8 Best Military & Combat Boots Reviewed In 2020 ( Army-approved boots )

man walking on sand wearing military boots

Military boots, also called combat boots or army boots, are typically boots that fall within the specifications of the United States military. Different military forces have different standards, but the most prevalent is the Army’s AR 670-1.

The Army is the largest operational force, and therefore most companies produce boots that fall under the AR 670-1 order. This establishes the specs for Army-approved boots.

We gathered some of the best Army-approved boots to help you choose your own. We want to make to make it as easy as possible for you to find the best combat boots you want and need.

 

The 8 Best Military Boots of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews

  1. Most Comfortable: Merrell MQC Tactical Boot
  2. Best for Flat Feet: Oakley Light Assault Boots
  3. Best for Hot Weather: Bates Ranger Hot Weather Boots
  4. Best for Cold Weather: Belleville Insulated Waterproof Boots
  5. Best for Rucking: Salomon Forces Guardian Boots
  6. Most Affordable: Propper 100 Series 8 Inch Boots
  7. Best Lightweight: Danner Tachyons
  8. Best for the Money: Altama Foxhounds

 

CategoryMost ComfortableBest for the MoneyBest for Cold Weather
ProductMerrell MQC Tactical Boot
Merrell MQC Tactical Boot

Altama Foxhounds
Altama Foxhounds

Belleville Insulated Waterproof Boots
Belleville Insulated Waterproof Boots

Best FeaturesHigh-ankle support- Ventilation ports positioned high on the boot
- EVA sole with Poron pad
- Moisture-wicking air mesh
- Soft-toe construction for comfort and flexibility
- Nylon and cowhide fabric construction keeps feet warm
- Insulated with Thinsulate for maximum warmth
Pros- Incredibly comfortable
- Large tongue keeps debris out
Excellent support from the thermoplastic heel- Waterproof to ensure your feet stay warm when the snow melts
- Polyurethane sole is very comfortable and perfect for long hikes
ConsSomewhat heavyHas a somewhat tight fitVery warm for moderate weather; you’ll need another pair of boots for summer and spring.
CostCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

 

1. Most Comfortable Military Boots: Merrell MQC Tactical Boot

Merrell MQC Tactical Boot

Merrell cut their teeth as a hiking company with a variety of super-comfortable and well-made boots. Prior to the Iraq invasion, there weren’t enough boots for everyone, and off-the-shelf hiking boots were issued.

Soldiers fell in love, and soon Merrell was responding to the market by producing Army-approved combat boots. The Kinetic Fit Advanced Footbed gives you targeted support, and the Merrell air cushion makes their boots incredibly comfortable.

The MQC Tactical boots are an outstanding example of boot design. They incorporate waterproof suede leather and mesh upper for both extreme durability and comfortable wear.

The Merrell MQC Tactical Boots are also outfitted with the M Select Grip Outsole that keeps the boots steady and allows you to climb up nearly any surface with some effort.

Features and Specs

  • Available in Army Coyote and Air Force Sage Green
  • High-ankle support
  • Comes in wide and standard sizes

Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Large tongue keeps debris out
  • Very supportive and strong

Cons

  • Somewhat heavy

Merrell makes some outstanding boots, and their entry into the military boot realm was a welcome one. They’ve blended the best elements of both hiking boots and military boots into an awesome set of comfortable boots. They are well suited for both normal and wide feet and are AR 670-1 compliant.

 

 

2. Best for Flat Feet: Oakley Light Assault Boots

Oakley Light Assault Boots

Oakley is a company mostly known for producing sunglasses, but they have struck out into a variety of different realms—army boots being one of them.

The Oakley Light Assault boots are very lightweight and offer minimal midsole support. Often the best choice for flat-footed soldiers are orthopedics, but until the VA or your unit can provide, then these boots are outstanding for flat-footers.

The EVA Midsole is very comfortable and flexible and allows your foot to take each step with certainty. The outsole allows you to move over any terrain with ease, and you can navigate both soft and hard terrain in comfort.

The Oakley Light Assault boots are also very comfortable and perfect for hot weather. They are impressively cool and have an amazing degree of shock absorption when roaming across rough environments.

Features and Specs

  • Lace Lock System keeps laces in place
  • 8 inches tall
  • AR 670-1 compliant

Pros

  • Very lightweight at only 14 ounces
  • Comfortable and easy to wear with or without flat feet
  • Rugged and durable for extreme conditions

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive

The Oakley Light Assault boots are outstanding all around. They are well suited for combat, hiking, and even running. The boots are comfortable for those with flat feet and those without.

The lightweight design makes them incredibly comfortable for all day wear, and they breathe for those hot environments soldiers find themselves in.

 

 

3. Best for Hot Weather: Bates Ranger Hot Weather Boots

 

Bates Ranger Hot Weather Boots

 

Bates offers some of the most comfortable hot weather boots on the market. Bates has been producing hot weather boots for generations. My first issued boots were from Bates, and I still have them 10 years later.

The Ranger Hot Weather Boots are a bit different than what I was issued, but Bates boots are Bates boots. The Ranger Hot Weather Boots are both rugged and lightweight.

The boots have medial side vents that allow air to flow through them for increased comfort, and this will allow your feet to breathe and to stay cool.

The internal mesh lining is moisture wicking, and this allows sweat to easily dry and evaporate. This increases comfort and encourages cooling. It also allows your boots to dry after getting soaking wet.

Features and Specs

  • EVA cushion midsole
  • Padded collar to help keep things out
  • A mix of cattle leather and Cordura upper

Pros

  • Lightweight and very breathable
  • Incredibly durable and made to last
  • Backed by Bates’ outstanding warranty
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Takes some time to break them in

Bates Ranger boots are incredibly comfortable and are incredibly cool. They are perfect for those miserable place’s soldiers seem to keep finding themselves in over and over.

Bates are proven performers in the military industry and have been a mainstay for years due to their durability and design.

 

 

4. Best for Cold Weather: Belleville Insulated Waterproof Boots

 

Belleville Insulated Waterproof Boots

 

Maybe you have orders to go to that one military base in Alaska, or maybe you are deploying to Norway for some cold weather training. Regardless of the reason, you need to look for cold weather boots.

Belleville Insulated Waterproof boots are incredibly comfortable but also provide you with an excellent degree of insulation. This insulation will keep your feet warm and keep your toes from falling off.

But Belleville Insulated Waterproof boots aren’t just warm—they’re designed for cold weather conditions.

The boots come with Vibram Fire and Ice soles for traction in icy weather. Slipping up and down stairs, mountains, over difficult terrain, and even on and off military equipment can be a dangerous reality if you aren’t wearing the best boots.

The Belleville Insulated Waterproof boots are an outstanding choice for cold and icy conditions.

Features and Specs

  • Soft-toe construction for comfort and flexibility
  • Nylon and cowhide fabric construction keeps feet warm
  • Insulated with Thinsulate for maximum warmth

Pros

  • Both Army and Air Force compliant
  • Waterproof to ensure your feet stay warm when the snow melts
  • Polyurethane sole is very comfortable and perfect for long hikes

Cons

  • Very warm for moderate weather; you’ll need another pair of boots for summer and spring.

The Belleville Insulated boots are perfect for those serving in temperatures slightly below pleasant. They can be broken out for those East Coast winters or used year-round in certain duty stations.

The Thinsulate is soft and comfortable and ensures your body heat stays inside the boot. When paired with the right socks, you’ll never get cold cramps.

 

 

5. Best for Rucking: Salomon Forces Guardian Boots

Salomon Forces Guardian Boots

Salomon is another company that started with hiking boots and became revered for military boots. Salomon Forces boots were widely adopted by spec ops guys who go the distance when it comes to rucking and hiking.

The Salomon Forces Guardian boots offer your standard soldier the same comfort and support spec ops guys appreciate.

The Salomon Forces Guardian boots are incredibly comfortable and break in very fast. The boots are AR 670 compliant and come with an 8-inch top for maximum support.

The external Contagrip allows you to hike and move over any terrain with confidence and comfort. The internal padding is excellent and prevents rubbing and therefore prevents blisters. If you have to go the distance, then the Salomon Forces Guardian boots will have you covered.

Features and Specs

  • Weigh 25 ounces
  • Made from Nubuck leather
  • EVA shaped footbed for maximum comfort

Pros

  • Break in very quickly
  • Incredibly comfortable mile after mile
  • Lace up nice and tight

Cons

  • Tend to be pricey

The Salomon Forces Guardian boots are designed for infantrymen, combat engineers, and all other troops who live and die on their feet. These boots are perfect for long-range rucking and hiking and will provide you with the comfort, support, and safety you need to keep going click after click.

 

 

6. Most Affordable: Propper 100 Series 8 Inch Boots

 

Propper 100 Series 8 Inch Boots

 

Propper is a company you’ve like seen but rarely recognize. They make a ton of gear and uniforms for police, military units, firefighters, EMS paramedics, and more. This includes Army-compliant boots like the Propper 100 series.

These are some of my favorite boots since they fit wide feet like mine perfectly. I also have rather thick calves and ankles, and these fit like a glove. These are simple boots and are not hot weather or cold weather boots, just average normal boots.

To me, they are incredibly comfortable for daily wear and quite supportive. I detest rolling my ankle and tend to do so more often than I prefer. When I lace these bad boys nice and tight, I find them to be extremely supportive.

The Propper Series 100 boots are very affordable, and I love that you can spend this little money and get boots this great.

Features and Specs

  • 8 inches tall and plenty supportive
  • Comes with free fit inserts to ensure comfort
  • Fast-rope-compatible arch design

Pros

  • Affordable and well made
  • Extremely supportive and comfortable
  • Feature an awesome antimicrobial lining that prevents foul smells

Cons

  • The laces are a bit weak

The Propper 100 series boots are simple but very well made. They are affordable, well designed and comfortable. They aren’t feature-filled with high-tech linings, super-strong laces, or next-generation soles.

What they do have are proven designs and boot technology we know works. After over a year of heavy use, I can attest they work well beyond their cost.

 

 

7. Best Lightweight: Danner Tachyons

 

Danner Tachyons

 

Danner is another company I absolutely trust. I wore Danners during my time in the USMC, and they were always outstanding boots. Unfortunately, the USMC boot order is much stricter than the AR 670 order.

The latest Tachyons are AR 670 compliant, although the first generation was not. The Tachyons are incredibly lightweight and very breathable. For hot weather wear, they are outstanding. The Tachyons weighs only 13 ounces each.

They are very light, and also very flexible. The Tachyons flex and move with your foot as you move, climb, and walk. They are incredibly comfortable when running, and even though they are lightweight, the sole is thick enough to provide protection to your feet.

The Tachyons sport a real rubber sole, which increases durability and grip factor.

Features and Specs

  • EVA midsole for comfort and durability
  • Unisex (women should order 1.5 to 2 sizes down)
  • Shock-absorbing polyurethane footbed

Pros

  • Super lightweight
  • They breath well for hot weather use
  • Perfect for running and climbing

Cons

  • Thin nature may create durability issues

The Danner Tachyons are perfect for those looking for a lightweight boot for short operational use. They are perfect for wearing on raids and direct-action missions. They would also be well suited for people in non-combat roles who work in offices and on base.

 

Danner Tachyons is also available at:

Sportsman’s Guide

 

8. Best for the Money: Altama Foxhounds

Altama Foxhounds

Altama has been making boots for the military since 1969, and they’ve been doing a helluva job. They make some awesome and innovative boots that will last just about forever.

The Altama Foxhounds are their combat boot variants that will provide you a comfortable and well-made option for your days of service. The Foxhounds are feature-filled boots that come in at an amazing price.

The Foxhounds are constructed to be lightweight and comfortable. They breathe and have an Aegis antimicrobial protection layer. This keeps your feet clean and keeps the boots from smelling foul when worn daily in even the worst environments.

The Foxhounds exceed slip-resistance tests and also provide a sure grip when climbing rocks, hills, and even ropes.

Features and Specs

  • Ventilation ports positioned high on the boot
  • EVA sole with Poron pad
  • Moisture-wicking air mesh

Pros

  • Surprisingly lightweight and very comfortable
  • Affordable and feature-filled
  • Excellent support from the thermoplastic heel

Cons

  • Has a somewhat tight fit

The Altama Foxhounds are perfect for most operations. They are well made, durable, extremely supportive and well suited for most environments. They are perfect if your operational area is constantly changing. The Altama Foxhounds are also very well priced for the features you get.

 

 

Understanding and Staying Army Compliant

Military soldiers standing in line

Berry Compliant

You may see the term “Berry compliant” being tossed around when it comes to boots, and well, most things military that involve uniforms. Berry compliance is a reference to a law passed in 1941 to keep the United States economy strong and well supported during a time of war.

Essentially, the Berry Act ensures that any company attempting to do business with the DOD utilizes American-made textiles, including fabrics, clothing, and yarn.

Berry compliance does have some exceptions in situations where certain materials cannot be made in the United States and are needed in extreme circumstances. Berry-compliant boots need to be made from materials made in the United States and produced from US-made materials.

This is more important for companies producing boots and less for people buying boots.

 

AR 670-1 Compliance

AR 670-1 is an Army order regulating wearing of the Army uniform as well as the standards for choosing boots. The order is very clear on how boots should be produced, how they should appear, and what they should be made from. The order requires specific colors, heights, and designs.

The order states that boots compliant with Army uniform regulations must:

  1. Be tan or coyote in color
  2. Be 8 to 10 inches in height
  3. Made of tan or coyote flesh-side-out cattle hide leather
  4. Have a plain toe
  5. Have soles that match the color of the tan or coyote upper materials
  6. Have rubber or polyether polyurethane outsoles
  7. Have a sole that does not exceed 2 inches in height when measured from the bottom of the outsole and that will not extend up the back of the heel or boot or over the top of the toe
  8. Have an exterior boot upper that does not contain mesh and is instead constructed of leather or a combination of leather and non-mesh fabric.

 

Should You Buy Army Boots?

military boots in front of wheel

If you are a civilian, you may be wondering if you should buy Army boots. Well, as a civilian, you do not need to follow AR 670 and have a much wider selection when it comes to the smaller things, like color and design. However, the order’s requirements do set you up for well-made boots.

Combat boots and military boots in general are often an excellent choice for a variety of activities. This includes outdoor hobbies like hiking, camping, hunting, and more. These boots are rugged and designed to last through conditions a lot harder than your average hobby use.

This means they are reliable and strong—a great one-time investment for these demanding hobbies.

Additionally, these boots are specifically designed to protect the wearer from the environment. This includes ankle support that prevents injuries at your most important joints. If your ankles are harmed, you won’t be moving comfortably.

man climbing a rock mountain

They also often provide an extreme degree of grip. This allows you to maintain your ability to move over rough, slick, or icy terrain. Combat boots are designed to allow soldiers to keep moving regardless of their environment.

What about soldiers? Should they upgrade their boots? If you serve, you’ve likely already been issued some kind of boots in your initial training. You paid for them but didn’t get to shop around, try any on, or weigh their pros and cons. Nope, you got some boots given to you, and that was it.

Those boots are likely okay—not special, but far from terrible. Should you upgrade? If you can afford another pair of quality boots, then I’d say yes. A spare pair is a must-have, especially if you are in the combat arms.

You likely want to choose your boots based on where you are stationed and where you may be deploying to. Factor in the temperature, the amount of rain, as well as any specific features you must have. Some people have flat feet, some have wide feet, so forth and so on.

Keep your issued boots for sure, but adding another pair for specific missions, tasks, or weather is always a good idea.

 

How to Choose Your Boots

military boots on grass

If you are choosing true army boots, then you are choosing from boots regulated by AR 670-1, which includes not only the rules soldiers have to adhere to, but also a set of standards that sets you up for success.

There are still plenty of boot options that adhere to that order. To ensure you get the boots you need, we want to cover a few different things.

AR 670-1 ensures you have to have boots that are 8 to 10 inches high. There aren’t many practical differences when it comes to those 2 inches. If you have wider calves, you may want 8 inches over 10 inches. Ten-inch-high boots are best when you need waterproof boots or cold weather boots.

The AR 670 also includes the materials the boots must be made from. It has to have flesh-out leather on the outside. It’s a good material that is incredibly strong and weather resistant overall.

 

Climate

pair of legs in brown military boots

Where are you going with your boots? Are you shipping off to a desert environment? Then a hot weather, potentially lightweight boot is for you. This will keep you cool and your feet comfortable.

If the opposite is true and you are going into the mountains of Afghanistan, you may want something more insulated with a cold weather boot.

Another consideration is going to be the presence of moisture. Is the environment a humid jungle where you’ll likely see tons of water? Well, you will want something that dries quickly and drains water.

Waterproof boots only go so far, and you may want vents to drain water and to aid in drying fast. Lighter boots often dry faster.

 

Terrain

Running soldier in camouflage near river

Are you going to be climbing mountains? Then you probably want a nice and thick sole covered in grip, preferably made of rubber. The same goes for icy environments. You want a boot that plants itself into the ground and helps you keep moving forward. This will help you climb and prevent injuries.

Lightweight boots that offer good surface grip, but also tons of support, are best for urban environments. You should be able to sprint without slipping, but at the same time, you don’t want a boot so heavy you become exhausted just trying to run.

Urban boots need to be dynamic and allow you to climb walls, through windows, and up and down ladders.

Jungle terrain often requires thicker soles with aggressive texture. They should dig into the earth and allow you to maintain a sure grip. They should be water resistant as well, which will allow you to stop water from entering, but venting will allow it to escape.

 

Weight

soldier boots and hands tying bootlaces in desert

Weight is a delicate balance.

Lighter boots mean they cause less fatigue, and less fatigue is amazing. It’s true that ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. If we shave ounces from our boots, we are saving plenty of weight from our kit. Lighter boots are often cooler boots and better served for mobility and comfort.

Boots that are too light are often thin, and thin boots aren’t as durable as heavy-duty boots. The thinner layers of leather are more likely to rip and tear and wear out.

Heavier boots are better for colder temperatures and long-term use. If you are deploying to somewhere with poor logistics, you may want to go with heavier duty boots.

Standard weight boots are often a good in-between if you need boots that last next to forever and are still somewhat light and breathable.

 

Intended Mission

Legs of soldiers in camouflage

Here is the biggest decider in what type, style, and what brand of boots you choose. What are you planning to do with those boots? Are you in the Army but work mostly in an office? Then you might as well go with lightweight boots since they won’t be stressed much.

Are you an infantryman going on a three-day mission? Then you need to weigh the weather, climate, and terrain more than anything else. You probably want heavier duty boots with tons of grip and extremely strong laces—preferably boots that are comfortable for you to walk in for extremely long distances.

Are you going on a direct-action raid in urban terrain? Then you likely want something light and easy to move in. In urban terrain, I also appreciated a thinner sole, especially up front. This allows you to jam your boot into a crevice and climb when needed.

 

Top Military Boot Brands

Propper

Propper logo

Propper can be placed on a lot of lists when it comes to top uniform accessories. They make just about everything you can imagine for a variety of uniformed services. Propper’s boot selection is quite massive. They produce simple, affordable but rugged boots for a variety of different purposes.

They have waterproof boots, hot weather boots, and (if you are a civilian) numerous different colored boots. You have plenty of options.

They are a DOD Prime contractor, and their boots are found on most military bases. They make three series of boots:

  • 100
  • 200
  • 300

These rugged and reliable boots are all packed with an antimicrobial lining to reduce smell and increases your overall hygiene. It can be hard to shower in the field and on deployment, so you’ll need every advantage you can get.

I have tons of different boots, but I commonly go back to my Propper 100 series boots for a reason. They are incredibly comfortable and supportive. Support is a big deal to me, and Propper’s boots provide fantastic support.

They are also affordable, and for the price, they are some of the best built boots on the market. If you need boots that are both affordable and reliable then Propper has you covered.

 

Altama

Altama logo

Altama is an old-school boot maker, and they make some of the most innovative boots on the market. They’ve been at it since 1969 and have been a DOD-approved supplier since the Vietnam War.

Altama boots include plenty of AR 670 options as well as unique boots, like their fin-friendly Maritime Assault boots.

Altama makes boots the size of cross trainers that keep the reliability of boots but allow you to easily run, climb, and jump. On top of that, they offer:

  • old-school black boots
  • jungle boots
  • hot weather boots
  • cold weather boots, and more

Altama’s main strengths are their variety of boots and their experience in building boots.

This gives you a wide variety of boots that are well built and designed for different purposes. Altama doesn’t fear innovation and will push the envelope forward to develop better boots for a variety of situations. Altama’s core products are boots, and their AR 670-1 options are solid options.

Their boots are rugged and tough, and if you need a specific type of boot, they likely make it. You never have to fear for your boots’ quality or their ability to hold up over rough and tough use.

 

Bates

Bates logo

Bates might be the oldest boot maker in the United States. It was founded in 1885 and has been producing boots since then. They made over a million boots for WW2 and continue to produce boots for the United States military, police forces, and civilian applications worldwide.

Bates boots are some of the most common on the market.

They are often affordable, and Bates offers a wide variety of different boots in different configurations. This leads more options and a great variety of boots for your chosen purpose. This includes cold and hot weather boots, lightweight boots, as well as the famed RAT boots.

Several of their boots are AR 670-1 approved, and this offers soldiers an excellent variety. Bates boots are rock solid and dependable.

They’ve been adopted by the USMC, and several Army units also issue Bates boots. Their reputation and proven performance make them an easy choice when it comes to boot selection.

If you don’t necessarily need army-approved boots you might want to check our guides to:

Tactical boots

Hunting boots

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes

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