If you’ve visited any forums or social media groups related to airsoft you would have no doubt come across people asking the question: what are the best boots for airsoft. And you’ll see many people writing all the major brand names back in response. If you’re new to airsoft and what it entails it can be quite confusing, and here’s the thing: everyone one of those comments are wrong, but at the same time, they could be right. Even more confused?! Read on and you’ll understand what I mean.
Why Wear Combat Boots?
This should be blatantly obvious. Airsoft is a replication of combat operations, whether you’re playing a Sunday free-for-all skirmish or a full on weekend long MilSim the stresses on your ankles and feet are the same, and the only real difference between real combat operations and airsoft, as far as boots are concerned, is the loads carried. As a soldier my full combat gear often weighed around 100lbs, with a couple of operations in Afghanistan seeing me carrying loads in excess of 100lbs. That doesn’t really get replicated in airsoft, but all the other stresses and factors do. You’re still predominantly running over uneven ground, your still taking up various positions with your feet and ankles taking all the stress, and your still carrying weighted kit above your own body mass. Therefore a good boot that is at least ankle height, is essential. The reason being is that these types of boot help to support your ankle and stop you from breaking or straining it. So what is a good boot?
The Best Combat Boots
Combat boots are a very personal thing. What works for one person, will not work for another. I briefly touched on this on my “my airsoft loadout” page and it is something that many people forget, or fail to understand. No two feet are the same. Even your own feet aren’t identical and because of this, everyone will find varying degrees of comfort from the same boot. When deploying to Afghanistan I found the more expensive Meindl boots very uncomfortable and opted for the far cheaper Hi-Tec Magnums. Going back to my opening paragraph, where I stated that people were right and wrong for claiming boot x was the best, you can hopefully understand my point. If everyone has different feet, then it is impossible to accurately recommend a boot to someone over the internet. But at the same time that recommendation may just be the boot that fits the foot. So it is imperative that any recommendations for certain boots, including the boots I will recommend, are taken with a pinch of salt. Use recommendations to narrow down your search and then carry out your own comfort tests to check the fit of the boot with your foot.
Getting the Right Combat Boot
Once you’ve narrowed down your search you’ll have a couple of options for testing out your boots. Some companies will allow you to order footwear over the internet and send back any that don’t fit correctly, or if you have a local shop selling combat boots get in there and try some on. You should be wearing a decent pair of walking or sports socks when trying these boots on. Wearing thin dress socks could mean you get a boot that is then too tight when wearing a thicker type of sock further down the line. The foot of the boot should be snug. You shouldn’t have massive gaps anywhere in your boot, but at the same time your foot shouldn’t be squashed into it. The best way to describe this is that while standing up your boot should just feel like another sock wrapped around your foot. You should at least go for a medium height boot. Low cut boots are only as good as trainers. A medium or high ankle boot will allow you to tighten your boot and support your ankle joint which is key. Make sure you can do the boot up tightly enough. A boot that is too wide will not allow you to pull the laces tight enough. To give an example, I tried on a pair of boots many years ago that seem to fit me nicely but when I came to tightening the laces there was too much material on the top of the boot which meant that even when the boot was laced as tight as it would go, I still had room to move my feet inside the boot. Movement inside the boot will create hotspots and will eventually lead to blisters. Ensure the boot has a good insole inside, if it doesn’t, ensure there is room to fit an after market one.
Leather or Suede Combat Boots
This all depends on what type of area you generally play in. I use two types of boot. A full leather Gore-Tex pair and a suede desert pair. What type of boot I wear will depend on what the weather is like for the day. What you choose is entirely up to you. Suede, desert style, boots generally require less maintenance than full leather. Suede boots will also offer a bit more of a cooling effect for your feet but are not as good in wet conditions. What type of boot you decide on is entirely up to you, but you should base your decision, unless you’re mimicking a specific load out, on what you think you will need.
My Recommendations For Boots
As I’ve already said, any recommendation made over the internet should only be used as a guide to give yourself something to look at. With that in mind the two boots that I recommend are Lowa and Hi-Tec, and these boots couldn’t really be any further apart in terms of cost. The Lowas that I use are the Combat GTX and retail for around about £160. The Hi-Tec boot I use is the Magnum Desert and these retail for about £60 new, although for the pair that I have you can get them as low as £30 now because they are an older model. As you can see that’s quite a price difference and goes to show that expensive doesn’t always mean best. These two boots are a perfect fit for my feet but not everyone will agree. In fact, while Lowa is one of the more popular makes of boot within the military, many soldiers don’t like them because they can feel heavy on the foot. That being said, they are a great quality boot, and I have used Lowas for about 10 years with my current pair lasting me since 2008, so if you can get out and try a pair on I would recommend them. Remember though that they may not be right for you, so don’t just go out and buy a pair on my say so unless you can return them if they don’t feel right. If you have ill fitting boots it can literally ruin your day. It’s no fun running around with sore blisters and hot spots on your feet. Get the right boot, and your feet will be looked after!