Military Boots Buyer's Guide

Military Boots Buyer's Guide

The boots you lace up affect your speed, agility, accuracy and your ultimate performance. The military boots industry is flooded with innovative technologies designed to make sure your footwear doesn't hold you back. Some boot brands embed comfort technologies into every style, while others make weather-protection a top-priority. We carry a wide selection of footwear manufactured by world-class engineers from the industry's top brands. A look into the history of each company outlines what you can expect from each brand.

5.11 Tactical

5.11 Tactical, now an international corporation, began with a single pair of pants. The brand was the first to make tactical pants, which quickly caught on with FBI agents and SWAT teams. From there the company was determined to provide law enforcement, military and firefighting professionals with a range of gear designed to enhance their performance.

Tactical footwear is a large section of the brand's product line. 5.11 designs and develops a wide spectrum of tactical footwear for various purposes. Whether you need a high-durability duty boot, a low-profile casual shoe or a training sneaker, 5.11 has an option designed perfectly for that role.

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No stranger to the footwear industry, Bates has been in business since 1885. What started as a small dress shoe manufacturer is now one of the largest suppliers of footwear to the U.S. federal government, the Department of Defense and public service departments.

Although the brand still crafts trendy dress shoes, the company switched its focus to uniform footwear in the 1960s. Bates dedicates 100 percent of its resources to creating the best possible boots for our country's servicemen and women. The brand revolves around the principles of craftsmanship, integrity and value, and each shoe reflects that.

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Flashback to 1904: Five businessmen set up shop across the river from St. Louis, and Belleville is born. Out of the five, not a single one had experience in shoe-making. Regardless, they employed 50 workers and began making between 50 and 75 pairs of shoes a day.

The business began to grow, and by World War I, it received its first order for military boots. It soon became clear that this is where the company excels. To this day, Belleville continues to be one of the oldest and largest providers of footwear to the U.S. Military, selling more than a million pairs each year. Over the years, the government has honored the brand with awards noting the superior quality and performance of Belleville boots.

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Ex-Navy SEAL Mike Noell, the founder of Blackhawk, was let down by poor-quality gear while overseas on a mission and has since vowed to make gear that won't fail our country's operators. The company started with backpacks, but as its reputation for high-quality products grew, so did its product line.

Just like other Blackhawk products, its footwear undergoes extreme wear-testing by professionals in the tactical and military industries. Known for having aggressive designs, its military boots have to meet the highest of standards before they go on the market.

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Established in 1932, Danner has had decades to become familiar with the best footwear-making practices. The folks at Danner are more than just boot manufacturers; they consider themselves craftsman.

Although there are similar ways to make a boot, there is a wide spectrum of standards. Danner prides itself on using only the highest quality materials and methods to manufacture each style. Beyond that, it partners with big-name brands like Vibram and GORE-TEX to ensure each style has cutting-edge technology.

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An American company from its inception, Knapp was established in 1921 by two brothers, Elwin and Clarence, who set out to make affordable, protective footwear. The company developed a reputation for making durable, multi-purpose boots, and by 1985, the brand had a repertoire of more than 120 styles.

Customers who favor Knapp military boots all have one thing in common: an intense work ethic. The brand builds each style with long-lasting materials and equips them with the latest in comfort technology.

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Lowa started with a German shoemaker named Johann Wagner. Wagner made footwear for the small village of Jetzendorf, Germany, in the early 1900s. By 1923, his sons and apprentices had applied the newest footwear-making methods to Lowa's design and development process. As a result, the business expanded rapidly.

Although the company has a focus on hiking and trail running shoes, its vast experience in the footwear industry ensures that its tactical styles are just as fierce as any other brand on the market. To top it off, each boot is eco-friendly. Handcrafted in Europe, these styles are manufactured to meet strict environmental laws.

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Magnum was originally part of the hiking boots brand Hi-Tec Sports founded in the appropriately named village of Shoeburyness in Eastern England. The company developed Magnum because of increased demand by FBI professionals for athletically designed tactical boots.

By 2002, Magnum developed the ability to stand on its own as a brand and officially separated from Hi-Tec. Today, Magnum boots are sold in 80 countries, and its Stealth Force style is the No. 1 selling uniform boot in the world.

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Surprisingly, McRae, a manufacturer of aggressive combat boots, started as a children's shoemaker. When the U.S. Government chose to outfit personnel in vulcanized boots in 1965, the company converted its equipment to accommodate vulcanized construction. A few years later, McRae was awarded its first U.S. Department of Defense contract for military boots.

Every year since, McRae has continued to supply our military with exceptional footwear. Its boots not only meet performance standards, but also surpass them. It was due to the widespread popularity of the brand's military footwear that McRae made those same boots commercially available. Made with the same materials and processes, these boots are identical to the ones being worn on the battlefield. To top it off, all McRae boots are 100 percent American-made.

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Randy Merrell started as a craftsman of custom hiking boots that would retail for as much as $500 a pair. In 1981, Merrell joined forces with two executives, Clark Matis and John Schweizer, to bring his specialized designs to the masses, complete with a more affordable price tag. The brand has achieved massive success with Merrell products recognized worldwide and sold in more than 100 countries.

Merrell footwear boasts superior stability and traction, which earned the favor of not only hiking enthusiasts, but also military and tactical professionals. From the battlefield to the urban jungle, these styles offer the functionality and protection for success on any terrain.

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NIKE is a name famously known for high-performance athletic footwear and apparel. A University of Oregon track coach, Bill Bowerman, started the company with Phil Knight, his former athlete. What many don't know about the brand is that it has roots in the military community as well. Before Bowerman was a track coach, he was a member of the legendary 10th Mountain Division in Italy.

NIKE boots are a combination of Bowerman's two passions, track and the military. Each style combines combat-ready aggressiveness with high-mobility athletic designs. When it comes to making updates, NIKE doesn't shy away from feedback. In fact, the brand works directly with it's customers to incorporate changes into upgraded models.

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When most people think Oakley, they think eyewear, but the brand also makes innovative boots. Although Oakley was originally launched into the tactical industry when its precision optics, originally designed for athletes, started being used for tactical applications, it now is one of the leading boot manufacturers in the industry with more than 575 patents and 1,110 trademarks.

For more than two decades, the brand has even worked with the U.S. department of defense creating boots exclusively for the Elite Special Forces. Just like with its eyewear, Oakley implements its athletic background into each boot design. When you choose Oakley, you know you're selecting wear-tested reliability and world-class engineering.

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Original S.W.A.T.

Newer to the game than other tactical footwear manufacturers, Original S.W.A.T. started in 1999 with the ultimate mission of making a better boot for law enforcement, military, EMTs and other professionals in the safety and security industries.

The philosophy of the folks at Original S.W.A.T. is that every part of the boot matters—from the last to the midsole to the outsole. The company is constantly researching different methods of making each part of the boot in order to bring you the most innovative shoe as a whole.

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Established in England way back in 1895, Reebok is one of the oldest footwear manufacturers on the market. The brand is named after rhebok, a African gazelle. The company's footwear has a focus on speed and performance, ideal for any role that requires high mobility.

When it comes to military boots, the brand has a knack for blending a lightweight design with a rugged outsole. Embedded in each style are centuries' worth of comfort technologies and footwear innovations that have made the brand a long-standing footwear legend.

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Ridge makes more than just footwear, but for more than a decade, its focus has been on creating the most competitive tactical boots on the market. You can find its boots on the feet of servicemen and women and operators nationwide. Professionals in the industry prefer these lightweight, comfort-centric styles.

Ridge puts an emphasis on durability. Most of its boots boast double and triple stitching and an aggressive outsole. Need a more casual style? No problem. Ridge makes oxford sneakers and dress shoes as well, embedded with the same comfort technologies as its boots.

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Rockport Works

Rockport Works was founded in New England in 1971 by a father-son duo. Since then, it has become one of the most innovative footwear brands on the market. The company was the first to utilize athletic-shoe science into casual and dress shoes and is still always searching for latest in footwear engineering techniques.

The brand specializes in work boots, but its footwear caught on in the tactical market because of the extreme level of comfort, durability and protection. Rockport Works uses ergonomic engineering that responds to your foot's natural movements. Anyone with an adventure-seeking, hard-working lifestyle will find a companion in this brand's action-ready styles.

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During the Great Depression, two brothers found themselves out of a job. So what did they do? In 1932, they created Rocky. Not only did they achieve success, but also they created a footwear legend that is still a leader in the military boots industry.

Throughout the years, Rocky has been known for the ultra-ruggedness of its boots. Aggressive treads, waterproof construction and high-quality materials are not only common among Rocky styles, but also expected. If you need footwear that can get you through extra harsh conditions, lace up a pair of Rockys.

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Salomon started as a small, family-owned business in the French Alps but now is an internationally recognized company. It specializes in mountaineering gear, but its product line includes sikking, snowboarding, trail-running and backpacking footwear and equipment as well.

Where does military footwear fit into this? The stability, security and protection Salomon footwear offers is ideal for any job, including military and tactical professions. Slip on a pair, and you'll want to get going. Unleash your adventure-seeking side with Salomon.

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Tactical Research

Tactical Research is new to the boot market, but this doesn't mean it's inexperienced. The brand is a division of leading military boot supplier Belleville. Tactical Research takes extensive knowledge of crafting footwear from Belleville and utilizes it for tactical applications.

Tactical Research boots function in a variety of environments, from urban areas to the scorching desert. The military heritage Belleville brings to the brand ensures each style meets strict standards while incorporating the newest technologies and innovations.

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Thorogood, a division of Weinbrenner USA, broke into the footwear industry in 1892 with the introduction of the first-ever job-fitted safety boots. Although the brand started with, and places an emphasis on, its work boots, the brand also produces military footwear.

It revolutionized the work boot industry with its comfort technology and high-quality construction, and it brings those same characteristics to each uniform style. With more than a century of experience, the craftsmanship of each boot is guaranteed to meet the demands of any mission.

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Timberland Pro Valor

Timberland has been making footwear since 1918 when an apprentice stitcher founded the company and manufactured his first pair. The brand grew, quickly gaining fame for its exceptional hiking and casual footwear. In 1988, the company recognized a demand for lightweight comfortable footwear for public safety professionals and launched the Timberland Pro Valor brand to meet these needs.

Each Timberland Pro Valor shoe is outfitted with the brand's patented Weathergear protection system. A combination of innovative features provide the ultimate defense from the elements, including water, wind and rough terrain. To top it off, Vibram and GORE-TEX technologies are embedded in each style as well.

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Under Armour

Under Armour started with Kevin Plank, a college football player who grew tired of wearing sweat-soaked T-shirts under his football pads.To eliminate this, he created the original moisture-wicking shirt, allowing athletes to remain cool and mostly dry despite heavy perspiration. The demand for these shirts was sky-high, and the company's early success has allowed it to grow into a global phenomenon.

The brand was originally created for athletes, but Plank has always had a passion to serve the brave men and women involved in military and tactical professions. He expanded the brand to incorporate tactical apparel, equipment and footwear. Under Armour has developed a reputation for excellence, and its military boots are no exception. Lightweight, fast and flexible, Under Armour footwear is high-quality and high-performance.

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William D. Sweasy created Vasque after traveling around Europe in the 1960s. His goal was to take hand-crafted mountain boots, a popular style in the Alps, back to America. Vasque has a large selection of hiking and outdoor footwear with each style tailored to its specific role.

Vasque military boots are favored by elite operators worldwide who require footwear that stays stable and speedy no matter the terrain. In addition, each shoe places an emphasis on comfort. Contoured midsoles paired with breathable materials keep your feet feeling fresh.

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