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Written By
Updated May 26, 2022 3:30 PM

When operators hit the ground, they do so with their legs pumping, ready to achieve their objectives with speed and precision. An operator’s feet are one of his or her greatest assets, so the proper tactical boots can literally make the difference between life and death in the heat of the moment. 

A solid pair of boots keeps you stable, mobile, and safe in a vast array of different environments, from urban terrain and scorching deserts to mountain passes and tangled forests. At high speeds, the right pair of tactical boots makes you a low-drag operator, resisting rocks, water, mud, and more, and laughing off abrasions and other abuse as if they were merely marshmallows. Most importantly, good tactical boots keep your feet comfortable and dry, even in the harshest of conditions, so you can skip the footbath at the end of the day. 

Mission accomplished. Now, check out the boots that’ll be there every step of the way.

Best Overall

The Garmont T8 NFS is an eight-inch field boot designed to conquer the Mojave Desert, the Hindu Kush, and everywhere in between without dragging you down. The T8 NFS (short for “Need For Speed”) provides a rare combination of speed, traction, and durability in a single boot. While not quite on par with heavier-duty boots, these Garmonts are still tough and durable, especially compared to other lightweight options.

These boots feature a suede and 600D nylon upper with nylon webbing reinforcement paired with a surprisingly grippy outsole equipped with lugs that multiple reviewers describe as “cleat-like.” The reinforced Texon Grid canvas lining and polyurethane footbed promote excellent cooling, breathability, and fast drying times, yet these boots can handle the cold as well as the heat.

While the NFS outsole does very well on uneven surfaces, it’s a little more prone to slipping on smoother surfaces than other boots due to less boot-to-ground surface area. These boots also may rub against your heels during the break-in period, but once they are broken in, the Garmont T8 NFS is a very comfortable boot.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Suede leather, 600D nylon, nylon webbing
  • Branch compliance: Army, Air Force, Space Force
  • Weight (per pair): 2.38 pounds
PROS

Very comfortable

Very lightweight

Tough

Breathable; dry very quickly

CONS

Not as durable as heavy-duty boots

Heel rubbing may occur during break-in period

Slightly lower traction on smooth surfaces

One of the best all-around pairs of tactical boots on today’s market has got to be the Propper Men’s Series 100, as these kicks combine versatility, durability, and affordability with an AR 670-1-compliant design.

The flesh-out cattle hide upper comes in a coyote brown with 1000 Denier nylon panels arranged at various points on the upper. For quick and easy lacing, this design uses 550 paracord and durable, coated speed lacing hardware. The rubber outsole features an oil- and slip-resistant construction and relies on relatively aggressive lugs to provide a solid grip on a wide variety of terrain features. The inside arches are specifically designed to handle the rigors of fast roping without wearing down at an unreasonable rate. The interior of each boot leverages open cell foam to provide a comfortable, breathable footbed for maximum comfort, and the extra insoles can help extend the boot’s lifespan.

No boot is perfect, and common complaints are the lower-quality laces and limited insole support. Still, the Series 100 boots are a solid tactical choice that won’t break the bank.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Flesh-out cattle hide, 1000D nylon
  • Branch compliance: Army, Air Force, Space Force
  • Weight (per pair): 2.84 pounds
PROS

Affordable

Lightweight yet durable

Comfortable yet supportive

Waterproof version available

CONS

Limited insole support

Lacks high-quality laces

​​Editor’s Choice

Few boots have been as widely used and abused as the Rocky S2V Special Ops (RKC050). To start things off, these boots comply with a massive number of U.S. military uniform regulations, including the Army’s USAARL (aviation), Navy’s NWU Type III, and Air Force’s AFLCMC/WNU Safe-to-Fly approved lists.

These Berry-compliant kicks feature double- and triple-stitched flash- and water-resistant leather uppers with a fire-retardant PTFE coating for maximum protection. The proprietary Vibram outsole provides impressive traction while spitting out dust and debris, including the infamous Afghan moon dust. Inside, the S2V Special Ops feature an Aegis Microbe Shield lining and plenty of ventilation for increased breathability.

Despite the use of a fiberglass shank, these boots are a little hefty at four pounds per pair, and the price tag isn’t for the faint of heart. That said, you get what you pay for, and few boots offer the support, comfort, and performance of these Rocky S2Vs.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Flash and water-resistant leather
  • Branch compliance: Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force
  • Weight (per pair): 4 pounds
PROS

Good traction

Durable

Comfortable

Meets most U.S. military uniform regulations

CONS

Expensive

Heavy

A vast array of boots qualify as AR 670-1-compliant, but our favorite of them all is the Garmont T8 Bifida. This boot packs in plenty of performance while also providing a sharp look day in and day out.

The T8 Bifida consists of a split grain and 600 Denier nylon upper attached to a hiking-specific Vibram Bifida outsole. The breathable polyurethane footbed features Garmont’s unique heel-locking cup and sits over top a shock-absorbing EVA insole. The entire boot features plenty of double stitching to reinforce known weak points. Put it all together, and the final result is a breathable boot with a durable build, plenty of flexibility, and reliable support.

The T8 Bifida conforms to AR 670-1 as well as USAF and USSF uniform standards and comes in both regular and wide sizes, making it an ideal option for virtually any soldier (or airman or guardian). The only real downside to this boot is its lack of padding and insulation for colder climates. Still, the Garmont T8 Bifida qualifies as “Army Strong.”

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Suede leather, 600D nylon, nylon webbing
  • Branch compliance: Army, Air Force, Space Force
  • Weight (per pair): 2.91 pounds
PROS

Lightweight yet very durable

Breathable

Flexible yet supportive

Available in regular and wide sizes

CONS

Lacks padding

Not ideal in cold environments

Best Marine Corps

Looking for a USMC-approved boot that is field ready AND Marine Corps-approved? Enter the Danner Reckoning Hot EGA. This boot combines the best of all worlds when it comes to comfort, protection, and in-the-field performance.

At 53 ounces per pair, these boots are reasonably lightweight, thanks in part to the fiberglass shank, but don’t expect to win any marathons wearing these kicks. These EGA Danners feature a suede leather and abrasion-resistant nylon upper to increase overall durability, and the Vibram all-terrain outsole features omni-directional tread lugs to maximize traction on uneven terrain.

The removable open cell footbed and Vibram midsole are designed to each provide plenty of energy absorption, and the breathable mesh liner inside the boot promotes cooling and comfort. In fact, according to our very own gear-crazy jarhead, Matt Sampson, these boots are indeed comfortable. That said, he also reported that these boots aren’t always the most durable thanks to glued soles (not glued and stitched). That said, the Reckoning Hot EGA from Danner still earns the top spot for best all-around tactical boot for Marines.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Suede leather, abrasion-resistant nylon
  • Branch compliance: Marine Corps
  • Weight (per pair): 3.32 pounds
PROS

Comfortable

Reasonably lightweight

Non-EGA version complies with Army, Air Force, and Space Force regulations

CONS

Expensive

Not the most durable

Glued sole

Best Air Force

When a legendary outdoor gear company enters the tactical arena, boots like the Salomon Forces Guardian are the result. Building upon their success as a hiking boot manufacturer, Salomon produced a split-leather suede boot that provides all the comfort, support, and performance you’ve come to expect from them.

While not the company’s first tactical boot, this is its first AFI 36-2903 compliant offering. Thanks to thick soles, these boots provide plenty of protection from rocks and other low-level obstacles. The Contagrip outsole grips all terrain surfaces for maximum traction. The anti-debris mesh lining and stretchable, gusseted tongue help keep twigs, pebbles, and other debris away from your feet to ensure all-day comfort. To maximize comfort, the Guardian also features interior padding, a shock-absorbing EVA midsole, and a molded OrthoLite sockliner.

Unfortunately, these boots aren’t the best for warmer weather and they aren’t the most breathable. They also lack drainage vents which makes drying them a bit more of a hassle, although Salomon does offer a waterproof version of this boot. In light of Salomon’s experience in building tough, durable, and capable hiking boots, it’s difficult to justify passing on the Salomon Forces Guardian, especially with its reasonable price tag.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Split-suede leather
  • Branch compliance: Air Force, Space Force, Army
  • Weight (per pair): 3 pounds
PROS

Comfortable yet supportive

Good traction

Good protection

Wide sizes and waterproof version available (Guardian CSWP)

CONS

Warm

Not very breathable; lacks drainage vents

Thick soles can be cumbersome

If you’re looking for a lightweight, Navy-approved tactical boot, then pick up the Oakley SI Light Assault 2 pronto. These tactical boots are built for speed and mobility yet provide enough protection and support to get the job done.

Weighing in at a mere 1.75 pounds per pair, these Oakley boots are the lightest approved by the Navy. While not approved for shipboard use, these tactical boots can handle all but the longest stays in the field and are more than capable of handling shore duty. While most operators tend to prefer boots in coyote, these leather and Cordura nylon boots also come in black to maximize comfort in and out of the field.

While definitely comfortable in higher temperatures, we have it on good authority (thanks, Dan Caywood!) that the Light Assault 2 is more than capable of handling winters in Virginia Beach despite their non-waterproof nature. Best of all, they require little to no maintenance, and these boots earn a glowing review from real world sailors. So then, what are you waiting for?

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Leather and nylon
  • Branch compliance: Navy, Army, Air Force, Space Force
  • Weight (per pair): 1.75 pounds
PROS

Very lightweight

Require little to no maintenance

Handle wide temperature ranges well

Available in coyote and black

CONS

Not for shipboard use

Lacks waterproofing

Not ideal for extended field use

Best Coast Guard

As evidenced by the Bates GX-8, tactical bootmakers haven’t left the Coast Guard high and dry. Thanks to relaxed USCG boot regulations (compared to the rest of the military), the GX-8 offers Coasties a boot equipped with a YKK zipper and an ASTM F2413-11-rated composite toe, turning these tactical boots into convenient, lightweight kicks that any operator would want to rock.

At under three pounds per pair, these boots are incredibly lightweight for a safety toe boot. These waterproof boots are built with full grain leather and ballistic nylon and boast a breathable Gore-Tex lining for improved cooling. The proprietary Bates outsoles provide decent traction off the pavement but excel on the wet and oily surfaces commonly found in maritime environments.

Unfortunately, the GX-8 can be a little pricey, and they lack insulation, a must-have for some Coasties. Some users reported the occasional quality control issue, but that mostly seems to be a relic of the past. All in all, these boots are a good option for Coast Guard operators, both at home and abroad.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Full grain leather, ballistic nylon
  • Branch compliance: Coast Guard
  • Weight (per pair): Under 3 pounds
PROS

Lightweight

Comfortable

Waterproof

ASTM F2413-11-rated composite toe

CONS

A little pricey

Not insulated

Occasional QC issues

Best Mountain

When conducting tactical operations in a cold, rugged environment, insulated tactical boots like the Garmont T8 Extreme GTX can take the edge off the misery. Unlike some competitors, these waterproof mountain boots comply with both AR 670-1 and AFI 36-2903 and come with Gore-Tex insulation to keep cold and moisture out while trekking through treacherous terrain.

The extremely aggressive Vibram outsole will turn you into a mountain goat, and they are engineered and built to endure even the most grueling situations as if they had only experienced a simple one-mile ruck march. The uppers are constructed with a healthy combination of sueded leather, 600 Denier nylon, and nylon webbing to further enhance durability. The polyurethane footbed consists of quick-dry materials and is specifically designed to keep both foot and boot dry and comfortable.

The only common complaint surrounding the T8 Extreme GTX is that they can run a little narrow, although this is a relatively common complaint with any kind of insulated boot. These Garmont boots are super comfortable, and at 1.5 pounds per boot, they will not drag you down.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Suede leather, 600D nylon, nylon webbing
  • Branch compliance: Army, Air Force, Space Force
  • Weight (per pair): 3 pounds
PROS

Insulated

Waterproof

Relatively lightweight yet very durable

Available in regular and wide sizes

CONS

May run a little narrow

Not for warm climates

Best Hot Weather

Hot, dry climate can take a toll on your body, and the same is no less true of your feet. As such, the Danner Tanicus exists to provide you with a theater-ready, hot-weather tactical boot designed to keep your mind on the mission instead of your feet.

These lightweight boots feature an upper constructed with rough-out, full-grain leather and 1000 Denier nylon for durability and toughness, yet are lined with mesh to decrease weight and increase airflow. The pentagonal lugs of Danner’s Tanicus outsole provide excellent traction in a variety of different terrain settings. Probably the most intriguing (brilliant?!) feature is the Lace Garage, a stretch fabric pocket inside the tongue for tucking loose lace ends out of sight. These boots also comply with AR-670-1 standards for optional wear as well as USAF and USSF uniform regulations.

Some users have reported that the Danicus may run a little on the small and/or narrow side. The only other downside to these boots is that they may pinch some at the ankle during the break-in period, but once they’re broken in, they are some of the most comfortable boots you’ll find anywhere.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Full-grain rough-out leather, 1000D nylon
  • Branch compliance: Army, Air Force, Space Force
  • Weight (per pair): 2.44 pounds
PROS

Lightweight

Breathable

Very comfortable

Includes convenient lace storage pocket

CONS

May pinch some during break-in period

May run a little small, narrow

While you may not be deployed to Vietnam anytime soon, there are still plenty of hot, wet locales that make the Rocky S2V Enhanced Jungle Boot a reliable partner in tactical operations. These jungle boots are made with improvements over the Rocky’s other S2V offerings specifically designed to handle the rigors of humid swamps and similar settings.

Each boot boasts a flesh-out leather upper, complemented with ample amounts of 1000D Cordura nylon to maximize breathability, and every seam is triple-stitched to increase the boot’s lifespan. The Vibram outsoles feature aggressive tread lugs designed to handle half-hidden terrain features with ease and are both stitched and glued into place. The midsole houses a fiberglass shank to decrease weight and an ASTM F2413-compliant puncture-resistant layer to maximize foot protection in swampy terrain. The Enhanced Jungle Boot includes an Aegis Microbe Shield, and a full pair tips the scales at a mere two pounds.

Like other S2V boots, these kicks are a bit pricey, although these featherweights lack a bit in the padding and ankle support departments. Still, don’t pass up this comfortable, Berry-compliant jungle boot if you expect to spend time in the heat and humidity.

Product Specs
  • Construction material: Flesh-out cattle hide, 1000D Cordura
  • Branch compliance: Army, Air Force, Space Force
  • Weight (per pair): 2 pounds
PROS

Very lightweight

Good traction

Puncture-resistant

Berry-compliant

CONS

Expensive

Lack of padding

Limited ankle support

Why you should trust us

Here at Task & Purpose, we know boots. With decades of combined experience in the field and on the trails, we know what makes a good boot and what doesn’t. We’ve covered all different kinds of hiking boots, hunting boots, and combat boots, and we’ve done plenty of hands-on boot reviews. We understand that bad boots can cost lives both on duty and off, and we refuse to recommend anything less than the best.

As a gear reviewer and Rocky Mountain hiker, I personally have spent countless hours learning the ups and downs and ins and outs of outdoor and tactical footwear. Like the rest of our team, I am always looking for top-notch gear, and sometimes, that means tapping other experts for their advice. For this piece, I found the folks at 5.11 Tactical, Theusmarines.com, U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Lab, U.S. Navy Personnel Command, the USMC and USMC Training Command, and US Patriot Tactical to be particularly helpful. I also need to thank the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Space Force for their guidance as well.

Types of tactical boots

This may come as a surprise to some, but the market is littered with a number of different types of tactical boots, each with its pros and cons. Urban/garrison boots and field boots are the most common, although running boots and work boots also make plenty of appearances throughout the military.

Field boots

Field boots are the ideal tactical solution for rural and semi-rural settings with limited to no infrastructure. These tactical boots often include a number of unique features designed to handle unique environments. The most common types of field boots are jungle, mountain, and desert (i.e., hot-weather) boots.

With roots in the Vietnam era, jungle boots possess the abilities to drain and dry quickly, breathe easily, deny entrance to creepy crawlies, and bite into slippery terrain. Mountain boots leverage aggressive tread patterns for excellent traction and often feature waterproofing, insulation, or both. Desert boots feature a breathable construction, usually including dedicated cooling vents and sport-aggressive tread lugs, although slightly less so than their high-altitude brothers in arms.

Urban boots

Urban tactical boots provide wearers with a pavement-friendly option for operations both in and around buildings, on the street, and in dark alleys. These boots often are lightweight and bypass bigger tread lugs to minimize weight and drag on smooth surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt, or tile. These boots are more likely than most other tactical boots to incorporate an athletic shoe fit and feel, making them more comfortable than the more traditional field boot.

While designated as “urban,” these boots also can be solid choices for wet and industrial combat zones. Urban boots may include anti-slip and/or oil-resistant outsoles in order to increase traction in slick settings, making them an incredibly valuable asset for some warfighters.

Safety boots

Tactical safety boots often look similar, if not identical, to other tactical boots but include a number of unique components that more traditional boots lack. In addition to a relatively aggressive tread, these boots include an internal steel or composite toe cap for reliable protection against toe injuries when working around heavy materials or machinery. Other critical features may also include waterproofing, insulation, and oil-resistant or otherwise slip-resistant outsoles.

While these boots are most commonly found aboard U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships and boats, members of other branches may find them valuable as well. Marines, soldiers, and airmen working around heavy machinery or in construction zones may also need to invest in a pair of tactical safety boots, especially in and near a war zone.

Speed boots

The U.S. military’s love affair with physical fitness is well-known, and recently, the Pentagon has developed a special affinity for “realistic” training sessions, like running in tactical boots. While this has plenty of practical applications in combat, the reality is that many U.S. servicemen and women spend the entirety of their military career without seeing an actual battlefield, let alone running on one, so having a dedicated pair of running boots can make your life a whole lot easier.

Speed boots (our term) are a fairly rare breed of boot. While seemingly identical to running boots, speed boots are the combat-ready equivalent. Running boots are designed for pounding the pavement, making them some of the lightest tactical boots around, but they tend not to hold up well in the field. Speed boots increase the toughness, durability, and traction of a running boot in order to combine the best of both worlds.

Key features of tactical boots

A good pair of tactical boots is packed full of practical features, and if you even care a little bit about your feet, it pays to know what these features are. All boots should be durable and comfortable while providing plenty of support. Considerations such as weight, tread pattern, side zippers, and protective toe caps are also worthy of your consideration. So, sit up and take notes.

Durability

More than anything else, tactical boots must be durable. A proper pair of boots must be ready to withstand the punishment dished out by a Marine Corps rifleman in Kunar. Boots that pop a seam the first time you squat to inspect the underside of a Humvee are not worth the money, hassle, and frustration they can cause, especially if an officer sees them.

When looking for durable boots, pay attention to how well a boot is built. Does it use high-quality, genuine leather? Is the nylon capable of handling long-term abuse? Are the weak points properly reinforced? Are the soles thick enough to handle the kind of duty that will come their way? If the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” then you’ve likely found a good boot.

Weight

Everyone knows that ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. With the exception of running and jungle variants, tactical boots have a reputation for being quite heavy which can be absolutely punishing on long foot patrols. Finding a lightweight boot that can withstand the rigors of tactical operations is a gamechanger, but such boots can be quite a challenge to track down.

In the words of Ronald Reagan, “trust, but verify.” When shopping for a pair of lightweight boots, never fully trust the manufacturer’s claims about how much abuse a featherweight boot can take. If you want to reduce the misery of your next ruck march, do your own research, and if possible, weigh the boots yourself to see what you’re really getting yourself into.

Tread

Finding the proper tread for your intended application will do wonders for both your mental and physical health. While plenty of things can go sideways in a dynamic situation, the last thing you need is to find yourself slipping and tripping all over the battlefield.

Need something for mountain use? Grab a pair of mountain-friendly kicks with plenty of aggressive lugs. Need something for urban SWAT applications (or garrison duty)? Look for a pair of boots with tame lugs. Need to qualify for fast roping operations? Yep, there are boot treads for that, too. No matter what your intended application, the proper tread can make the difference between going full operator or falling flat on your face. The choice is yours.

Support

Firefights and other tactical situations change incredibly quickly, and the last thing you need is to roll an ankle when lead starts looking for a target. On the flip side, infantrymen the world over know and dread the drudgery and demands of ruck marches, but as much hatred as 60-plus pounds of kit may deserve, no one wants to be that guy who had to see the doc because he bought bad boots with no support.

Select a pair of boots that have plenty of stiffness in the shaft. Look for a lacing system that allows you to cinch those laces down just right to keep you from rolling an ankle when things get hot and that “snap, crackle, pop” you hear isn’t the sound of Rice Crispies in your milk.

Comfort

POGs may think you’re a sissy for wanting comfortable boots, but in many ways, your feet are your most valuable asset in a dynamic environment. Comfortable feet equals a happy soldier. A happy soldier can go longer, farther, and faster before becoming unhappy themselves and making everyone else unhappy, too. Do yourself a favor: Make your feet comfy; make your life happy.

Look for boots with plenty of cushioning both beneath your foot and around your ankle and calf, and pay close attention to breathability, especially in hot-weather boots. If you expect to operate in a soggy environment, look for boots with drains. For cold weather conditions, make sure to snag some waterproof boots with plenty of insulation. Whatever the case may be, investing in comfortable footwear is an investment in yourself that will pay off in both the short and long run.

Zippered sides

Let’s face it. No one likes lacing up a pair of eight-inch tactical boots. Sure, lace-only boots may look great while on parade, but when lead starts flying, ain’t nobody got time for dat. A pair of boots with zippers up the side makes throwing them on in the dead of night an afterthought instead of a headache, because last we heard, the enemy won’t wait for you to lace up your boots the next time they drop you a visit. Just ask Specialist Zachary Boyd.

As convenient as zippered boots can be, make sure to check your branch’s uniform regulations before buying a pair. While the Army does approve zipper-equipped boots, other branches, like the Navy, appear to dislike the concept.

Toe protection

Toe protection can be another valuable asset for your tactical boots, especially at sea. For shipboard duty, boots with built-in toe protection is a military requirement, and anything less could land you in some seriously hot water. That said, there are plenty of environments on land that require toe protection, such as industrial settings and construction sites.

Toe protection usually falls into one of two categories: steel toes and composite toes. In some cases, regulations will dictate your final purchase, but if you have a choice, consider the pros and cons of each. By their nature, steel toe boots can withstand extreme abuse without folding, crumpling, or otherwise endangering your toes, although this level of protection comes at the cost of a heavier boot. On the flip side, while composite toes tend to offer a little less protection than steel toes, they are noticeably lighter.

Benefits of tactical boots

Protection

While it may seem obvious to some, there is a very good reason soldiers, Marines, and other tactically-oriented professionals leave their flip flops and Vans at home when they clock in. A solid pair of tactical boots provides a level of protection that no other style of shoe or boot can achieve. Tactical boots are tough and durable, absorbing and laughing off punishment like the berm opposite a firing line.

Anyone who has been in the field understands the value of caring for their feet, and that all starts with a proper pair of protective boots. Your feet and ankles can take quite a beating in the line of duty, especially during field training and combat deployments. Without quality tactical boots, local terrain and other low-level hazards can shred your feet and ankles, and if the weather turns ominous, the elements will finish them off.

Support

When George Washington first took the field, combat looked a lot different than it does today. Soldiers marched along “paved” roads, then lined up in rows before taking shots at the enemy. As such, ankle support wasn’t much of a concern for military shoemakers.

Modern combat operations and military training, however, can be incredibly physically demanding. Rolled and broken ankles dramatically diminish a soldier’s combat effectiveness, but more importantly, both have a tendency to tank that soldier’s health and wellbeing. Ruck marches at Camp LeJeune, hikes through the Hindu Kush, and desert training at Fort Bliss all demand plenty of ankle support, and this is where tactical boots shine.

Tactical boot pricing

Budget

Tactical boots may not be the cheapest tools in the world, but considering the irreplaceable nature of your foot, buying the right pair of boots is worth the extra cash. With few exceptions, you can expect to shell out at least $100 for a pair of basic, quality boots, including even the most basic designs. Commonly, boots under this price point will skimp on materials in order to cut costs to offer you a “bargain” and/or will fail to meet U.S. military boot requirements. (Exceptions do exist.)

Most tactical boots will run you at least $150 due to their use of higher-quality construction materials and workmanship, combined with their ability to meet U.S. military requirements. Boots with a price tag in the $100 to $200 range often are general-purpose field boots that serve as a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none option. That said, there are a good number of specialty boots available for under $200, such as desert boots, running boots, and a few safety toe options.

Premium

If you’re looking for a high-end pair of tactical boots or need something that meets very specific specs, then prepare yourself to drop at least $200 on your next pair of boots. Most boots with a price range north of $200 are specialty boots designed for specific geographic locales, such as mountain boots.

Virtually every other kind of tactical boot can be found for more than $200, but for many U.S. service members, the higher cost will not be worth it. On the flip side, those who spend lots of time on their feet or in highly dynamic environments likely will find the high quality and extra features well worth the extra dollars.

How we chose our top picks

Since tactical boots are more than just a combat boot, we looked for boots that provide a high level of stability, protection, and support in a variety of potential battlefield settings. We took different operating environments into account as well as U.S. military uniform regulations to match the right boot with the right tactician. 

A boot’s key features, such as weight, durability, traction, comfort, and support were all critical factors in selecting which boots made the cut. As such, we tapped whoever we could with real-world experience to sort through the seemingly countless options on the market. 

In addition to polling our own staff here at Task & Purpose, we listened to others with hands-on experience to see how well a given boot performed in each situation (Shout outs go to American Iron Magazine, ComparingShoes.com, GritrSports, Hook & Barrel, Ruck for Miles, Shooting Illustrated, TacticalGearNetwork.com, Trailspace, Ultimate Survival Gear, and the US Patriot Tactical blog for their insight.)

FAQs on tactical boots

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: What’s the difference between tactical and combat boots?

A: Little more than the name. Combat boots are designed solely for military use, while tactical boots cater to first responders and government contractors as well as military service members.

Q: Can you run in tactical boots?

A: Yes, although you won’t be setting any records in the process. As such, we do recommend buying a dedicated pair of running boots for your combat fitness test or the obstacle course. Just remember that they won’t hold up in the field, so save them for the proper time.

Q: How do you break in tactical boots?

A: The fastest way to break in a new pair of boots is the wet method. This entails thoroughly soaking the boots inside and out, wearing them all day with two or three pairs of socks on (leather shrinks as it dries), then removing the insoles and letting both those and the boots dry.

Q: How tight should tactical boots be?

A: A good pair of boots should fit nice and snug but should not be constricting. The Marine Corps recommends trying on a new pair of boots in the evening while wearing the socks you plan to wear with the boots. Make sure your toes have wiggle room (0.5 inches between your toes and the end of the boot) and that your heel doesn’t lift more than 0.25 inches when you walk.

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