USGI hot weather combat boot
✕Altama | USGI hot weather combat bootSize Reviewed: US 11.0 r
Non-cup sole that should be resoleable Desert Tan With drainage vents
Length: Slightly Long
There is a lot of confusion online about sizing for combat boots for those who like them for quality/affordable work, hiking, or kicker boots. The Altama and many other US general issue boots from different manufacturers seem to mostly use similar lasts. Going a 1/2 size down from brannock seems to be right for high volume feet with a little extra toe room, and 1 full size down seems right for low volume feet. Low volume feet may also want to go closer to heal to toe size on brannock instead of heal to ball length. These are made to generically fit the absolute most foot types possible. The heel feels secure, stiff, but maybe a tad wide for some. I’d recommend not going for a wide size unless you have a true EE+ width foot or have feet that are very wide in the waist between the ankle and ball of your foot. The key on these is getting as close to a firm fit for break in as possible with tough socks. Some manufacturers like Rocky seem to use different lasts to be as true to size as possible, but most service people don’t get to choose which manufacturer boot they are issued and many reselling lightly used boots online that they were issued or bought on base don’t seem to consider sizing like recreational boot wearers do. These are great for all around boots, and I’m trying to turn them into a waxed suede look. The Vibram sierra outsole and high density foam midsole are comfortable for me with some orthotic insoles. I’m not a veteran but have seen family & friends who are use their combat boots for years. The suede, cordura canvas, and leather is tough and construction is typically good. For about 15-20 years in the 2000’s, multiple branches seemed to favor boots that were resoleable with a high density foam midsole that can be cut by cobblers or services like nusole, sanded down, and new soles cemented on. That makes these a bit heavier than their cupsoled counterparts but worth it to me. I’ve seen a YouTube video where a cupsole version of these was also resoled thru services like nusole. Hope this helps.
Chuck Taylor All Star High Top
✕Size Reviewed: US 11.0 standard
Width: Slightly Narrow
These fit snugly, are surprisingly well made for how basic they really are, and don’t deserve the cult like following for their comfort in short. My brannock is a US 10.5 length, arch length 11.5 with a high instep, and tapering a lot from an average width heal to decently wide ball of the foot. These fit well but do bend outward at the widest part of my foot. These seem to use UK sizing even, so I thought I had size 12’s for years. Maybe my box was mislabeled. Going true to size or even a half size up might work for you for regular or wide feet. My toes are a bit more than a thumb’s width from the end, and my laces never pull the sides all the way together even at tightest. I knew of some shortcomings from YouTube videos and online reviews. The cup sole does separate at the toe bend on both sides, there is remarkably little material between your foot and the ground, and there is no arch support. I don’t hold any of that against the shoes. Besides the two spots that come away from the sides when bent, the rest of the sole is surprisingly sturdy with no delamination. It wears similar to my new balances along the sole, and I’m a heavier guy north of 260 lbs. I wear the outsides of all shoes faster (supination?), and these are the same (see photos). The canvas is pretty sturdy, and the color doesn’t bleed or fade with Florida sun, regular rain, and routine but not daily wear. The inside counter cover has held up well to my boney heals that always quickly tear into lined sneakers or boots. I think that they are overpriced for the standard models even if they are better than my dad’s old Chucks from the 1960’s. Rose Anvil’s video on cutting them in half to see materials only strengthens my opinion. They’re only ok without room for insoles. I’m experimenting with thin veg tan leather insoles with some success, but you’ll still feel everything underfoot. I think I’d rather save up more to get something like Thursdays all leather sneakers instead if I had to replace them. I’m trying out some veg tan leather insoles to try to get a little more of a slipper feel out of them, but they’ll probably still be an occasional wear shoe at best for me. Hope that helps.
Johnston & Murphy
Split toe Oxford
✕Johnston & Murphy | Split toe OxfordSize Reviewed: US 11.0 d
Length: Slightly Short
Width: Slightly Narrow
These were my first nicer dress shoe. My father thought the world of Johnston & Murphy shoes, and maybe that used to me warranted. The have lasted me a long time of occasional use and survived a resole though. The fit narrow and short putting pressure on the top of my foot. While my foot has changed some since 2004, my arch height didn’t, and my shoe length has only gone up by a half size. Their size 11 is just long enough for my 10.5 length but 11.5 arch length feet. The standard width is too restrictive though even after breaking them in. The leather just doesn’t have enough stretch to make the D-E width work. My feet have never felt like the sink into the footbed, and these aren’t comfortable for a full day of office work. The tops either bite in when laced snuggly, or the heal slips when the laces are slightly looser. The leather has shown lots of creasing at the toe bend on the vamp but does clean up & shine up easily. The inner leather lining has held up well even in the heel counter cover. The leather covered insole hasn’t worn but he never felt overly comfortable. There isn’t enough room for an added insole. I’ll try a thinner veg tan leather one but don’t have much hope. Tenton & Heath’s YouTube reviews of this brand as one to avoid if made in the last 10-15 years due to falling quality standards supports my belief that this was always a very meh dress shoe even though it looks pretty good (maybe a reflection on my lack of dress style honestly). Credit where it’s due, these made it through a resole fine after finally losing their souls, have never cracked despite infrequent use and sitting in a closet, and are probably made of good leather uppers & linings. The insole, midsole, and outsole have likely all been subpar, but they never cracked across the ball of the foot. I would go TTS if you’re willing to try out newer versions of this brand. Hope this helps.
✕New Balance | 481 v3Size Reviewed: US 12.0 d
I’ve had three pairs of this or a similar all terrain trail runner models of New Balance. Their D and EE widths work well for my inbetweener width feet. The size 12 is about 1 1/2 thumb widths from my toe, and the fit from heal to ball of foot is snug. The heal counters tend not to break up easily from this model, and there have been mostly metal eyelets for the last two design updates. They seem to support my decently high instep and arch and have plenty of room for aftermarket orthotics. My bony heals do wear thru the counter lining eventually but no faster than other sneakers. The shock absorption is good on the trail runners, and my feet tend not to hurt from a day in these. I’m a larger guy over 265 lbs, but the soles are more durable than my Nikes or Adidas have been. I think that you get a lot of hardier upper materials and a good sole on this model for everyday use. They’re probably a bit chunky for distance running, but would be supportive for weight lifting or cross training. Hope that helps.
Portland Leather Co
Welted Brooklyn Boot
✕Portland Leather Co | Welted Brooklyn BootSize Reviewed: US 12.5
Black 6 inch service boot pattern. Also branded as Patina
Length: Slightly Long
Width: Slightly Narrow
These are my first quality Goodyear welted boots along with a pair of Bordons that haven’t come in yet. I’d recommend going a half to full size up if you have high arches or moderately wide feet depending on your toe length. If you have extra wide feet or very wide heels, then these might not be for you without any width options available. They look and feel amazing despite not having any YouTube reviews or major internet buzz. The company seems to be better know for their leather bags and leather laptop/phone accessories. I’m an 11.5 D-E on the Brannock, but the online reviews suggested sizing up a full size for the slim last and tight instep. I have a decently high instep & arch. They also were selling out of sizes 11, 11.5, and 12 for holiday sales dropping the price from the usual $240-280 list price down 25% to Thursday boot territory. They do fit snugly in the heal and instep. The width feels slim with a little muffin topping over the welt at the ball of the foot. They are about two finger widths past my longest toe under the toe cap. The toe bend seems to be where it should be right before and at the stitching for the toe cap. A 12 (half size up) would probably have been the perfect length for me, but I didn’t want to be standing on the welt. They are a style focused service boot pattern with a small pull loop, cap toe, very stiff quality feeling oak tan leather midsole, and soft glove leather lining. The internal stitches don’t seem to cause any rubbing. The insole/lasting board is a fixed leather covering a foam footbed. I’m testing out a thin leather insole from Amazon. The “TR outsole” doesn’t have good pictures on the website but is a hard, unbranded half sole with a light lug pattern and moderately low side profile. I plan to wear these for work and casual wear but probably not for formal occasions. I’ll update this when I have them broken in. They surprisingly did arrive in the 2-3 day shipping estimate. I’m very happy with the overall build quality for an affordable and mostly handmade boot from my initial impressions. Hope this helps. Update 12/20/2022: They’re breaking in easier than my Iron Rangers, and the leather insoles from Amazon are working well. The TR outsole gives some grip on concrete or wood floors. Not sure how well it will do on ice or wet sidewalk yet. One of the eyelets already pulled out though the first time I wore these into work and climbed stairs. I’ve reached out to see if I can get that repaired and will update when I have a resolution. 1/6/2023: Portland Leather offered a refund, since my outsoles are slightly too scuffed to be returned, and they can’t offer eyelet repair services in their shop. The only stipulation was that I had to provide a receipt from where I had a local cobbler repair the eyelets. I really like the two speed hooks at the top that my local cobbler swapped out. We couldn’t get matching antiqued or brass eyelets and speed hooks sadly, but the all black goes well with the dress boot ascetic I wanted anyway. I’m still mostly happy with these and will get years of good use out with resoles to upgrade them when needed. At $180 on holiday sales, these were well worth it in my opinion. The cobbler also thought that they were very good quality except the eyelets and TR plastic like outsole. At the full $240-$280 list price, I would’ve been very disappointed.
✕Size Reviewed: US 11.0 d
8 bump toe last 8111 Amber Harness leather Pre-2018 nitrile cork outsole
Width: Slightly Narrow
These fit very well from Grayle’s recommended 1/2 size down from my brannock size 11.5. I tried on a new pair of 10.5D in a Red Wing store (I highly recommend their free Ultimate Fit Experience if possible for digital scans of your foot size and step dynamics btw), and they would technically fit but not as comfortably as the 11. I’d like to try a 10.5 EE and 11 EE when they have more stock available to find the perfect fit for me. These are a bit snug for D-E feet at the ball of my feet and seem to be fine for length. They fit snugly on my high instep and top of my foot just as expected from other IR reviews, so hopefully they’ll fit perfectly like custom fit slippers in time. I got mine 2nd hand through eBay lightly worn. The uppers were partially broken in, and the footbed had started breaking into the first owners’s feet. It’ll be a bit uncomfortable for me breaking them in for my foot, but I’m getting half the break in for $150 less than list price while new supplies are limited everywhere. That’s worth it to me to test out the Iron Rangers. Many reviews say that people tend to love them or hate them with nothing in between. The unlined leather is noticeably thicker than other $150-300 heritage style or just Goodyear welted leather footwear that I’ve tried. The old style nitrile cork outsoles grip better than I expected, but I’ll likely get the new style Vibram mini lugs whenever these need a resole. I did upgrade the laces from the standard length (43 inch I believe) to the 63 inch. I could barely get a single knot tied with them laced up snuggly at first. The longer laces are just right for me to get a double knot in. I reconditioned them lightly with obenauf’s wax cream, and they kept their Amber harness color very well after a day. See photos with blue background for after shots. I tried the red wing suggested mink oil on some other brown boots, and those darkened substantially. Both were beading water off once dry tho and had the leather feeling much more supple. Hope this helps.
Ironclad work boots
✕Rocky | Ironclad work bootsSize Reviewed: US 11.0 wide
Resoled with Vibram commando style lug soles after original outsole layers delaminated.
Width: Slightly Wide
These feel very hefty and solid. There is some heel slip even after breaking them in. The fit feels slightly too large at 11 wide with high volume/high arch feet in a D-E width at the ball of my feet. Half size down from brannock is probably right, but half sizes weren’t available when I got them. It’s hard to tell how much room there is up front under the steel toe, but my feet feel secure going up ladders and stairs. They are wider and longer than my Rocky tactical boots in a 12 d. The GYW and steel toe probably add to the exterior length and size. The steel shank keeps them from bending much, which I think eventually put stress on the original 7 layer comfort outsole. There were softer bits of comfort foam throughout the sole (see stock photo), and with some heat and probably too long in between spurts of heavy use, those separated some. The likely plastic welt cracked near the middle of my arch. I don’t remember them being advertised as re-solable with a Goodyear welt when I bought them, but my priority was a waterproof and solid pull on work boot at the time. A local cobbler was able to put Vibram commando style lug soles on with no trouble or surprise extra fees for broken fiberboard or anything like that. The insoles are very thick at the heel which has been great for plantar fascia issues and shock absorption. They have been supportive for my decently high arch & instep. A half size smaller would probably give me a more molded, glove like fit without the slight slop in the heel counter. A full size down or regular width would’ve been too small for me probably. They wouldn’t be as quick to slip on then though. I usually prefer an E or EE depending on the shoe brand when available in store. The inner lining and waterproofing has held up very well. There is a small inside counter cover that’s tougher than the lining of the shaft. I suspect that this is why my bony heels haven’t worn through that to creat a cloth trap for my feet. The pebble textured exterior leather has held up well to abrasion, and the oils have come up with some buffing to hide scuffs. I have rarely oiled or conditioned them except perhaps once a year. There was some break in period to get the vamp loosened up made a little difficult by the very stout shank and welt. They wouldn’t flex a lot to stretch the leather for a while. The shaft was probably tumbled leather to begin with, so it doesn’t really need any breaking in there. They are overall pretty comfortable and good for their purpose if you aren’t walking long distances. They are cumbersome going up lots of stairs. I would prefer lace up work boots but would buy again if I wanted pull on boots especially if on sale for under $200 again. Hope this helps.
Alpha Force Tactical/public service boot
✕Rocky | Alpha Force Tactical/public service bootSize Reviewed: US 12.0 d
This is my second pair of these, and while they’ll never be military issue or win any best of lists on YouTube reviews, they are my favorite tactical style boot for standing on concrete for long periods. The soles have great cushion and shock absorption, and the stock insole has one of the thickest heals I’ve ever had. Great for an affordable everyday general use boot, but I wouldn’t recommend using it for construction work. The stitching is good but not that level of robust. I am an 11.5D-E on the Brannock, and size 12 fits me very well in this and my other Rocky brand boot. The half size up for width and ease on pulling on works perfectly for me. TTS would probably work for anyone with a lower arch or instep though. The online reviews on the Rocky boots website seem to say the same about sizing. If you order them online, you can get a wide size that might change that suggestion. The inside is pretty stiff especially around the heel counter. The standard width molds well to my tapered feet and has always felt supportive without being too snug. I rarely get top of foot pressure with a decently high arch & instep except while zeroing in the lace tightness at first. The ankle support is excellent, and these are surprisingly light for their size. The side zip lets you set the laces as you like them and forget them. I’ve tried regular and paratrooper style lacing found on YouTube, and I think I like the latter for fit & reducing the leftover lace length. The zipper feels very robust with a fully gussetted tongue and side zipper. I’ve never had water get through, but you do have to get used to zipping them on when new & stiff without catching the gusset in the zipper. The leather The Cons: The heal counter bites in pretty hard during the break in period. I made the mistake of taking my first pair on a heavy walking vacation when only partially broken in. My feet were screaming by the end of each day. The upper leather is heavily coated like most tactical boots with heavy duty nylon cordura making up much of the shaft. Once broken in though, they are some of the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn despite their lack of heavy leather sole layers like on a PNW or American heritage boot. The outsole wears very reasonably on hard or abrasive surfaces. While it’s an agressive tread pattern, I haven’t had it catch on corners or suddenly on concrete before. These almost certainly cannot be resoled or recrafted. The outsole cups around the upper on the sides and is definitely a cemented construction underneath. I don’t know how Rocky could make them as flexible and light with even a plastic Goodyear welt, but that is a short coming compared to many of the other boots on Grayle. Getting the laces tightened the right amount takes some trial and error. What works one week may not the next while breaking in. With D ring eyelets for part of the lacing, you can over tighten or over loosen easily having to readjust all the way down the boot. The newer models changed the zipper cover from a large snap down leather design attached with rivets to a stitched on slimmer leather piece that uses a hook n loop closure. As long as the zipper is all the way up, it won’t work down from moving around anyway, but the newer style can look cheap like the knock off version of this sold at Walmart. Pulling on takes some figuring out at first. There is a padded collar that will eventually tear if you only pull up by it. A back pull loop would be a great addition if Rocky ever cares to read review suggestions. Once broken in fully, they will slip on with a thunk like good western boots and zip up easily for a snug but comfortable fit. The back counter stitching can blow out or fail before the rest of the boot depending on what you grab to pull them on. You can easily strain a part of the boot unevenly especially if you are jerking the boot instead of firmly pulling it on. The inside cloth liner can wear out at the heal before the rest of the boot. My first pair ripped enough to keep catching my foot on the way out making for an ordeal every time I wore them. I eventually contact cemented leather strips inside with smooth out in the shaft and rough out around the counter cover. This also fixed the next issue. The plastic heel counter can fail, crack up, and poke your foot when the inner lining fails around the shaft. It’s the bane of inexpensive or affordable footwear to have shorter lived synthetic materials there and in the insole+midsole according to Rose Anvil and Trenton & Heath on YouTube. I’m starting to get more into heritage and recraftable footwear now with more focus on leather & cork footbeds with arch supportive lasts, so I may not buy these again when they eventually fail. They have their place in workwear for jobs with lots of standing on concrete all the same and do look cool to me. Airsoft or MilSim enthusiasts would probably love the aggressive heal grip & light weight compared to many combat boots of similar price points. Hope this helps.
798 combat boot
✕Rocky | 798 combat bootSize Reviewed: US 11.5 ee
Hot weather version with side water drain vents. Previous (2008) model with rubber Goodyear storm welt.
Width: Slightly Wide
These are great all around work/kicker boots. The Rocky brand claims to run true to size, but many online reviews claim that it is slightly narrow in the regular D width. I went true to my heal to ball length 11.5 brannock and a wide EE based on my other civilian Rocky boots. The length is good and allows for thick socks. The width is great at the ball of my foot, but the waist is too wide for me. I have tapering feet D-E width with decently wide heals/ankles. These work for me being a high volume instep/arch height, but they fit very differently to Rocky’s civilian tactical boot line where a 12D or 12 E would fit me fine. You should stick to the standard D width unless your feet are wide in the middle too or are a true Ee-Eee width. Some YouTube reviews of this said that the heal really digs in even after break in if you use this boot for ruck marches, long hikes, or running. It seems great for a work boot especially for yard work. The Vibram sierra outsole and high density foam midsole are comfortable for me with some orthotic insoles. These are the previous model type that was resoleable and has a rubber Goodyear storm welt. The American military seems to have valued the resoleability of their general issue boots for 15-20 years after the year 2000 but have gone back to more cup soles only some of which can be resoled by services like nusole. I’m not a veteran but have seen many family and friends who are get years of hard wear out of combat boots. I’m excited to get years of use out of these with potential to upgrade the with resoles and recrafts in the future. I’m trying to turn the high nap suede uppers into a waxy suede with water resistant cordura canvas quarters. I think they look good darker like this. Hope this helps.
✕Vasque | Breeze XCRSize Reviewed: US 12.0 d
Resoled with Vibram soles from Vasque Sundowner
These are my all time favorite hiking boot, but the newer design doesn’t seem to be the same. The size 12 regular width fit me perfectly like gloves after an easy break in. There was a little heal slip and some tightness on top of my foot, but I remember getting very few blisters even when new. Vasque boots are great at capturing the heal and preventing ball of the foot soreness. The only occasional blister prone area was on my pinky toes which developed some mild hammertoe and undercutting into the fourth toes. These never bothered my plantar facia and gave great support to my high instep and arch with the original insoles as well as some aftermarket high arch replacements. The cushiony soft outsoles unfortunately melted when I fell asleep too close to fire, and they aren’t easy to resole at regular cobbler shops. While the uppers are sturdy for breathable hiking boots, the soles had too much soft foam exposed to stand up to abrasion. Great for hundreds of miles of hiking, but any trail or yard work will damage them prematurely. I had them resoled by a service through Vasque (or owner Red Wing) with a more sturdy but less comfortable sole for sentimental reasons. Highly recommend if you can get the older 2004-early 20teens version. I’m sure that their other newer boots also fit similar and will be great with some more durable materials on the outsides. Hope this helps.