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TACTICAL GEAR: Do You Really Need a Pair of Boots That Last For Years?

My boots have lasted 20 years! so what if they smell like a dead cat + a taco bell restaurant that’s on fire

I was recently in the market for a pair of combat style boots in anticipation of heading back to the Middle East. So I decided to ask around to my buddies and see what the ‘latest and greatest’ ninja boot was.

No matter what brand they suggested the one common denominator was “dude, XYZ Brand will last for years” or “ZYX Logger Boots will last for 20 years”. From as far back as I can remember it seems that the lifespan of boots has always been an important factor whenever people talk about choosing boots.

Personally I don’t want a pair of 10 year old boots sitting in my house, after that amount of time they would probably smell like a dead body. Plus its not like my old boots are going to be some sort of family heirloom, I just need my feet not to be naked.

Back in the day when I first started wearing combat style boots for work I would always rotate them out every year. So ever since then my only concern when buying boots was “will they last a year?” and “how much?” – I actually don’t like wearing boots at all; I think they are uncomfortable regardless of the brand.

I can see buying a pair of boots that last for 10 years if you are a logger in Canada or a cowboy of something. Not really so much if you are wearing then everyday wile working in the Middle East. Mostly because they will be nasty after a year (well, for me they will be nasty) so spending 400 bucks on a top brand of logger boots just doesn’t make sense to me.

Anyway, I ended up going with the same model and brand I wore the last time I was in Iraq – so I basically wasted everyone’s time. If anything, I am a creature of habit when it comes to gear and guns (I am the guy with a 1911 in a sea of Glocks).

Converse Side zip Tactical Boots

I didn’t even know that Converse made military boots until I saw them in the PX a few years ago. Normally I never buy boots at the PX, but I had to have a pair of Desert Tan combat boots that I could wear with ACU’s that day (long story).

I have been a Chucks fan since I was a kid so I figured that Converse combat boots must be a good boot. They were also the only brand in my size.

Things I like about this boot:

– The ankle is very stiff, even after wearing for a year.
I have problems with my ankles from playing soccer back in high school so I need solid ankle support especially when wearing full battle rattle.

– Side Zip
I used to think guys who bought side-zipper boots were lazy people, after putting on these boots in 2 seconds for the first time I swore I would never go back to lace-ups again. I am a side-zip guy for life now; I think it is the greatest invention since online porn.

– They Look Cool
Sure looks isn’t supposed to matter when choosing functional gear but hey, if you can get a good product and it looks groovy then why not right?

– The Price is Right
The Converse Side zip Tactical Boots cost 99 bucks, not cheap but not too bad. Considering that I wore them for 12 to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week for a year and they were still in good shape I say they are a deal.

– They feel like tennis shoes
Besides the stiffness in the body the shoe part itself feels like a tennis shoe, not too tight but snug fitting enough to keep your foot in place.

The only fault with these boots is the stiffness, they are very stiff and they never really loosen up much. For me that was a plus because of my ankles, for other people it might be uncomfortable.

If you are looking for a pair of good boots and you aren’t concerned with them lasting for 5 years the 99 dollar Converse Side zip Tactical Boots are a good choice.

James G. + Iraq + Forced to wear ACU’s = Had to buy a pair of damn desert Tan combat boots


~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns and writing poorly written articles.


  1. I have always thought Converse boots looked real nice. Those and the newer Oakley boots (which are considerably more $$$ but whatever)

    Still, if it’s long lasting work boots you need the $400 traditional style logger boots are the best deal out there. They last for many many many years and when they do start to fall apart you can usually get tem sewn back together, resoled and whatnot until they rot.

  2. Sure, like I said if you are a logger then buying a pair of “10 year” boots is a god idea

    Otherwise an “ok” pair should do you fine (in my opinion)

    Hey Freedom Outlaw, how is the Marine thing looking?

    ~James G

  3. I’m a big fan of OTB’s Thor boots. 6″ height so they aren’t too stiff, but they have decent support — and they aren’t desert tan suede or black. The look like ordinary hiking boots but they are more comfortable and the outsole is totally silent.

  4. Oh, and I agree that the “lifetime” boot obsession is silly.

    I do rotate my boots daily to get more mileage out of them, but modern footwear construction methods provide ergonomic advantages you aren’t going to find in those traditionally constructed boots that can be resoled.

    Will they last as long? No.

    But there is a reason why most people today wear sneakers or comfort shoes based on sneaker design, rather than traditionally built shoes like Alden’s or Church’s that can last for ten years. Comfort and cost.

    • Zak,Combat Boots, HOOAHHH!I tried to call you tonight at 8:50 pm mnoady but left a message. I will try to call you at work in the morning. The # will come up weird or restricted due to me using a calling card. I voe you guys and will talk to you soon. I have a favor to ask, an need to know if you are free on the evening of Feb 8th. Thanks, Clint

  5. I’ve had two pairs of these over the last three years or so. They are great boots. They look big and clunky compared to a pair of Timberlands and appear that they would be pretty warm when worn. Almost like the old cold weather boots.

    But they are extremely comfortable, are fairly cool in the summer (if there is such a thing in this hell hole) and easy as hell to put on. Only issues I have had with them is the adhesives on the heels are the weakest points and because of the curved heel, they chew up the rear bottom edge of pant cuffs pretty bad. But, I have no serious complaints. 4.5 out of 5 stars. These are on my “must have list” for working in the desert.

    Keep up the great work James G!

  6. I’ve worn the black version as duty boots for the last three years. I end up buying a new pair every year (the Sheriff pays us back up to $100.00 so they are free).

    Some guys spend big $$ on Danners but the Converse are way more comfortable.

    Whats with the new trend of “hiking boots” in the box?

  7. I’ve been useing OTB’s Ferdelance boots, and I have been very happy with them. By your description I think they are very similar to the Cons.


    • Try ebay, that’s where I got mine for around $ 90. This is a relaly good deal, considering if you get uggs from the official website it costs around $ 180. Also, if you order them in children sizes, that’s another great way to save money. I got mine around Christmas last year.

  8. Strange these would be in a PX for wear with the ACUs. Pretty sure we’re still not allowed to wear zippered boots – regardless of how lazy it might make you look. Glad to hear these things feel nice on the feet.

    FYSA – Damned Oakley’s, their warranties on their suede, tan boots, ends the second you step on the plane. So don’t think for a second when the triple stitching on them unravel and you can feed an O’Doul’s cap through they hole, they will fix it for you. Rant off.

  9. Hey Freedom Outlaw, how is the Marine thing looking?~James G  (Quote This Comment)

    Well, I still have quite a bit of incredibly lousy family related bullshit to get squared away before I sign on the dotted line for a new life. Hopefully no more than 9 months, hopefully a lot less! On the bright side though that’s all time I can use to get in good shape ahead of basic.

    • Good deal man, the family BS will be behind you as soon as you hit boot

      ~James G

  10. Keep up the great work James G!  (Quote This Comment)

    Thanks Dude!

    Whats with the new trend of “hiking boots” in the box?  (Quote This Comment)

    Pretty much name a brand of boots and that’s what people have told me

    I have come to the conclusion that boots are like guns – everyone has a personal preference that works for them but not necessarily for everyone else

    Strange these would be in a PX for wear with the ACUs. Pretty sure we’re still not allowed to wear zippered boots – regardless of how lazy it might make you look. Glad to hear these things feel nice on the feet.  (Quote This Comment)

    Yep – Guys in the unit I was embedded with were way jealous that I could wear Side-Zip boots cuz they couldn’t. That was probably also the reason they were the only boot in my size at the PX on military pay-day.

    One of the Lt’s in the unit tried pulling “those boots are not authorized” crap with me – I told him I wasn’t in the Army so I can wear what I want.

    Man, there is always one in every group

    Does anyone here know why mil guys cant wear side-zip boots?

    Cuz like I said side-zips are fucking bad-ass

    Concerning Oakley:

    I have heard nothing but bad things about Oakley’s in Iraq and in other “Hot like you are in hell” operational zones. Apparently the glue they use doesn’t hold up under the heat so I would skip Oakley’s if you are headed to the box. They do still make great sunglasses and cool looking backpacks – Oakley just needs to work out their boots.

    ~James G

  11. I would normally put my vote in for Oakley boots, but after just taking a long hard look, I’m REALLY glad the check machine at the store malfunctioned and I got em for free. They have a lot of stuff in the ankle that will definitely cause a pressure bruise after extended wear, and while the sole feels awesome, like so good you never want to take them off awesome, after 6 months of wearing them every day, they feel like sub-standard combat boots.

    I honestly LOVE Bates brand boots, they have held up to endless torture and are comfortable every single day I wear them. I wanted to look into Converse boots, but I hear the bottoms wear extremely easily on rocky/rough terrain, so I don’t wanna drop the cash on something that’ll be dead on the important part within a few months. I still like my Oakleys, they are high quality, especially considering they were free for me, but I’ll be buying something else when these crap out.

    • i think the longest ones (the ones that come up over your caevls) are the warmest. i have long and short ones and the long ones always keep me warmest. wear double pairs of socks and in california, where i live, wearing leg warmers with uggs is fashionable. stay warm!

  12. I totally agree with James with the Converse boots, I have had a pair for the last couple of years and they’ve worn very well. Like other comments with wear and tear the adhesive gave away in the heat but they still feel like a pair of slippers. Even though they look like they’ve been chewed up by our adopted dog.

    I found the zippers more convenient as if you have to crash in your vehicle for the night due to time constraints on mission you can simply unzip and still have your boots on. When it’s time to move out theres no time wasted in fumbling with laces.

    It’s all about the “bug out”, if you get a fast ball you throw on your gear, zip your footwear and your suited and booted ready to rock and roll in seconds flat, rather than minutes which can make all the difference.

    I was gifted a pair of Desert Czech Mil issue boots a few years back as a parting present from some Czech MP’s I worked with in the land of sand that I still use. After wearing zippered sides I bought a set of zips that you lace in for these boots. I used these zips for wetter climates years ago when in the UK which lace into normal combat boot eyelets. I bought them from a UK website, sprayed them dessie colour, put a grenade pin in the zipper pull and Bob’s your Uncle. Boot’s perfecto

  13. I recently stumbled across your site and have loved it so far. I’m currently searching for a new pair of boots. I’ve worn military boots for several years, but now I’m out in the civilian world.

    I’d love some recommendations on some grey man looking boots (really liked that article) that have all the qualities of a military boot. I have several pairs of desert boots, but as stated they are retarded looking with jeans and stick out like a sore thumb.

  14. I bought this pair of Vasque hikers in Banff Canada in 03. Wore them in Yemen and a year in Iraq. Swapped them out sometimes with issue desert boot. I wear boots til they just about fall apart. And as you can see, in the sandbox they’re not gonna last years and years.

    Ordered a pair just like these on line, same size but didn’t fit. One pair made in Malaysia other pair someplace else. Fuck. So ordered a different model of Vasque (gore-tex) via Campmor. Excellent. Wore them out too. Now on another pair of Vasque hikers. Love ’em. What I do now, same with clothes, I find something I like I buy multiples and put them away.

    Had a pair of Rocky Eliminators I wore in Bosnia. With occasional wear for SWAT type stuff they lasted several years. Replaced them via mail order (Sportsmans Guide) with another pair of Eliminators. Quality and manufacture was inferior/different, Sent them back. Wish I had a couple of spare pairs in storage.

    I know Merrell is a “cool guy” brand. My family’s been wearing Vasque hikers since the 1970s and they’re good value. Have a new pair of those Timberland tactical boots here (a freebie from SHOT) haven’t even tried them on yet.

    My daily urban CONUS wear boot is Doc Marten’s. Love ’em. Been wearing Docs for over 20 years. Current pair is 10 years old and I wish I could get them re-soled. Padded ankle and shorter boot. I also have a pair of the standard steel toe Docs here. $20 at the Barrass flea market in Glasgow 7 years ago. Can’t go wrong for slam-dancing or “givin them the boot!”


  15. I’d love some recommendations on some grey man looking boots (really liked that article) that have all the qualities of a military boot.   (Quote This Comment)

    For Greyman Boots (if you must wear boots, like I said I don’t think boots are comfortable) you can choose just about any popular brand of hiking boots.

    My daily urban CONUS wear boot is Doc Marten’s. Love ‘em. Been wearing Docs for over 20 years.   (Quote This Comment)

    I have heard that the new Doc Martins that are made in China just are not the same quality as the old USA made ones – actually I have heard tons of loyal Doc fans saying that they don’t buy em anymore cuz of that.


    These are my day to day Greyman kicks – Ferragamo’s are the best kicks in the world


    ~James G

  16. My daily urban CONUS wear boot is Doc Marten’s. Love ‘em. Been wearing Docs for over 20 years. Current pair is 10 years old and I wish I could get them re-soled. Padded ankle and shorter boot. I also have a pair of the standard steel toe Docs here. $20 at the Barrass flea market in Glasgow 7 years ago. Can’t go wrong for slam-dancing or “givin them the boot!”

    I’ve worn Doc’s since high school, but have found the quality to not be anywhere near what they used to be; I also have the steel toe versions for work (required) at least they pay for those.

    Lowa has some shoes that I’m going to look into when I get a chance to visit a dealer.

  17. Does anyone here know why mil guys cant wear side-zip boots?Cuz like I said side-zips are fucking bad-ass
    ~James G  

    With the amount of flame retardant stuff they have been issuing us, it would seem a little (emphasis on little) counter-intuitive to have something, anywhere on an FR uniform that would conduct more heat.

    Being in Iraq, now, like I am, if I catch on fire, something, likely that I have done myself, has gone completely wrong.

    I’m just glad the CSMs of the Army decided when the ACUs were issued, that Soldiers feet, are important to maintain, thus allowing some of these athletic style boots that we now have. Looking back at my all leather Corcorans from the BDU days – I thought those were comfy. Oh was I ever wrong.

    Take care. Great site!

  18. I have a pair of the Converse boots too. I’ve had them for about three years and they work great fo me as hiking boot or general everyday winter wear. I live in the North East corner of North Carolina in the mountains and boots like these are extremely practical here.

    My soles also started pulling away and I think I found the best possible glue to use. Go to your local auto parts store (Autozone, O’Reiley, Advanced Auto, Napa, ect……) and get a bottle of “Gorilla Glue”. This stuff is amazing and sets in about an hour. It also expands a little bit when setting up. Then go back and trim the excess off. Worked perfect for fixing my soles and I have a lot left for later.

    I hope this solves your issues with the sole.

  19. Gorilla Glue is the shit dude, it is like liquid duct tape

    ~James G

    • Hahah, they are so cute – good luck shrinking your feet.If I am ever asked one of those silly quenitoss like “if you could have one super power, what would it be?” My answer is always, “that everything I touch instantly becomes my size!”

  20. LOL yeah it is! That was months ago that I glued them and it’s still holding strong! Just sucks we can’t wear them with ACUs. I think they are a great boot and love how fast I can get em on.

  21. I stopped buying Docs years ago and switched to Gladiators. I wore those for years and when I went to replace them it turned out that the company no longer exported to the U.S. I switched to Gripfast (which I still have), but the Gladiators were my favorite. My favorite hikers are a pair of Vasque boots, but I too am interested at looking at some Lowa boots when those wear out.

    And James, I want you to know that I am trying very hard not to make any “velcro boots” comments.

  22. Oh, and safety toe or no?

  23. And James, I want you to know that I am trying very hard not to make any “velcro boots” comments

    Ha! I have retired those kicks for fear of further shaming myself

    Oh, and safety toe or no?

    For combat boots I would go with no, but if you think they are comfortable and you don’t mind microwaving your toes in the Middle Eastern heat then go for it

    ~James G

  24. For the record, I thought they were awesome…I was one of the people telling you to keep rocking them!

  25. They were convent – especially if you live in a country where you have to take your kicks off whenever you enter a home. But they were a fashion deserter so I have since retired them but will never live them down – lol.

    ~James G

  26. Pretty element of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to claim that I get actually enjoyed account your weblog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing on your augment or even I achievement you get admission to constantly fast.

  27. I used to swear by Doc Martens, but the recent stock is made in China, cheap, thin and crappy. DM has gone over to the dark side of globalisation.

    It\’s a shame. My previous pair of Docs went on for about 12 years (winter use) with a lot of leather care. My newer replacements were bought for me and worn twice (off-job breaking in) before being consigned to death by flame (I slung them onto a garden bonfire where they burned with pretty colours – aka chemicals).

  28. Boots are perfect for anyone. You must first break them in and after that you are set for years to come but it also doesn’t hurt to own a few pairs.

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