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Patrol and Tactical Boot Comparison, Part 2 of 2

Magnum® USA

Magnum’s Elite Spider 8.0 SZ Boot is made of a leather upper with breathable aero mesh, and it includes a circular side zipper. Other features include: composite non-metallic hardware; spidermesh lining; vertical build system; Stabila-Flex lasting board; running shoe last; composite shank; 3D2 max comfort contoured sock liner; compression molded EVA midsole; and a Vibram® outsole. The MSRP is $120.00.

Most of the testers felt Magnum’s boot was comfortable from the start. However, it took some time for some of the officers to get used to the pronounced arch. Otherwise, most cited the boot’s great ankle support and fit in overall comfort. Wessels said the boot was good for all-day wear. However, Bock was disappointed with the zipper placement because it “did not allow me to don and doff the boots once I had tied the laces.”

In the weather tolerance category, the Elite Spider 8.0 SZ performed well for most of the testers by keeping their feet warm and dry. Bock walked through sprinklers to test how well they kept water out, and he never had a leak issue. Still, another reviewer experienced wet feet after walking through heavy dew. “This boot appears to be more of a summer boot than a winter boot,” Munson said.

The Magnum boot scored all 4’s in the function area. The officers felt it gripped well in many conditions and terrain. The boot did slide a bit when one officer walked on very short carpet, but “the problem resolved itself once the boots were scuffed on the bottom,” Bock said. In terms of durability, one major complaint was the zipper. One of the testers experienced a tear in the webbing of the zipper where it meets the trim, while another noticed the Velcro used to secure the zipper began to wear after three weeks.

Original S.W.A.T.® Footwear Co.

The SEK 9000 Black boot by Original S.W.A.T. features tumbled leather upper with Armor-Dillo Abrasion (resistance at toe, heel and sides); contour fit, abrasion protection; extra traction in the sniper position; all-black VIBRAM self-cleaning, multi-tred carbon rubber outsole; compression-molded EVA midsole; moisture wicking lining; rustproof hardware; and non-fray laces. The SEK 9000 is NTOA tested and approved. The MSRP is $119.00.

Original S.W.A.T.’s boot came in second place overall out of all the boots tested. The SEK 9000 received mostly 5’s for break-in comfort. The majority of the officers said they required no break-in time and were comfortable right out of the box. Two of the reviewers compared them to wearing tennis shoes or sneakers. The overall comfort garnered all 5’s and 4’s. “After break-in, the boots were very comfortable even on a 16-hour day,” Clay said. Hoffner thought Original S.W.A.T.’s boots were the most comfortable of the six pairs he tested.

Most of the reviewers said the SEK 9000 held up well in the weather tolerance category. The boots stayed dry and seemed to be water resistant. However, one officer’s feet did get hot on warm days. As far as function goes, the officers had different opinions on the Original S.W.A.T. boot. Most thought it had good traction and support. “The sole was aggressive yet provided feedback in terms of surface,” Janke said. However, one officer felt it had poor traction on wet surfaces but good flexibility and ankle support.

In the durability category, the SEK 9000 tied for first place, with all the testers giving it a 5. Hoffner said the Vibram soles provided excellent comfort and support. Most of the officers did not notice any wear, and it seemed like a well-made boot. One reviewer also liked the quiet sole.

Redback Boots

Redback’s Lace-Up Boot Black Waxy 8-inch features an Achilles-relief cutout and padded heel protection plus a speed-lace system for fast on and off. This 100% Australian Boot is made of black, full-grain, high-gloss leather and is fully lined with cushioned tongue and top. The lightweight and durable TPU sole offers non-slip stability with an anatomic support system. The MSRP is $205.00.

In the break-in comfort category, Redback’s boot was a little stiff at first for a few of the officers, but it only required a couple of days to break in. “I was surprised at how quickly this all-leather boot broke in,” Spaller said. For overall comfort, a few of the reviewers felt the boot provided adequate arch and heel support for day-long wear. The only complaint was too much room in the toe area for one officer.

In weather tolerance, the majority of the testers gave the Redback boot high marks. “They did not leak in the rain and wet weather,” Hoffner said. The boots were more than warm enough for one officer during a cold snap, and they stayed dry for others. Another reviewer felt differently: “The boot was not lined, and it allowed my feet to become cold over a short period of time,” Janke said.

Redback’s boot received mixed reviews in function. Krueger thought the traction was lacking a little on slippery surfaces, while Clay said it was the best pair he has worn on wet floors. A couple of the testers thought the boot had a flexible sole and provided good ankle support. In terms of durability, Redback’s boot showed no wear for a few of the testers. However, pieces of the sole broke loose for one reviewer.

ROCKY® Shoes and Boots Inc.

The Oxford Alpha boot from ROCKY features an airport footbed for support and cushioning. It is made of full-grain, water-resistant leather and lightweight black 1000 Denier nylon. Other features include: guaranteed ROCKY waterproof construction; non-metallic stabilizer; oil- and slip-resistant RigiTrac molded EVA; and a non-marking rubber outsole. The MSRP is $89.99.

The ROCKY Oxford Alpha came in first overall out of all the boots tested. It took top honors for every category except break-in comfort. Still, it received mostly positive comments in that department too. Most of the reviewers said it required little or no break-in period. “Comfortable from the moment I put them on,” Clay said. ROCKY’s boot received all 5’s in the overall comfort category. The officers praised its cushion and fit as well as its arch, heel and ankle support. “Wore like a fitted pair of running shoes,” Janke stated.

The ROCKY boot received high marks in the weather tolerance category, as well. Most of the officers said their feet stayed warm and dry during rain, but one officer’s feet did get hot in 90-degree heat. It was noted that the boot also stayed flexible in cold weather. Taking all 5’s in the function category, ROCKY’s boot provided excellent traction for all the officers. Two of the reviewers felt it had the most aggressive tread of any of the boots they tested: “I could climb Everest in these!” Krueger exclaimed.

The Oxford Alpha tied for first place with three other boots in the durability category. Most agreed it is a well-made and very durable boot that will stand up to any tough assignment. “It is designed for special service and is well suited for SWAT activities,” Janke said.

Wellco Enterprises

The Black X-Force 8-inch Side Zip from Wellco is made of 1000 denier Cordura; silicone-treated, full-grain leather. Features include: moisture wicking / antimicrobial lining; removable polyurethane contour cushion footbed; non-metallic stealth technology; compression-molded EVA midsole; a high-abrasion slip- and oil-resistant rubber outsole; and a padded collar and tongue. The MSRP is $89.95.

Most of the testers said the boot was stiff and uncomfortable, and for some, it never broke in during the test period. However, in the overall comfort category, the boots fared better. Stoll said after a tough break-in period of one week, the boots “actually became quite comfortable.” On the flip side, one of the testers experienced painful blisters and bruising on the top of his foot. In addition, he had pain in his outer right ankle that warranted a trip to the doctor.

The Wellco boot’s weather tolerance garnered different reviews as well. Some of the testers’ feet stayed warm and dry, while another’s were wet after exposure to water. In the function category, the X-Force performed “flawlessly” over gravel, sand, tile, concrete and asphalt, according to Rody. The majority of the other testers felt it gripped well with good traction and support.

In durability, the Wellco boot scored a 5 from one officer. “These boots are built like a tank,” Stoll stated. Another tester especially liked the large tooth zipper and the upraised lace grommets. Overall, most of the reviewers did not experience any visible signs of wear.

All in all, the boots were comparable in some areas, noted by the four-way tie in the durability category. As with any testing program, the opinions differed slightly due to personal preference. The reviewers liked certain boots for different reasons. Some thought the boots could be easily used for SWAT, while others preferred them for only light duty. The same boot may not work for every officer; it is best to choose the right boot for each individual. We extend our sincere thanks to our panel of testers. Their time and efforts are greatly appreciated.

Jennifer Gavigan is the former associate editor of Tactical Response magazine. She can be reached at

Published in Law and Order, Feb 2009

Rating : 10.0

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