tactical boots vs hiking boots

Tactical Boots Vs. Hiking Boots: All You Need To Know [2022 Update]

If you find yourself reading this article, you might be trying to find out who’s the winner between tactical boots vs. hiking boots.

Before you read further, you must know that although ‘tactical’ suggests military, they are not the same. 

Military boots are specially designed for the army, while tactical boots are versatile and can be used for hiking and mountaineering.

But what makes tactical boots vs. hiking boots an all-rounder?

 Are they worth buying compared to hiking boots? Would you still go for them instead of choosing the usual hiking boots?  

Let’s dive into the difference between tactical boots vs. hiking boots before you make your buying decision.

tactical boots vs hiking boots

Tactical Boots Vs. Hiking Boots

Type Of BootsDurabilityComfortSafetyFlexibilityConvenience 
Tactical Boots5/55/55/54/55/5
Hiking Boots4/55/54/55/54/5

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Tactical Boots Vs. Hiking Boots
Although tactical boots are somewhat synonymous with the ones worn by the military, they are excellent for hiking.

 Furthermore, tactical boots are versatile, and their function is not restricted. 

For instance, advanced hikers prefer wearing tactical boots to hiking boots, especially when trekking extreme technical terrains. Meanwhile, hiking boots are also comfortable for brisk walking or strolling in the park.

Let’s check out the differences between tactical boots vs. hiking boots in terms of these features:

Durability

Tactical Boots: In terms of durability, nothing can beat tactical boots because soldiers are known to walk hundreds of kilometers while carrying heavy loads. Tactical boots are made of durable materials such as suede leather, nylon fabric, and anti-wear soles to endure extreme weather. 

Additionally, tactical boots also resist pressure and damage from corrosive chemical elements.

Hiking Boots: Hiking boots are designed to endure trail challenges in terms of weather and technical paths – focusing primarily on the safety of hikers on the trail. 

These boots are typically made of leather or high denier nylon material. 

The safety features include a non-slip outsole, extreme weather and shock resistance, ankle support, and waterproof uppers.

Comfort

Tactical Boots: Tactical boots boast breathable and lightweight features since they are typically worn by the military, who often walk hundreds of long distances carrying heavy loads. As such, these boots provide better cushioning and excellent arch support.  

Additionally, tactical boots are water-resistant with a quick-drying system, excellent moisture retention, and moisture-wicking abilities.

Hiking Boots: Hiking boots are rarely uncomfortable because they are designed to support hikers. When choosing hiking boots, consider the technicality of the terrains you’re going to trek.

Ensure that the boots you buy have well-cushioned insoles, are good at wicking away moisture, and can redirect and absorb shocks. 

People often have to cross rivers or streams when they hike. 

So, your boots need to be waterproof, have arch support, special padding and linings, and a gusseted tongue to keep them in place.

Safety

Tactical Boots: Tactical boots triumph over hiking boots in terms of safety since they are worn mainly by the military and police. The design has top-notch safety features such as ankle support, anti-slip outsole, pressure and flame resistance, composite safety toe, and anti-chemical surface to better balance and stability.

Hiking Boots: Hiking boots are designed to withstand a variety of terrains and weather conditions. Additionally, they include a solid rubber sole that provides a good grip and high-strength materials resistant to shocks.

Flexibility

Tactical Boots: Tactical boots are utterly flexible because they are lightweight with a speed-lace lacing system. 

Speed-lacing system means the upper part of the shoe is ergonomic, making it easy and quick to adjust the shoe’s internal volume and wrap the foot in the best way possible. 

This makes the fit more precise and custom, giving the user the most confidence on any terrain.

The military mainly wears tactical boots as they go out on the battlefield and need to move quickly while carrying heavy loads. 

Hiking Boots: Because hikers would most likely maneuver rugged terrain and cover long distances, the design of hiking boots does not compromise flexibility.

 Not just that, hiking boots are also lightweight, and they offer high energy return and impact absorption.

Convenience 

Tactical Boots: With a speed-lace system and zipper, you can quickly put on and take your boots off. The tactical boots zipper is at the side of the boot.

Hiking Boots: Hiking boots come without a side zipper, so putting on and taking your boots off won’t be so quick, especially if your feet and socks are wet.

Are Tactical Boots Good For Hiking?

tactical boots vs hiking boots

Absolutely tactical boots are good for hiking! Tactical boots are more convenient and comfortable compared to hiking boots. 

However, you don’t need to discard hiking boots once and for all. As much as tactical boots sound superior to hiking boots, you have to consider what type of hiker you are.

If you are an average hiker who treks non-technical paths once in a while, you don’t need to buy tactical boots for hiking. 

A pair of good hiking boots are sufficient as long as they provide the essential features that guarantee your safety and comfort. 

You should look for the best tactical hiking boots if you like to go off the trail for days or even weeks, on active duty, or as a law enforcement officer. They’re meant to be your feet’s best friend if you deal with extreme weather, temperatures, substances, and environments that this boot is built to withstand.

Benefits Of Wearing Tactical Boots For Hiking

Wearing tactical boots for hiking means you’re subscribed to excellent safety, absolute comfort, convenience, long-term durability, and… style.

However, it’s important to note that compared to hiking boots, tactical boots are heavier

You won’t be able to move as freely as you would with hiking boots.

It’s an advantage because tactical boots will help you stay more balanced and stable, particularly when you have a lot of weight on your back.

Let’s explore some of the other benefits of wearing tactical boots vs. for hiking boots in more detail.

1. Tactical Boots Are… Tactical

Tactical boots will ease trekking through complex terrain because they’re light (compared to military boots). It’d also be unlikely for you to injure your feet since tactical boots have a high ability to absorb impact.

2. Tactical Boots Are Made Of Durable Materials

You don’t have to worry about sufficient foot protection thanks to the tactical boots’ two primary midsole materials: polyurethane and Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA). 

Polyurethane won’t allow sharp objects such as twigs or rocks to penetrate it. 

So it’s safe to say that your boots (and feet) can last long. Although it’s costlier than the EVA, polyurethane tactical boots are worth buying.

If you’re interested in getting polyurethane tactical boots, we recommend the Garmont T8 NFS

tactical boots vs hiking boots

The polyurethane footbed makes these boots cool, breathable, and quick to dry, but they can handle both hot and cold weather. 

EVA tactical boots are lighter than polyurethane boots, so your feet won’t feel too sore even after wearing them for a long time. 

We recommend the Rocky C4T Tactical Boots. The EVA outsoles have great grip, so you won’t slip or fall while you’re in action. This makes them one of the safest tactical boots on the market.

tactical boots vs hiking boots

In short, polyurethane tactical boots are suited for more demanding walks in hilly or jungle terrains. EVA tactical boots are an excellent choice for a group outing, even if it is purely recreational.

3. Tactical Boots Have Excellent Grip

Tactical boots can handle slippery surfaces like a champion. Therefore, it’s a tremendous advantage because hiking down is more challenging than hiking up.

4. Tactical Boots Come With Padded Midsole

Tactical boots have padded midsoles to provide shock absorption, and this feature isn’t always included in standard hiking shoes.

 You don’t have to worry about twisting your ankle when landing on rocks and tree branches, especially when descending.

Additionally, padded midsoles absorb moisture. Therefore, it’d be unlikely for tactical boots to rub against your ankles.  

How To Choose Good Hiking Boots

1. Boots for hiking should be snug all over but not too tight in the toe box. If you want to wear socks, try them on at night when your feet have swelled up. 

2. Find out your size. You should have the length, width, and arch measured. Get help from an expert at the store to assess the volume of your feet to ensure a proper fit.

3. Measure your foot length to determine your size. The insoles of your boots should have a thumb’s width of space between them and the end of your longest toe when you stand on them later on.

4. Put on the boots and see how you feel. After a long day, your feet tend to swell, and they’ll be at their biggest. This ensures that you don’t buy overly big boots.

5. Bring your orthotics (foot support device used to relieve an orthopedic problem) if you use them, as they affect the boot’s fit.

tactical boots vs hiking boots

6. Wear a suitable pair of socks, preferably socks you’ve worn before. It can help you better understand how new boots fit and feel. 

Ensure that the sock thickness is appropriate for the boots you plan to wear. Socks made of slow-drying cotton are more prone to cause blisters on the trail; instead, opt for synthetic materials. 

7. Wear the boots for a while and walk around the store. Bring them to walk on an inclined surface such as the stairs.

8. If you’re having problems with the way your boots fit, let your shoe specialist know. Forefoot pinching, weird lumps or seams, and toes slamming into the end of a boot when it’s on an incline are all things you don’t want. 

There is a problem with the boot’s volume if you can still feel space above the top of your foot even when the laces are tightened.

9. Consider a brand you’ve already worn when purchasing online. Since most boot manufacturers use the same foot model year after year, you may expect a similar fit. You can alter the fit of your boots by changing the knots you use. 

10. Consider purchasing insoles that have been custom-made for your feet. Insoles are available in various styles that might improve comfort, support, or fit. 

11. Before your first hike, make sure to break in your boots. Hikers with blisters and weary feet sometimes skip this crucial step. Read this article to find out how.

5 Best Tactical Boots For Hiking

1. Rocky S2V Predator

tactical boots vs hiking boots
  • Soldiers wear these boots on deployment, so it’s long-lasting and value for money.
  • Affordable than most premium brands but still performs excellently.
  • They are made from leather and 1000D Cordura Nylon, the most rigid nylon on the market.
  • The fabric of the boot is flame resistant.
  • Drainage holes on the sides of the boot let water and air out more quickly and efficiently than in other boots, allowing you “walk the boots dry” very quickly.
  • It comes with Vibram soles, the best rubber outsole that’s slip-resistant and provides proper shock absorption.
  • A solid 10 in terms of style.
  • Not suitable for running as the arch support is not strong enough, and the thick Cordura fabric won’t let any air through.

2. 5.11 ATAC 2.0 8″

tactical boots vs hiking boots
  • The best tactical boots for men.
  • It comes with a “tactical knife pocket” on the side of the boot that can fit most foldable everyday carry knives but is too small for more big blades.
  • It is not built for extreme tactical action, so it doesn’t cover rugged terrain and won’t survive harsh weather conditions.
  • Reliable work boots that are good for urban and indoor conditions.
  • Although not durable enough, the excellent model of these boots is oil and slip-resistant.

3. Nike SFB Field 2 8″ Gore-Tex Boot

tactical boots vs hiking boots
  • The best tactical winter boots.
  • Keep your feet warm and toasty with Thinsulate insulation.
  • Made of breathable leather with a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane and a dual-zone lacing system with locking eyelets to help keep your forefoot secure.
  • Lightweight padding and an interior rock guard prevent punctures and minimize pressure for increased comfort and protection.
  • Perforations on the sides and collar improve breathability, a heel counter adds stability for larger loads, and an aggressive outsole pattern provides strong traction.

4. Salomon XA Forces Mid GTX

tactical boots vs hiking boots
Photo credit: salomon.com
  • The best tactical boots for running.
  • Unlike the standard tactical boot, this boot is a mix of a running shoe and a tactical boot with a height of about 4″.
  • Suitable for shorter distances, urban areas, sprinting and running but not long-distance treks, rough terrain, and rucking.
  • They are mostly nylon with some leather bits here and there, with moisture-wicking lining. 
  • It has a thick grip outsole that keeps everything together.
  • This boot’s Gore-Tex fabric keeps it dry. But Gore-Tex wears off, so you’ll have to treat the boot to retain its waterproof feature.
  • Think tennis shoes with the durability of a combat boot.
  • Provides decent ankle protection due to the low height—great tactical boot for hot weather.

5. Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest 

tactical boots vs hiking boots
Photo credit: vivobarefoot.com
  • The most popular and comfortable barefoot hiking boots on the market.
  • The boot is water-resistant but not waterproof, made of premium wild hide leather, and treated with Renapur leather balsam.
  • Don’t spend too much time in the stream or river.
  • The boot is breathable even on scorching hot days with sandwich mesh lining. 
  • The sole is durable rubber with lugs that function as claws to secure your feet from the edge of these shoes to the center.
  • The sole stands for its name as it helps improve flexibility and ground feel, so you’ll feel like walking barefoot. 
  • A bonus point is that Vivobarefoot uses natural and renewable materials for the Tracker Forest shoes!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes A Boot Tactical?

The focus of these heavy-duty shoes is to serve law enforcement professionals, military service members, and security personnel. Tactical boots have rubber soles that provide extra traction and flexibility to protect you under brutal weather and geographical conditions while keeping your feet comfortable and agile. 

They also make a distinctive style statement.

Before deciding between tactical boots vs. hiking boots, think about how frequently you go for hikes and the difficulty level of the terrain.

It’s not that you can’t wear tactical boots even if your hiking level is average. It’s just that they cost more than hiking boots.

 Therefore, it’d be more cost-efficient if you choose hiking boots instead. The good ones can undoubtedly last for a long time. 

The benefits of both boots are fantastic for anyone. But if you want to get both, it’d be good to do an on-the-spot test run to discover which one fits and feels best for you.  

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