How to buy duty boots

Footwear is designed for specific missions. The best example of this an athlete playing basketball will wear different footwear than an athlete playing football. It is no different for law enforcement officers.

When you’re evaluating your options, one of the most immediately noticeable differences is in the height of the cut. Low-cut footwear is typically used for walking or if the officer is sitting down for prolong periods of time. Low-cut footwear offers very little ankle support, but are very comfortable and perfectly suitable for many patrol officers. Mid-cut footwear is typically used for mild walking and light running or if the officer is likely to have physical confrontations. Mid-cut footwear offers added ankle support than low cut, and are widely considered to offer a comfortable overall fit. High top footwear is typically used for hiking or running over all manner of terrain, or if the officer is likely to have physical confrontations where kicking is likely. High top footwear offers the best ankle support, and most of these boots are incredibly comfortable for most officers, but some find the high cut less comfortable than mid-cut. In this regard, you’ve really just got to balance your preference for the cut with the needs of your mission.

When purchasing your duty boots, you should consider some of the less obvious factors too, such as the design features, materials used, and component construction in some very key areas. They include:

1. Eye lets
• Plastic or Melt Loop
• Plastic or Metal Hook
• Plastic or Metal Speed laces
• Some cut into laces more than others
• Some do not secure the laces
• Some rip and tear into the footwear more than others

2. Soles
• Manufacture soles are often not as long lasting as other commercial soles
• Heels will wear down and hell tips are recommended
• Some offer non-slip soles which can help prevent injury
• Some offer non-marking soles, which can also be important for officers
• Some soles when wet make sounds on certain surfaces

3. Foot Insert
• Typically the inserts from manufacture wear down quicker than others so addition inserts are recommended
• Some have padded heels and offer better bridge support than others

4. Toe Support
• Some offer steel toe shank protection
• Some are just sewn into place while some are glued
• Some have additional support functions than others

5. Outer Materials
• Certain outer materials offer some level of waterproof protection that many officers require
• Some outer materials are more durable or more appealing to the agency’s image

If you have back problems, knee problems, foot problems, or other such medical issues, you may want to consider talking to a podiatrist before buying your boots. Duty boots are where the rubber meets the road, and they’re the foundation on which you take the fight to the bad guys, so you’ve really got to make the personal choice that is uniquely fit for you. When in doubt, do some homework on this one — you won’t regret it.

Do you have any other suggestions for officers purchasing duty boots? Please leave a comment below or email with your feedback.

Dave Young, Director of Specialized Training, NTC-RedMan Training Division, contributed to this article.

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