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With a need for shoes that provided an ability to feel the ground and fit easily into dive fins, Navy SEALs have worn Chuck Taylors for a long time. The lack of an arch means that, even in dark conditions or underwater, one can feel the terrain under their feet with more sensitivity, which becomes important when climbing wet ladders or walking in the water and a misstep could spell disaster. Their slim profile also makes it possible to fit directly into many of the issued dive fins available to SEAL teams.
Keeping this in mind, longtime U.S. military gear provider Altama has made an improved, lightweight sneaker design in the OTB Maritime Assault Mids. These boots provide support up to the ankle without inhibiting the joint from moving fully, have over-the-top grip even when wet, and dry out quickly. I’ve hiked in these, swam in a lake to test their drying and how waterlogged my feet would become. I found that swimming in them was nearly like being barefoot, as they didn’t seem to drag much through the water, and they dried quickly once out of the lake.
The Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids will cost you around $100 for your own pair. Let’s find out if they’re worth it.
When I first pulled the sliding cardboard box out of the packaging box, I was surprised at the weight of these boots. These are much more akin to shoe weight than boot weight. At 385 grams, or 13.5 ounces apiece, these boots weigh nearly nothing, which will likely translate to less fatigue in the legs when utilizing them. That’s a good start.
An incredibly sticky outsole makes up the base of these boots, adhering well to wet surfaces as well as rock and asphalt. An unexpected component of this footwear is the height of the soles and tread. The tread, while incredibly tough, is not extremely thick, in a change from the boots I’ve worn in the past.
Moving up the boot from the tread, we have the 1000 denier Cordura nylon panels making up the body of these boots, which provide great waterproofing, while remaining supportive and rugged. A good amount of padding and the mesh liner makes these comfortable every day, or on the trail, with good ventilation. Up front, the toe is also coated in a strong synthetic rubber for grip when climbing, with the in-built drain ports next to the ball of the foot. These are breaks in the Cordura and outsole with a thin mesh to allow water to drain out every time the toes are flexed into.
The inner sole is a sealed, waterproof rubber insert with very aggressive patterning, which will tear up most socks given time and effort. They also lack arch support, specifically to allow operators to feel terrain and obstacles under their feet. I used some arched inserts when wearing these every day with socks to keep my feet happy on the daily and utilized the rubber inserts when heading out sockless in what may be wet weather or environment, such as the lake, boating, or when hiking through woods where I may need to cross a stream or creek. One issue with such a waterproofed insole is that sweat can pool in the bottom of the boot to a degree, so these are best used when they’ll be wet anyway.
The laces are strong but thin, and flat, for reducing hot spots when utilizing fins, though I have not checked this personally. I have found that they will happily twist themselves over multiple outings, so if you’ll be using fins with these, ensure the laces have been turned flat. The eyelets on these boots are rust-proof and coated with a shine-resistant material to keep your boots non-descript, namely so they aren’t what gives you away to anyone.
The upper section of the ankle and tongue have a good amount of padding to allow a tight lacing at the top, keeping these boots properly in place, and giving sufficient support for climbing and hiking. The mesh inside of the boot, which goes to the upper ankle, also dries very quickly after submerging or while sweating, though as a former Infantryman, I’d still recommend foot powder.
The styling of these boots is clearly inspired by Converse All-Star Hi-Tops, with the large over-toe rubber, the low tread, and overall look of the Cordura fabric used in their construction. These boots do work effectively in the field and excel in numerous ways, but with a quick rinse and brushing, these boots will also fit right in at the local club, or on the street. I’ve found that I prefer wearing these to my sneakers when around town, and to my Garmont T8 Bifida boots when I’m doing range or field work, based on their function and their form. As I mentioned before, these come in a number of patterns, of which I chose grey to keep from looking so tactical.
How we tested the Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids
I’ve worn these boots daily for several months and found that the flat insoles, while great for some things like barefoot use in wet environments, take a toll on the bottom of my feet while on daily trips with any length. The lack of arch support wore the bottoms of my feet out significantly quicker than would be considered normal. A switch to arch support insoles fixed this handily, and there was no issue slipping them in, nor did they need to be cut down to fit.
Driving in these is more akin to driving in sneakers than in boots, where the pedals seem to give more feedback due to the grip of the boot as well as the overall thinness of the outsole. They also don’t have unnecessary wideness to the outsole, which means no catching the boot on the edge of one pedal when depressing the other. I found them to be extremely comfortable for this as well as other tasks, overall.
The real test of their ability came when, while on vacation going up Clingman’s Dome in the Smokey Mountain National Park, these boots kept my feet planted going up the incline to the top, and also allowed me to scale the large granite boulders at the base of the mount afterward. I didn’t take the easy approach with children all over it, but rather went up between two near-vertical faces, and these soles held me on like rock climbing shoes. I’ve also used these boots to play at the park with my little one, both on the splash pad, followed by the playground, with its ladders, rock climbing walls, and coated metal surfaces. These boots stick when wet or dry.
What we like about the Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids
I love these boots, particularly after the notably long break-in period of around three weeks, for their ability to tackle everything from grocery shopping to boating and hiking. The styling is classic, and the function is top-of-the-line for their price point. I’d argue that these boots punch well above their price point.
What we don’t like about the Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids
The break-in period for these boots is about three weeks long, and due to their materials and construction, you cannot soak them in water to help with this as you can with other boots. These boots also tend to run about one size smaller than your usual fitment. I had to order size 12, as recommended by others when I normally wear an 11, and they seem to fit well with this method. Research also shows that it is recommended to go up to the next full size if you wear a half, and to go up a total of 1.5 sizes if you normally wear a half size. My other complaint is that they only come with one pair of insoles, which provide little arch support, and are quite rough on the sole of the foot when utilized for a long period of walking on trips or moving on the range.
The Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids make for an excellent choice for hikers, boaters, and everyday use, and look great doing it. There is no reason to choose between form and function when these boots exist at their price point. I will continue to wear these boots regularly, and hopefully, report in after some time to give an update on their wear and any issues which may arise.
FAQs about the Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids
More questions? Here’s Task & Purpose’s additional brief.
Q: What do the Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids cost?
A: MSRP for these boots is between $100 and $110 on Amazon.
Q: What sizes do Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids come in?
A: These boots come in sizes from 5 to 15, with wide and half-size options available.
Q: What colors and styles do Altama OTB Maritime Assault Mids come in?
A: Black, grey, coyote brown, olive drab, Multicam, Multicam Black, and M81 Woodland camo.
Q: What is Altama’s warranty?
A: These boots have a one-year manufacturer warranty, and a 60-day comfort guarantee, in case yours don’t fit right.
Got questions? Comment below & talk with T&P’s editors
Joel Mason did six years in the Iowa Army National Guard as an infantryman, with one tour in Afghanistan. Now he does firearms courses through his business, Libertas Instruction, as a USCCA Certified Instructor.