For those of us who are in the thirty-something generation, we have but one thought when we hear the word “Converse”: High top tennis shoes, specifically the high top canvas “Chuck Taylor All-Star” basketball shoe that has been worn by many of the NBA’s greatest athletes. Converse
, however, is much, much more than a simple tennis shoe company.
This forward thinking company has now branched out into other, more vital areas and has extended their expertise to those who play their game for keeps: law enforcement and the military. Those who go in harm’s way now have Converse’s long institutional memory of how to construct the perfect shoe for a given role on their side.
It all began several years ago with the often lauded GSG9 boot from Adidas. This boot introduced to the world the melding of an athletic shoe with a combat style boot. In the years that have passed since Adidas first introduced this boot, there have been several other manufacturers that have seen the wisdom in producing a hybrid version of both shoes for use by elite military special operations groups and law enforcement personnel.
In combination with this trend there has been the overall movement of law enforcement and the military toward more mission and work appropriate footwear. The days of the uncomfortable but extremely shiny Adam-12 style parade shoes or combat boots being mandated for officers or troops simply due to their look has thankfully passed.
Today, officers are able to choose from a variety of purpose built footwear for every need. There are boots designed for the extreme cold, boots designed for the heat, waterproof boots, and boots that are sealed against blood-borne pathogens and other contaminates. There are also boots that are designed to provide the utmost in comfort while at the same time providing an officer with all of the necessary protection and an appropriate fit for active physical encounters.
Converse is a boot company that has answered the call of law enforcement and military communities with a variety of new products that have been purpose built to provide the ultimate in comfort without sacrificing the protection and athletic qualities of the shoe that they have so long based their company upon.
In late 2004, Converse began marketing a series of boots and shoes that are aimed squarely at the uniformed law enforcement and military market. Joining the ranks of several other leading companies, Converse now markets one of the newest tactical boots to hit the market.
The Model C8874, also known as the Converse Side-Zip Tactical Boot, is a very aggressively styled, 8-inch tall boot that features a side zip opening and a host of other features that make it particularly attractive to officers and soldiers alike. Available in both standard black as well as desert tan, the C8874 was issued to several tactical and patrol officers for their review.
All of the officers involved in the test praised the boot for its extremely light weight and ease of care. The officers found that the boot was well cushioned in the appropriate areas making the boot feel more like a high top tennis shoe than a combat or tactical style boot. Officers found that the Converse Shock Elimination system featured on this boot did its job well by cushioning their step and making all day wear painless.
The aggressive tread of the boot aided in traction on slick surfaces and made climbing obstructions easy. The boot itself is constructed of a nylon/leather combination that makes for a very attractive appearance while at the same time making clean-up a snap.
Featuring a significant level of padding at and above the ankle as well as being constructed with both nonmetallic shanks and a non-metallic ANSI Class 75 safety toe, the boot provides for the top in wearer protection. The Converse Tactical boot proved itself to be very rugged resisting the nicks, tears, and other damage that many tactical boots succumb to over time.
The boot remained dry even though it was repeatedly submerged in water puddles such as what one would commonly encounter in an urban patrol environment. The only negative comment was that it took a period of time to fully break the boot in as the padding is so generous that it leftsome with the feeling of a heavily insulated moon style boot for a short period of time.
Several SWAT officers who tested the boot found that they were extremely quiet for stealth type approaches and found that the boot offered a very convenient and quick donning zip-up side. The Converse Tactical boot can be left laced and then donned via the side-zip feature which is unlike some other manufacturer’s boots that are capable of being removed via the side zip feature, but are slow and sometimes uncomfortable to put on using the same.
The YKK zipper, one of the best such closures made, is sure in operation and is a heavy duty piece of equipment that should have a long life span in actual field use. The zipper is secured using a Velcro tab at the top of the boot to prevent it from becoming unzipped during strenuous activities as well as keeping the zipper fob from making noise as one walks.
In conjunction with the full size boot, Converse also offers officers a mid-height, 6-inch boot and a purpose built shoe that are more than up to the task at hand whether it be tactical operations or patrol. Many officers simply do not care for a full size boot for a variety of reasons. As a result of these dislikes, a mid-sized boot that fits just above the ankle is rapidly finding favor with many.
Converse produces the 6-inch Model C 8670 which offers officers who prefer this style of boot a menu of protections similar to the full sized boot without sacrificing any of the support and other creature comforts that they need and want. Officers who tested this boot found that it wore quite well, providing all that they require for a good, cost-effective value. Other comments of this boot duplicate those of the 8-inch version with all those involved in the test commenting on the level of padding in strategically placed areas and the effectiveness of the Converse Shock Elimination system.
Converse also produces the Model C 8400 that is more of a traditionally styled, albeit very professional looking high top athletic shoe that many officers prefer to boots. Styled appropriately for uniform wear this shoe proved itself to be everything that one would expect from a shoe produced by such a prestigious company. Officers who tested this model praised the shoe itself as they stated that it was more in line with a civilian tennis shoe in terms of comfort and wear than with a more traditional boot.
All of the officers who tested it felt that the shoe was ideal for officers assigned to details where a boot orother similar shoe would be inappropriate. Officers assigned to a bike patrol unit would find this shoe very much to their liking with administrators finding that the style of the shoe is in keeping with uniform standards. As one would expect from Converse, the model C 8400 is a long wearing shoe that provides officers with footwear that they can walk or bike in for an entire shift without causing pain or discomfort.
Converse should be applauded for stepping up to the plate and using the many years of knowledge and experience in the athletic shoe field to produce high quality purpose build footwear for law enforcement and military operations. With prices that are easily affordable for all and aggressive modern styling, the Converse line of products without a doubt has something to offer to those who must go in harms way. Scott Oldham is a Supervisory Sergeant with the City of Bloomington Police Department where he serves as the Tactical team leader for that agency. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.