When it comes to personal defense, sustainment, load bearing, clothing, and even footwear, regular readers will see a consistent pattern at DTG: The term ‘General Purpose’ is applied across the board. We define it loosely as whatever is being considered should be able to do many/most things very well, some things acceptably, and only a few things not so well. Using this definition in your considerations will take you much farther and actually lighten any load you might have to carry when/if civility fails. Think about it for a moment: You have a favorite set of ‘hiking’ boots for land navigation; a favorite pair for range work, still others for SUT training, and still others for ruck walks and so on. You’ve only got so much room in your ruck, right? And a reality is that should things go south and you are with your NPT, you’re not going to have time to ‘get used to’ the boots you have set aside for ‘SHTF’ scenarios.
Boots (and socks), taken for SHTF should be the same ones you’ve been training in for the last however many months or years. We like the Vermont ‘Darn Tough’ brand; they’re comfortable, provide great cushioning and wicking, and are generally bomb proof.
Speaking of training, consider (if you can swing it) two to three pair of boots to alternate for all tasks, not specialized events. All should be broken in properly, and it shouldn’t matter which pair you wear for your training event save for allowing a pair to dry out, air out, or get one of the other pairs some miles on them. Currently, I have 3 pr of 3 season boots I change out every single time I train, and 1 pair of 600 gram boots for cold weather. 4 pair for the year keeps me in dry, broken in, but in good shape boots, no matter what we’re training on.
The exception might be in that you have similar boots with varying levels of insulation for winter and summer seasons. If you’re a Danner fan, you might have an uninsulated or 200 gram insulated pair of boots (depending on your geographic location) for late Spring, Summer and early Autumn, and a pair of 600 gram insulated pair for late Autumn, Winter, and early Spring as your primary, ‘go to’ footwear for all activities. Substitute the brand for your favorite and the equation stays the same.
What we do not recommend at all is the practice of having a pair of boots for each primary activity one might find themselves undertaking. Examples:
- SUT boots
- Land Nav boots
- Range boots
- Ruck Walk boots
Your boots should be able to take you through all the above examples. In our own boot selection, after going through a few brands in the last 10 years, we’ve found that the Danner brand (because they meet our criteria, take a beating, and last a looooong time, providing us a superb return on the monetary investment for the boots (we never buy at MSRP or even close). Here’s our criteria for good boots:
- 8 inch shaft height minimum – The taller shaft provides great support and helps us in our trouser blousing (which we highly recommend for those who are in areas with bugs and don’t want them to feed on anything they might find while crawling up a trouser leg…..just sayin’ Of course, those who like the currently popular style of pant legs dragging on the ground probably don’t mind those bites and stings. Tougher than us, that’s for sure! )
- Goretex lining – As long as possible, we keep our feet dry and change socks. Aside: Get the best socks you can find, too. Consider ‘Vermont Darn Tough’ brand. Bombproof and comfortable, too!
- Stout ankle support – Lets us walk over varying and difficult terrain and get up to walk the next day without crutches. Sorry, we don’t do ‘jungle boots’….and the idea behind being able to move a long ways on foot today should be followed with doing it tomorrow if necessary as well.
- Speed lace capability – For those rare times in training that we get to air our doggies, speed lacing gets us back in the saddle much more quickly.
- Smooth or Rough Out Leather Uppers – It does help when waterproofing the exterior.
- Non-Metallic Safety Toe – This one’s optional, but I have 2 pair with this, and I have great peace of mind should something heavy fall on my feet….
As to our choice of Danner, we know that others like different brands for different reasons. And that’s fine. We’re not touting Danner over all others; it’s just our personal choice. If we find a brand that exceeds Danner for the outlay of cash, we’ll be switching the next time we are in the market. YMMV.
Bottom line: Find a brand of boot that you can wear at any and all training you do. Get a couple more pair when you settle. Then rotate them through your regimen. You’ll find that when/if you ever have to pull NPT operations, there won’t be any need to ‘get used it’….you’ll already be there.