Combat boots for men make a distinctive style statement, thanks to their tall shaft, thicker outsole, and fully laced-up design. Like many items of menswear, their origins start from military use, before their practical aspects helped them transition into a piece of civilian garb.
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Illustrating that dichotomy, fashion options based on this silhouette are in demand today, while tactical and military combat boots remain de rigueur for those in these occupations.
What are Combat Boots?
Military-specific footwear has been around since the Romans. Modern-day military combat boots – from the early 20th century to the present – are worn on the battlefield, in training, and for ceremonial purposes. To perform in these environments, these military boots blend a grippy, lugged outsole, provide the wearer with a greater degree of ankle stability, and have toe and foot protection built in. To hold up to the rugged conditions, traditional combat boots for men have a hard leather exterior, often waterproofed for damp to rainy conditions.
Current men’s combat boots, whether for military or fashion usage, go back to the M-1943 uniform worn by the U.S. Army and based on the 1917 Trench Boot used by American and European troops during World War I. The M-1943 boot had a higher cuff secured with two buckles and a single-piece sole. This design was replaced later with shined black leather and, for tropical climates, a black leather base with an olive drab canvas shaft.
Military Combat Boots vs. Tactical Boots
At face level, both might seem like the same type of footwear, as “military” and “tactical” are often used interchangeably. Yet, while tactical gear encompasses military supplies, it further applies to law enforcement usage. In the present, you’ll further see tactical construction being used for certain hiking and work boots.
Between these two types:
- Tactical boots typically have a lightweight design mixing leather and textile to allow for more breathability and flexibility. Tactical boots will be worn by members of the armed force who won’t be in combat, working in rough terrain, or handling potentially explosive materials. Rather, they’re more of an officer’s boot and further worn by security, military, safety, and special ops personnel.
- Military combat boots not to be confused with fashion-centric men’s boots utilizing a similar silhouette – tend to be fully leather and built to handle more demanding circumstances. These heavy-duty military boots are crafted to last in high-stress environments and extreme climates, including holding up to hand-to-hand combat. Whereas a tactical boot might offer breathability and flexibility, a military combat boot provides improved shock absorption and stability and a fully waterproof design.
The Best Fashion Combat Boots for Men
If you’re looking for military-inspired style, the following everyday men’s boots deliver it:
Dr. Martens has been delivering more synthetic options over the years, expanding upon their classic leather men’s boots that have been a staple of subculture style for decades. This fold-down boot combines the familiar silhouette with a supportive, air-cushioned sole, durable Goodyear welting, and lighter-weight construction.
The Stratus bridges the combat silhouette with work boot influences, resulting in a lined fully leather boot with contrast stitching, a grippy lugged outsole, and a full lace-up closure.
These Frye boots are a timeless fully leather lace-up supported with a lighter-weight EVA outsole. Its versatility delivers smart and business casual style when paired with chinos and can be laced over your skinny jeans once the weekend arrives.
If you’ve found most fashion combat boots still too stiff, this pair from Kenneth Cole creates a more easy experience through a responsive, cushioning gel pod added to the heel. Side zippers allow for easy on and off.
Diesel aims for maximal and delivers with this pair of chunky leather combat boots featuring a thicker, more prominently lugged outsole. If you’ve been getting back into the whole ‘90s-‘00s revival, this pair can easily be worn with wide-legged denim.
The cap toe gives this Thursday combat boot a work-ready look. Yet, outside of the office, Goodyear welt construction and studded rubber outsole hold up to more rigorous use, while the shock-absorbing midsole and EVA strips create a more comfortable experience.
What Should You Wear with Fashion Combat Boots?
These combat boots for men transcend casual to smart casual and business dress and should be incorporated appropriately with denim of all cuts. Note that because these types of boots aren’t designed for rigorous environments, they won’t deliver the comfort nor the construction to hold up to something stronger than a short hike.
When Can You Wear Combat Boots?
Most solid leather and synthetic combat boots for men are best relegated to an everyday style. Yet, especially with office and cocktail dress codes breaking down, you can put them in rotation with your oxfords and derbies.
The Best Men’s Military Boots and Combat Boots
What if you need something more heavy duty? Equip yourself with the following:
A lightweight, mid-height option, this tactical boot delivers versatile construction suitable for duty and outdoor use, including for hiking, hunting, and industrial and construction jobs. Meeting the demands is a mixed upper utilizing breathable fabric and synthetic leather for support, abrasion resistance, a TPU toe cap for reinforcement, and Under Armour’s proprietary ClutchFit ankle support system.
5.11 is respected inside and out of the tactical sphere for its construction and durability, and these men’s boots live up to the hype. A blend of suede and nylon withstand demanding and wet environments, further enhanced by vents that provide drainage and rapid-dry technology. A Speed cupsole platform along with lugs at the forefoot and a slip resistant outsole ensure a high degree of stability across a range of terrains.
Tactical and work boots have started combining athletic features, either utilizing textiles to enhance breathability or a sneaker-like shape. These Danner boots bring together the brand’s heritage in workwear and tactical gear and lighten it up without compromising durability. The result features a breathable 1000D nylon upper, shock-absorbing footbed, abrasion resistance, and pentagonal lugs for traction and reliable contact in wet to dry conditions.
On the subject of tactical boots with a sneaker-like construction, Reebok continues its streak outside of athletic wear with this pair featuring an eight-inch shaft. A flexible outsole and MemoryTech footbed give you the movement and responsiveness you seek, while rubber in key areas provides the durability and traction needed for the job.