7 Best Tactical Boots for Any Tough Job (2019)
Your boots are an integral part of how well you perform on the job, especially when it comes to law enforcement, or tactical work. Great boots can stand up against even the toughest of police work, while others are going to slow you down and lead to aching feet after a long day.
If you’re a police officer or S.W.A.T. member, the best boots are a must have. If you’re in the military, then the best tactical boots are a must have. Now, how do you find the right boots with so many out there?
Worry not, in this review we are going to show you the 7 best boots ready to stand up to the task.
Smith & Wesson
Important Features for the Best Law Enforcement Boots
Your job requires a lot from you and your feet. As a result, you need specialized boots that are different from the average plumber or construction site worker. Let’s take a look at the features that any tactical boot should have at a bare minimum:
- Durability - Your boots are going to take a beating. They can’t be falling apart on the job. Look for durability features that are built to last long.
- Support - Don’t compromise comfort. You need a boot that can keep your feet happy all day long. Pay close attention to the kinds of midsoles and insoles that boots use.
- Flexibility - The boots should be able to adapt to multiple environments so you can do your job better. Stiff footwear is only going to hinder your performance.
If any of those features are missing from a boot you’re considering, forget it. Durability, support, and flexibility will serve as the baseline for any tactical boot worth buying. Now, let’s take a look at some other important features commonly found in the best law enforcement boots.
Laces vs Zippers
Between laces and zippers, one may or may not be better than the other depending on your job. A boot with laces is great when speed isn’t an important factor. Laces allow for easy adjustability (tightening or loosening) and offer a more secure fit. If you’re in the military, laces may be a better choice to make sure you have a boot that promotes confidence while working in unstable environments.
Zippers are perfect for jobs where you need to get ready quickly. For firefighters or members of the S.W.A.T., fast response time is a job requirement. You can’t be fumbling around with your footwear when there’s a emergency.
Certain tactical boots will offer a combination of both. This is great because you can get the security benefits of laces and the speed of zippers in one complete package.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most important features to look for in the best police boots. If your job requires you to be on the move constantly, you need boot soles that are going to keep you firmly grounded and flex to meet demands.
Slip resistant soles will ensure that you can safely complete your job without the worry of falling. Rubber soles are typically the most popular and widely used for meeting this need, and they offer durable flexibility. If your job exposes you to hazardous chemicals, EVA soles are the go to though they lack in durability.
Polyurethane soles (PU) are also another good option. They offer slip resistance, flexibility for comfort, and a higher durability than rubber.
A physically demanding job requires a high level of demand on your feet too. Whether it’s sweat or water, moist feet are something that you want to avoid. Poor ventilation quickly leads to bad foot odor and uncomfortable feet.
Boots with mesh lining or some kind of ventilation system are great for preventing this. Nylon is also a great material that offers a combination of both durability and breathability. Consider looking for these features if you work in a hot environment, or your feet get sweaty easily.
Another factor to consider that commonly coincides with mesh lining is antimicrobial odor control. This can add another layer of odor resistance that will keep your boots smelling fresh over the long haul.
Do you know anyone who likes working with wet and soggy feet? We don’t either. If your line of work takes you through some less than dry conditions, boots with a waterproof feature are a necessity. Keep your feet dry and comfortable. (full guide on best waterproof work boots here)
On top of comfort, water resistant boots are usually built to weather the elements better than their non-waterproofed counterparts. This means a more durable boot that will withstand the rotting effects of water while on patrol or during boot camp.
It’s never pleasant to go home with achy feet after a long work day. The great tactical or law enforcement boots will have some kind of cushioned insoles to prevent that.
If you’re standing or moving for hours on end, look for a boot that will give your feet a reliable support system to keep them happy. The right contoured insoles will offer a number of comfort features like natural arch support, shock absorption, and pressure point padding.
Most boots will have the insoles built it, but some will be removable. This gives you the flexibility to replace the insoles once they’ve worn out, or even upgrade to better ones to fit your needs.
Leather or Synthetic
When it comes to tactical or law enforcement boots, either of these materials will get the job done. Both are extremely durable, but each offers it’s own unique benefits.
Leather is one of the most common materials that durable boots are made with. It has natural scuff resistance and is often treated to be water resistant. Leather is better for insulation rather than breathability and. They are also necessary if you want that shiny leather boot for appearance.
Synthetic materials such as ballistic nylon are another great option. While not quite as durable as leather, synthetic materials are usually more breathable and flexible. This is something to take into account depending on the temperature of the environment you’ll be working in.
Your job may present safety hazards for your feet. While not required by all law enforcement and military members, boots with some kind of safety toe can add an extra layer of protection.
Steel toe protection is very popular because it provides some of the highest grade toe protection, but at the cost of weight and possible discomfort as the shoes wear in. Aluminum safety toes are lighter in weight and provide a little more room, but they don’t offer as much protection.
Lastly, we have composite toe boots. These offer the best of both worlds in terms of weight and protection. They are the bulkiest of the safety toe types, but they will keep you safe if you’re kicking down doors.
The Most Common Jobs That
Require Tactical Boots
Lightweight, durable and built with the most advanced materials available, tactical boots are built for the most demanding jobs.
The military has long since done away with the big, clunky, stereotypical army boot in favour of modern tactical boots. Breathable materials that are antibacterial and wick away moisture keep tactical boots cool and comfortable for days on end. With designs that can handle hot deserts, wet jungles or arctic tundra, tactical boots are a must for people in the service.
Public safety jobs, such as law enforcement and firefighting, also benefit from tactical boots. Law enforcement officers can spend long hours patrolling the streets. If they need to pursue suspects on foot, the light weight and non-slip soles of tactical boots make them great for running and climbing. For firefighters, especially in backwoods areas, tactical boots provide excellent traction, support and protection.
Tactical boots are also great for outdoor enthusiasts, whether they’re professionals or recreational users. Usually ready to wear right out of the box with no break-in period, tactical boots can handle any terrain a good pair of hikers can take on, and then some. The snug fit, supportive ankles and tough soles mean they can go anywhere with no trouble.
While designed for the military and adopted by law enforcement, tactical boots have found their way to a wider market, and for good reason. While more expensive than others, these boots are unmatched in quality and versatility for any situation.
When picking out the right boots for the job, weight should play a big role. If you’re going to be on your feet walking great distances, the last thing you need is a pair of clodhoppers weighing you down.
Heavy boots will fatigue you faster and offer no additional benefits over lightweight boots. If you’re navigating through obstacles courses or chasing down bad guys, lightweight boots can preserve stamina and stave off fatigue.
Many people believe that lightweight footwear is also less durable but most designs have been constructed with to last just as long as heavier designs.
The Importance of Boot Sizing
The tactical footwear should have the perfect fit. That’s not always easy to find. Every shoe type fits differently, especially with tactical and law enforcement boots. A good place to start is by getting your actual foot size measured. Knowing your shoe size isn’t going to cut it.
It’s recommended that you try on a few different pairs. This way, you can narrow down the style and feel that you’re looking for and make the selection process easier. Below we’ve listed a few key points to look for when trying on boots:
- Width: a secure width that’s not too wide or narrow
- Toes: enough wiggle room, but not too much
- Fit of the boot: snug with no slippage
- Adjustability: laced or zippers
Once you have your boots, walk around a bit in them to see how they feel in action. Try jogging, jumping, and even standing on sloped surfaces to see how they handle. The perfect fit will make all the difference on the job, so ignore this advice at your own peril.
A final note before we dive into the reviews. Check with your job to see if there any special requirements you must meet prior to buying them. Often times for military or law enforcement use, boots must pass certain tests and certifications to ensure they meet the safety standards required by your line of work.
Reviews of the top footwear
Bates Men’s GX-8 8-inch Ultra-Lites GTX Waterproof Boot
The Bates brand does not disappoint in this tactical boots review. Moisture wicking water resistant GORE-TEX lining keeps your feet dry in conjunction with the treated leather, making these a great choice for wet conditions.
Ballistic puncture proof nylon adds durability to the metal free design so you don’t set off any alarms when passing through metal detectors. Additionally, oil and slip resistant Xtreme rubber outsoles will give you confidence on the job in slippery conditions.
They also come with cushioned removable footbeds and compression molded EVA midsoles that give your feet the support you need making them some of the most comfortable police boots. This high-end footwear is equipped with great features that can stand up to the elements and endure constant wear. As the name suggests they are also one of the best lightweight tactical boots.
- Keeps you warm with good insulation
- Moisture wicking and foot cooling design
- GORE-TEX waterproof lining
- Puncture proof nylon
- Metallic-free - Walk them straight through metal detectors
- Side zip for you to get them on and off fast
- Can be tight around the toes
- Ribbed design may rub your feet
Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0 Men’s Tactical Side-Zip Boots
These versatile side-zip tactical boots are made with a leather and nylon construction for excellent durability. The foam padded collar grants protection, breathability, and easy cleaning. They're easy for you to put on and take off with hook and loop tab-stay closure.
They come complete with rubber soles for slip resistance and an innovative traction design. This design minimizes debris pick up while gripping dirt, waxed surfaces, fences, ladders and anything else you may come up against.
Finally, the board-lasted construction is great for torsional rigidity and reduced foot fatigue during the long work day. Carrying the durability and quality the Smith & Wesson brand is known for, these boots sport a very affordable price tag.
- Rubber soles and traction pattern
- Fast wear zipper
- EVA midsole and steel shank for support
- Leather and nylon construction
- Not waterproof
- Low durability finish
- Poor ventilation
Under Armour Men’s Stellar Tactical Boots
These boots have a slick minimalistic design constructed with DWR treated leather and nylon textile. They come equipped with anti-odor technology in the molded Ortholite sock liner to keep a fresh smell and an EVA midsole that offers great comfort in conjunction with the liner.
A lightweight design coming in at only 16.6 ounces makes them easy to wear for long periods of time. The durable adjustable laces are great for ensuring a secure fit in all situations, and the toe of the boot is polishable allowing for a maintained sleek and professional look.
Low profile rubber lug soles provide slip resistance along with a pull-on tab at the back of the boot for ease of wear. They carry the trustworthy Under Armor name and provide great features for a reasonable price.
- Low profile rubber lug and minimalistic design
- Anti-odor technology
- Lightweight design
- Water resistant leather
- They run small
- Rubber soles are tough to break in
- Leather nylon joints lack durability
5.11 ATAC 8-Inch Storm Men’s
Offering a high-grade professional look, these boots come loaded with features. Armed with both a side zipper and thick sausage laces, these boots will fit snugly on your feet without slippage. The full grain leather and nylon build offer versatility with semi-rigid heel and toe reinforcement for increased durability.
An open cell foam cushion and Ortholite insole provide premium comfort. Featuring injection molded midsoles and the 5.11 Shock Mitigation System make these boots ideal for law enforcement officers always on the move. They also come with a covert tactical pocket for placing small emergency items!
Finally, oil and slip resistant outsoles guarantee firm footing across the variety of surfaces you face on the job. These are some of the most comfortable tactical boots for men and hold up well in the field while allowing you to remain light on your feet all for a reasonable price.
- Secret built in Pocket
- Cell foam cushioned insole
- Breathable design
- Zipper and lace combination
- 5.11 Shock Mitigation System
- Prone to sole separation
- Scuff easily
- Insoles lack sufficient heel support
Maelstrom Men’s TAC FORCE 8-Inch Military Tactical Work Boot
Crafted with law enforcement members in mind, these boots mean business. The athletic cement construction allows for flexibility and increased durability. Rust proof eyelets and fray resistant laces add to the long lasting life span this boot is capable of.
Unique thermoplastic board reinforcements around the toe and heel help the boots keep their shape even with lots of use. Two layers of Texon lasting board offer you stability and lateral support when you’re on uneven surfaces.
You'll keep up your professional appearance with the tan tactical boots colour scheme. To top them off, PU midsoles and insoles offer a superior lightweight shock absorbing and cushioned setting for your feet.
- Slip and oil resistant rubber sole
- Padded collar and tongue for comfort
- Dual layer lasting board
- Athletic cement construction
- Feet can get hot
- No foot arch support
Original S.W.A.T. Men’s Classic 9-Inch Tactical Boot
This boot comes built with full grain leather and dependable Cordura nylon which will give you both comfort and durability. All of the hardware is made from brass alloy offering rust proof features.
Additional stitching around the heel and toes have been added for durability and therefore how long they will last you. They also feature a reinforced heel area and toe box to give you lateral support and increased comfort.
Custom phylon EVA midsoles handle the cradled support while the moisture wicking lining with antimicrobial protection keeps your feet dry. The simple design comes complete with a PU collar to make cleaning easy.
- High Durability with Stitched heel and toe
- Texon stability platform and steel shank
- Breathable foam padded collar and tongue
- Slip, oil resistant, and non-marking rubber outsole
- Heel cup can cause ankle discomfort
- Stiff to wear at first
- Insoles aren’t optimal for comfort
Rocky Men’s C4T Tactical Boot
These are the lightest military performance boots that Rocky has made. Their lightweight design has them weighing in at a mere 15 ounces so they don’t slow you down over the day.
Armed with 550 cord laces and speed lace hooks, they’re built to last long and lace up fast so you can get into the action quickly.
Featuring waterproof technology and fast-drying material, the EVA rubber outsoles resist oil, heat, abrasions, chemicals, slips and more.
They also come with a metallic free design so you don’t get held up at metal detectors and offer a very wallet-friendly price tag. For their price, you’ll have a hard time finding boots with more features.
- Non-metallic, walk straight through metal detectors
- Waterproof Design
- 550 cord laces and speed hooks
- Flat soles with poor traction design
- Heel rubbing can cause blisters
- Inside treading lacks durability
And the winner is...
Alright, we’ve covered a lot of ground in this detailed review. By now, you should pretty much be an expert on what to look for in a great pair of swat, police or law enforcement footwear. Our selected winner as the best tactical boots are the Bates Men’s GX-8 8-inch Ultra-Lites GTX Waterproof.
This tactical boot is the complete package with the leather and ballistic puncture-proof nylon waterproof design. GORE-TEX breathable lining provides an additional layer of waterproof protection while keeping your feet ventilated and cool.
They feature both laces and a zipper for a great combination of ease and secure fit. Whether you’re in law enforcement or a member of the military, this boot will stand up the challenge with flying colors and prove their worth.