Navy SEAL Hiking Boots, Tactical & Special Forces Boots

Many of our athletes and Special Forces candidates want to know exactly what type of gear the Navy SEAL uses in training and overseas in Afghanistan.

What is working out in the field vs what is not.

Sometimes in the morning, we would be in dive booties and later that afternoon in 8-inch boots hiking in the jungle.

Training demands on equipment are harsh as Navy SEALs train rigorously and work in unforgiving terrain. The boots must keep up with the stringent requirements of stability, comfort, and versatility.

Knowing what Navy SEALs look for in their boots is a better question than asking what we wear during missions.

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You need to make sure that the boots you want to buy have the following characteristics:

  • Breathable materials
  • Shock absorption unit
  • Padded soles
  • Vents
  • Waterproof
  • Oil and slip-resistant soles

Tall vs Short Boots

The difference between wearing a 6-inch or an 8-inch boot is significant. Your comfort level will be different in both boots.

6-Inch Boots

Shorter boots are lighter in most instances, and they feel natural to the feet.

Even though these shoes are shorter, they offer excellent ankle support.

6-inch boots are stable for hiking or running through rough terrain. These boots endure the long-distance just fine.

Running is easier in a 6-inch boot. This will not be the case if the build of the boot makes it heavier than an 8-inch boot.

Because they are shorter, 6-inch boots are more supple and flexible. Navy SEALs often have to move quickly.

8-Inch Boots

The boots are generally heavier, but they offer more stability.

These boots are the best choice when you are carrying something heavy.

8-inch boots are your friends when you have to cut through thick undergrowth or hiking under severe weather.

You will experience excellent ankle support. This is something you need because ruck marching with an ankle sprain is not a problem you want to have.

Wear 8-inch boots if your activity requires you to keep a slow and steady pace under harsh conditions.

Check out this list of Navy SEALs hiking boots and footwear.

By the way this is not some bull $#%& list—it is gear that Team guys have worn on duty, overseas and in harms way.

So what brand lightweight hiking boots do Navy SEALs wear? Check out the list below and see our favorites.

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#10 New Balance Tactical Men’s Abyss II 6-Inch Boot:

New Balance Tactical Men's Abyss II 6-Inch BootThese boots are very lightweight, well-drained, provide ankle protection and great traction, and considered a high-performance water shoe.

The New Balance Abyss Boot would be more of use for ship boarding, beach recon work, oil rig demolition, etc.

That is why it is ranked #10 as it more of a water boot than a hiking boot.

You can hike in it but would not want to go into rugged mountain terrain long distance with a real heavy pack unless I had to.

New Balance does have a beefier boot that I own and train in. It is a great boot for ruck march training in hilly terrain.

Question: What about Merrell vs Vasque boots? Or Scarpa boots vs Rocky?

Answer: Both are good, so you need to see which one fits best.

#9 Palladium Pampa Hi Canvas Boot

Palladium Pampa Hi Canvas BootThe Palladium hiking boot also falls into the ship boarding, beach recon hiking boot also.

But if you had to hike a few miles on the beach and jungle I would carry these.

I personally wore a similar 1980s version of the Palladium Pampa Hi Canvas Boot for dive work and knocking around the base and occasional jungle patrol.

Good for their use – but I would not load up a 100-pound pack and hike through rocky terrain with these boots.

Don’t set these down as they are a hot commodity and may sprout legs and runoff.

So what hiking boots do SEALs use for rugged terrain?

ASOLO FSN 95 GTX HIKING BOOT Review

Question: What is the best boot for a GORUCK event or just a ruck march?

Answer: We like New Balance, Lowa Zephyr, Rocky C4T as these boots have been used by our athletes on ruck march events recently in the past few years. We have seen many athletes wearing a lot of different shoes and clothing at GORUCK. Some of the guys that do them will often wear just a good pair of trail running shoes with excellent wool socks.

#8 Asolo vs Salomon tactical military boots

Asolo vs Salomon bootsIt is noted that many of the Special Forces guys like to wear Asolo and Salomon Boots.

These are a lot beefier and you can carry a large pack in rugged rocky terrain without worrying about turning your ankle.

Both have Gore-Tex (waterproof, breathable skin) and their boots accept orthotic insoles.

A question was asked this week, “What are the most popular boots in the SEAL team?”.

During the 1970s and 80s probably the Altama jungle boot. Nowadays probably the Bates 922.

Question:What about Salomon shoes vs Merrill shoes?

Answer:Both are good find out which one fits your feet the best.

#7 Blackhawk vs Merrell military boots

Blackhawk Desert Warrior boot
From a 30-year veteran SEAL: “I used the Blackhawk Desert Warrior boot in the summer and Merrell Moab Polar in the winter. I used these on 3 deployments to Afghanistan and had no issues with them tearing up or getting frozen. Both carry a fully loaded ruck well.” Another question is, “What kind of socks do SEALs wear? We get issued these thick dive socks.

Guys wear these on operations, long hikes, inside a dive boogie as cushioning…they get used a lot. We wore those same socks in BUD/S training.

Another question is “What kind of socks do SEALs wear? We get issued these thick dive socks.

Guys wear these on operations, long hikes, inside a dive boogie as cushioning…they get used a lot. We wore those same socks in BUD/S training.

Another backup is the Smartwool socks.

Question: What about Rocky S2V vs SWAT boots?

Answer: Both are good boots so I would try both on to see how they fit first.

#6 Oakley SI6

Oakley SI-6 boot
I like the Oakley SI-6 boot a lot and have observed it being worn occasionally by guys training out in the field.

Light weight, drains well.. and oh yeah.. it looks good.

If you are not out training on a mission you can still wear these into town with a pair of shorts.

Oakley puts together a great product.

Question: What are the best hiking boots for Afghanistan?

Answer: We know Special Forces guys that have worn Salomon, Bates, and Black Hawk boots in Afghanistan. The key is to have a boot that will stand up to a lot of abuse. But you may wear a beefier lugged boot if you are hiking long distances with a load vs if you were in an urban assault for a quick hit and run mission.

#5 Nike SFB

Nike SFB bootThis is reportedly the new boot that is being tested out at BUD/S right now.

I observed a pair being worn by the sentry at BUD/S last fall.

Lighter than the Bates 922 but not sure how good they will hold upcoming in and out of the surf and being ground down by sand.

Only time will tell over varied conditions if these hold up as well day in day out.

Question: I was wondering what the SEAL Team 10 mountain boots that are issued?

Answer: Many Team guys are issued Danner boots.

#4 Lowa Zephyr

Lowa Zephyr boot
The Lowa brand is great as it has a wide selection from desert to mountains to lightweight.

The Elite Desert is tough, breathable, and lightweight but has been discontinued.

So for now we would go with the Lowa Zephyr boot.

This high performance boot is used by the British Army under the harshest conditions.

I personally own a pair of these and have used these to ruck long distances with a load and for odd jobs around the house. They are super comfortable and a good value as they will last a long time.

If you need to clean them, just take out the water hose and spray them down.

Question: Is hiking a good Navy SEAL workout?

Answer: Yes; start out slow with a 10 to 20 lb ruck and hike in hills.

#3 Danner Acadia

Danner Desert Acadia 8" bootThese were standard issues in the 1980s for the SEAL Teams and are excellent for long-range hiking and harsh conditions.

We had them in all black.. but others were leather with a tan gore-tex liner.

The Danner Desert Acadia 8″ boot will last for years of above.

But be really careful with these boots as I once got these too close to a fire to dry them out and the whole toe box caved in and really messed up my feet trying to hike out of the Sierras. They also look good in a pair of jeans when you out hitting the town for a brew.

Question: I am trying to pick out a pair of boots, what kinds of terrain do Navy SEALs train in?

Answer: The SEALs train in the ocean, mountains, desert, jungle and swamps so they use several different boots for varied terrain.

Bates Men's 8 Inches Tropical Seals Durashocks Work Boot

#2 Bates 922

These have been used at BUD/S for a decade-plus and have been a go-to boot in the Teams.

It is not the lightest or most hi-tech but will always get the job done.

These boots have been worn by thousands of BUD/S candidates and hundreds of Team Guys over the years.

The Bates 922 is an all around work horse for about any situation.

Question: What about Nike SFB vs lowa Zephyr GTX?

Answer: Both are great boots and I would try a pair on and see how they fit your feet.

Vasque Men's Juxt Multi-Sport Shoe

#1 VASQUE JUXT

The Vasque Juxt was used on the mission to destroy Osama Bin-Laden.

Very light weight and low with no ankle protection.

SEAL Team Six guys wore gaiters (very lightweight) over their pants leg and top to hiking boots to keep out sand and debris.

Worn on Bin Laden Raid


Check out the Vasque Men’s Juxt Multisport Shoe @ Amazon.com

Question: What kind of boots do Navy SEALs wear in Afghanistan?

Answer: I used Blackhawk Desert warrior in the summer and Merrell Moab Polar in the winter (from a 30 year veteran Navy SEAL).

Runner-Ups

Altama Footwear Men's Jungle Boot 6853Vietnam era Jungle Boots These boots were worn in BUD/S back in the ’70s and ’80s and issued to guys in the Teams – especially those going to jungle deployment in Central and South America or the Philippines.

They are relatively lightweight and drain well and dry out quickly. Back in the day, I would pull out insoles and spray water inside to clean out all of the dirt and swamp mud.

Then hang them up in the drying cage and put a fan on them to dry out quicker. The worst thing you can do is leave your shoes covered with mud and seawater and then leave them in the shade with the inserts still in them. If you wanted to do a quick run on the beach these would be great for training.

If you wanted to do a quick run on the beach these would be great for training.

Altama 8" LITESpeed BootsAltama lightspeed boots and jungle boots. The new Altama 8″ LITESpeed Boots

were issued in the SEAL Teams in the 1980s to jungle deployed units. They are also issued to all SEALs deployed in Iraq. They’re lightweight and drain well.

The Altama Jungle boots are hard to beat as they are good to go. Not high tech but don’t need to be when you can get the job done with them.

Question: Do you have any reviews for the LALO Tactical boots?

Answer: Yes; check out the video below for the LALO Tactical Shadow Black Ops boot.

Question: What about the Salomon Jungle Ultra vs Nike SFB? Have you tried Adidas?

Answer: Both are good lightweight boots. I would try both on and see which one fits your feet the best and then go from there. The key is that it drains quickly and will hold up to a jungle setting with lots of rain and high humidity. It is easy for your gear to begin to degrade in this situation as mold and mildew can ruin your gear quickly. I like to wash my gear out with a pressure water hose and let it all dry in a covered drying cage with a fan. Be careful putting your gear (leather gloves) in the full tropical sun as it can bake your stuff and work against you to destroy.

You will also want to look at the lug pattern and make sure that it is open and wide. If you have a close pattern that will only get filled with mud and make you slip when you need it and covering the terrain with wet roots like in a mangrove swamp.

If you stop and lay up for a few hours to rest or get communications, you can then get a small stick and dig out the grooves in your boots so that it reduces weight from the excess clodded up dirt, but also to open up the tread pattern.

Sometimes you don’t have anything better to do than that and so it makes for a small chore to keep your mind busy. Most of the time I just try to walk in high grass or turn my ankles to each side while walking in the grass so that it helps scrub off the excess mud. Or you can just stand for a moment and move the sides of your boot and scrub them on the textured grass.

NRS Workboot Wetshoes

The NRS Workboot Wetshoes are excellent for ship boarding, water rescue, oil rig demolitions, etc.

This is an excellent water boot that offers a tight fit, warmth, stable ankle support, and traction.

This is another commodity that rescue agencies and river professionals have taken up, and for good reason.

You can walk the land in this boot thanks to the shock-absorbing neoprene insoles and anti-slip lug soles.

Pair the NRS wet shoes with waterproof neoprene socks for warmth in colder weather.

This lace-up boot is reinforced with synthetic leather and rubber. This is a boot best kept close in water or the terrains surrounding water bodies.

Garmont Men’s Bifida Military Tactical Boots

These boots are popular in the special forces because of the high-performance construction.

Wear Garmont tactical boots for hiking on any kind of terrain and dry weather conditions.

The boots are stable from the suede and nylon webbing construction. The backward sweeping design provides a secure fit and prevents blisters.

Metallic eyelets improve ventilation to keep the feet warm during hikes.

This boot has one of the best traction I’ve experienced. The slip-resistant rubber outsoles withstand a lot of battering.

Garmont Bifida Military tactical boots are for missions that require speed and lightweight support. The boots are okay even when you are carrying a heavy backpack over a long distance.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that if you want the best hiking boots that the market has to offer, you must look for what the Navy SEALs wear.

More than anything else, they understand the importance of comfortable, durable, and versatile footwear.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brad McLeod knows first hand about mental toughness. After passing Hell Week and Dive Pool Comp at BUD/S, he failed a math test and was kicked out of training. A year later, he returned, graduated, and served as an operator on the Navy SEAL Teams.

Today, he is one of the most sought after mental conditioning coaches in the world. SEALgrinderPT audios and ebooks have been downloaded in 20 different countries around the globe. Check out SEALgrinderPT Coaching to help you step up and take hold of your dreams and realize your goals.

Proceeds from this website go to help raise funds for the Navy SEAL Foundation on CrowdRise.

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