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Nicks Tactical Boot Review: I Tested Their Most Durable Boot

William Barton
Expertise:

Boots, Leather, Heritage Fashion, Denim, Workwear

William founded BootSpy in 2020 with a simple mission: test and review popular men’s boots and give a real, honest opinion. Since then, we've welcomed over 5 million readers on our boot reviews and boot care guides. Reach out to him for your own personalized boot recommendation at william@bootspy.com. Or join 50,000+ subscribers on the BootSpy YouTube channel, or send him a message on the BootSpy Instagram. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 3, 2024
7 min read

The wrong tactical boot can lead to problems down the road for you—bad knees, bad back. Who wants to be uncomfortable or buy a floppy boot that’s just going to break down in 6 months.

If you want a durable tactical boot, you’re in the right place. In this Nicks Tactical review, I’m diving into the details of the world’s most rugged tactical boot.

The durability monster
Review Feature Image/Icon Image Source: Nicks Boots
Nicks Tactical Boot
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Bottom line: There’s no other tactical boot even close to the Nicks Handmade Tactical boot in terms of durability. Note that it’s expensive and takes 6 months to get. But it’s easily the most durable tactical boot on the market by a big margin.

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Pros:
  • The most durable tactical boot I’ve ever seen
  • The Coyote roughout leather is from the same tannery used by Danner, so the Coyote color should work with a military uniform
  • Highly water resistant due 360-degree stitchdown construction and leather impregnated with silicone
Cons:
  • Some hard core boot fans might not like that the midsole and insole aren’t all-leather---but for practical purposes, the PU midsole and removable insole make for a much more comfortable and shock-absorbent boot, which is better for active-duty soldiers

I go on a few hikes every month. 

So I figured I should probably get the most durable tactical boots in the world to do my four or five miles per month. 

Makes sense, right? 

Of course not. But I’m a boot guy and I had such a good experience with my Nicks Americana heritage boot, I wanted to try one of their more practically-minded boots. 

I’ve been wearing the Nicks Tactical for a few weeks now (the break in is much easier than with the Americana), and I’ve got some thoughts to share with you. 

Nicks Tactical Boot Overview

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Nicks Handmade Boots is known for their wildland firefighting boots, but they’ve recently released a tactical boot that covers the high end of the market. 

Most tactical boots I’ve seen are in the mid-range: Danner seems to have that whole segment of the market cornered. 

And then there’s the Oakley Light Assault boot, which most military members seem to agree is best for desk jockeys (the ankle support is pretty weak). 

But there was nothing out there for boots that were overbuilt—the high end—the mac daddy, if you will. 

Well, Nicks did it. 

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While I’ve heard anecdotally that most Danner tactical boots have anywhere between 12-32 months of life in them, the Nicks Tactical boot is built to last your entire military career. I’d be happy to bet these boots last over 10 years, even if you’re putting them through their paces through training and exercises. 

The Nicks Tactical is the sturdiest tactical boot out there. 

Things to Consider Before Buying

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The lead time is around 6 months at the time of writing, so you might as well order now if you ever want to get them. 

It can be tough to shell out over $500 and then wait 6 months to get your boots, but that’s how it goes with handmade boots

You can customize your Tactical boots, too. You can get a custom fit from Nicks (though if you already know your boot size relatively well, you can probably skip that step). In any case, you’ll certainly want to know your size both length-wise and width-wise. 

Good news if you have narrow feet or extra wide feet: Nicks can make widths from as narrow as an A width to as wide as a FF. That’s the entire range right there. 

For the custom options, you also have 5 different leathers to choose from: two smooth black leathers, a black roughout, a Coyote brown roughout, and a Coyote brown smooth leather. 

These leathers all come from Seidel tannery, which makes a fantastic leather. And you can also choose either an 8” boot, which is the standard tactical boot height, or you can get a 5”. 

I opted for the 5” since I have very little tact, and my plans for this boot is purely for hiking and camping. Nicks calls the 5” boot the Marshall, though it’s basically the same boot, but shorter and without speed hooks. 

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. 

Check Price

My Hands-On Review

First Impression

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I picked up a pair of Nicks Tactical boots in the Coyote brown roughout. I’ll dive into more details on the leather a little later, but in this case, the color is really important to discuss. 

If you need Coyote brown for your uniform, you should be ok with this Coyote brown. In looking through other reviews, some people said this leather looks a little dark or orange to pass inspection. 

But Nicks sources their leather from Seidel in Milwaukee, and Seidel also supplies Danner. So while pictures might make the leather color seem a bit off, it’s the same color used for Danner boots (which are pretty much the standard for appropriate Coyote brown military colored boots). 

In short: if you’re thinking about these boots for your military uniform, they’ll fit the code. 

I was a bit surprised to see that unlike a lot of Nicks boots, the Tactical boot doesn’t have a full leather build through the insole and midsole. Nicks uses synthetic materials through the insole and midsole to make these more practical and shock absorbent for soldiers. More details on this in the “sole” section below. 

Leather Quality and Care

Nicks tactical boot top down detail leather quality

While Nicks uses leather from the same tannery Danner uses, there’s one huge difference: Nicks leather is way thicker. It’s crazy. 

Nicks uses a 7-8oz leather for the Tactical boot. You have a few smooth black leather options, a black roughout, a Coyote roughout, and a Coyote smooth. These are all the 7-8oz thickness. 

What you see in the pictures here is the 7-8oz Weathershield Coyote Brown Roughout leather. This particular leather is excellent for water resistance because during the tanning process, the leather is impregnated with a silicone solution. 

This can make the leather a bit tricky to care for, but it’s also fantastic for dynamic situations where you might be in mud or water. Combine the protected leather with the 360-degree stitchdown build, and these are practically waterproof. 

Nicks tactical stitchdown construction detail

To care for the leather, you can use a suede brush (for the roughout leathers only). You can also apply a silicone based waterproofing spray if you’d like, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I’d actually avoid treating the leather with anything at all. I might brush my boot down every year or so, but otherwise, I’m leaving mine to age like a fine wine. 

Sole

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Nicks is using a different construction method than usual—this uses stitchdown construction around the entirety of the boot, which increases the weather resistance considerably. 

And Nicks is also using some more modern materials for better shock absorption. 

The insole is a rubber slip sole, and the midsole is 8IR rubber, which is a synthetic isoprene rubber. So while a lot of boot enthusiasts rave for Nicks because of their natural, old-fashioned way of bootmaking, the Tactical Boot beefs things up with some more modern materials. 

You still get a removable 6-7oz veg tan insole, which you can replace with a custom insert or just break in to get a custom feel. I’m leaving my leather insole in because the boot feels plenty comfortable already. 

Nicks vibram sole on tactical boot

The outsole is a Vibram Sierra outsole and there’s a fatty PU wedge that helps a ton with shock. Nicks says the PU wedge is military grade—I don’t know what that means exactly, but it sounds cool. 

Nicks has kept the leather shank in this boot and the leather heel counter, so while they’ve replaced a lot of the leather with rubber, some of the key points are still leather. 

Fit and Sizing

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One of the benefits of choosing Nicks is that you can have your boots custom built to your feet. And if you have an uncommon sized foot, you can still get that with Nicks. 

I’m a 10.5D on the Brannock: the most common foot in history (maybe). I just ordered the 10D and they fit great. 

I have to point out that these boots are so hard to get on. I strained my back trying to get them on the second time and more recently, I was trying to get them on and my arm went numb for three hours. 

Nicks tactical heel counter detail

So I recommend a shoe horn. They fit great once they’re on my feet. But because the ankle is more shaped, the opening is smaller (even when all the laces are completely loosened). Maybe I’m getting old. 

Break-in Period

These aren’t the easiest boots to break in, but they’re significantly easier to break in compared to my Nicks Americana

With the roughout leather and all the shock absorbent rubber in the insole and midsole, it’s not an absolute grind getting these to a point where you can wear them all day. 

That said, they still require a greater break in period compared to your average boots. The leather is 7-8 oz, and there’s plenty of it, so you have some work to do. Also putting them on…so hard. 

My Thoughts Overall

What I Like

  • Without a doubt, Nicks Tactical boot is the most durable tactical boot on the market. 

  • The Coyote Brown leather comes from the same tannery used by Danner, so it should have no trouble passing inspection if you need Coyote brown boots for your military uniform. 

  • With the weather-safe roughout leather and the full stitchdown construction, these are practically waterproof. 

What I Don’t Like

  • Boot enthusiasts who love Nicks for their full leather builds may not like that the insole and midsole here is synthetic (for greater shock absorption, which is highly practical for tactical boots). 

Who Is the Nicks Handmade Tactical Boot for?

If you’re tired of buying a new pair of Danners every two years, get the Nicks once (wait patiently for 6 months) and then never have to buy another tactical boot again.

The Verdict

The Nicks Tactical boot is the sturdiest tactical boot out there. 

There are some drawbacks of shopping with Nicks: the boots cost over $500 and take 6 months to arrive. 

But that’s the price of quality, baby. 

I like the synthetic materials in the midsole—it makes these boots a lot more comfortable than my Nicks Americana boots. I’ve been using mine for camping and hiking, and I’ll never need another hiking boot again.

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. 

Check Price

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