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7 Best Tactical Boots for Men: Tested and Reviewed

Andrew is a kayaker, paddleboarder, runner, weightlifter, former martial artist, DIY handyman/home improvement nut, tech geek, headphone-addict, sci-fi and fantasy author, and lover of comic books, movies, and TV shows. He's interested in pretty much everything, and takes becoming an expert very seriously--but nothing more seriously than analyzing every stitch, thread, and seam of what makes his favorite boots so freakin' comfortable. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
13 min read

Hardy, combat-ready men need equally hardy and combat-ready boots. With these tactical boots, you’ll have footwear purpose-built to survive any harsh environment and active conflict zone.

Tactical boots are among the most versatile footwear on the planet.

They’re built tough enough to withstand rugged terrain, protect you in active combat environments, resist damage from everything from snow to swamp water, and keep you comfortable for long days patrolling, marching, and running.

A good pair of tactical boots can last active military personnel for years and civilians a lifetime. To help you choose which are right for you, I’ve listed my top recommendations here, along with what makes them great, and what other reviewers say about them too.

Read on to discover which is te best tactical boot for you.

How Did I Come Up With My List?

tying oakley light assault tactical boot

I’ve never served in the military, so I’ll admit, my experience with tactical boots was fairly basic to begin with.

But I’m lucky enough to have family and friends who are active and former military personnel, as well as law enforcement.

So I spent hours picking their brains, grilling them for recommendations on their favorite boots. I then took their recommendations and delved deep into online research, and shortlisting boots to test and review.

After assembling my list, I ran it past my military and law enforcement buddies for approval. The result is a selection of seven tactical boots that will serve you well in any environment, no matter how hostile. 

My Recommendations

Best Overall: Danner Reckoning

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Danner built the Reckoning to be as dynamic and versatile as the countless environments where modern warfare occurs.

The roughout full-grain leather upper with 1000-denier nylon sides is sturdy but lightweight and offers great ventilation so your feet won’t get uncomfortably hot or sweaty. It’s also treated for fire resistance, and the STF model is certified by the US Department of Defense as “Safe-to-Fly.”

The synthetic outsole with Vibram midsole components provides impressive shock resistance and will drastically reduce foot fatigue over long hours of marching, patrolling, or standing on guard.

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Thanks to the omnidirectional pentagonal outsole lugs, you have solid traction regardless of terrain.

Best of all, the open-cell polyurethane footbed provides ample padding to bear the weight of a heavy pack and all your gear.

What I Like

  • True-to-size athletic fit that feels like your favorite hiking boots but still offers the protection and versatility of tactical boots.

  • Incredibly supportive, shock-absorbing design combats foot fatigue.

  • Sturdy construction, top-quality materials, and high durability rating.

  • All-terrain outsole is very grippy and offers industry-leading traction.

  • The double-rivet speed hooks make lacing the boots up faster and easier and won’t chew up your laces.

What I Don’t Like

  • The boots took a bit longer to break in than I expected, but once they did, they were supremely comfortable.

What Other Reviewers Say

The Reckonings have earned positive reviews for their durability, exceptional versatility, and all-terrain performance. Users also appreciate that as tough as these Danner boots are, they’re still lightweight enough that they don’t drag or weigh on you.

A few users found that the high stitching of the tongue made it difficult to slide their feet in, especially when the heel area collapsed on them.

The Verdict

Danner delivers tactical superiority with the Reckonings, a pair of lightweight yet tough boots you’ll be glad to wear on any terrain, in any weather. The extreme traction, excellent support, all-day comfort, and sturdy construction make these the best overall tactical boots out of all the options we tested.

Best Overall
Danner Reckoning

If you want a combat boot that’s all about function, you’ll love the versatility of the Danner Reckoning. The Vibram All Terrain sole provides traction across loose sand, gravel, leaves, and snow, so these easily become your go-to beater boot.

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Best on a Budget: Free Soldier Lightweight Tactical Boot

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If you like the look of the Danner Reckonings but don’t want to pay the high price tag, these Free Soldier boots are a great fallback option.

They’re built along the same lines—suede leather upper with 1000-denier Cordura nylon fabric, non-slip all-terrain outsole, and EVA midsole—but with marginally lower quality and significantly cheaper materials.

Designed primarily to be used in hot climates, with a breathable collar, ventilation holes, and a moisture-wicking inner lining.

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The side-zip design makes these boots easy to slide on and off quickly, but you still get a solid lacing system to maximize ankle support.

Though not quite as durable as Danner’s top-of-the-line offering, they’re a budget-friendly choice that will deliver the tactical performance you need.

What I Like

  • Great price tag for good-quality boots.

  • Sturdy construction and reliable materials that will last you for 1-2 years of hard daily use.

  •  Supportive EVA midsole staves off foot fatigue and keeps you marching for hours.

  • Nicely lightweight, just 1.7 lbs for the pair.

  • The combination of speed hooks, eyelets, and side zipper make them easy to get on and off quickly.

What I Don’t Like

  • Their lightweight construction stops them from feeling truly “heavy-duty,” so they’re not as protective as I’d like for use in combat or active military zones.

What Other Reviewers Say

These Free Soldier boots have amassed more than 5,700 ratings and hold a 4.3-star rating.

There are a few complaints—they’re not waterproof, don’t dry quickly, and are prone to quality control issues—but overall sentiment is positive.

Reviewers praise their athletic construction, versatility, and comfort. The true-to-size fit is also highly appreciated among guys who struggle to find the right boot size for their feet. Many users also noted that the boots helped to alleviate foot fatigue, plantar fasciitis, and ankle issues.

The Verdict

I’ll be the first to admit these Free Soldier boots aren’t the most durable on my list, but I still recommend them as a great budget-friendly option. They’re versatile enough that you can use them for a wide range of activities, from hiking, to hunting, to camping, to sports, to tactical applications. 

They’ll deliver affordable quality and will last you for at least a year or two of hard wear. Keep them in your closet as a pair of backup tactical boots, and you won’t regret it.

Best on a Budget
Free Soldier Lightweight Tactical Boot

I’ll be the first to admit these Free Soldier boots aren’t the most durable on my list, but I still recommend them as a great budget-friendly option. They’re versatile enough that you can use them for a wide range of activities, from hiking, to hunting, to camping, to sports, to tactical applications.

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Great Value: Wolverine Bates’ GX X2 Carbon Nano Toe Boot

There’s a lot to love about these Wolverine boots—and a lot that makes them excellent value for the investment.

The upper is lightweight but tough, made using full-grain leather and 1680-denier “performance polyester” that can take a beating and come through strong.

The fast-drying polyester is already great for use in wet environments. Still, Wolverine takes it a step further by adding a DryGuard membrane to make the boots waterproof and protective against bloodborne pathogens.

The EnergyBound cushioning in the midsole adds rebound and maximizes energy return with every step. Wear the GX X2s on a long ruck march or an around-the-clock guard shift, and you’ll feel far less foot fatigue.

Finally, the proprietary rubber used for the outsole is incredibly grippy on wet, rocky, dusty, and sandy terrain. The multi-directional outsole lugs and siping ensure solid footing no matter where you step.

What I Like

  •  Incredibly stable and supportive tactical boots.

  • Carbon nanofiber safety toe protects your feet from debris, rubble, and flying bullets.

  • DryGuard makes the boots waterproof and protects against bloodborne pathogens.

  • The polyurethane foam insert maximizes cushioning and increases breathability to keep your feet cool.

  • The contoured collar allows for more versatility without compromising ankle support.

What I Don’t Like

  • The opening is very tight and too narrow for my feet. Even with the side zipper, I have to fully unlace them to take them off or put them on, which can be very time-consuming and a bit of a hassle.

What Other Reviewers Say

The GX X2s’ 4.7-star rating proves that they’re doing something—or a lot of things—right.

A few users had the same issue I did, with the opening being too tight and thus unable to pull the boots on or off without unlacing them.

However, aside from that one problem, it’s high marks across the board for these Wolverines. Users praise their durability, reliability, support, stability, and comfort. The polyurethane footbed, in particular, gets a lot of love for offering excellent cushioning and keeping these shoes cool over long days on your feet or marching.

The Verdict

The Wolverine GX X2s strike an excellent balance between affordability and performance. Their sturdy construction, ample arch and ankle support, high-tech padding, and waterproofing make them a pair of tactical boots that will serve you well in any environment or on any mission.

Great Value
Wolverine Bates' GX X2 Carbon Nano Toe Boot

The Wolverine GX X2s strike an excellent balance between affordability and performance. Their sturdy construction, ample arch and ankle support, high-tech padding, and waterproofing make them a pair of tactical boots that will serve you well in any environment or on any mission.

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Best Mid Top: 5-11 Tactical A.T.A.C. 2.0

5.11 is a brand best known for military-friendly gear designed by former military and law enforcement personnel.

The A.T.A.C.® 2.0 side-zip tactical boot proves they know what they’re doing and deliver high-quality products.

These boots are made for police officers, corrections officers, paramedics, rescue personnel, and other public safety personnel.

They keep a few critical military-style components—such as the choice of leather and nylon for the upper, a hidden knife pocket, Shock Mitigation system, and A.T.A.C. midsole and outsole—but go for a stripped-down, lighter construction that is more useful to everyday life inside the wire.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s still wonderfully tough, high-performance, and ready for action. But it focuses chiefly on reliability, versatility, and comfort and less on protecting your feet from flying bullets or shrapnel.

What I Like

  •  Lightweight yet still incredibly durable construction. They’re nearly as tough as combat boots but weigh significantly less.

  • Very well-ventilated so you don’t overheat in hot and humid environments.

  • Easy to slide on and off thanks to side zipper, but still fit snugly thanks to the lacing system.

  • The hidden knife pocket is a great addition that offers a convenient place to store a backup tool or weapon.

  • Shock Mitigation system provides impressive impact reduction and arch support.

What I Don’t Like

  • I don’t have a single complaint about these boots. They deliver on their promise of quality and performance.

What Other Reviewers Say

Combing through reviews for the 5.11 A.T.A.C.® 2.0s, it’s clear these boots do a lot of things right—and do it very well.

The biggest complaints people have revolve around the sizing being too small, the boots being unable to support orthotics, or the occasional quality control problem.

Mostly, reviewers emphasize how much they love the boots for their comfort, lightweight yet durable construction, and all-around stellar performance. 5.11’s customer service also receives a lot of praise, as well as their fast delivery times.

The Verdict

The military-inspired design of the 5.11 A.T.A.C.® 2.0s makes them an excellent choice for anyone who wants to be ready should they find themselves in an emergency or tactical situation but still wants comfort and support all day long. 

These boots have dialed in on what you’re looking for in lightweight and performance-friendly tactical footwear.

5.11 Tactical A.T.A.C 2.0

It’s hard to find a tactical boot that looks good and performs as a tactical boot should, but the 5.11 Tactical Men’s A.T.A.C 2.0 Waterproof Military Storm Boots are the exception to that rule.

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Most Stylish: Nicks Tactical Boot – Classic Configuration

Nicks tactical boot on white background

I’ve been a Nicks fan for years. Their industry-leading quality, handmade construction, and high-performance design make them an excellent (if high) investment I strongly recommend for guys who want boots to last them a lifetime.

Their Tactical boot is patterned after modern military boots, but they’re not quite combat-ready.

The upper uses only roughout leather—no nylon for ventilation like most combat and tactical boots. The leather is also lighter, just seven or eight ounces, but has been treated with a waterproof WeatherShield silicone solution to shrug off mud and rain.

Nicks tactical coyote roughout leather profile view

The stitchdown welt construction is incredibly durable and ensures you can rebuild and resole the boots repeatedly.  

The combination of a military-grade polyurethane wedge outsole, high-grade 8IR rubber midsole, and vegetable-tanned leather insole offers customized, adaptable support that molds to the shape of your feet for maximum comfort.

Best of all, they’re just good-looking boots that you’ll be glad to wear hiking, hunting, running, or to work.

What I Like

  • Superior handmade quality with the durability to last 10 to 20 years with the proper care and maintenance.

  • Handsome and highly stylish.

  • Grippy outsole offers excellent traction on mud, slippery trails, and wet floors.

  • Water-resistant, built for all-season performance.

  • Built for tactical, athletic, and casual use.

What I Don’t Like

  • The leather insoles aren’t quite supportive enough for a big, heavy guy like me (6’6”, 250 pounds). To solve that problem, I added in a pair of Remind orthotic inserts, and the boots are good to go.

What Other Reviewers Say

All of Nicks’ handmade boots score high ratings and positive reviews among users who appreciate their high quality, peerless durability, and purpose-driven designs. Though a few users complain about the high initial investment, once they get their feet into the boots and break them in, they’re more than satisfied with the quality and comfort.

The Verdict

I recommend the Nicks Tactical Boot if you’re looking for boots to use anywhere and everywhere. They deliver top-notch quality, comfort, and versatility whether you’re strolling around town, hoofing over mountains on a ruck march, hiking through dense forest, or patrolling your beat.

Most Stylish
Nicks Tactical Boot

This is easily the best tactical boot on the market. It’s also way more expensive than most boots. But if you want a tough, rugged boot that you’ll own for the rest of your life, the Nicks Tactical is the way to go. 

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Best For Hot Weather: Belleville C390 8 Inch Hot-Weather Combat Boots

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These Belleville boots are built for Army, Air Force, and Space Force use in any hot-weather environment.

The cattle hide leather provides structure to the upper and protects your feet, but there’s enough nylon fabric integrated into the design to maximize ventilation and allow heat to escape. You won’t have to worry about swampy or sweaty feet in these boots.

The eight-inch height and sturdy lacing system provides excellent ankle support so you can scramble across rugged and uneven ground without fear.

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The cushioned polyurethane insole and midsole mitigate impact and foot fatigue.

Thanks to the Vibram Sierra outsole and medium tread pattern, you’ll have excellent traction on any scree slopes, dusty trails, or sand dunes.

What I Like

  • Purpose-built for hot environments, with ample ventilation and breathability to keep your feet cool.

  • Sturdy construction without being excessively heavy or constricting.

  • Abrasion-resistant materials hold up to hardcore daily use.

  • Outsole is highly grippy on dust, dirt, rubble, loose rocks, and slippery slopes.

  • Excellent cushioning and arch and ankle support.

What I Don’t Like

  • The cement construction isn’t quite as tough as I’d like. I suspect these boots won’t last more than two years—or less if exposed to heavy rain or moisture.

What Other Reviewers Say

A few negative reviews have appeared that underscore my concerns about the Belleville C390s. Some users complain about quality control issues with the sole coming unglued after just a few weeks. Cement construction just isn’t as tough as stitchdown or Goodyear welt construction, and it shows.

However, the majority of reviews are highly positive, and the C390s have maintained an admirable 4.4-star rating. Users praise their grippiness, comfort, ventilation, and military-specific design. 

The Verdict

The Belleville C390s are an excellent hot-weather boot that will serve you well in rugged terrain, rocky mountains, or sandy deserts. Lightweight, breathable, and highly grippy, they’re ideal for protecting your feet from both heat and harsh environments.

Best For Hot Weather
Belleville C390 8 Inch Hot-Weather Combat Boots

The Belleville C390s are an excellent hot-weather boot that will serve you well in rugged terrain, rocky mountains, or sandy deserts. Lightweight, breathable, and highly grippy, they're ideal for protecting your feet from both heat and harsh environments.

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Most Athletic: Nike SFB B1 Military Lightweight Combat Boots

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If you’re surprised Nike makes tactical boots, you’ll be glad to know I was, too. I absolutely had to give them a try and see how they compared to the other boots on this list.  

I’m not going to lie: the SFB B1s impressed me more than I expected.

The boots are fully compliant for the U.S. Army and Air Force specifications, and their construction shows a great deal of thought went into the design.

They’re tough enough for military use but feature the comfort and versatility that makes Nike one of the top athletic shoemakers in the world.

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Lightweight, flexible, well-ventilated, and supportive, they’re ideal for wearing over long hours standing guard or marching on patrol.

The sticky rubber outsole proved the highlight of their design. I took these bad boys everywhere—climbing mountains, hiking forests, running on concrete, and scrambling over slippery rocks—and they performed better than the other boots on my list.

What I Like

  • The rubber outsole is incredibly grippy and offers next-level traction on all terrain.

  • Lightweight, athletic construction with military-ready durability.

  • Whole-foot cushioning and support reduces wear and tear on your feet.

  • Nicely ventilated, breathes easily even in the dead of summer or ultra-hot environments.

  • One of the most comfortable tactical boots I’ve tested to date.

What I Don’t Like

  • The construction skews a bit more toward athletic than tactical. They’re not quite sturdy enough that I’d want to take them into combat or intense tactical situations.

What Other Reviewers Say

Most of the positive reviews for the Nike SFB B1s highlight their comfort, versatility, and lightweight design. They score very high marks for their athletic use, whether running, doing a Tough Mudder race, or trekking through the mountains.

However, reviews from military and law enforcement personnel make it clear they’re not quite up to the standards of toughness and protection desirable for combat use.

The Verdict

Nike delivers a truly comfortable, versatile, and supportive pair of tactical boots in the SFB B1s. While not the toughest on our list, you’ll find they more than hold up for any athletic use you could want to put them to.

Most Athletic
Nike SFB B1 Military Lightweight Combat Boots

Nike delivers a truly comfortable, versatile, and supportive pair of tactical boots in the SFB B1s. While not the toughest on our list, you’ll find they more than hold up for any athletic use you could want to put them to.

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What Are Tactical Boots?

Rocky Tactical boots leather and fabric shaft

There is no “official” definition of tactical boots, but the term is used to refer to any number of boots designed for tactical use by law enforcement and military personnel.

Some are built for active combat zones, others for patrolling or marching.

But at their core, all tactical boots prioritize performance, versatility, support, and protection. The following are all what I would probably call tactical boots:

  • Combat boots: Crafted for field use, prioritizing stability. They include ankle support, a steel or nylon shank, and safety features like a reinforced toe, making them the heaviest tactical boots for enhanced protection in challenging environments.
  • Military boots: Versatile for combat, these feature sturdy construction and protection, resembling hikers with added padding and arch support. Lighter materials provide better ventilation, sacrificing a bit of durability, while a less aggressive outsole increases mobility, though slightly reducing puncture resistance.
  • Jungle boots: Created for hot and wet conditions, these often feature a rubber sole, canvas or synthetic upper, and ventilation holes for air and water flow. With above-the-ankle support and reliable traction, they excel on uneven terrain, making them ideal for navigating diverse environments.
  • Desert boots: Designed for desert conditions, these originated in the 1940s, inspired by British army officers’ preference for crepe-soled boots. They have a chukka design with a slim suede leather upper and lace-up closure, resting on a crepe rubber sole.
  • Desert combat boots: Adapted for desert environments, these have specific colorways to blend with sandy terrain, and often feature an eight to twelve-inch suede leather and canvas nylon upper with speed lacing.

Why Wear Tactical Boots?

Oakley light assault boot calf and lacing system

Tactical boots offer great versatility, designed for use on diverse terrains, from deserts and jungles to mountains and urban environments.

While combat boots provide extra protection for specific tactical needs, military boots are well-suited for everyday use within secured areas, so there’s plenty of versatility under the ‘tactical boots’ umbrella.

n terms of durability, tactical boots often surpass work, hiking, and hunting boots, built to withstand extensive wear and tear during daily activities like ruck marches and patrols.

Their sturdier materials not only enhance protection but also contribute to their remarkable longevity and resilience.

Additionally, tactical boots prioritize comfort, providing the necessary support, cushioning, and ventilation for individuals who spend long days on their feet, whether patrolling city streets as a police officer or navigating enemy territory as a soldier.

Which Is Best for You?

A good pair of tactical boots is an investment that will pay off for years—maybe even decade­s—to come.

Tactical boots are more durable, versatile, and reliable than any other boot because they have to be.

In active combat zones or when executing a SWAT raid, the last thing you want to worry about is your footwear. There’s so much more going on around you that could put your life in danger.

Because of this, bootmakers have invested significant amounts of time, money, and research into developing tactical footwear that will deliver the performance law enforcement and military need.

My research has led me to the Danner Reckonings as being the best overall tactical boot. Their athletic fit, sturdy construction, and mid-tier pricing hits all the right notes.

Our Top Pick
Danner Reckoning

If you want a combat boot that’s all about function, you’ll love the versatility of the Danner Reckoning. The Vibram All Terrain sole provides traction across loose sand, gravel, leaves, and snow, so these easily become your go-to beater boot.

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To save a bit of money, the Free Soldier Lightweights are built similarly to the Danner boots but using lighter materials. However, the Wolverine Bates’ GX X2s are the best-value option a little bit above budget cost but sturdy enough to last you a long time.

The 5-11 A.T.A.C.® 2.0 is the best mid-top boot I tested, one designed by military and law enforcement personnel and purpose-built for tactical use.

If you want handsome, good looks and peerless quality and don’t mind a higher starting investment, I recommend the Nicks Tactical Boot.

Nicks Tactical Boot

This is easily the best tactical boot on the market. It’s also way more expensive than most boots. But if you want a tough, rugged boot that you’ll own for the rest of your life, the Nicks Tactical is the way to go. 

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The Belleville C390s are my go-to for the dead of summer or hot-weather environments, while I’ll slide on the Nike SFB B1s if I want a more athletic style of boots for a Tough Mudder run or Spartan race.

FAQs

What’s the difference between tactical boots and combat boots?

Tactical boots are the “umbrella” under which combat boots, military boots, jungle boots, desert boots, and desert combat boots all fall. All combat boots are tactical boots, but not all tactical boots are combat boots.

What is the difference between military boots and tactical boots?

Military boots are a sub-type of tactical boots. They’re built for long hours of marching and patrolling harsh environments under heavy loads. They can be used for active combat zones and field deployments but are typically utilized for more “everyday” military activities.

What boot do Navy SEALs use?

The U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations state that when on board a ship, Navy SEALs and all Navy personnel must use “black plain steel (safety) toe high-top safety boot with oil resistant rubber outsoles and speed-lace eyelet closures,” with an upper made of either smooth or rough-side-out leather.

However, according to one Navy SEAL, Altama Jungles, Blackhawk Desert Warriors, and Merrell Moab Polars are all boots commonly used by Navy SEALs when deployed in the field.

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