Are you a member of law and order enforcement forces?
Do you work as a security guard in an esteemed security services firm?
You just love tactical boots because they can be used in many different settings such as hiking, adventure, outdoors, bushwhacking and where one’s job demands from them to wear good quality tactical boots?
In any of these scenarios, you need a pair of high quality, affordable, and best tactical boots. In our review and buyer’s guide, you will find ten best tactical shoes to choose one from.
Table of Contents
Top 10 Best Tactical Boots | Reviews & Buyer’s Guide 2020
So, before you read detailed review of top tactical boots, here is a table to help you see the difference.
1. Maelstrom Tac Force with Zipper – Best Waterproof Tactical Boots
If you love the idea of a pretty traditional way high-top tactical boot that covers your feet, ankles and then some, this is the shoe to go for. From sassy black (SWAT) color to army beige, you can choose the color that you like the most. This is, however, a review of black tactical boots.
Here is what we have to say about the features of these tactical boots for men:
Classic & Traditional Style: The best thing about these boots is their classic and traditional style which tactical shoes are known for. There is not too much noise that you notice in other type of shoes; it is plain and simple tactical, and perhaps the only thing that makes it a little less traditional is the zip closure.
Easy to Polish Full Grain Leather Upper: So, apart from fans and exceptional cases, tactical boots are mostly wore by people who are into security services or law enforcement agencies. They prefer a simple and professional tactical boot that they can easily polish. The full-grain leather does not only provide protection to the toe box, but it also makes the polish job easier and sassier.
Flexibility: It does not matter whether you’re a zip or laces lover person, you can easily make use of this boot. If you prefer zip, just adjust the laces as per your preference (how tight or lose you like them) and then use the zipper to put on or off – or just zip the boots to the end, and use laces to tighten or loosen the boots.
Breathable Nylon Upper: These boots are not all full-grain leather; roughly half of it is made of high quality nylon upper. Nylon adds qualities like breathability, moisture protection and wicking, and quick drying to this tactical boot.
3-Sole System: Each of Maelstrom Tac Force 8” tactical boots comes with a 3-sole system. There are three soles that play their role in making these boots cushy and comfortable for you. There is a removable cushion insole, then an arched midsole made of bouncy EVA and a solid rubber outsole for best traction.
iH2O-Tex Waterproof Membrane: The good thing is that although these boots are somewhat breathable, it does not mean that while passing through a puddle, you will soak your shoes in water. The proprietary iH2O-Tex waterproof membrane liner keep your feet super dry.
There are a few problems with this shoe. Take a look:
Squeaky Boots: Well, it is a sigh of relief that these boots do not have a big problem that would have rendered them unacceptable, but there is this funny issue. When you walk in these shoes, you get a very squeaky sound.
Substandard Material: There are no major complaints regarding the material, but it has been noticed that it starts to wear off a little quickly, it is so easy to catch stains and gluing is not a high standard one.
Bottom Line: In the hindsight, the makers of these boots seem to have ignored the basics and paid more attention to styles and options. However, it is not as bad as it might sound. The water-resistant membrane and breathable nylon – coupled with 3-sole system, make it a tactical boot worthy of this list.
2. Smith & Wesson Slip Resistant Tactical Boots for Men
Smith & Wesson is a known name in the industry of duty boots and leather tactical boots. Just like the previously reviewed boots, this one also lets you enjoy the flexibility of having a zip and a lacing system at the same time.
Let us take a look at key features of this pair of stylish tactical boots:
Full-Grain Leather Upper: Just like Maelstrom’s tactical boot, this one also has full-grain leather upper for an overall professional look and protection from tough and rugged terrain/objects. However, I personally do not like how they decreased the proportion of Nylon – it means less breathability.
Nylon for Breathability: Speaking of breathability, we must know something here. Nylon is not a breathability-focused material; for that you need ballistic Nylon mesh. As compared to Mesh, Nylon has a limited ratio of breathability, but still you have it then and there.
YKK Zipper with Vislon Pattern: Original Footwear, the company that makes these stylish combat boots for men, used really high quality materials to make these shoes. The zipper you have to put on and off the boot, is made by YKK and it has a Vislon pattern: known for easy opening and closure.
Maximum Comfort with Padding and EVA Midsole: This pair of boots have really good padding. The collar is padded with foam; so is the tongue and insole. The midsole is made of EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate): a material known for good cushioning and bounce effect.
Good Traction with Solid Rubber Outsole: Talking of insole and midsole, we cannot not mention the outsole. It is made of solid rubber and the pattern is a pretty unique and innovative one. It goes without saying that this boot offers optimum traction.
And here are a few flaws that turn it from yuck to yum:
Clumsy Finish on Toes: The toe on these shoes didn’t get that full-grain finish naturally; it is a thin film that will remain intact in normal circumstances e.g. on duty outside a shop, but if you expose it to a rugged environment/object, you’d see it coming off.
Terrible Lining: Inside the shoe, there is great padding and soles etc., but the lining that you see when you take a look inside this boot, is made of a substandard material. It wears off and deteriorates real quickly.
Bottom Line: This is one of the few best waterproof tactical shoes that you will find. In terms of traction as well as cushioning: two most important standards to judge a shoe, this one performs remarkably well. However, it has a fake finish on toes and substandard material inside.
3. Bates Men’s Ultra-Lites – Best Lightweight Tactical Boots
If a well-padded collar and tongue are two most important characteristics that you look for in best lightweight tactical boots, then this one is the pair of boots that you must get your hands on.
Let’s take a look at some of the top features of this super light pair of leather tactical shoes.
Durable Leather Upper: As in the cases of two pairs of tactical boots that I’ve reviewed above, this one also comes with a durable leather upper. The true leather material covers most of the boot’s upper. It protects your toe and the boot from rugged terrain.
Nylon on the Sides – for Breathability: It is a bit disappointing to see that these boots are not as breathable as they should have been (considering that they are meant for 9 to 5 job or adventurous outdoor activities), but Nylon patches provide somewhat breathability.
Moisture Wicking Mesh Lining: The best thing that could compensate for an overall lack of breathability is a moisture wicking mesh lining. When you reduce breathability, you increase the accumulation of sweat and moisture; a proper wicking system works just like a breathable mesh to reduce the moisture.
Solid Rubber Sole for Best Traction: All the shoes reviewed in this post are best tactical shoes for hiking, combat or duty. All such boots need traction more than cushioning. Of all the soles that provide good traction, solid rubber sole is considered the best – and this shoe has the same.
Cement Construction Makes it Easy to Move: So, what is cement construction in boots? Cement construction is used to add durability to a boot; in this type of construction the upper portion wraps around the outsole and both are attached to each other with a strong adhesive.
And here are the two biggest problems we could find.
No Pull Tab: These are high-neck boots; they go way beyond one’s ankles and you cannot easily put them on unless you have a pull tab on the backside of these boots. While most of the boots on this review have those tabs, this one does not have one. Clearly a design flaw!
Rigid Fitting: Every foot is different and the most successful boots are those that have margin for different foot shapes and size variations. Unfortunately, these boots has kind of hard or rigid fitting; so if you are one of those who have unique foot shape or sizing, your ankles might end up with bruises.
Bottom Line: These boots are so good that if I were to act like a hater, I won’t get much to complain about. That being said, no pair of boots is perfect. It has got design flaws (no pull tab), and it’s fitting is rather rigid and uncomfortable for a few wearers. What I loved though is the attention to detail in terms of moisture management and avoidance.
4. Under Armour Valsetz RTS – Best Tactical Boots for Running
We all know that Under Armour (UA) is into sports stuff and most of the UA boots that you will ever come across will be sports shoes e.g. basketball sneakers, but UA also makes leather tactical boots. Here is one of the them.
Let us take a look at its best features.
UA ClutchFit Technology: So, you need to know about a few technologies that UA developed with the passage of time and with which it makes every boot different than other brand boots and more efficient. ClutchFit, as the name suggests, is UA’s lockdown technology. The material expands and contracts in order to fit every new and unique pair of feet.
Synthetic Leather & Fiber Upper: Why all these tactical boots manufacturing companies are so bent on synthetic leather and fiber upper? It is because unlike cheap tactical boots, a good pair of duty boots needs leather for maximum protection and durability, and fiber (if not mesh) for breathability.
Full Length Micro G Foam Cushioning: Micro G is yet another patented technology of UA.
So what is it?
It is UA’s unique cushioning system in response to Adidas Boost or Nike Air Zoom etc. Mainly it is a foam with a very high rebound ratio and which is 30% thinner than other proprietary foams.
Solid Rubber Sole for Best Traction: There are different kinds of soles used for different kind of boots, and among all of them the solid rubber sole is considered simply the best for traction and grip on all sorts of surfaces.
Strong Lacing Lockdown: Apart from the ClutchFit technology and an overall leather upper, what really strengthens the lockdown is this boot’s lacing system. The conventional lacing system goes from the rear end of toe-box to all the way up to the collar. This boot is easy to put on and easy to lockdown.
However, there are certain problems. Let us take a look at them.
No Durability: The problem number one is unfortunately a big problem. The problem is neither with all boots nor with all the customers that have tried them, but some of the customers complained about how their sole came off or how something tore up the material so easily.
Fabric So Vulnerable to Dirt & Mud: The other big problem is with the fabric; it is about the sort of fabric that UA decided to apply to the upper of this boot. It tends to easily catch dirt and mud – which may lead to the ripping of the same fabric.
Bottom Line – Apart from a few little problems, this boot checks all the boxes especially when it comes to traction and cushioning. It has patented technology cushioning and lockdown. The traction is also on par with the expectations of duty boot users.
5. Rocky C4T – Military Inspired Duty Tactical Boots
Rocky makes military inspired best tactical hiking boots for men. The military inspired design of this boot is the same that you notice in other boots reviewed in this post – such as Maelstrom, Smith & Wesson and Bates etc. The style is pretty standard – a black high-top boots, made mostly of leather with laces that go all the way from rear end of toe-box to end of its collar.
Here are the most impressive qualities of this military style tactical boots.
Leather and Fabric Upper: As I said, this boot is basically based on the same tactical duty boots model that most of the boots in this review are based on. One of the major characteristics of this model is a leather and fabric based upper material. Leather ensures protection and fabric keeps the boot breathable.
Solid Rubber Sole for Good Traction: All of these shoes have solid or semi-solid rubber soles. They do not have those soft rubber or fabric soles that are mostly good for nothing when it comes to traction.
Water Resistant & Fast Drying: The material (leather and fabric) is not only good for protection and breathability, but it serves two other important purposes as well. Leather makes your boots water resistant while fabric makes it a fast drying one. One badly needs these qualities in one’s duty boots.
Speed Eyelets and NATO Hooks: In field, on duty, slaving away to provide security to commoners and clients of your company, you do not afford to be late. These speed eyelets and NATO hooks make it easier for you to pull the 550 cord laces and be ready in minimum possible time.
And here are the most prominent drawbacks that I could notice.
Annoying Noise: The first and foremost problem is actually not a big one, but people sensitive to squeaky sound or crunches or crackles would not like this boot, because (reportedly), the canvas used on the sides of this boot makes a lot of those sounds.
Problems with Durability: This has been the biggest concern, because from adventure to duty, you’re going to use these boots – in fact rely on them a lot. You do not afford this or that part or piece to come off and render your operation impossible.
Bottom Line – Rocky C4T are heavy duty military style tactical boots. The combination of high quality leather and solid rubber sole makes these shoes very durable and protective. This pair of boot is waterproof and slip-resistant as well.
6. Maelstrom Landship Tactical Work Boot for Men
Another stunner from Maelstrom! Perfect padding in collar and sides of the boots makes it an easy to wear and easy to feel duty boot. These are fashion combat tactical boots for women and men who prefer tactical shoes over lightweight outdoor shoes.
Here is the detail about features.
Polishable Full-grain Leather: In order to give these lightweight tactical boots the look and style of proper duty boots, Maelstrom decided to use full-grain polishable leather upper. It looks more authentic, more professional and it protects your feet from the rugged terrain.
Nylon Padded Air Mesh: The best thing about this boot is near ballistic nylon mesh that is not easy to rip, that is more durable than simple mesh and that makes sure that not only your feet dry quickly, but your boots remain ultra-breathable,
YKK Side Zipper: YKK is a high quality brand when it comes to zippers and buckles. An YKK side zipper ensures that you enjoy endless zipping up and down – because these are the sturdiest zippers in the market.
Solid Rubber Sole: A solid rubber sole is a must in a duty/tactical/adventure tactical boots. Why? Because unlike soft rubber or fabric soles, the edges would not start to fray, the grip will not vanish with the passage of time and you will enjoy the best possible traction.
Cemented Construction & Orthotic Insole: This boot has a cemented construction; which means that it is a lightweight boot, outsole is stuck to the midsole/upper and upper portion is wrapped around the outsole. Orthotic insole provides extra cushion and support to feet.
And here are the problems that we could find.
Substandard Mesh: Alright, so as I mentioned, this is a replica of high quality nylon mesh, but not exactly the same. This means that the quality of mesh is not enough to survive bushy terrain; it is easy to get ripped apart.
Backside of Collar Digs into the Skin: The other problem is that with all the padding, the backside of the collar sorts of hurts one’s tendon. Reportedly, it digs into the skin and causes pain and bruises.
Bottom Line – This boot is a mixed bag of everything, and while there are little issues (not reported by more than a few customers), you cannot help but appreciate how well padded this boot is, how swift is the zipper and how good is the quality of outsole.
7. Ryno Gear Coolmax Lining – Best Tactical Boots for Hiking
Well, this is something special. Those who are into hiking and trekking know that Coolmax sock liner is one-man army against sweat and blisters.
Let us take a look at the details.
Coolmax Lining: So what is Coolmax? It is a sort of synthetic fiber used to make sock and other linings. WigWam makes a sock-liner from this material. It is best known for wicking well, drying fast and preventing blisters.
Leather for Protection and Water Resistance: Bigger part of this boot’s upper is suede leather. Not only it is water resistant and provides protection to one’s feet, but it is abrasion resistant as well.
Ballistic Nylon for Breathability and Quick Draying: The other material used on the upper part of this pair of comfortable tactical boots, is ballistic nylon mesh. It is considered the most durable nylon mesh and known for its breathability too.
Solid Rubber Sole for Traction: Just like all other best tactical boots on this list, this one also comes equipped with a solid rubber sole. These soles are known as the best soles for better traction and grip over different surfaces.
Removable Shock Absorbent Insole: Apart from a good side zipper, this boot also has a removable shock absorbent insole as many other adventure shoes and sports shoes come with. It can be used when you need some extra cushion and support.
And here are the drawbacks of this product.
Cheap & Rigid Zippers: As per the opinion of a few wearers, the zippers (although stay intact), feel cheap and are very rigid or tough to use. They’re surely no YKK zippers.
No Arch Support: Arch support or orthotic insole is a good thing to add if the boot that you make lacks padding and good support. Unfortunately, not only this shoe’s padding on insole is insufficient, but there is no arch support as well.
Bottom Line: Well, these are not one of the most comfortable tactical boots because there is an overall lack of good padding and arch support. Then the zipper is not of a good quality, but I cannot help but appreciate how they paid attention to detail in terms of material. Combo of suede leather, ballistic nylon mesh and Coolmax liner is simply brilliant.
8. Under Armour Men’s Stellar – Best Tactical Boots for Flat Feet
Under Armour is many men’s favorite sneaker or basketball shoe brand, and there is no doubt that from design to technologies to finish, their shoes are hip. However, their duty boots are also considered among top tactical boots. So is the case with this one.
Let us have a look at the most promising features of this boot.
DWR Treated Leather Upper & Polishable Toe: So what is DWR treated leather? Well, a DWR treated leather has a particular coating that makes the leather water resistant (better level of resistance). And still the toe remains 100% polishable.
900D Nylon Textile Upper: We know that most of these shoes have a nylon textile. Nylon is good for too many reasons, most important of them are breathability and quick drying. However, thin nylon can be ripped so easily. This 900 Denier (thickness standard) Nylon would not give up to any kind of bush or rugged object.
Orthodite Sock Liner: As explained earlier, a sock liner is a great thing (this one is a medicated one), as it helps against sweat and bacteria accumulation as well as blisters.
Molded EVA Midsole: A molded EVA midsole is what UA used in this boot and what makes it so good is extra cushioning and compressibility at no cost to its light weight.
Reinforced TPU Shank: A reinforced TPU shank is a very good addition; it makes a boot its strength, durability, elasticity and flexibility.
They were hard to find, but I found a few problems here.
No Zipper: Well, you must have noticed that there I’ve reviewed a few boots with no zippers and didn’t count this as a con. So, why now? Well, a boot as good as this and made by a company as big as this, cannot not have a zipper. It’s a big mistake!
Outsole Comes Off: A few customers have complained about the outsole. They say there are problems with either the glue or something else, but outsole wears off or comes off.
Bottom Line – Apart from the very obvious design mistake and opinions of a few customers, about the outsole, this tactical boot seems to be one of the best lightweight tactical boots because of really high quality materials and cushioning. A pair of tactical boots suitable for flat feet as well.
9. ATAC 5.11 Tactical Boots for Women & Men
Making a list of top ten tactical boots on sale, I could not miss out on 5.11: one of the biggest brands that are known for making tactical equipment. These tactical shoes are based on the same model that you have already noticed in many other models that I’ve reviewed: lacing and a zipper.
Here are some of the best features of this top rated tactical boot.
Slip & Oil Resistant Synthetic Sole: Well, there is a little bit of disappointment because a solid rubber sole is considered the best for the purpose of traction, but from a professional tactical gear brand like 5.11 we cannot expect something substandard. Customers have approved the sole so it must be good.
Full-grain Tough Leather Upper: Not a film or a faux full grain touch, it is real full-grain leather. Yes, real leather boots made for army and other tactical forces. It is not like those faux leather boots that you notice.
840D Nylon – While most of the boot’s upper is full-grain leather, the material that covers the ankles is made of 840 denier Nylon. 840 denier means that it is almost impossible to tear – and you enjoy breathability and quick drying qualities of nylon.
Full Length Dual Durometer Ortholite Footbed: The insole of this boot is made of a full-length layer of dual durometer ortholite. Ortholite material is used for medicated purposes and it is known for better support and cushioning.
YKK Side Zipper: Just like high quality Maelstrom boots, this one also has an YKK side zipper. It is the most durable type of zippers.
So, what ails these boots? Well, a few issues.
Outsole Comes Off: Okay, this is kind of an issue that you might have with any other boot. A few customers have complained about the outsole; it detaches from the toe-box after a few months’ use.
Substandard Shoe Liner: The fabric inside the shoe (shoe liner) is not of a very good quality – at least one or two customers think the same. It simple torn off at this point or that point.
Bottom Line – 5.11 means business; no disrespect to UA, but a sports shoe made by 5.11 would be just as shaky as a tactical/duty boot made by UA or other brands not known for tactical wear and equipment. The problems with this shoe are specific to a few customers and do not matter much.
10. Danner Men’s Tachyon Leather Tactical Boots
If you want a more like a military style boot with qualities of a sneaker and all the attributes of a good tactical boot then Danner’s Tachyon Coyote is the best pair to go for. What I like about this company (and the boot) is that it is not just another boots and shoes company trying its luck in tactical boots industry, but tactical/duty/hunt boots are what Danner is known for.
Here are the best features of this one of the best men’s tactical boots.
Rough Out Leather & 1000 Denier Nylon Upper: Okay, what is rough out leather? Well, it is made by a process called reverse suede and it is real leather, not the fake one. Leather provides protection and water resistant features. 1000 Denier Nylon is almost impossible to tear; it provides breathability and quick drying.
Open Cell Polyurethane Footbed: One of the best types of insoles used in best rated tactical boots is open cell polyurethane one. It is softer than other insoles and one of the best qualities of this kind of insole is that it always comes back to its original shape after compression is over.
EVA Midsole: EVA is one of the softest materials used for midsole, and from molded EVA midsoles to simple EVA midsoles, you cannot have complaints with your midsole.
Pentagonal Pattern Danner Tachyon Solid Rubber Sole: Danner has its own patented solid rubber sole with pentagonal patterns. Pentagonal lugs are better known for maximum surface contact with best traction.
Removable Insole: The added insole for extra comfort and support can be removed if you feel better with ordinary padding and better control on ground.
One of the best tactical boots, but it definitely does not come without design flaws.
No Zipper: Well, I didn’t see that coming. Such a good and very well-thought design and they did not add a zipper. This means that they immediately lost the interest of a customer who wants easy opening and closure.
Wrongly Done Toe-box: Well, this is the opinion of one or two customers, so it is hard to say how true it is, but the toe-box of these boots might inflict a few bruises on your toes.
Bottom Line: This is one of the most comfortable tactical boots and even the haters agree to that. It also reveals the keen attention to details that Danner guys paid while designing and making it. From material to soles to comfort, it checks all the boxes and then make a BIG mistake: not adding a side zipper.
Best Tactical Boots Buyer’s Guide
Without taking much of your time, I will jot down the points that you must take into consideration before you buy a pair of tactical boots.
Breathability: Remember, a tactical boot is not like a trail-runner so it cannot be all mesh, but whatever material there is and whatever ratio between nylon and leather there is, the boot must be breathable or you’d hate blisters more than the sweat.
Material: Speaking of breathability, remember that most important purpose of a tactical boot is to protect your feet. Make sure that you get real leather or at least high quality faux leather boots with nylon patches more than 500D strong.
Flexibility: Not only a good tactical boot has to have flexible (but firm) soles, but it must have flexibility of options as well. Having a shoe with extra soft insole and two options of lockdown (laces and zipper) is the best option.
Traction: We have sort of talked about cushioning (insole and midsole), but remember that good traction (outsole) is also very important. Solid rubber soles are considered the best option for that.
Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:
What are tactical boots used for?
Well, mainly they are used for law and order enforcement duties, hunting, bushwhacking and adventures like hiking and mountaineering etc.
Are tactical boots good for hiking?
This depends on a few factors. They are not hiking boots per se, but they have the qualities of good hiking boots. However, if you prefer lightweight and maximum breathable hiking boots/shoes, these are not for you.
Are tactical boots comfortable?
Yes, and they must be comfortable for a 9 hours’ field duty, where they get exposed to rugged terrain and a lot. That comfort mostly comes from well-padded collar and insole/midsole.
What can you wear with tactical boots?
It is better to wear polyester socks because they wick the moisture, but best option is to go for Coolmax sock liners that you will use on any type of socks.
How to lace tactical boots?
First of all, many of them come with zippers, but if you love to lace them here is how you do. Loosen the laces and put your boots on, then then pull the laces up until they are real tight, then take them together and wrap around the collar, make a tie and then tuck the laces in the boots.