Tactical boots may have a history that dates to the earliest days of America waging war, but now they’re the preferred choice of uniformed pros serving across the land. In other words: You don’t need to be a tactical expert to wear the best tactical boots. Take ambulance workers and emergency responders, for example: Many tactical boots are built to be resistant to bacteria and pathogens, and feature durable outsoles designed to resist slipping in blood-covered ambulance floors and oil-slick asphalt and concrete. These are the kinds of thoughtful design choices tactical boots have that make them useful for all kinds of service jobs that put people in harm’s way.
What should you consider for your next pair of tactical boots? A lot of it depends on your job, so whether you’re a military servicemember, a law enforcement officer, or a professional lifesaver, here’s some basic things to know:
- You’ll want plenty of ankle support and a sturdy shank built between the insole and the outsole of your boot, which diminishes the load on your feet, especially when walking or running uphill.
- Make sure the midsoles have plenty of cushion, unless you want blisters. No one wants blisters.
- If you operate in wet environments, choose boots with weather-minded features like waterproofing exteriors, and even built-in drainage ports.
- Never tie your boots too tight, because cutting off blood flow to your feet on long rucks increases your risk of injury.
These recommendations are for most tactical boot wearers, but you can get more specific with your personal needs depending on what job you do. If you’re in the market for a new pair of tactical boots, read on to find more details and individual boot recommendations for uniformed pros.
American law enforcement departments typically make uniform standards simple when it comes to tactical boots. They need to be black, plain toed, and made of real or synthetic leather. From there, your department may have additional standards that boots must meet in order to be compliant, so make sure to look up your department’s policy.
The most popular law enforcement boot on GovX is undoubtedly the Under Armour Valsetz RTS 1.5 Side Zip Boots. It’s got the durability of a boot with the lightweight mobility of a running shoe, and the mesh zones provide plenty of ventilation for all day comfort. Plus, the medial side zipper makes getting them on and off especially easy.
If you’re looking for that same level of quality but in a more weatherproof package, check out the Under Armour Stellar Tactical Boots. If you serve in a weather-prone region, you’ll appreciate the water-repellent leather and nylon that dries quickly and stands up to rainstorms.
MORE LAW ENFORCEMENT BOOTS WE RECOMMEND
Comfort is king here, especially if you’re the kind of servicemember called upon to haul gear across long distances and tough terrain. But even if you’re working in an office, you’ll appreciate having a comfortable pair of boots on your feet during your every-day duties.
We can recommend several reliable uniform-compliant boots, but here are our standouts: Go for the Foxhound SR 8″ Boots from Altama, the same brand that makes the bestselling Maritime OTB amphibious assault boots, or “tactical sneakers” as we like to call them. Like most popular on-duty tactical boots, the Foxhound comes with moisture-wicking air mesh lining that’ll keep you comfortable all day long. But it’s ready to move in an instant, engineered for fast assaults with minimal weight and plenty of traction over tough terrain.
The Oakley Men’s Light Assault 2 boots is one of GovX’s most popular military boots. Built to be mobile and protective, it’s a lightweight Cordura boot with a breathable synthetic upper. The lace lock system keeps laces secure and it’s easy to tuck them away to stay in uniform code. And at only 14 ounces, it’s a boot that won’t weigh you down no matter what your MOS is.
Danner is a hugely popular military boot brand. We recommend the Danner TFX G3 8″ Gore-Tex boots for their durability, lightweight construction, and waterproof Gore-Tex finish. For a standard 8″ duty boot, it’s got plenty of room for customization too, with a variable lacing system that you can alter to your personal preference, and a lace “garage” that conveniently tucks your laces away so your look is up to code at all times.
If you’re looking for something a little different but that’s still uniform compliant (for the Army, at least), you might consider the Shadow UCB 9″ from LALO Tactical. It’s compliant with AR670-1 code for the US Army, and it comes with several unique features like a two-way passive drainage system (useful for operating in wet environments), and a puncture-resistant composite plate built into the outsole for extra defense.
MORE MILITARY BOOTS WE RECOMMEND
Firefighters and EMTs
First responders have more freedom when choosing boots. Make sure you comply with OSHA requirements and of course, any specific standards your department may have. But for the most part, going with a full-grain leather or a synthetic leather black tactical boot is a good bet. Original SWAT is a brand that developed a following within the law enforcement community, but also became popular with first responders as well.
If you’re an EMT, the Chase 9 Waterproof Side Zip boots are built specifically with professional life savers in mind. EMTs will appreciate the full-grain leather build designed to be bloodborne pathogen resistant, so if your job exposes you to various, uh … fluids … then the Chase 9s might be for you.
For firefighters, you may want to go with something even heavier duty. The HAIX Airpower XR2 boot is a total tank, packed with a huge array of protective features. The XR2’s have heat and slip-resistant soles that perform admirably at accident scenes and vehicle fires. Don’t worry about your soles melting on hot asphalt or exposing yourself to fuel and oil leaks. The lacing system works combines with the easy zipper entry for easy on and off, and a boot that you can rely on for years.
MORE FIRST RESPONDER BOOTS WE RECOMMEND
A word about sizing
Make sure your tactical boots offer enough room for your toes to move around. Most of the boots available on GovX are true to size (unless otherwise indicated), so don’t worry about ordering a half or a whole size up from what you usually wear. But the idea here is that over the course of a day (especially one spent on watch or on patrol) your feet will naturally swell. You know your feet the best, so you will know how much room you need, but a good benchmark would be this: When trying on a pair of boots, move your toes up as much as they can go, then see if there’s enough space for your index finger between your heel and the back of the shoe. If there is, your boot is probably a good enough fit.
Don’t neglect your sock game
The right pair of socks are just as important as the tactical boots you choose. You should always wear socks with your boots for the most comfortable fit. Boot socks are thicker than athletic socks and add to the cushioning your feet will need on both long, boring patrols and fast movement over tricky terrain. When paired with a tactical boot, the right pair of socks can help eliminate hotspots and blisters and also work to wick away moisture, so your feet stay dry and healthy. We recommend American-made Darn Tough boot socks to get the job done.
Let’s wrap this up
Choosing the right pair of tactical boots comes down to your personal preference as much as it does individual uniform compliance standards your job may have. There’s a wide variety of tactical boots available at GovX.com to choose from, so grab the right pair for you.
Do you have any recommendations for choosing tactical boots that you want to share with the GovX community? Leave a comment below!