Military footwear may all look the same, but when you have a tough job to do, you need to have the right gear. Choosing the right rangers means you are able to do your job efficiently without thinking about your feet.
Choosing the wrong boot can lead to injury, unnecessary leg and back strain, and general discomfort.
Here's what to consider when choosing your pair of military shoes.
Before you start browsing for new military boots, make sure you know what you need them for. Are you going to walk a lot? Does your job have any specificities?
Here are some important aspects of different styles of military boots to consider.
Your military combat boots must meet strict specifications. Air Force personnel, for example, require boots that meet certain standards.
You might also need specific colors or features to conform to your specific unit or job. For example, many aviators wear side-zip boots to ensure they can be removed easily in an emergency.
Law enforcement has been wearing military-style boots for a decade. This makes sense when they are generally on their feet and having sustained physical activity.
You'll need a boot that's flexible enough to stay nimble but comfortable enough that you won't get tired when you're on your feet all day. Law enforcement boots are usually black, but you might have other requirements depending on your unit's standards.
Firefighters and paramedics
Firefighters and paramedics also typically wear black boots and often require additional safety such as a steel toe or composite toe. You will need to make sure your boots have good traction to protect you in all situations, and not slip on certain types of ground.
Comfort should play a big part in choosing your rangers, so pay close attention to the insole, midsole, and outsole of your pair of shoes.
Passionate about tactics - "tacti-cool"
As a tactical enthusiast, you have a bit more freedom in choosing the right shoe. You are not limited by regulations or colors, just figure out what you will be doing when wearing them and find a boot that meets the demands of that activity.
Picking up military-rated rangers is a safe bet, but you also have the luxury of being able to wear unsanctioned boots. So be on the lookout for cutting-edge products that haven't yet earned the military stamp of approval.
The different parts of a military shoe
Once you are ready to start looking at boots, you will see many references to specific parts of the boot. Below is a quick and helpful breakdown of the different terms.
The upper is the part of the boot that sits above the sole and covers most of your foot. The upper of a military boot is often made of leather and nylon to ensure durability.
The insole is what your foot rests on while you wear it. These are usually removable and can be replaced with a spare insole if you feel you need extra support or cushioning.
The midsole helps structure the sole of your boot and sits between the insole and the outsole.
If you look at the sole of your boot, the midsole can often be seen as a slightly different colored line between the bottom of the boot and the upper. The midsole is often where you will find the cushioning.
The outsole of a boot is located on the bottom. This is an extremely important part of a military boot as it provides different levels of traction and flexibility.
If you're working on a boat or in muddy conditions, you'll need an outsole with great traction. If you're looking for military boots for running, you'll want to choose a flexible outsole.
Boot height refers to the height of the boot that rises from the heel of your foot to your knee. The height can provide extra ankle stability and help prevent injury, with most military boots being 8 inches.
The toe is the part of the boot that protects your toes. You will usually have a choice of composite toe military boots, soft toe boots, or steel toe boots. Composite toe and steel toe are considered safety toe military boots, but you might need a specific toe construction depending on your job.
The boot heel is the rear part of the boot that supports your heel. Your options are a combat boot with a heel and another without a heel. Also, different heel heights work better for different foot shapes and missions.
Find a boot that withstands the elements
We know you want a boot that will stand up to some pretty tough conditions. The question is, what will those conditions be? You need to make sure your boots are designed for the climate and the job you will be doing, otherwise there is a risk of injury (and discomfort).
Jungle boots are designed to withstand the hot, wet and humid weather typically found in jungles. They are not all leather because it would be uncomfortable in these conditions.
Instead, they rely on nylon to repel water and help your feet breathe. This style of boot also tends to have quite heavy tread on the sole to provide extra traction in muddy jungle weather.
Warm weather boots and lightweight boots are similar to jungle boots in that they rely on nylon in the upper to help your feet breathe.
Cold weather boots work the opposite of warm weather boots. These have special technology in the upper that helps insulate your feet and keep them warm and dry.
They tend to be very slip resistant and often use additional technology to keep your rubber outsoles from hardening when going from extreme cold to ambient temperatures.
Make the shoe fit
Military boots take a while to break in. Make sure you use your upline pair enough to work on them before practice or a mission.