Here on the page, we’re big fans of rucking. As such, before we get to the “meat” of the review, know that GORUCK is having a nutty, ~50% off pre-Black Friday sale.
Check. It. Out.
(side note: if you just want to know the best boots for rucking, check out our top choice: the GORUCK MACV-1 boot!)
Granted, we love CrossFit and other types of barbell work as well, but these two loves don’t always “mix” too well.
Waaaay back, during my first month or so into rucking, I was too lazy to spend a few minutes researching appropriate footwear and opted to wear some old Reebok Nanos (that I had retired from regular CrossFit use).
For some reason, I insisted on persisting through the rolled ankles, pools of muddy water in my shoes, and horrendous grip on any type of unstable surface.
Don’t make the same mistake I made; just get some good rucking boots to start with!
If my experience isn’t enough to convince you to pick up a pair, Google “rucking blisters” to get an idea of how bad things can get…but only if you have a strong stomach!
Thankfully, we have 22 options of the “right” footwear for you to choose from (if you count the 7 best shoes for rucking from our article on the topic).
Table of Contents
Our Criteria for Selecting the Best Boots for Rucking
Investing in your first (or second…or fifth) pair of rucking boots is significant. This is true in a monetary sense, as well as in relation to the health of your feet and ability to perform well under the conditions of the event.
As such, choosing an appropriate and well-tested pair of rucking boots should be a top priority.
We have scoured countless reviews of rucking boots and have taken a lot of input into consideration. We are confident that our list is an aggregator of the best boots for rucking to choose from!
The 15 Best Boots for Rucking
GORUCK MACV-1 (Best All-around Boot for rucking)
You’re looking at, in our opinion at least, the all-around best boots for rucking. We love the GORUCK MACV-1 boot; here’s why:
GORUCK has become an “it” brand among rucking enthusiasts (the 3,000-plus reviews of the MACV-1 on the GORUCK website alone confirms this!) and it isn’t difficult to see why. The Cordura material combined with the nylon inner webbing ensure premium ankle support. Additionally, the wider-than-average toe box creates a less “crowded” feeling and reduces the chance of sweat accumulation in the front part of the foot.
GORUCK claims that many of its boots are ready “right out of the box”, although I would still suggest giving these some “break in” time before taking them out on a long march. This is particularly important to consider for those who are looking to wear them on duty as they actually are AR 670-1 Compliant (although they are apparently NOT AFI 36-2903 Compliant).
The MACV-1s sport a 13mm heel-to-toe drop which makes them ideal for maintaining a consistent and natural walking gait over the course of a long march. We’ve experienced slow responsiveness from GORUCK personnel when reaching out to them online, but otherwise, have not experienced any major problems with the boots, themselves!
Looking to tick the boxes of both “AR670-1 Compliant” and “Berry Compliant” (a product that meets the criteria, per the Berry Amendment, as being “American Made”)? If so, the T8 Anthem should go to the top of your list.
Even if you’re not overly concerned with these areas, you’ll most likely appreciate the T8 Anthem’s Ortholite Ultra insoles as much as we do. They are ideal for maintaining comfort and breathability on long marches and light total boot weight (to make each step just a bit more bearable!)
Although the T8 Anthems are not waterproof (which, as we’ll discuss later, isn’t always a bad thing), they do contain a nylon fabric mesh construction to aid in venting out additional moisture. We love the durable leather body and it is what one would expect from a rugged pair of rucking boots.
Some have complained about the width of the T8 Anthem’s not accommodating their wider-than-normal feet. We haven’t experienced this, but If this happens to be you, opt for the T8 Anthem “Wide” variation. It is the same, quality rucking boot designed for a wider foot.
Normally when we think of a Vibram outsole, we are thinking of something…other than a rucking boot. However, the Belleville Flyweight 320’s outsole makes it ideal for traversing rugged terrain (we’re yuge fans of Vibram-inclusion in rucking gear!) Combining stability and comfort, with the patented UL235 Ultra-Lite outsole for maximum flexibility and shock absorption, the Flyweight C320’s are certainly in the running for the best boots for rucking.
Like others on this list, the Flyweight C320s are both AR670-1 Compliant as well as Berry Compliant. Thankfully, Airmen can get in on the action as they are also AFI 36-2903 Compliant. No matter what regs or standards you have to uphold, the C320s got you covered!
A number of reviewers have praised the C320s for being accommodating of their chronic plantar issues, unlike many other boots that oftentimes seem to exacerbate their problems. However, others have questioned the long-term durability of the boots after experiencing splitages and other tears (in many cases, these are suspected to be the result of poor craftsmanship by local manufacturers).
The Merrell MQC 2 Tactical Boot is characterized by its trademarked (literally!) Merrell M Select GRIP rubber tunes (outsole providing superior grip and traction) as well as its Merrell Air Cushion Viz (impact absorber providing optimum stability and support). Its “Dark Coyote” color is what we expect to see in a AR 670-1 compliant boot.
The combined suede leather and mesh lining optimize breathability and combat accumulated moisture while the Kinetic Fit Advanced insole enhances both heel and arch support. There is little that hasn’t been taken into consideration or engineered to maximize the utility of the MQC 2 Tactical Boot!
Users have noted that their color begins to fray earlier than expected and the inboard and outboard sides have experienced earlier-than-expected wear in some cases. However, The MQC 2s have also been championed as having an extremely short break-in period, ensuring that ruckers can get them “up to speed” in a relatively short period of time (don’t try to cut this period too short, though…every time I’ve tried to cut this period short, I’ve ended up with some of the worst blisters imagineable!)
Probably the most “fashionable” boot on this list, the Oakley LT Assault Boot is one of the select few that you could get away with strapping on for a 12-mile march and wearing out to celebrate (hours) later. I personally don’t prefer my rucking boots in a more casual environment, but you do you!
The LT 2 Boot’s advanced fiber Cordura construction combines reliability, comfort, and durability. Additionally, for those who prefer the feel of “tennis shoes” more than a traditional “boot” feel will find Oakley’s boot offering to be an answer to their prayers. You’re not going to feel like you’re running in dedicated running shoes, but there is a bit more of a “gliding”-like feel in these.
One of the more polarizing boots on this list with some claiming that they are really not a fan of the boot (usually citing ankle support concerns). Nevertheless, for those who prefer a lighter boot with functionality beyond the confines of mission-specific activities, this could be the rucking boot for you.
Combining top-notch ankle support, the Rocky S2V boots are still the rage roughly 10 years after being the “it” boot for servicemen and ruckers alike. Due to the S2V’s long-lasting triple-stitched construction, some people might be wearing their same boots from 2013!
Rocky’s trademarked S2V Sieve technology works to circulate air in and through the boot and to move accumulated water/wetness and other moisture out of the boot. This ensures that on wetter days, and even on marches where your feet have built up a considerable sweat, that your lower extremities will remain cool and dry.
We greatly appreciate the S2V’s superior arch and ankle support and they are especially comfortable on longer ruck marches. This comfort comes at a price, though, as the Rocky S2V boot is one of the more expensive boots on the list.
Some users have mentioned that the S2V’s heels wear out quicker than expected, although this can be addressed with a simple and inexpensive heel replacement or repair. This is a small price to pay for a boots that is functional, comfortable and both Berry Compliant and AR 670-1 Compliant.
From one of the most expensive boots on the list to one of the most affordable options, Free Soldier is one of the less well-known boot and tactical gear manufacturers on this list. Despite clocking in at well under $100, the flagship Military Work Boot includes high-quality Cordura fabric and superior grip.
The Military Work Boot’s waterproof construction and anti-slip technology makes them ideal for wet conditions. The wider-than-normal toe box combined with lycra lining creates a more “breathable” feeling at the front of the foot while also dissipating excess moisture and accumulated sweat.
A quick look at the Free Soldier website as well as some of their other marketing material gives off a bit of a LARP vibe and it is difficult to think that the company’s founders have much military or rucking experience (in contrast to, say, the men from GORUCK). Regardless, the price-to-quality ratio of their Military Work boots is very good; those on a budget would be hard-pressed to find a better overall boot.
For those who ride and die with American-made products, shut your eyes and close your ears for this one; the LOWA R-8S GTX Patrols are made in Slovakia!
Or maybe don’t shut down and write them off immediately; can you really dismiss a boot designed to handle this kind of terrain.
To be fair, I almost exclusively find myself rucking through Slovenia (easily confused with Slovakia), but the terrain is similar!
Could all of those European spec ops guys be wrong? Probably not, particularly when taking into consideration the Patrol’s stability-enhancing (and trademarked!) PU MONOWRAP frame and waterproof GORE-TEX lining. The deep, 5mm outsole lugs ensure that traction is maintained on the toughest and most unstable surfaces and the 8-inch shaft helps to uphold ankle support on tough terrain.
For those who are leery of a foreign-manufactured shoe, rest assured that the LOWA GTX Patrols are AR 670-1 compliant. Also, for those who are concerned with durability issues, LOWA offers a repairing and resoling service for its boots, ensuring longevity and lasting wear.
Combining breathability, support, and comfort in a lightweight boot, the Garmont Tactical T8 NFS 670 might take the cake as the best boot for rucking. Boasting almost impeccable reviews, the T8 NFS 670 is a favorite of servicemembers (it is AR670-1 Compliant) and rucking enthusiasts alike.
A lighter entry than most of the other boots on this list, the T8 NFS 670 is ideal for marches on moderate terrain where the pace is expected to push a little faster than normal. Additionally, even when the terrain does get rough, its patented Garmont Sole is capable of providing grip and traction as needed.
The T8 NFS 670 is a preferred rucking boot for female marchers (although it is advised that they order a full size down for best fit). On the topic of fit, some have complained that the boots run slightly small and narrow. For those concerned with this, it is suggested to order a slightly smaller size or to seek out one of Garmont Tactical’s specifically designated “small and narrow” boot entries (don’t worry; these all live up to the same high Garmont Tactical standard!)
So much more than just an arms manufacturer, Smith & Wesson’s Breach 2 is both a beloved and affordable entry in our list of the best boots for rucking.
One of the most intriguing features of the Breach 2 is its versatility; it comes in both 6-inch and 8-inch high varieties as well as having a standard, completely lacing option as well as a half-zip option. With both black and Coyote Brown options, you really don’t have an excuse to complain about the boot’s size, aesthetic, or enclosure options!
The Breach 2 is waterproof and contains an EVA midsole; both features add to overall comfort and wearability during long marches. The slip-resistant outsole ensures better overall resiliency when faced with uncertain or varied terrain.
Some users have expressed concerns over durability, citing that the boots began to give out earlier than they had expected. However, at less than $100 per pair, even a slightly shorter-than-expected boot life should be more than tolerable.
Another entry from LOWA, the Z-8S GTX C might be the most durable boot on this list. The boot is not only ideal for rucking and other outdoor activities, but also meets strict personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements for anti-slip protection.
And, to be honest, who wouldn’t want to wear a pair of these to their shift at the hospital!
For those who are navigating mountainous, heavily foliaged terrain, the Z-8S GTX C’s provide the comfort of a more traditional hiking boot with the durability and support that one comes to expect (and need) when moving for an extended period of time under heavy loads.
Like most of the LOWA’s offerings, the Z-8S GTX C does not come cheap (it is actually the most expensive boot on this list). However, for a boot that is so durable and practically indestructible (did we mention it is waterproof, too?) it is sure to serve you well and to hold up in any condition or environment. Are they the best boots for rucking? Maybe!
The AR 670-1 Compliant and AFI 36-2903 Compliant Belleville Guardian TR536 CT Boot is characterized as being a “hot weather boot”. This is best expressed in its ASTM certified/EH rated composite toe that, although not “steel-toed”, provides requisite protection while protecting against heat and cold.
Ideal for rucking, the TR536 CT’s flexible construction is designed to minimize the impact of shock (from both regular, consistent walking patterned foot striking and from depth jumping/dropping). This is combined with the cushioned midsole which adds to the overall comfort over the course of an extended march or event.
The TR536 CT is not insulated which might make them a bit less comfortable in extreme temperatures. However, its moisture-wick lining ensures that in hotter weather, the feet will not stay sweaty for long…if they even break a sweat at all.
It may seem like we have a bit of a bias towards Garmont Tactical since it makes a lot of appearances on this list. However, they are simply a superior tactical footwear company. For those whose missions involve additional support under heavy loads or more extreme environments, the T8 Bifida is likely the boot you have been searching for.
Certainly not a light-weight option, the Bifida Boot makes up for its mass in providing superior stiffness, support, foot protection, and overall durability. Your feet might feel a little bit heavier throughout your march, but they’ll also feel darn-near indestructible.
Interestingly, the T8 Bifida Boot is praised for its longevity and durability, although a number of users have expressed such satisfaction with the boot that they have purchased multiple pairs over the years. Regardless, its ability to not only hold up in, but to excel in managing maneuvers under heavy load in diverse and changing terrain has earned the endorsement of “the best military/combat boot out there” from a number of users.
You see that beautiful Coyote Brown and just know that these bad boys are AR670-1 Compliant. However, the Bates Cobra Boots are much more than simply standard duty-wear boots; this is best evidenced by their trademarked Anti-Fatigue Endurance Performance System. This feature not only provides an added degree of flexibility to the boots, but also lasting comfort during long treks. The padded collar feature adds an increased degree of comfort, as well.
Truly made for any environment, the Cobra Boot’s multi-terrain resistant rubber outsole provides superior traction on a plethora of surfaces. The boot’s mesh lining works to minimize moisture and to keep the feet dry.
The overall durability of the boots is unquestioned, however, certain smaller items (ex. Lace eyelets) have been found to break off relatively easily. For those who would prefer more resiliency in these components, the standard-issued plastic varieties can easily be replaced by tougher alternatives.
Danner is a well-known brand in the rucking and tactical gear community and its products are renowned for their quality and lasting durability. The Tachyon Boot is no exception with numerous satisfied customers claiming that these are “the best boot(s) I have ever owned.”
Now that is an endorsement!
The Tachyon might be especially attractive to those who prefer more of a “sneaker” feeling as opposed to a more traditional “boot” feeling. Danner deliberately engineered the Tachyon to be “a boot that acts like a shoe”. For those who might (reasonably) suggest that such a construction would lead to a loss of durability, the Tachyon comes with an astounding 365-day warranty. That is confidence in a boot’s resistance to wear and tear.
To get the important stuff (for many of you!) out of the way first, rest assured that the Tachyon Boot is both AR670-1 Compliant and AFI 36-2903. Wear this boot out rucking on Saturday, clean them up a bit, and wear them on duty on Monday. At $180, not a bad “two-for-one” investment!
We’re not a big fan with the amount of noise these boots make. Wear them indoors and, depending on the terrain/ground, they can be a little squeaky. Thankfully, when you’re rucking, or if you simply don’t care about “announcing” your presence with your shoes, this shouldn’t be an issue!
Best Rucking Boots Buyer’s Guide
We’re pretty confident that you could pick up any one of the boots above from “off the rack” and turn out pretty well on your next march. However, there are a number of items to take into consideration when selecting your first (or next) pair. If you’ve reviewed our list of the best 7 shoes for rucking, you’ll notice a bit of overlap.
Review these items before making your final selection…your feet will thank you!
It might seem obvious, but your rucking boots should largely be constructed from some type of leather or leather blend. Additionally, many of the best rucking boots will include some type of nylon mesh material and/or polyester webbing material.
Some of the ballistic trainer shoes for rucking are made of the particularly durable Cordura material. However, rucking boots are generally not comprised of Cordura.
Overall, there isn’t too much variability in the general material construction of the majority of rucking boots. Get you some made out of tough leather and call it a day!
You never know what the weather is going to do while out on a march, nor can you ever know what kind of wet terrain lies in your path. As such, selecting boots that are both resistant to water and are able to deal with water and moisture should be a top priority.
Full-grain leather absorbs less water than other materials, while boots lined with Dri-lex and related materials help the boots to dry faster and to keep moisture away from the feet. Strategically-placed drainage vents ensure constant air flow and drains excess moisture and accumulated water out of the boot.
NOTE: Pure “waterproof” boots are generally not very breathable and if they do get wet (particularly on the inside), take longer to dry than other non-”waterproof” boots.
Related to the previous point, the best boots for rucking will have proper “breathing” and “drainage” mechanisms. Constant air circulation within each boot will ensure that the feet remain as dry as possible, limiting the risk of blisters from overheated and sweaty feet.
Outsole & Insole
Your ruck boots’ outsoles and insoles are major components that will determine the overall functionality of the boot (outsole) and comfort of the boot (insole).
Most ruck boots will have outsoles that possess features related to grip and traction, non-slip capability and shock absorption. While any and all of these are valuable and “nice-to-haves”, your environment and preferred rucking destinations will determine which of these are the most important.
Due to the long and rugged nature of most ruck marches and events, most ruck boots’ insoles are designed to maximize comfort. This is generally achieved by technologies that regulate moisture accumulation and promote breathability and cushioning.
Think about how uncomfortable an improperly-fitting shoe feels on a casual stroll or over the course of your work day.
Now think about how much more uncomfortable they would feel if you were constantly walking in them over the course of hours-long march.
Not a pleasant thought!
It is important to look very closely at what others have said about boot fit and how they “run” (wide, thin, bigger, smaller). When possible, opt for boots that are specifically designed for wider and thinner runs (such as with many of the Garmont Tactical boot options) as these will be more accommodating for less…standard feet.
Rucking boot weight can be tricky and for many, it is a more situational or even personal preference than anything else. Although you won’t want to feel like you have lead blocks strapped to your feet, struggling through each step, lighter boots generally don’t hold up as well, especially under heavier loads. Lighter boots also oftentimes lack some of the protective features that are common in heavier boots.
Ultimately, don’t simply glance at the weight of a rucking boot and write it off (or qualify it) on ounces alone. There are a lot of other features to take into consideration as well when determining the best boots for rucking for you!
If you plan to wear your boots on U.S. military (or other armed forces) exercise or mission, they must be in compliance with your respective organization’s published regulations. For the U.S. Army, these will be found in AR 670-1 and in the U.S. Air Force, these can be found in AFI 36-2903.
Although it might seem a little intimidating to ensure that your rucking boots are in compliance, rest assured that the majority of manufacturers and distributors explicitly label their boots as being “AR 670-1 Compliant”. These assertions are confirmed from years of business and thousands of sales so you can buy with confidence when purchasing from their retailers.
The Best Boots for Rucking…For Now?
You would be hard pressed to go “wrong” with any of the boots we have discussed today and can rest assured that none of them would likely be a “bad” rucking boot (which you definitely do not want to have on a long ruck march). As long as you keep the items to consider in mind when selecting your boot, you should be able to determine which one is the “best” for you.
With that being said, the rucking world has been throwing up some curveballs lately!
We recently discussed how rucking didn’t involve as much “dynamic” movement as exercise and events performed in weighted vests. After the recent CrossFit Semi-finals workouts, where GORUCK packs were worn during very dynamic workouts, we might have to revise our opinions!
Are we going to have to create a “best boots for rucking muscle-ups, pistols, and burpees” list next time? Bookmark this page and check back soon!
(in the meantime our top choice remains the GORUCK MACV-1 boot!)
Okay, okay…you probably aren’t going to be doing any gymnastic work in your ruck any time soon…but you probably will be marching. Check out our article on how to best prepare for your upcoming ruck march (to include how ancient soldiers got their ruck march on!) and, if shoes are more your style, check out our list of the best rucking shoes on the market!