earlier, the utility of the boot is highly-personal and completely dependent on what purpose you need it for. If you carry a secondary pistol and want to ditch your ankle holster, this could work for you.
Slip it on (using the convenient pull loop) and the Alpha Defender instantly feels comfortable. The 3mm round lace keeps your foot snug and stable without feeling stiff, while the Alta-lite™ dual density blown PU insole also offers cushion and support. Finally, the gusseted tongue keeps out dirt and debris without getting in the way.
This boot could be great for an LEO standing a static post who doesn’t mind a more overt boot that offers the added protection of holding a secondary weapon system. Or, it could be good for a LEO working at a school who knows they won’t be running much and wants some extra firepower in case of an active shooter incident. You could even use the holster to hold a tourniquet, combat gauze or some other medical equipment. Or, you can just leave it empty if you don’t want it to get in the way. Regardless of what you choose to use it for, the holster does offer the potential for added capability without getting in the way if you leave it empty.
The use of an ankle holster has a very specific application that only you can decide is right for you or not and ultimately, the choice of gear you carry is the shooter’s preference. It’s a highly personal choice that your life could ultimately depend on some day. But if you want an all around decent boot that fits a few specific functions outlined in this review, and comes in at a very reasonable price point, the Alpha 8” Defender has you set.