Seems like back in the day when we all wore black boots, options were limited. These days, with the desert boot out and less focus on "only military issue" boots (because of the extended combat ops and a less garrison environment) our options have opened up. I've just finished 5 months of training, 3 of that being IBOLC or Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, and during that time have had the opportunity to put quite a few sets of boots through the paces. We've done a lot of walking obviously, roadmarches, river crossings, running in boots occasionally and extended land nav sessions (12 to 15 miles in advanced land nav).
Below are the contenders and subsequent reviews
[B]Army Issue Style Altama[/B]
Price: $100 or so
A durable boot, good fit but heavy relative to all the others. Feet start to ache a bit after long hours of wear in the field. Break in on these can take a few weeks, depending on the amount of wear you put on them. During long roadmarches, hot spots tended to form in some places on my heels. I've run in these and you can definitely feel the heavy sole after the first mile. Obviously a great boot, but unless you were issued them I wouldn't buy them.
[B]Belleville Hot Weather[/B]
Price: $95 at Clothing Sales
A very popular model of boot, I think the Marines are actually issued these boots. Lighter than the Altamas, but my main problem with these boots is that they took forever to break in. I wore them for 2 weeks straight before doing a long land nav course, and developed some decent blisters on my heels after the first 5 to 6 miles of walking. Even now, after all day of wearing these boots my feet tend to ache some. Still a good boot for the price, some guys swear by them.
[B]5.11 Tactical Series[/B]
Price: $140 at Ranger Joes
Super lightweight, almost no break-in required. During roadmarches, no blisters at all, although after the first 10 miles or so there seemed to be a lack of padding in the sole and my feet started to take a beating. They dry quickly after getting wet, and have drain holes just like issued boots. Very comfortable, can wear all day long and feet feel wonderful. Running in these is no problem, and I never had anyone tell me "those aren't authorized." Many people use these around post and for IBOLC, and even for Ranger school.
[B]Blackhawk Warrior Wear[/B]
Price: $125 at US Cavalry
Saving the best for last. As good as the 5.11 is, it is still inferior to the Blackhawk. As for the Blackhawk compared to the Issue Altama's? Ha...you might as well be wearing bricks on your feet as these Blackhawks are absolutely amazing. Roadmarches, running, all day long conducting missions...the hold up like a boot but feel like a running shoe. Truly amazing boot. Constantly sold out here, because so many people want them for Ranger school. I waited 2 months for a new shipment to come in. No breaking in required, and they are the lightest of the bunch. No problems wearing these around post, nobody ever questions "are they authorized?"
I used to be a staunch believer in the "only wear what the Army gives me" theory, however I have come to realize that if you don't take care of your feet you are pretty much ineffective. Even if your job has you in a warehouse or in a vehicle all day, having comfort in your feet is well worth the price of a good pair of boots. We always preach good running shoes, the same should be said for boots. Hope this helps some, anyone else feel free to put in their experiences.
Last edited by LT_77; July 3rd, 2008 at 11:37 PM.
Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. --Sun Tzu