Best light police (tactical) boots – reviews of TOP 7
When it comes to light police duty boots (or any combat/tactical boots for that matter), online shopping can sometimes feel like such a minefield.
That’s why we bring you our 8th update in this category featuring more high-quality, things are changing fast and the balance between performance and low-weight has never been better.
New lighter materials
Introduction of new materials has allowed for the light foot gear to perform just as well for police needs as the chunks of sturdy leather and rubber policemen used to wear to the fiel
Increased competition and what it means for you
On the other hand, increased competition means that a company that comes up with innovative solution can’t jack up the prices just with no regards for production cost but just because they can. In other words, if you’re in the law-enforcement, tides have shifted in your benefit in the last decade or so.
Let’s get back to the results
This is the only the second time since SoleLabz opened its proverbial doors that we have two models tying for positions in this category.
The 1st place is shared by Under Armour Valsetz RTS and 5.11 A.T.A.C. Storm, while Maelstrom TAC FORCE and Original S.W.A.T. Metro Air both occupy the 4th place. This never happened before, and I already see the fuss in the office in time for the next update.
So, in spite of our intricate tie breakers, we have 7 different lightweight law enforcement boots to talk about today. Fasten your seat-belts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Last updated: March 2019
How to find what you’re looking for here
In the table below you’ll see the Top 7 models and their overall ratings with emphasis of lightness to performance balance. If a pair that catches your eye, click the red button – this will take you to the section of the page where you can see a more detailed analysis and ratings in 10 quality categories as well as links to the original product.
At any moment, you can skip back to the TOP table by clicking the green button – you’ll see it after each product. So, without ado, let’s introduce the “winners”.
TOP 7 LIGHT POLICE BOOTS
& quick links
As we’ve already mentioned, we have a lot of ground to cover and what better to do it with than 7 in-depth reviews.
Under Armour Valsetz RTS Men’s Tactical Boots
Under Armour had humble beginnings, and they didn’t even involve tactical or police boots.
It all began, basically, when their founder Kevin Plank decided to make “a better T-shirt” that will better deal with sweating during workouts. He borrowed the idea from his football compression pants, and that’s where it all started.
Valsetz RTS is one of the best-known models in their line of tactical boots, and it has dominated various categories on our site ever since we decided to buy a pair and give them a proper run for their money.
So, let’s see why so many police officers use them as their duty boot of choice.
Specs shared by Under Armour:
- Synthetic leather upper with textile
- Patented technology: Under Armour ClutchFit for incredible feel and powerful support
- The foot’s perimeter is abrasion-resistant and extra protected by a welded film
- Micro G foam spreads throughout the full length of the boot
- Lightweight shanks made of thermoplastic polyurethane provide enough rigidity and mid-foot support
- Molded Ortholite footbed features polyurethane base and memory foam on top
positive experiences from the reviews:
- These are by far the most comfortable lightweight police duty boots I’ve ever had (I’m a police officer for almost 15 years, and I’ve tried all the combat boots in the book)
- I’ve spent 6 years in the infantry and 2 years now in the law enforcement, and Valsetz is the lightest duty boot yet! I’ve tried them all, but these really feel like ordinary running shoes
- They look really badass, and they’re completely true to size
- I’m a former marine, now working in the Washington police department, and I can say these combat boots feel like slipping into pure cotton. They keep my problematic feet in check (plantar fasciitis), and look really sharp and professional to match
- Any police duty boot coming from Under Armour is a no-brainer with their lifetime warranty. I’ve had contact with their customer service in the past, and they’re very forthcoming and up to any task. That’s how you take care of your customers
- I wasn’t issued any police footwear when I joined the force, and Valsetz RTS was my first choice. I used them for hiking back in the day, and they could handle every terrain and obstacle I’ve put under them. Great boots and one versatile piece of combat footwear
- They were as comfortable as my running shoes right out of the box. There’s literally zero break-in time, so I was ready to rock’n’roll the moment I got them
- I “broke the ice” when I first got these with a 12-mile hike. There were uphill patches, steep descents, a lot of sharp rocks and one creek crossing. I was more than surprised with their performance. They’ve kept my feet 100% safe all the time, and I didn’t even get them wet even though these tactical boots aren’t advertised as waterproof. Great buy!
- The traction is much better than my old duty boots had. My steps are rock-solid even on wet and slippery surfaces
- I’m a police officer in Oregon, and UA Valsetz tactical boots are my choice from day one on the force!
What customers didn’t like:
- These duty boots are definitely not equipped to deal with harsh winter climate. They’re great for pretty much anything else
- Valsetz is a pretty noisy boot when it gets wet. The squeaking sound it releases when I’m walking on smooth surfaces is the only downside I’ve seen so far
- The black version of UA Valsetz tactical boots is excellent for work, but I wish they made a bit more of a color palette, so they would match my hunting and hiking outfits
- It’s a weird transition from full-grain leather duty boots to synthetic. Nothing I can’t manage, though
- There was a problem with the sole of the left boot when they arrived. It just wasn’t glued properly, and I gave Under Armour a call immediately. They were more than pleasant and gave me a new pair free of charge and without any shipping costs
Under Armour Valsetz was already a well-established model for law enforcement and the military before RTS even hit the stage.
They meant business before RTS, for sure, but it really took their game to the next level. It kept everything people liked about “regular” Valsetz and enriched the whole experience with a couple of brand new features.
The first (revolutionary) thing it brought to the table was the Micro G cushioning, transferred from Under Armour running shoes. We could just say it’s what gives the Valsetz RTS its recognizable bouncy feel and responsiveness, but we wouldn’t be living up to the “Labz” part of our name if we stopped there, now would we?
Micro G is a special type of foam that’s 30 percent thinner than its usual counterparts exclusive to tactical boots. So, it saves both weight and thickness, giving better responsiveness and that familiar low-to-the-ground feel we have with running shoes.
By keeping our feet lower to the ground, it gives us a better feel for all things underfoot while also allowing for a quicker change of direction. It’s also defined as high-rebound foam, which is just a fancy way of saying it features a higher level of responsiveness and bounce. This, in turn, gives us better energy return and some extra lift with each step.
Excellent representative among running shoes would be Under Armour Spine Venom running shoes (we’ve already talked at length about the spine technology and spine shoes). Micro G is most commonly used in athletic and basketball footwear.
The other thing we need to mention is the introduction of UA ClutchFit Technology into tactical boots production. Under Armour stated that second skin tech, as they called it, wasn’t about aesthetics, but science.
This tech was a response to the overall trend (which Under Armour helped create among others) that athletic footwear should be as tight as possible. The second skin has built in some flex into the overall design strategy.
The basic gist of it is hourglass-shaped “auxetic” structures which flex as you stretch them until they reach a fully rectangular shape. RTS features the second skin on its surface, meaning the uppers will fit tightly until you need some extra give, in which case the little hourglasses will start stretching.
ClutchFit skin is also used in Under Armour cleats, running shoes, training pants and many other products in their portfolio. Under Armour says they just took their best tactical boots and made them even better, and we have to agree with them based on everything we’ve just seen.
Now you have a little better understanding, I hope, as to why police officers all around the world prefer these as their duty boots.
Fun trivia: Under Armour gear appeared in two Hollywood movies, and they have contracts with famous athletes like Andy Murray and Steph Curry and entertainers like The Rock.
5.11 A.T.A.C. Storm 8” Men’s Side-Zip Tactical Boots
Guess all great companies started out with a single idea of changing something.
The founder of 5.11, Royal Robins was pioneering rock climbing in the USA in the 60s. He went and climbed the top in Yosemite California, only to realize his pants aren’t exactly best suited for such an endeavor.
You already guess what happened next.
Fun trivia: 5.11 is a level of difficulty in rock climbing. 5.0 is easy, 5.10 is difficult, and 5.11 is defined as “The move is concluded to be obviously impossible after a thorough inspection, but someone occasionally actually accomplishes it”.
But let’s get back to the matter at hand and see what separates this pony from the heard.
5.11’s specification for the ATAC Storm:
- Leather and fabric uppers
- Man-made soles
- 1.2k-denier Cordura nylon panels on the sides
- Concealed pocket
- Drilex lining (anti-microbial)
- Solid grip in prone position
- Triple stitching
The things users liked about these lightweight police boots:
- I’ve been a 5.11 customer for years. I already own two pairs of these boots and should get the 3rd soon enough. They’re more like high-cut sneakers than anything else
- They’re really comfortable right out of the box, and the zipper is holding tightly. I came to dread size-zip models because of flimsy and uncomfortable zippers, but this is a completely different story
- State Patrolman is my game for 3 years and counting. I’ve been wearing these 5.11s ever since skills and academy, and they’re still going strong. They’ve been through miles of marching and god knows what else, but they’re hanging in there
- I’ve been faithful to Rocky boots for almost a decade now and then someone recommended these. The moment I put these on I could feel the difference, they strike the percent balance between protection and flexibility. I have a new favorite brand…
- It’s my personal opinion, of course, but out of all Bates and Danners I wore over the years, these are the best lightweight law enforcement boots. I’ve been wearing them for nearly half a decade, and will continue to do so until they manage to outdo them
- I’ve been wearing Danner on the job as far back as I can remember, but this is my first Tachyon and it’s by far the best Danner boot out there. Well balanced in all aspects, comfortable and with a reasonable price tag…
- The waterproofing just works. I can literally stand still in a puddle or creek 8-10 inches deep and my feet will remain bone-dry
- The leather parts on the on the sides and toes are easily polishable and the shine sticks around for quite a while. It took me a couple of cotton balls and Kiwi Parade Gloss to get that mirror shine I need for work
- I always liked the design of 5.11 tactical boots. They hit that sweet spot between heavy-duty killer assault boots and sharp and professional police footwear
- The inner lining on these is thicker than on my standard issue winter boots, and that makes for a much warmer experience come winter months
- I can’t really say about other climates, but these are a match made in Heaven for desert regions where I live and work. They’re very protective but also breathable. So, they keep my feet quite cool by letting all the sweat just disappear
- The bottom soles are the first things to go in my experience, but these seem like they’re made of titanium. They have just enough flex for my feet to move naturally, but they don’t show signs of wear even after 2 years of heavy abuse
- I like how easy and effortlessly I can put them on. This is my first pair of side-zipping boots, and I wonder what took me so long
- They’re my hiking boots of choice, and they’ve kept me blister-free for 6 months now. We’ve been on more than 10 hikes, and my feet felt right at home no matter the terrain we were going over. I have to mention a mountainous patch of jagged rock we were traversing. I never felt so protected with any of my past hiking shoes and boots (and yes, I also have Merrell Moab Ventilator)
Here are some newly reported negative points:
- The price was definitely a bit of a turn off when it comes to these boots, but they’re definitely worth it now that I finally got them
- I just don’t understand the purpose of the side pocket. Am I supposed to carry a 1-inch knife inside? Or my handcuffs keys? That just seems awkward and impractical. Like the boots, hate the pocket!
- LE guys just love their Danners and constantly brag how their duty boots are resolable and 5.11 isn’t. Well, it’s true, you can’t resole these, but that’s about the only downside I can find
- The have extremely long laces. I just don’t know what to do with them once I’m done lacing up. Wherever I put them, they create an unprofessional-looking bulge, So, yeah, I’ll have to replace the laces for sure
SoleLabz analysis of the 5.11 police duty boots
5.11 ATAC Storm tactical boots are engineered primarily to offer versatility and adapt to a wide array of operational environments. In other words, they’re made with police and military purposes in mind.
We’ll leave comfort, durability, support and other goodies aside here and take a bit of a sciency look at the whole story. With the price in mind, it’s also one of the models with the best “value for money out there – you can see our full guide on TOP 3 cheap police boots here.
The first thing we need to discuss is injection molded midsole and how it differs from compression molding. It’s still made of EVA, so we’re talking about the same material, but the molding process can make a whole lot of difference as well.
Injection molding is done through a process called pellet-to-product. The melted EVA pellet is injected into an enclosed mold, forming multi-dimensional designs out of the formula.
But let’s see why this process is superior (if at all) to compression molding:
- The aesthetic quality of the finished look can’t even compare. Injection molding wins out by a mile in that regard. Injection mold features superior finish and the increased EVA density. The quality is also 100% consistent since compression molding processes are outsourced more often than not, resulting in questionable quality at times. Compression molding also suffers from foam cell count inconsistency, which allows for variable pigments and density. Inconsistent degrees of compression and temperature can also occur, which leads to variations between the parts of the definition
- The part replication is far easier and more consistent with injection molding. Pellet to product approach means the foam and the final part creation are one and the same thing. With compression, manufacturers start out with a sheet of foam, melt it, and then start creating shapes they need. Bottom line, injection process allows for much more control and consistent duplication. The final product also doesn’t need extra trimming after it’s molded
- A bun or a sheet of EVA foam with whom the compression molding starts must have the thickness of the thickest area on the manufactured midsole. If there is no such thickness available, two sheets need to be laminated together in order to provide it. Lamination spawns the possibility of delamination, and we all know that’s a dirty word when it comes to any kind of footwear. Injected foam can achieve any thickness, without gluing different sheets together, so the structural integrity of such a midsole is much higher
- The stability in the post mold phase is one more thing separating the two processes. Injection molded EVA will provide exactly the form that’s expected even after the cooling stages while its counterpart may experience warp or shrinkage
- The only “advantage” compression molded midsoles have is that they’ll make the tactical boot cost less because of the lesser quality offered. So, there’s also a difference in price, which is only logical considering everything we’ve just written
This explanation hides behind the simple term “Phylon midsole”. It was needed for better understanding the next feature we’ll tackle here. The Shock Mitigating System developed for 5.11 tactical boots.
It consists of several different parts, providing one of the best shock-buffing mechanisms ever found in tactical boots. It’s why 5.11 calls it a system because the technology is made of 6 different integral parts. We’ve already talked about one of them, the injected EVA midsole; two other that seem interesting to explain would be Hypertex lasting board and Carbon based rubber outsole.
Hypertex is the carbon material developed in the Formula 1 circuit. Its main purpose is keeping high temperature away from the object it protects. That’s why 5.11 tactical boots are so good at keeping the wearer’s feet cool even during hot summer months.
Rubber is a sole material of choice in the tactical boot industry, but rubber with increased carbon volume is what taking the next step is all about. It served as a precursor for developing super rubber by a Chinese scientist, that would be used for protection from various outside influences in space. We think that says enough about the quality and properties of the material. Tough, durable and the most protective piece of material you can build into a pair of duty boots.
We hope this sheds some light as to why this model is so often used by members of law enforcement and why it tied with Under Armour Valsetz RTS for the 1st place.
More fun trivia: 5.11 is the first (and only) company ever to create a tactical duty kilt! Yup, you heard it right. It was a result of an inside bet went horribly wrong…
Danner Tachyon 8” GTX Men’s Duty Boots
People living in Portland tend to say their city is a hub of sorts for all things cool. They take special pride in their all-leather boots as well, and Danner is one of their brightest stars in what they call “a timeless look that’s casually classy”.
Danner brand began as the best manufacturer of work boots for loggers. Charles Danner started the business in 1932, building his durable, all-leather work boots in his headquarter in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
Four years later, the growing need for high-quality work boots in the Pacific Northwest made him move to Portland, and that’s when Danner as we know it today was born.
The thing we like the most about Danner boots and the company, in general, is their attention to quality and highest standards. In the age of mass production, they still keep (to some extent) the art of handcrafted tactical footwear alive, and that earns the utmost respect of our team.
Product specs directly from Danner:
- Full-grain leather combined with 0.5k- Denier nylon
- Rubber sole
- Approx. 9” of shaft length
- Breathable/waterproof GTX membrane
- Nylon shank for extra support
- System for faster lace fastening paired with brass hardware
- The sockliner is made of open-cell polyurethane
- EVA midsole
- Slip-resistant outsole Native to Tachyon models
The PROs we choose from the reviews of the Tachyon:
- I work as a correction officer and spend the whole shift on my feet. Sometimes even more than that. I’ve had 3 knee surgeries so far, and the constant standing and walking were killing me. These duty boots literally saved my job, to put it in a nutshell
- I ordered them to be my duty boots specifically because of their light weight. I’ve read tons of tactical boots reviews online, and these resonated as the lightest model out there. They got here sooner than expected, and people weren’t kidding. In my opinion, this is the closest a tactical boots will get near the running shoe
- I’m a Border Patrol Officer on the South Texas border, and anybody who even passes through here knows the rough conditions this piece of land has to offer. I wear the Tachyons 10+ hours a day 5 days a week, and my sweat-prone feet haven’t gotten anywhere near blistering so far
- We have those dreadful summers, both hell hot and humid. These boots are so well ventilated, my feet are kept cool even after longer patrols
- After I’ve realized what a great purchase this was the only thing left to check out was winter performance. I’m talking mud, very wet surroundings and challenging terrain. These boots slice through it all like hot knife through butter. Definitely an excellent choice all year long!
- The soles are very grippy, even on surfaces covered in oil. We’ve had an oil spill last month, and that’s why I’m writing this review. I did get them mighty dirty, but my step was solid as a rock throughout the whole calamity
- River-crossings with Tachyon are simply a breeze! The waterproof lining really does its job with waterproofing the boots, but also letting all the sweat evaporate. It’s an amazing combo of ventilation and full-born waterproof action
- My colleagues will know what I mean when I say this is one highly comfortable and lightweight law enforcement boot. I recommend it to everyone in need of a good piece of waterproof and sturdy footwear, not just police officers
- This is a police boot with the shortest break-in period I’ve ever had. They were stiffer for a couple of hours and BAM!! Just like I’m wearing sneakers
- These boots are a real gold mine of proper foot support. I have flat feet, and getting rid of that tired and sore feeling in my feet is worth every penny I’ve paid and then some
- OK, these took forever to shine to academy standards. I brushed and brushed, and 5 hours and 16 coats later, voila! Mirror shine! Once I went through that ordeal, they held the shine pretty good
- These are excellent for flat surfaces in my experience, but you should definitely skip out on them if you’re hellbent on rock hopping. They’re just not made for rocky terrains in my opinion
- They run somewhat bigger. Half a size, to be exact. Luckily, I found a lot of useful reviews from people who bought them earlier, so I could adjust my order properly
Final thoughts on Danner Tachyon
Danner Tachyon combat boots tend to confuse people a lot. Here’s why…
The model we’re reviewing today is the new and improved version of the older Tachyon. The problem with the original version was that the upper material was synthetic. This means they weren’t authorized boots since the AR 670-1 (a directive concerning army uniform regulation) got updated. So, the military couldn’t use them no more.
Danner got on top of the situation by “updating” the Tachyon, so it features a full-leather upper. This got it back to the military’s good grace, and now it can be used no problem.
So, these are the main upgrades the best Danner tactical boots holds over its original namesake:
- Full-leather upper as opposed to synthetic materials
- Inclusion of 500 Denier nylon in the upper as well
- Polishable toes
- Fully rubberized outsole
- Lighter weight
Nylon is one of the synthetic fibers used for manufacturing the uppers of tactical and work boots. Its main purpose is equipping the boot with high-end abrasion-resistance, but it has some other benefits as well. Lightweight police boots usually feature it to some degree since it helps “shed the fat” off of them without losing the necessary protection and structural strength. So, it both lowers the overall weight of the boot and adds to its chemical resistance.
It’s especially effective when paired together with a waterproof membrane made of GoreTex, which is the case here. “Denier” is the unit of weight, not the strength, by the way. The overall strength of the nylon canvas is determined by the weave pattern the manufacturer opted for.
Polishable uppers are nice-to-have if you’re in the line of work that requires a professional and sharp appearance. We’re talking military, law enforcement… The original WAS used as a military and police boot before the AR 670-1 update mentioned above, but having the ability to polish your duty boots bring a whole new set of advantages to the table.
Fully rubberized outsole gave them a dose of versatility and stability the original didn’t have. The material itself paired with pentagonal lugs provides optimal surefootedness, stability and motion control.
All things aside, the main punch line of Danner Tachyon is the light weight. There’s plenty of lightweight tactical boots out there, but not featuring GoreTex waterproof membrane. GoreTex lining adds to the overall weight, and you need to be a sort of miracle worker to shed that. Danner found enough parts to leave behind in order to thin this boots out to incredible 30 oz. Some sites say it’s 26, but when we measured them, the scales said 30.
P.S. We’ve already written plenty about GoreTex waterproof tactical boots, and GTX material already had its share of SoleLabz analysis as well. So, we’re not going to repeat the same story here.
Bates Ultra-Lites Men’s Side-Zip Tactical Boots
I don’t think Bates (or their Tactical police boots) needs any special introduction from us. Bates footwear is one of the best selling in the US, and Ultra-Lites series are among the top-rated (and selling) tactical boots within that scope.
It’s worth to mention that they also go by the model number 2261, so don’t get confused if some pages have them listed under that title.
The Bates Shoe Company is now legally owned by Wolverine World Wide, which is another giant in the business. But still, everybody knows about Wolverine because “They’re that company that owns Bates”.
- Leather uppers combined with fabric patches
- Rubber sole
- High top police/combat/duty/work boot featuring ventilated lining and lace-up vamp
- Cushioned insert is removable
- Cement and lightweight construction
- Durable outsole resistant to slips
Some of the newly gathered PROs:
- They’re incredibly comfortable for working incredibly long shifts
- The zipper was always the breaking point on 4 different tactical models I’ve owned. It seems to be different this time around. There’s no flimsy feeling to it, and it doesn’t rub against my leg like the previous ones. We’ll see if this trend continues
- They’re just what I was looking for in terms of looks and design. I take great pride in being a member of the force and want to be a decent representative of the institution. These look very sharp and give a very professional look to my overall appearance
- I think these are made to last forever. Not even the outsoles show the signs of wear after a one and a half year of constant use. The uppers look brand new and still take polish like it’s their first day on the job
- As far as police boots go, these are the lightest pair I had the privilege of wearing. They were a gift from my girlfriend who obviously got tired of my constant moaning over my aching feet. She takes good care of me, I have to admit
- Excellent support! I spend my work hours in constant motion going over uneven and generally inhospitable terrain. To make matters worse, my ankles are overly prone to rolling and twisting so, proper support is everything for me. These boots keep everything nice and tight, and I haven’t had a single ankle accident ever since I got them
- I can really feel the benefit of having some extra height in my duty boots. The overall fit seems tighter, and my feet feel more “locked-in” inside the boot
- I had a pair of very lightweight police boots before I got these, so that wasn’t an issue. They didn’t have a side zipper, though, and I’ve just realized how much time it saves. Putting them on is just a breeze, and I can take them off in seconds when I get home after a long day
- I had a work accident when a huge piece of steel fell right on my foot. I was wearing these, and the doctor told me he can’t believe my foot wasn’t severed completely. So, the level of protection on Bates Ultra-Lites is tried and true, as far as I’m concerned. Not to mention the side-zip feature enabled the paramedics to get the boot off without any hassle with the laces of cutting the boot off my foot
- I wear them every day. I do my daily 4-mile walks in them, an absurd amount of pencil pushing work and even use them for my exercises climbing local beach cliffs. So far, the traction was outstanding, and they keep me comfortable from the moment I put them on in the morning ‘till I take them off
Some disadvantages reported by customers and our featured testers:
- The soles really are oil-resistant, but I would still prefer seeing Vibram ones on these. It’s just a personal choice since they performed so well for me in the past
- They’re made in China. This automatically discourages me from buying a certain product, but these came highly recommended by my colleagues, so I decided to bite the bullet. It’s two months since I got them and I’m not seeing any quality issues… I’ll update this review if I spot some
- The thread of Bates Ultra-Lites feels somewhat weird. It’s an unusual spacing in my opinion, but that’s just a matter of what you’re used to. The real problem is that it wears out too fast. The soles are definitely more flexible than anything I’ve tried so far, but tiny cylinder lugs are pretty thin, and they wear down rather quickly
- These boots would be perfect if they came with a steel toe. I work construction, and I really liked these when I tried them in the store, but I don’t want to risk my feet by working without all the protection I can muster up.
- So, I just use them as my spare hiking boots next to Merrell Moab Ventilator
The two things that make the Ultra-Lites stand out are:
- 1680k Denier nylon patches built into the upper
- The traction provided by the tactically designed lugs on the outsole
As we already said for the Tachyon, Denier represents the weight of the nylon, or, if you prefer, the amount of nylon per square inch. We had the number 500 there, and 1680 here. That sounds like a huge difference without even without us saying another word on the matter. Naturally, 2261 will be marginally heavier than the Tachyon, but added protection and abrasion-resistance are nothing to sneeze at.
As far as traction and the sole grip are concerned, you just have to see the lugs on the Ultra-Lites to know there’s some heavy science behind them. Not overly pronounced and closely spaced, they mirror the design found on heavy-duty hiking and backpacking boots. We know serious hikers need all the grip they can muster once they embark on an off-trail adventure. Notably, they won’t shed the mud spectacularly as we walk like a wide constellation would, but that’s the choice you’ll have to make for yourself once you weigh all the pros and cons.
The lug pattern also provides good maneuverability and allowed for a quick and nimble direction change every time we needed it.
The overall weight as far as our measuring goes was around 33 oz.
So, this is a police boot with glue-like grip, hard upper construction and light weight to back it all up. No wonder people put so much trust in Bates products, and their models just keep on popping up all over our guides update after update.
Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8” Men’s Duty Boots with Zipper
We at SoleLabz always like to see a company with some philosophy behind its product, or, at least, some motto they go by. Notably, Under Armour has no shortage of company slogans ranging from super fired-up to somewhat cheesy or corny.
Maelstrom tells us they have a clear goal, to make every uniformed professional perform better:
Sound straightforward enough, so let’s see if TAC FORCE managed to do just that.
- Leather/nylon upper
- Rubber sole
- The shaft is approx. 7” long from the arch
- Moisture-wicking breathable lining
- The outsole is made of rubber with oil and slip resistance
- High-performance cushion insoles are removable and shock-absorbent
- Padded tongue/collar
- The midsole is molded, shock-absorbing and lightweight
- Cement construction with stitched toe
- Heavy-duty YKK zipper
- Composite shank
- 1-year warranty
- Finally, a pair of duty boots that don’t weigh me down no matter what I’m doing. They’re very lightweight, but seem to provide pretty good traction. I haven’t tested them on snow or ice yet, but they feel like they can handle anything I throw at them
- The initial test for these light police duty boots was darting through extremely muddy conditions, going through puddles and climbing a hill. They performed like champs in all of these conditions. My feet were kept dry, and every step was like I was glued to the ground. Great buy!
- They are very easy to clean. I’ve shed most of the mud just by walking, so they save a lot of cleaning time
- I’ve been wearing them for about 3 months now, and the zipper didn’t get jammed once! This is definitely a new experience since my previous duty boots (two pairs) gave me such a hard time with their flimsy zippers
- As far as I’m concerned, this police boot gathered the best of Bates and 5.11 and incorporated it into a single piece of footwear. They’re comfortable like my 5.11s and have the perfect Bates fit. Not to mention they’re tanks among boots as far as construction and durability go
- The price is ridiculously low for the quality they offer. I’ve paid 50 bucks on Amazon, and I still can’t believe I used to burn hundreds of dollars on overblown fancy tactical boots brands
- I’m a fireman, and I use these boots 72-96 hrs every week. So far, they’ve been through hell and back with me. I’m talking house fires, gas leaks, oil spills, mud, heavy rain, you name it. Even after all that abuse, all it takes is a bit of Kiwi Parade Gloss, and they’re as good as new
- I’ve waited anxiously for winter, just to see how they’ll behave when the going gets tough. To put it shortly, my feet were cozy warm and dry all winter long, and we’ve had an unusual amount of snow this time around. If you live in a harsh climate area like me, these are your safe bet to keep your feet as tip-top as possible
- I’m an EMT, so you know these boots are hitting the ground heavy every single day. My pedometer says I’m making anywhere around 5k-17k steps daily. Add all kinds of brutal conditions to the mix and you’ll get a glimpse at what these have to go through on a daily basis. All of my experiences with Maelstrom TAC FORCE can easily be put into a single sentence: I’m never switching to another model again!
Excerpts from critical reviews:
- The leather the uppers are made of seems a bit thinner than on my previous combat boots. I haven’t caught any concerning disadvantages per se so far so I’ll just wait and see how it plays out
- The part of the stitching is a bit out of the groove on the left one. You can’t really see it because of the black color of the boot, but I just wanted to mention it for the sake of complete information
- Sometimes they’re challenging to pull up
- They’re a good buy overall, but I need excellent arch support, which these boots simply don’t offer
Final thoughts on these police boots
We have to admit, the thing that led us to buy these tactical boots and give them a run for their money was their incredible success on Amazon. In other words, they’re selling like vintage baseball cards at a yard sale.
They’re above all other models found in this guide by a mile, and they would definitely be No. 1 if our only criterion were the amount of copies sold.
Eventually, we’ve reached to a conclusion that the secret behind their amazing numbers is the “Jack-of-all-trades-syndrome”, as we like to call it around the office. They offer a lot of good features for the money required, but they don’t really excel in none of them.
Don’t get us wrong, these duty boots are a well-rounded product with a lot to offer. It’s just that we can’t pinpoint at a certain feature and say they’re the best tactical boots on the market in that field. Well, that’s not entirely true, to be honest. They definitely off the most bang for the buck, so to say. They go for around 60 dollars, which is a very acceptable price for a pair of well-performing police boots. That’s the secret behind their amazing sales.
So, the price-to-quality ratio found here fits among the top rated tactical boots on the market, and that’s how Maelstrom “made uniform professional better” this time. They gave them a great product while keeping their budget from imploding.
Jack-of-all-trades approach paired with more than affordable price tag is a winning product in our book.
Original S.W.A.T. Metro Air Men’s 9” Side-Zip Tactical Boots
Original S.W.A.T. is one of those companies that made creating high-quality tactical boots their mantra. They’re not afraid of the competition and constantly point out that they can go toe to toe with any other manufacturer on the market to prove their product is equal or better.
At 38 oz Metro Air goes a bit heavier than our previous models, but our featured reported that you don’t really feel that extra weight that much. We still need to see what uniformed professionals and civilian users had to say about them, though.
Specification for these tactical police boots
- Leather upper
- Leather sole
- Lace-up durable tactical boot featuring hook-and-loop strap at the ankle and instep zipper
- Supportive shank made of nylon (metal detector friendly
- Non-marking outsole featuring ladder grip control and waffle traction
- The size 15 is generally a pain to find and even when I do, it doesn’t fit properly most of the time. That’s what amazed me with these boots. They fit as expected, and they’re extremely lightweight
- These look even better than on those pictures I saw on Amazon. I like the overall design, and the construction seems very solid
- These boots served me well during my weekend class in the nearby woods. I went prone, kneeled and ran with ease, and my feet were super comfortable the whole time. The feel is basically as if I wore my basketball sneakers. I’ll be testing them out again the next weekend, but so far, so good
- The zipper really saves time and effort. I tied the laces once, and that’s about all the contact we’ve had in a week
- They gave off the feeling of a well-made product right out of the box. They also broke right in and were very comfortable during the first walk. I expected it’ll take some time for them to loosen up, but nope! The break-in period is one of a sneaker, meaning grand total of 6 seconds…
- They are so lightweight I thought I ordered a pair of running shoes or something. Lightweight but very strong and durable. At least, they appear so. The thing I like the most at the first glance is the fact that there are no missed stitches and seams, no glue sticking out or something like that. It just makes the whole boot looks sloppy and rushed on the market without proper inspection. These look very professional and well put together
- The shipment came in early so kudos to the shipper! I especially like the zipper quality. It looks and feels really heavy-duty and tough. I’ve been yanking that thing for almost a month now, and it didn’t move an inch from what it was when I first got the Metro Air
- I’m a biker, and these look really sharp with the rest of my gear. SWAT boots are my favorite brand, and Metro Air is just one more example why I keep coming back for more. Besides rocking looks, they’re also light as a feather and take the vibrations from my bike like kings
- Among the best lightweight law enforcement boots, I’ve used! Very well fitted for police work and for keeping my fit comfortable during long shifts. They also perform well during wet and cold weather, so here’s a five-star grade from this happy customer
- It’s basically just what I expected from a SWAT tactical boot. Great comfort and performance on various terrains paired with durability and solid construction. Ankle support is where they especially shine. So, if you need all the ankle support you can get like me, these are your best bet
Let’s see what the customers didn’t like about these police boots:
- I’ve been looking for these SWATs forever. They are nowhere to be found in any store anywhere near my home. So, I had to order online. Got a good price on Amazon too. My only complaint would be poor distribution, I guess
- They give me a bit of a sleek feeling on wet smooth surfaces
- They tend to be too warm during hot summer days. I suppose thinning out the walls of the boot would probably help in that respect. It would additionally reduce the weight as well. Although they’re already incredibly light as it is
- The toe-box is too narrow for my feet. Admittedly, I have wide feet, but I really liked these as my potential duty boots. Make them extra wide, please
Final look at these duty boots
We’ve seen some websites that review tactical and police boots writing these feature an 1100 Denier nylon upper, so we need to correct that first. It’s 1000 Denier, just for the sake of providing you with the right information.
The “big deal” you could’ve already hinted at from the very name of the boot is the usage of air technology. The design incorporated air cushions on the side, much like we can see in, let’s say Nike running shoes. They’re there for improved cushioning and comfort, ideal for either hard surfaces found in the urban battlefields or just long hour shifts.
The other thing worth mentioning is the fact that their integral part are all non-metallic, which makes them real airport security sweethearts.
Magnum Response II Men’s 8” Side-Zip Tactical Boots
Here’s how Magnum introduced these boots:
- Leather uppers with textile additions
- Rubber sole
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Rubber outsole
- YKK circular zipper on the side
- Outsole resistant to slipping and oil
- Removable contoured footbed
- High-traction outsole
Good features of these police boots:
- This is the lowest price I ever paid for a pair of duty boots, and they matched the comfort of some much more expensive models
- They’re very comfortable, but the thing that baffles me is how lightweight and sturdy they are. They’re almost like sneakers, as far as my experiences with combat boots go, but they still offer so much protection. Great choice of boots for police work, and I recommend them highly to all my colleagues
- They’re pretty warm and kept my feet going through 3 of the harshest winter months
- I’m constantly on my feet, and these boots were such a hit for their price tag. Plantar fasciitis is troubling me for 2 years now, and everybody who has it knows you just can’t function properly with constant pain throbbing through your heel. These really helped me out and kept the pain minimal. It’s not completely gone, but they’re just a pair of boots, not a magic potion of cure-all
- Bunions really made my job as difficult as it can possibly be. My previous duty boots were too tight, and what started out as minor discomfort turned into a full-blown torture. These have a toebox wide enough for accommodating my troubled feet, and I can say they’ve made my shifts much easier to bear
- I see wearing these boots like driving a huge truck. It might not be all that flashy on the outside, but once you get in, it looks like a freaking time machine! Great comfort and a solid feel, so 5 stars is a given. Way to go Magnum
- I lace these up every morning, so I can’t really say much about the zipper. What I can tell you is that they’re probably the best police duty boots a police officer can get. I can’t afford those “bells and whistles” models on my salary, but I still need a good pair of boots. These might not look as much, but they step up where I need it the most. And with this price, what’s not to love?
- The depth of these boots is enough for a great ankle support. I used to wear 6” duty boots before, and my busted ankles never forgave me such transgression. Had to go higher, and these provide just the tight fit I was looking for
- They’re very durable and well constructed. Magnum really made it worth my while for the money I paid for them
Some of the downsides:
- The zipper was very stiff, and I had to pull like an animal in order to get zipped up. Nothing a bit of zipper-lube couldn’t fix, though
- I’ve replaced the insoles right away. It’s not that they’re all that bad, but there are much better options out there
- They’re very warm during the winter, but they’re also warm in the summer. My feet tend to sweat in them as the ventilation is not all that great
- I just don’t like the way they’re designed. But beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose
- They run too small. Other reviewers said it’s around half a size, and I agree with that now that I tried them. Luckily, I’ve taken their advice into consideration and ordered half a size bigger model
Conclusions of the guide on lightweight police duty boots
Our original guide started out featuring only 3 products. At some point, we’ve upped the number to 5, simply because the competition was so strong we didn’t feel like leaving excellent products out.
This time around, we have 7 of them. The same reason. The market is just booming with high-quality police footwear that we see the next update featuring even more duty boots.
Sky is the limit. It does take some extra work, but it’s not even work if you’re a footwear freak like us.
Enjoy the guide, use the information well and see you in two months with some fresh market news.
Become our contributor and take part in our annual giveaway
Once a year, we have a giveaway in footwear for our contributors and testers. To become a contributor, all you have to do is share your experience with some of the tac boots. So, if you do end up getting (or you already own one), just drop us a line in the comments below or contact us directly.
Our current circle of contributors is relatively small and, as per the current numbers, 1 in 4 ends up with a nice new pair of footwear a year.
So, don’t be a stranger, bookmark this page and get back to us with your experience.
Last updated: March 2019
Leave a Reply