On this site, we’ve discussed all different types of footwear.
(and if you’re in a rush and want to know our top pick from the list of the best tactical boots, check out the Salomon XA Forces Mid GTX boots!)
Today, though, we’re going to discuss footwear that is dedicated to less…casual endeavors and is more in line with what you need when the situation is a bit more serious in nature.
Enter our discussion of the best tactical boots…these bad boys have definitely come a long way after decades of standstill!
It’s important that you’re confident in your footwear when there is a lot riding on the outcome of your performance. Whether you’re into tactical sports or special operations, we want to ensure that of the very few things in your control, that your boots won’t let you don’t at a critical moment!
Table of Contents
Our Criteria for Selecting the Best Tactical Boots
Laying out the dough for your first (or second…or fifth) pair of tactical boots is big deal. This is true in both a monetary sense, as well as in relation to promoting the integrity of your feet and ability to perform well in the oftentimes extreme conditions that the boots are designed for.
Your main priority should be choosing a well-tested and appropriate pair of tactical boots.
After scouring a multitude of reviews of tactical boots, taking into account countless factors and characteristics, we’re confident that our list below contains the best tactical boots on the market!
The 17 Best Tactical Boots
Salomon XA Forces Mid GTX (Best overall)
This boot (which is our top pick from this list of the best tactical boots) is based on Salomon’s iconic XA Pro 3D and it’s specially designed for SF operators.
Yeah, you read that right.
These bad boys are lightweight, but, at the same time, display superior levels of durability.. They feature Gore-Tex waterproof material, which will completely protect your feet from rain and any kind of moisture.
The outsole is rubber and features Salomon’s trademarked (literally) Contagrip technology. This technology combines the rubber compound and a lug profile and provides great traction and grip on rugged terrain and surfaces. The lugs are wider, so a greater portion of each boot makes contact with the ground. Plus, there is a pronounced break in the front of the heel, so climbing ladders, descending hills, and more…dynamic movements are easier to execute in a more natural manner.
The Quicklace system is also something I really dig. This system ensures fast lacing and prevents boots from untying on their own (I always double-knot just to be safe, but it’s nice to have an extra layer of “dummy-proof”). They also feature a lace pocket at the top of the tongue for easily tucking the excess lace inside (another thing I really appreciate. I’m infamous for trying to tuck my laces into the sides…only for them to fall out almost immediately).
Keep in mind that these boots are on the expensive side. However, you definitely get what you pay for (as they are the best tactical boots!)
Truth be told, I’m a bit of a Reebok “fan boy”, having gone through countless Nanos, Nano Xs, Nano Flexes…and on and on. However, I greatly appreciate boots that (at least kinda) wear and feel like ballistic trainers.
Trust Reebok to release a boot that is both comfortable and good-looking. The Reebok Dauntless Ultralight Tactical Boots have a sleek and stylish look that is also breathable and incredibly lightweight.
There is a moisture-wicking nylon mesh lining that successfully combats sweat and odor, and enhances overall comfort. My feet start to sweat even on shorter (~2-mile) rucks so, if you’re anything like me, this lining is necessary.
The FootFuel injected EVA removable cushion footbed insole provides support and cushioning for your feet during long and intense use. The rubber outsole is slip resistant and provides excellent traction.
Keep in mind that these are not leather boots. As such, they are not as durable as some of the other entries on this list. Synthetic material might be lightweight but they generally won’t last as long as leather.
I’ve never been a fan of Under Armour’s shoe or other offerings, but they’ve done a good job with their Valsetz RTS offering. I could do without the gaudy “UA” logo, but I like the breathable feel of the mid-top, textile and synthetic leather mix.
The Under Armour Men’s Valsetz RTS features the UA ClutchFit ankle support system, which provides stability during demanding movements, protecting the ankle from injuries. Plus, the thermoplastic polyurethane toe provides a blend of protection for the top of your feet and a large degree of flexibility.
The outsole is rubber, lending itself to providing great traction in oily, muddy, or wet terrain. The welded polyurethane (PU) film surrounding the boot’s perimeter increases abrasion resistance.
One thing to note is that these boots are not waterproof. If that’s a dealbreaker, these probably aren’t the boot for you, but keep in mind that waterproof shoes are generally not as breathable and take longer to dry if the insides get wet. So…not a total con!
Let’s start with the material. In the case of Bates tactical boots, it’s a combination of 70% leather and 30% nylon. This combination brings the best from both worlds. Hard, durable leather is what one expects in a heavy duty tactical boot. Nylon is comfortable and breathable, so you won’t have a problem wearing these boots for an extended period of time.
The hard rubber sole prevents slipping on variable and unpredictable terrain. The midsole is made of the always popular EVA foam which is lightweight, comfortable, and has great shock absorption. Finally, the lining of the boots is made of moisture-wicking and breathable material ensuring the feet stay dry even during intense activities.
The downside of this entry on our list of the best tactical boots is that they’re not completely waterproof. Although, as I mentioned in the Under Armour review above, this isn’t necessarily a terrible thing (especially if you don’t actually “need” the waterproofing).
If you’re like me and can remember the “All Day I Dream About…” song, parodying Adidas’ old slogan, you know that the brand is sometimes not solely dedicated to…sports endeavors. As such, it should come as no surprise that Adidas’ training boots feature exceptional build quality.
The upper portion is constructed of full-grain leather; the best choice if you aim for durability and comfort. Also, there is a CLIMAPROOF upper layer which is both water resistant and breathable. The ADITUFF toe compartment feels comfortable while also providing durability and preventing abrasion.
Regarding comfort, it’s worth mentioning that this boot features OrthoLite insoles. These semi-famous insoles feature open-cell PU foam and proprietary aerogel in order to regulate foot temperature. It ensures a comfortable and odor-free environment and thermal insulation.
The outsole’s TRAXION technology offers great ground penetration without stud pressure. The lugs are wide and narrow preventing slippage and ensuring a strong grip.
The only downside is that these boots can feel a bit narrow. You may not find the size/shape to be an issue (and/or you don’t have wide feet), but keep this in mind when selecting your boots.
Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid are some of the best tactical boots that have excellent “utility”. They actually made our list of the best boots for rucking list; I find them to be highly functional as both tactical and rucking boots. The upper material is a mix of split leather and Cordura, which is a common lightweight and flexible synthetic material.
The lining is made of waterproof Gore-Tex material with XCR technology. This makes the boots waterproof but breathable at the same time. The footbed is moisture-wicking so the feet will stay dry even with excessive sweating.
The non-slip rubber outsole provides both wet and dry traction. The cross outsole has a medium tread which is great for pavement, smooth trails, and…less than smooth trekking. The midsole features Lowa’s Monowrap Frame technology with a PU frame extended up the side of the sole. This reduces the weight of the boot and at the same time provides great lateral stability and cushioning.
One thing these boots lack is comfortable insoles. There are complaints about the boot insoles being too flat and not supportive. However, this can be fixed by adding your own insoles into the boot instead.
Danner’s Tachyon is advertised as the “ultimate lightweight boot”. In my opinion, it pretty much lives up to that lofty statement.
…but does this translate into them being the best tactical boots? Let’s take a look!
The upper shaft is comprised of rough-cut leather and 500 denier nylon which reduces the weight. But, being lightweight doesn’t make it flimsy as this Danner entry is extremely durable, even in rougher conditions and terrains.
Speaking of terrain, the boot’s rubber outsole provides great traction and prevents slippage on wet ground. Going deeper into the midsole you will find the seemingly ever-present EVA midsole which ensures a comfortable and soft landing. The insole of the boot is made of open-cell polyurethane which is very breathable, reducing odor and moisture.
One thing to note is that, in my opinion, these boots don’t provide great ankle support (as one would expect with them being higher-shafted boots) relative to some of the other entries on this list. If this is a concern for you, keep this in mind.
The less well-known Maelstrom Mil Lite boots are one of the more interesting inclusions on our list. To be honest, I dig the functionality that comes with an affordable price tag!
The Maelstroms feature a footbed with an open cell construction layer that improves circulation while providing great shock absorption. Additionally, there are two metallic vents in the upper part which enhance air circulation, keeping the feet dry and cool.
The boots combine suede and nylon. Suede is a type of leather that is made from the underside of animal skin. It has a soft surface and a napped finish. Compared to full-grain leather, it’s thinner and more lightweight.
Maelstrom Mil Lite meets the AR-670-1 requirement for Optional Wear, which means it’s an appropriate uniform for the U.S. Army. If this applies to you, I’m sure you are well aware of the significance of this.
Finally, it’s important to mention this boot’s Dynamic 3-sole System. It consists of a removable cushion insole, a lightweight midsole made of flexible EVA, and a durable rubber outsole. They call this system “anti-fatigue technology” since it reduces foot tiredness, absorbs shock, and provides comfort.
As previously mentioned, these boots are very budget-friendly. As you might expect, there have been some durability concerns with the boots. A few customers have mentioned that they showed some wear relatively soon after purchasing them. However, if you are searching for cheap tactical boots, go with the Maelstroms.
Need (or simply want) waterproof tactical boots? If so, then Merrell has you covered (zing!) These boots feature Merrell M Select DRY impermeable membrane which doesn’t let water in but lets the moisture out (which, if you’ve been following along, you know to be somewhat rare). This makes them breathable at the same time. The ripstop textile adds to the water resistance capabilities of the boots.
Overall, these boots are very sturdy. There is an abrasion-resistant rubber toe cap that protects the front of the boot from damage. Aditionally, the boots have a molded TPU heel counter and Vibram® TC5+ outsole with a 5mm lug depth which makes them stable on different terrains and provides excellent traction.
There are several features these boots offer in terms of comfort. First, they feature a breathable mesh lining that keeps your feet dry and cool. In the midsole there is the KINETIC FIT-blended EVA with added zonal arch and heel support with air cushion that absorbs shock and provides stability. The midfoot is supported by a molded nylon arch shank that allows great flexibility.
While these boots are waterproof, judging from a good number of reviews some customers did complain that the boots started collecting water after some time. The possible reason for this might be improper care, so make sure you follow the maintenance instructions and spray some waterproofing spray on them (unless you decide to go with another boot option from the list).
The Nortiv 8s are some of the best tactical boots for lengthy outdoor activities. They provide all-day comfort with a Dynamic 3-sole system that features a shock-absorbent cushion insole, flexible EVA midsole, and a slip-resistant flexible rubber outsole.
The abrasion-resistant leather combines with breathable fabric to create a comfortable and durable boot. Plus, the upper material easily sheds dirt and mud off.
These boots measure a 6’’ shaft which provides great ankle support without closing creating a claustrophobic “foot environment”. Plus, there is a YKK side zipper with hook-loop strap closure making them easy to quickly slip on and off.
Nortiv 8 are budget-friendly boots, but they still offer good bang for the buck. However, they are not waterproof. I know I step out in wet and watery conditions a lot of the time so I prefer a waterproofed boot. In less-than-soaking conditions? The Nortiv 8s might be the boots for you!
I want to go on the record as saying that I am a big fan of the feel and utility of 5.11’s weighted vests (which have been used in a number of CrossFit Games events). As such, I was really excited to get to report on the ATAC 2.0 boots.
These boots are designated specifically for public safety personnel, which speaks volumes of their ruggedness and durability. The toe is made of full-grain leather, while the upper shaft is constructed of 840D nylon. Both materials are exceptionally sturdy and can take quite a beating. The outsole features the Shock Mitigation System, which dissipates the impact rough terrain has on your feet.
Another feature I appreciate is the Achilles heel flex zone, which gives the back of the foot more range of motion without compromising support. The dual durometer Ortholite footbed provides comfort, ventilation, and heat regulation. This is thanks to the open-cell PU foam that’s considered to be the best insulator.
It’s worth noting that these boots come in two sizes, regular and wide. This further ensures that you can find your perfect size.
The only downside is that the suede leather requires more care than regular leather. I’m pretty lazy with things like, “boot upkeep” so this is a bit of an issue if you’re anything like me. If you are anything like me, opt for the black model; it comes in full-grain leather which is easier to maintain.
Yeah…Skechers (“its’ the ‘S’!”)…I know. You probably associate the brand more with mall walker groups than with “the best tactical boots”, but hear me out for a minute; the New Wascana – Benen boots have some interesting things going for them.
The first one these merits is the cost. At this price range, boot models of good quality are scarce, so these could be quite the steal.
The boots’ durability and design make them well-suited for outdoor activities, but they’re versatile enough to serve as everyday footwear. The rubber sole is robust and provides excellent grip on a variety of surfaces.
While it’s true that a thicker sole is stiffer, its higher resiliency actually helps you move more efficiently. This is quite handy if you’re wearing these boots for activities taking place on variable terrain.
To further ensure comfort, the boots feature a memory foam cushioned insole, making them suitable for extended wear. The smooth leather is sturdy and comfortable, while the mesh portion provides optimal ventilation to keep the moisture away. That’s true for both sweat and rain, as the outer shell has excellent weather resistance.
Be mindful that these boots are quite heavy because of their thick soles. If you’re searching for lightweight boots, check out some of the other models on the list.
More Reeboks on this list! (Obviously) My bias is showing!
The Reebok Sublite Cushion Tactical RB8605 boots are designed with flexibility and comfort in mind. That’s why they feature a MemoryTech Massage footbed, which has tiny, profiled pods all around the surface that “soothe” tight muscles with every step. The shaft height of these boots makes them just a tiny bit taller than regular low-cut boots.
The outsole has deep flex grooves that allow a wide range of motion, almost as if you were wearing running shoes (go figure with a REEBOK-branded boot!) It also features forefoot pads and rubber heels, which provide traction on all types of terrain.
Although these Reeboks might withstand some water here and there, these boots are not waterproof. As such, I don’t recommend wearing them in heavy rain and mud.
These Nikes strike the perfect balance between comfort, weight, and support. As such, they’re suitable for various activities, be it for work or more “casual” outdoor activities.
At first glance, it’s clear these boots are designed with flexibility in mind. The rubber outsole provides full range of motion while the reinforced heel strike zones prevent slipping regardless of the terrain.
Ankle support is not a problem with these boots. They’re 8 inches tall and prevent postural sway by hugging the ankle joints. However, they’re by no means stiff. Even though the boots are made of full-grain leather and nylon, the material is rather flexible so the ankles and calves aren’t constricted by them.
One thing to note is that many have claimed that these run a bit small. Keep this in mind when ordering so you don’t end up with boots that are too tight.
The CQR Men’s Military Tactical Boots are a solid choice for anyone seeking durable and dependable footwear for outdoor activities and tactical use.
The first thing to address is ruggedness. The rubber sole of the boots is worth highlighting, as it does an excellent job of absorbing shock and foot strikes regardless of the terrain. The heel area features additional cushioning to improve balance and to promote good posture.
The boots are mid-cut and come with ample padding around the ankle which provides support. This makes them particularly comfortable for extended wear.
It’s worth noting that these boots are made with action leather, which is made by pressing hide and laminating it to a thin PU or PVC film. While action leather is considered to be of lower quality compared to genuine leather, it retains some important characteristics like durability and waterproofness. Additionally, it’s much cheaper than real leather, which is why these boots are on a more affordable side.
The fit is where the Rocky Predators really shine. They come in two versions, medium and wide, so there is a bit more personalization possible here (although I’m not sure why there isn’t something like a “small”, “large”, or “narrow” option). The boots cradle the foot snugly without being tight, striking the perfect balance between support and flexibility.
The Vibram outsole features an aggressive lug pattern, which provides exceptional grip on all types of surfaces. The upper portion is comprised of a combination of full-grain leather and 1000D nylon. These fabrics are rugged and can withstand quite a bit of abuse. They’re also rather breathable, ensuring the feet remain dry and cool.
Like many of the entries on this list, the Predators have an issue with waterproofness. While both leather and nylon have good water resistance, these boots have a lot of “weak spots” for water to get inside (like through lace holes). Of course, if you don’t plan on using these boots for rainy weather, you’re golden!
Our final entry, the FILA Chastizers, can easily pass as everyday high-ankle sneakers. But in terms of durability and support these are rugged boots suitable for any kind of terrain.
Constructed of a leather and textile with heathered and mesh patchwork detailing, the Chastizers strike the perfect balance between comfort and breathability. The feet remain cool and dry during warmer hikes and cozy once the temperature drops.
The fabric is soft and doesn’t restrain movement, but at the same time, it also doesn’t impair the boots’ ankle support one bit. The padded collar and tongue, along with the shaft, relieve pressure from the ankles and keep them safe from injuries.
Finally, I can’t forget about the main factor in comfort – the sole. The cushioned insole, together with the EVA midsole, provides that “glide-like” feeling. The outsole, on the other hand, is made of rubber and features shallow grooves that provide stability on any terrain. However, the outsole is not as slippage-resistant as other models on the list.
Best Tactical Boots Buyer’s Guide
There are many factors you should consider when choosing the best tactical boots for you. Of course, the material and build quality are (or at least should be) the main areas, but let’s take a look at various other areas of consideration you should keep in mind.
Tactical boots consist of several different components, each one oftentimes being constructed out of different materials. These components contribute to the boots’ comfort, weight, quality, and durability.
And now…the materials:
Upper Shaft Material
Tactical boots are usually made of leather. But not all leather is created equally…
Full-grain leather is considered the highest quality leather and it’s the best option if you are looking for the most durable and waterproof boots. It’s a type of leather that hasn’t been buffed (sanded), so the entire surface remains intact. This makes it thicker and harder to wear out. However, it’s not exactly breathable material.
Many of the best tactical boots are constructed of split-grain leather. Split leather is made by splitting the leather into several layers called grain split or top-grain split and flesh split. The grain split is considered more valuable, and it can be used for making tactical boots. Compared to full-grain leather, split-grain leather is thinner and has less tear resistance. This makes it a lower-quality leather. However, it is more breathable than full-grain leather.
Finally, we have the third most commonly used material – synthetic leather. Synthetic leather is a material made as an alternative to leather. It consists of a textile base fabric covered by two or more layers of synthetic polymers. While it is less expensive and more sustainable than real leather, the quality is lower. It is not as breathable and waterproof as real leather, and it’s less durable since the material is more prone to damage.
Now, some of the best tactical boots have a second layer of material, the nylon textile. Nylon textile has great elastic recovery, low initial modulus, excellent abrasion resistance, and high resistance to rupture. This makes the boots softer (and therefore more comfortable), more durable and breathable.
One more thing to note is that some boots come with a zipper on the side for ease of use, while some only have laces. If you don’t want to spend your time lacing and unlacing your boots (especially if they’re high-ankle boots), a side zipper is a great option to look for (although be cautious of zippers…if they break, a much bigger problem is created when compared to some busted laces!)
Other materials that might be integrated into tactical boots are steel, plastic, and carbon fiber. These materials can be placed inside the toe section for additional protection. Steel toe is more sturdy but also heavier than plastic or carbon fiber toe. However, all these materials will protect your toes from injuries and other hazards.
Boot lining is the material that covers the inside of the boot and is closest to the feet. This material should be breathable, waterproof, and moisture and odor-resistant. If you are rucking (or engage in tactical operations) in the rain, waterproof lining is something to consider.
Gore-Tex is a type of material, made from stretched polytetrafluoroethylene. It will keep your feet dry in any kind of weather. However, as we have mentioned in a few of the individual boot reviews, be mindful that the waterproof lining will be less breathable. If you’re not going to use your boots in extreme weather conditions, it’s better to choose boots with more airy lining for maximum comfort.
There are three parts of each boot’s sole:
- insole (footbed)
The insole is the part that comes directly under the foot. This is where most of the sweat is “born”, so it’s important that the insole is made with anti-odor and anti-microbial material. Pen-pore polyurethane foam insole is a great choice because of its durability and effectiveness in evacuating perspiration.
The midsole is the middle part of the sole and it serves as a cushioning and stabilizing element during the movement. There are two kinds of materials used for midsoles: EVA foam (ethylene vinyl acetate), and PU (polyurethane). EVA has great shock absorption, but PU is more durable and also more expensive.
Finally, the outsole of the boot is its bottom part that is in contact with the ground. It provides traction during movement. Outsoles can be made from rubber, which is slip-resistant.
TPO (thermo-polyurethane) soles have excellent resistance to abrasion and oils. This type of sole should protect you from sliding on the terrain, be it loose gravel, sand, rain, or mud. Deep multi-directional treads on the outsoles can help with that. Boots with deeper and thicker lugs in the outsoles have better traction.
You should look for lightweight boots if comfort is your priority. In terms of material, full-grain leather is the heaviest, followed by split-grain leather, while synthetic leather is the lightest.
Another factor that can influence the weight of your boots is whether they have steel, plastic, carbon fiber, or soft toes. Naturally, steel toes will make your boots heavy. The lightest boots are the ones with a soft toe, while plastic and carbon fiber toes add a bit more weight, but not as much as steel.
Regarding height, or, more precisely – the boot’s shaft, the choice depends on how you are going to use your boots. There are two usual sizes:
- Lightweight 4″/5″ low-ankle tactical boots: better for shorter distances, flat surfaces, or trekking, and whenever you need lightweight boots. However, these boots have less ankle support because of the low cut, so you should use them for activities where your ankle is not in danger.
- Full-size 6″/8″ high-ankle tactical boots: higher than low-cut boots which makes them heavier and less breathable. However, these kinds of boots have better ankle protection. High boots are better for hiking and rough terrains, especially when your ankles are at a high risk of injuries (from rolling, etc.)
Naturally, there are additional heights in between, so you can experiment with ones that fit (ha!) your needs.
How To Take Care Of Tactical Boots?
If you’re going to invest in the best tactical boots you should take care of them in order to keep them in good condition for years. Below are some baseline tips on how to best care for your boots.
- Regularly clean your boots from mud, dirt, and other debris. You can do that with a soft brush or a damp cloth. If you want to clean them deeper, you can use mild soap, but refrain from using strong chemicals because they can damage the material.
- Dry your boots naturally, without exposing them to direct sun or other sources of excessive heat. If you remove the boot’s insoles, they will dry faster.
- Use a suitable conditioner to prevent drying and cracks, especially leather boots.
- Protect your boots from water by applying waterproof spray or wax.
- Lace your boots properly to prevent unnecessary wear and tear made by unevenly distributed pressure.
- Store the boots properly, which means keeping them in a cool and dry place, without sun exposure. Also, you can insert boot trees or old newspapers to maintain their shape.
- Address any issues immediately to prevent further damage development. Make sure to inspect your boots regularly for any sign of damage.
How To Be More Comfortable in Tactical Boots
I know how a brand-new pair of boots can feel a bit uncomfortable (and, for the sake of everything good, do not Google pictures related to people who didn’t break in their new boots!) But this doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice when choosing them. Other factors can influence boot comfort:
- You have to break in the boots, which means they will slowly adapt to the shape of your feet and start to be more comfortable. This can take up to a couple of weeks, so be patient but wear your boots nevertheless because the only way to break into them is to actually wear them, even if it’s a little at a time.
- Wear comfortable socks! Socks actually play a very important role in your boot’s comfort. Make sure your socks are longer than your boots to prevent chafing on the sides of your ankles. Also, skip the cotton. Instead, go with a wool/nylon blend which will keep your feet dry and comfortable.
- Choose the right size, not too small and not too big. Consider the thickness of the socks when choosing the size, so go for a slightly larger fit, especially if you are usually wearing a double layer of socks. between the end of the insole of the boot and the end of your longest toe should be a small space. However, make sure the boot is not too big for your feet but fits snuggly around it.
The Best Tactical Boots for the Mission!
There is a different tone when discussing any type of tactical gear.
Sure. A lot of people engage in tactical sports and are ultimately “playing” for points.
However, for many others, the “game” is much more serious. They can’t afford to choose any old boot of the shelf or to scrimp out on learning things about care and sizing.
You didn’t skip over those sections, right?
If you did, here’s your last chance to check out what’s going on inside some of the entries from our list of the best tactical boots.
Didn’t pay attention to that one, either? Then it’s probably safer to just order the Salomon XA Forces Mid GTX boots…the best tactical boots out there.
Think you might be more interested in reviewing some of the top rucking workouts? I promise there are definitely some “interesting” entries on that list!