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What's the best combat boot?

Updated on May 23, 2011
Even "standard Issue" is often not standard or issued.
Even "standard Issue" is often not standard or issued.

There are so many choices these days when it comes to combat boots, many people have trouble sometimes of where to begin. Many manufacturers make the same style boots in different materials to keep up with the differing standards of each branch of the armed forces. To clarify, the army issues tan boots to their soldiers. The Marine Corp does the same but their boots are a darker tan color called "dark earth" and their boots specifically have the globe and anchor on the outer heal of each boot. The Air Force is still transitioning so depending on the uniform they could still be the older black style, tan, or the new "foliage green" color. The navy has a new uniform but it is still very dark, so their boots are still black. Now depending on the manufacturer you might find the same style boot in different colors.

Not these boots!
Not these boots!

The first and most important thing to realize is that there are many boot manufacturers that say their boots are "Mil-Spec". There are even companies that have that name in their company logo. That does not necessarily mean that it is so. typically the price of the boot will let you know. If you spend $20 on a pair of boots and they are supposedly "Mil-Spec", you are going to buy a rather uncomfortable pair of boots that are made using a lot of cardboard and very inferior nylon that will rip maybe on the first use. Remember, when they say "Mil-Spec" they aren't telling you which military specification. It could be the "Mil-Spec" of some third world country where it's either those boots or sandals. Good U.S. military boots will typically have a "NSN" number. The National Stock Number is what organizations within the military use to make purchases for items and actually issue them to their people.

Many commercial cheap models of combat boots are the often copied Vietnam era "Jungle Boots". Unless you are buying from a respectable manufacturer like Altama that actually produces a great version of this boot, stay away. Besides, why buy a boot that was made using 60's technology? Also, a good rule to remember is if the boot has camouflage on it, it's a fake or lesser quality type boot. Again buying a cheap pair of boots means you will get a cheap pair of boots.

Matterhorn 10" Non-Metallic Safety Toe Ranger Boot.
Matterhorn 10" Non-Metallic Safety Toe Ranger Boot.

Your standard "Combat Boot" is typically a boot that is made of quality materials that are extremely durable and meet or exceed the standards of the Department of Defense. These standards are typically for the grain of leather, the durability of the nylon used, the amount of stitching, and type of thread used. All very important when figuring out which boots are the most durable.

Black combat boots are always the smooth leather out. They do that to add to the water resistance and durability of the leather. These boots are supposed to be polished and polished often. I have many pairs of these boots from my time in the service and they are all still serviceable because the polish keeps the leather moist from cracking, free from scrapes and cuts because of the thick protective layer of wax, and highly water resistant. The downfall? In basic we would polish our boots for hours. It is an art that once mastered takes no time at all. People in the service now don't know how to polish boots. That is kinda weird to me. Either way if you don't know how to do it, then it will take time to become proficient. Black boots need more care but might last a lot longer.

Army issue desert boots.
Army issue desert boots.
Air Force issue ABU boots.
Air Force issue ABU boots.

Rough side out boots are the other main type. They have a dull suede finish that keeps them from reflecting light when trying to be stealthy. For obvious reasons there is no need to polish them. Instead, they can be sprayed with a water-repellent to help them stay dry and stain free. The boots might already have a water-proof material on the inside like Gore-Tex. These suede side out boots are typically seen as the desert boots or the Air Force's ABU boots. These quality boots can be had for sometimes as low as $60 depending on the military gear web sites you visit.

Some great names for boots include; Altama, Bates, Belleville, Converse, Corcoran, Danner, Matterhorn, Oakley, Rocky, and 5.11.

Happy hunting. If you have any questions please let me know. Also if you can, comments and ratings, are always appreciated. Don't forget to check out: Five Simple and Cheap Ideas for Emergency Preparedness and The EMT's Guide to Making a First Aid Kit.

What's you favorate kind of combat boot?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      For women, Dr Martens and Steve Madden are the top choices in combat boots. You can check more at

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Altberg are THE boots


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