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There's no denying that a reliable pair of boots is integral to a successful hiking experience. While traditional hiking boots are a popular choice, military boots are also worth considering. They were initially designed for combat, but the terrain they are used on is quite similar to that encountered while hiking, making them a viable option for hikers.
Durability and Versatility
Military boots are known for their extreme durability, comfort, flexibility, and water resistance. Designed for use on rough terrain while carrying heavy loads, these boots share many similarities with their hiking counterparts. They are great for both on and off-road applications and are tested to be used on dirt trails, much like hiking boots.
Military boots come with a variety of features that make them suitable for hiking. They're made of a combination of leather and nylon to reduce weight while increasing flexibility. The strong nylon/leather upper protects your ankles without feeling stiff, while the cushioned insoles offer comfort with minimal impact on speed and agility. Additionally, their water-resistant nylon side panels improve airflow, reducing foot sweat. One standout feature is their semi-aggressive tread pattern, which performs well in both urban and backcountry settings.
There are several brands of combat boots that meet or exceed US military quality standards. Bates, Belleville, and McRae’s are the standard-issue combat boots of the United States Military. Each brand has its unique benefits, and your choice will likely depend on your specific needs and budget.
While military boots have many advantages, there are some potential downsides to consider. One major concern is their weight. The tall uppers that offer additional ankle support make them heavier than typical hiking boots. There's an old saying among hikers that one pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back. This might make hiking in military boots a bit more strenuous initially, but most people adjust to the additional weight over time.
Weight: Military boots are generally heavier than traditional hiking boots. This weight can add up over long distances and impact a hiker's efficiency and fatigue levels. There's an old saying among hikers that "one pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back" illustrating the effect of wearing heavier boots on your energy expenditure.
Material: Military boots are usually made of leather and nylon. While these materials make the boots durable and somewhat flexible, they may not breathe as well as the materials used in some hiking boots. This can lead to increased foot sweat and discomfort over time.
Breaking in period: Military boots often require a significant break-in period. This period allows the boots to conform to the shape of the wearer's feet and can reduce the risk of blisters and other discomfort. However, this process can take several weeks or more, depending on the individual and the specific boots.
Cost: While military boots are usually reasonably priced, there are few cheap options available. Most military-grade boots fall within the $100-$150 range, which may be more expensive than some hiking boots.