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Can You Use Military Combat Boots For Hiking?

Military combat boots are designed to meet the rigorous demands of military life. Many people may also own a pair of military boots for work outside of the military too, as they are tough and durable footwear. Military combat boots may also be used for hiking.

You can use military combat boots for hiking, but they are not optimized for this. Military boots are sturdy, durable and heavy. If you are used to wearing military boots, then hiking in them should be fine, but if you are not, the extra weight may be an issue.

Most of us will have seen footage of soldiers on training marches, loaded up with gear. Therefore, it’s reasonable to consider using such boots for hiking. In the article below, we’ll explore the different types of military boots and whether they are indeed suitable for hiking.

Military vs Combat vs Tactical Boots For Hiking

While military boots are like hiking boots − built to last and are sturdy and protective to your feet − you should know they are designed for a particular purpose. Military boots are designed to deal with extreme scenarios and extreme conditions and are heavier than hiking boots.

Whereas hiking boots are designed specifically for hiking, military boots are built with all the situations military personnel could face. In this regard, military boots can seem like overkill for hiking. One similarity with hiking boots, though, is there are different styles and designs of military boots for the different environments where they are worn.

However, this variation of design does not have the same range as the different designs of hiking boots. It’s important to keep your environment in mind, whichever style of boot you wear. You want the best design for the conditions, but hiking boots offer more choice than military boots to suit the different trail and climatic environments you may encounter.

People who have worn military boots for years may have no issue with the additional weight of the boots and find them comfortable for hiking. For others, the extra weight can feel like a mill stone around their ankles and feet, and a drag to walk in after a few miles. Some people will find sturdy military boots comfortable, others will not.

What Are Combat Boots?

Combat boots are the boots the general public see as the traditional military boot. In practice, they may be worn on training exercises and parade grounds too, but they are generally reserved for combat. Combat boots need to hold up under the most difficult of conditions and harshest of terrains.

Combat boots must be dependable and have the full confidence of their wearers during a time of unimaginable stress. Therefore, combat boots must be tough, protective and durable while also offering flexibility and versatility. Features of combat boots include:

  • Heavy and often made of hardened leather
  • Waterproof
  • Usually use high-tech materials within the boot to aid breathability
  • Stable and protective
  • Different designs for different combat conditions
  • Good grip for all kinds of terrain

What Are Tactical Boots?

Tactical boots are lighter, thinner and more flexible than combat boots. They are made from softer materials and are therefore not designed to be as durable. Tactical boots are worn by those who will not usually be involved in direct hand to hand combat or hiking for miles on end.

Whereas combat boots have an outsole and midsole, tactical boots may have just one sole. Tactical boots are not expected to experience the same levels of impact on tough terrain as combat boots and are regularly worn by people outside of the military for work. You will often see them worn by law enforcement officials and people in the security industry.

However, the lighter, softer materials and flexibility of tactical boots can make them more comfortable. They still have to offer a decent level of protection and ankle support through sturdy uppers, as well as being slip-resistant and quiet underfoot.

How Combat And Tactical Boots Compare To Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are designed to help protect the feet as you hike over varied terrain, while still providing stability, ankle support, traction, and water resistance. Comfort is paramount, and there are different designs dependent on the type of hike and the time of year.

While there are many similarities between military boots and hiking boots, the main discerning factor is weight. Hiking boots are lighter than military boots, something hikers appreciate when hiking for many miles or on multi-day hikes. The design of hiking boots is also geared to improve breathability and provide better cushioning than standard military boots.

Can You Hike In Military Boots?

You can hike in military boots, but for most people, opting for specialist hiking boots or shoes will be the better choice. Unless you are used to wearing military boots, their heavy weight can take some getting used to. Much of today’s hiking is focused on lightweight footwear.

Military boots are designed with military activity in mind and are a specialized form of professional footwear. Therefore, the important features that makes a good, dependable military boot may not always transfer to hiking for leisure and may even be a hinderance.

If you have marched in military boots, then you may not have much issue hiking in them, provided the boot design matches the hiking environment. However, if you have rarely or never worn military boots, the hardened leather material required to make them sturdy and durable adds weight, which can make you feel fatigued sooner than if you were wearing more lightweight boots.

There are terrains when a sturdy military boot can seem the best choice for protection. However, the large range of hiking boots should provide for this, too, as well as matching or surpassing the traction, ankle support, stability, and balance you get with military boots.

Can You Hike In Combat Boots?

You can hike in combat boots, but remember they are tough, versatile, and durable, and designed for a clear purpose. Many of the design elements make them a good boot to hike in, but the weight of these boots remains a big factor when hiking for leisure.

Combat boots may originally have had a one-design-fits-all logic behind them, but the potential different combat environments means there are a range of designs. Hiking boots, on the other hand, offer more choices of design and hikers may want to seek out a boot that offers more flexibility than combat boots.

Those who use their combat boots for hiking will very likely insert an insole to boost the cushioning and comfort of the boots. Wearing specialist hiking socks with combat boots will also aid comfort, as well as adding an extra degree of breathability and water resistance.

Pros Of Hiking In Combat Boots

The pros of hiking in combat boots are:

  • Good protection for your feet
  • Good ankle support
  • Durable and likely to last for long time
  • Designed to help keep out stones and other debris
  • Secure grip for all terrains
  • Good stability
  • Supportive when you’re carrying a heavy backpack
  • Designed to withstand tough conditions

Cons Of Hiking In Combat Boots

The cons of hiking in combat boots are:

  • Heavier, which can see you become fatigued quicker
  • Can take a while to break in, as the material used to make them durable can be stiff at first
  • Less cushioning
  • Sole not as flexible, which can make the boots less comfortable
  • Less breathable

Some of the areas where combat boots may have the edge over hiking boots are on mountainous or more technical terrain, or if you are carrying a particularly heavy backpack. However, hiking boots are likely to be your go to option for hiking if you are not used to wearing combat boots

Combat-Style Fashion Boots

Check that your combat boots are military grade if you intend to hike in them. Combat boots have become more fashionable of late, but the type of combat-styled fashion boots you might wear to meet up with your friends for a drink or bite to eat will not be made to the same quality as military style combat boots.

Combat-styled fashion boots may look the part, but they are unlikely to act the part if you wear them on a hike. They are not usually made with the same materials as true military combat boots because they do not need to be sturdy and durable. Therefore, they will wear down more quickly if you hike in them and won’t offer the same support or traction as military style combat boots.

Can You Hike In Tactical Boots?

You can hike in tactical boots. They offer the flexibility and support even with the softer materials when compared to combat boots, which can make them appealing for hiking. They tend to have midsoles made from polymers, helping them stay lighter and feel more comfortable when worn.

Pros Of Hiking In Tactical Boots

The pros of hiking in tactical boots are:

  • Strong
  • Flexible
  • More comfortable than combat boots
  • Light
  • Good grip
  • Great fitting boots once worn in
  • Strong protection for feet
  • Higher cut tends to offer better ankle support
  • Good at keeping stone, grit, and other debris out

Cons Of Hiking In Tactical Boots

The cons of hiking in tactical boots are:

  • Weight, as they are heavier than hiking boots
  • More expensive than hiking boots
  • Lack of cushioning compared to hiking boots
  • Lack of breathability through the upper material

Weight will once again be a major consideration for frequent hikers, as will breathability. Keeping your feet dry on long hikes or multi-day hikes is also important, and although many tactical boots offer waterproofing qualities, you will want to wear hiking socks to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet.

A Stylish Boot

Tactical boots are stylish boots, but they are still designed to cope with different terrains and situations, if the soles are made from thick rubber for multi-terrain use. Therefore, they manage to combine style with a rugged look, too. Yet, for all the style they may offer, tactical boots are still heavier than hiking boots.

However, if you can cope with the additional weight, tactical boots usually have excellent traction, and those with padded midsoles will absorb the impact from the foot continuously striking the ground. While not the best option for hiking, tactical boots are a decent choice.

Final Thoughts

Military boots can be used for hiking, but for many people, a pair of good hiking boots will be the better option. While military boots offer many of the benefits of hiking boots, they are heavier. Hiking boots generally offer more cushioning and breathability.