View Full Version : Desert Boots

06-24-2006, 07:02 PM
Since this seems to be a perennnial topic, I thought I'd offer some comments on my search for the perfect desert boot. My experience relates strictly to OEF, mostly on the mountainous eastern border with Pakistan. Given the terrain and current TTP's, almost any operation involves movement by foot, carrying what you need on your back. While mountainous, the eastern border region is often sweltering during the summer, with high humidity and temps in the triple digits. Hence, a light, cool boot that supports the foot well is preferred. My own situation is compounded by the fact that I have a narrow foot, size 10-1/2 B. Although we do get a periodic boot issue, my unit can purchase COTS and we are not limited to issue equipment for field use.

Originally, we were issued a mixture of Altama and Wellco desert boots. These were indeed cool and light, but most did not survive pre-deployment training in the states. Those that did failed to endure the first month in Afghanistan. Both of these boots, available only in a regular width, fit my feet okay with heavy socks, but durability and support were an issue. I found that the Altamas killed your back and feet unless you promptly switched out the insoles. Again, both seemed cheaply made and fell apart quickly under normal use.

Some of the guys praised the Oakleys and the unit made a big purchase for those that wanted them. The Oakleys were too wide for my feet and I had to take a pass. I was able to get two pairs of Danners, however, a pair of desert Acadias and a pair of Task Force GTX. These were both regular width boots, as narrow sizes were not offered at the time. The Acadias fit okay with heavy socks but required judicious use of mole skin for some hot spots. The GTX have a foamy sort of lining that tends to mold to your foot. I got a pretty good fit with these so long as I wore heavy socks. During our first tour, all of the guys with the Oakleys complained that the boots were too hot. Most of the Oakleys seemed to hold up fairly well, though, and there were durability issues with only a couple of guys. For me, the Danner Acadias held up well, but were very hot and gave the impression of being really heavy on the feet. The GTX's felt much lighter but were equally hot. I think having to wear heavy socks to fill the extra volume of the regular width boots was the culprit here. My feet tend to sweat a lot anyway. Using lots of foot powder helped some, but not enough. And foot odor? Enough to knock a buzzard off the crap cart.

None of the desert boots offer a lot of ankle support on steep slopes. I've rolled ankles in the Danners, but without damage, so I would have to say there is perhaps adequate support; but nothing like a good pair of backpacking boots. Speaking of backpacking boots, prior to our arrival in country, the team we were relieving advised us to bring backpacking boots on account of the terrain we'd be working. Of course, they didn't have them and were trying to be helpful. I brought a couple pair which I had on hand, which, of course, were all leather. I quickly developed a severe heat rash on both insteps that was the devil to get rid of. Liberal tolerance of non-issue gear in the field did not extend to wearing flip-flops around the embassy.

Of late, I've been able to get the G to pay for a nice pair of Army tan, hot weather desert Acadias. These have a Gore-tex liner, which I believe is unnecessary, but do come in a B width. These fit my feet like a glove right out of the box with no hot spots. I've been able to wear some fairly thin Ultimax socks that greatly reduce the heat problem. The Ultimax socks even have the X-static fibers that really do seem to eliminate foot odor. The only remaining issue is the weight. These are still heavy boots that you definitely feel during a long or difficult hump.

Still looking for a lighter boot, I forked over some of my own dough and got a pair of Bellville 340 desert boots without the safety toe. They were available in a generic narrow width that I thought was worth a try. I was also attracted by the cambrelle lining with X-static fibers incorporated within. Although the boots are fire resistant (they're approved for flight and armor crews), they seem to have excellent breathability and are much lighter than the Danners. The weight is a bit subjective at this point, as I can't find any specs for comparison and lack a scale. With the generic narrow width, they are not as good a fit as the Danners. Wearing thin socks, I can detect a little bit of play in the heal, which would require some moleskin as a preventative in the field. No issues around town or in vehicles. We loaded ammo out of a conex bunker the other day (which gets really hot) and my feet stayed nice and cool. The Bellvilles still need a good testing in the field.

At this point, I tend to lean toward the Danners, because of the perfect fit. The Bellvilles may eventually gain favor, if the addition of a little moleskin solves the only potential hotspot that I've found to date. Both Danner and Bellville have good reputations and I've certainly had no durability issues with the Danners. Nor do I expect any with the Bellvilles. YMMV /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/cool.gif

06-24-2006, 07:22 PM
I've seen these, but not worn them. they looked good-
I'm pretty sure they're available in narrow widths.
As you may know, Hanwags from Lathrop & Sons, are extremely well thought of by many members of this board, myself included.
A set of his custom insoles might help you as well.

Another outfit-

06-25-2006, 06:07 AM
GJ, the lowa desert seekers have been getting good feedback. they're even lighter than the wellcos and provide more support than the wellcos or danners.
someone posted on another board:
"I just called Lowa and spoke to a lovely lady named Paula. She said anyone AD qualifies for the "Pro Discount." Well I gotta tell you when she said these Desert Seekers were $88 + actual shipping costs I was a happy soldier.

Evidently someone at Lowa has seen our pay chart and decided to help us out! You have to like a company that supports us like that.

Give them a call @ 203-353-0116 and ask for Paula. "

06-25-2006, 10:13 AM
I had looked hard at the Lowa's before, thanks to MM's excellent writeup. Try as I might though, I couldn't find any indication that they came in a narrow width. I may give Paula a ring and follow up on that. I have a pair of Lowa Banff's in narrow width that I have been very pleased with; alas, they are too hot for here.

I found the altberg site previously cruising around the web (hard up for entertainment here). It looked interesting, but quite frankly, the fact that these are custom boots notwithstanding, the Brits have never been known for quality gear. Initially, they had problems with their issue boots falling apart. I know that's like comparing apples and oranges, but I think I'm prejudiced in that department.

Meindl makes a very interesting desert boot that I've seen in some of the foreign exchanges here. They do offer narrow widths in their commercial offerings, but apparently not in the desert boot. They are also rather expensive.

I have the Lathrop site bookmarked at home and salivate over it frequently. I think the boots in their selection would be too hot for my present purposes, but someday I'm going to treat myself. At the moment, I unfortunately have a fixed income and a growing Kifaru addiction to feed. BTW, how do you tell your wife that you want a new ZXR in ACU, but don't want to get rid of the Pointman you got on ebay?

06-25-2006, 11:03 AM
"I just called Lowa and spoke to a lovely lady named Paula. She said anyone AD qualifies for the "Pro Discount." Well I gotta tell you when she said these Desert Seekers were $88 + actual shipping costs I was a happy soldier. "

Too bad they are $160 plus shipping for us retired military guys... /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif
the old jungle boots i wore between 1978-2001 were about the lightest boot I could find and nowhere near as comfortable as the Oakley boots.

06-25-2006, 11:40 AM

I could only locate these on UK and Australian links

06-25-2006, 12:59 PM
Good looking boot- $182.00

06-25-2006, 05:20 PM
If you haven't already done so. you could try Raichle, very good mountain boots, or Meindel, also very good mountain boots. I do not know about narrow fittings, as I take a wide, but it wouldn't hurt to check.
I used the Meindels in the part of the world you are talking about, with no problems.
If you can live with them, I'd stay with the Danners, especially the lighter weight desert Arcadia. I used to use these exclusively, but here in OZ, the Meindels are about $50 cheaper, lighter, and IMHO, slightly better.
JMHO, best of luck in your search.

Cheers, Dave.

06-25-2006, 05:41 PM
Link for Lowa Desert Seeker PT, $129 with free ground shipping. http://www.botac.com/lotafosedept.html
Have a pair inbound, best price I've found (before seeing MM's good info).

06-25-2006, 08:33 PM
Good luck with botac-

06-25-2006, 08:51 PM
Bugger!!! Thanks for the heads up, I'll keep my fingers crossed. Will post if any hassles occur.

06-26-2006, 10:07 AM
Like these Converse alot.



07-05-2006, 07:33 PM
I sent Lowa an email query regarding widths on the Lowa Desert Seeker. Alas, they only come in D widths.

The Belleville's are doing well in the heat, but I still haven't given them a good workout in the hills. I think these would be really great boots if they just had a European last, which tends to be a bit narrower in the heel. I'm sure they'll be okay with a bit of moleskin strategically placed.

I've had a chance to try on the Converse boots. Terrible fit for me.

With their more precise sizing, the Danner's definitely get the nod. Although they are heavier and hotter than I would like, overall fit is perfect. IMHO, for someone with narrow feet, fit is the crucial aspect. Perceived weight is more mental than anything. I can always air out my feet and change socks (eventually) to beat the heat. Improperly sized boots, however, are a killer.

07-05-2006, 10:04 PM
Recruiting for the Guard, they put us in ACU's early on since we're the "face" of the Army and I started with issue Bellevilles. Inside 3 months they brought back my chronic plantar fasciaitis so I bought some of the U.S. made Oakley's when we were putting together a military sales sunglass order. They've been on my foot every day for about 6 months now and I'm ready to throw them away. Much too narrow for me and they seem hot. This could be in large part from mail order buying w/o testing first. Mind you, this is all garrison duty, no deployments on any of these boots but I'm ready to spring for the Acadia's. I've owned many pairs of Danners in the past and have always liked them. In my experience lightweight and rough country hard use do not go hand in hand. The substance needed in a boot to protect your feet and provide proper support is going to weigh a certain amount, don't sacrifice those qualities in a boot for lightweight.

07-09-2006, 10:06 AM
I'm deployed overseas right now. I got a pair of Danner Desert Acadia's cheap because a guy in my unit works at the Lacrosse Boot shop in WI and they own Danner. They are built like Tanks but heavy as hell. The weight doesn't impress me.

Anyways, I saw military moron's take on the Lowa's on his website and ordered a pair. Around the same time I ordered the US Oakleys. Both the Lowa's and Oakleys arrived at my home after I was gone so I my mom send them over.

Needless to say I've worn the Oakley's 1x.

On the Lowa Desert Seeker PT: After about 6 months of everyday wear the stiching around my inner anklebone came undone in the same spot on both boots. Shortly thereafter the cordura started to rip in that spot due to the lack of stiching. (Had I had them restiched it wouldn't have happened)......Anyways, I was still wearing the ripped boots when I posted on Lightfighter and Military Moron suggested I call Lowa about the boots. I didn't have my receipt which the website says they require however they looked up my order and authorized the return without any hassle........It's been 2 weeks since I called them and I still haven't sent the boots back because I don't want to wear the Danners! (I took the Oakleys home when I went on leave).....

I'm sure you've all heard people describe how a certain pair of boots "feel like tennis shoes" only to discover when you wear them yourself they feel nothing like tennis shoes.......Well, I'm not going to say the Lowa's do but it's damn close and I have no idea they provide the ankle support they do with their light weight. They have more ankle support then the danners that seem to weigh like 2x as much......

The Lowa's are great boots and thanks MM for having me contact them for the replacements- I'm sure I'll get around to sending them back eventually /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif ......

07-14-2006, 11:09 PM
anyone got any comments on Garmont M6 Boots?

07-15-2006, 01:30 AM
If you want a great desert boot look for the Meindl Desert Fox or the new Meindl Safari.
http://img130.imagevenue.com/loc458/th_40893_b003_362.png_458lo.jpg (http://img130.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=40893_b003_362.png_458lo.jpg) http://img140.imagevenue.com/loc383/th_40898_1133_1543.png_383lo.jpg (http://img140.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=40898_1133_1543.png_383lo.jpg)
A lot of us danish guys in Iraq and Afghanistan uses Meindl Desert Fox and it is, with out doubt, the best desert boot I have tried on.
The ankle support is good in the Desert Fox (but not as good as in a normal full leather boot), and in the new Safari it is even better.
You can not avoid that you get hot feets, but my experience is, compared to a pair of Oakley, that Meindl is more cool and comfortable, and even after a 18 hours workday your feets are still feeling alive.
They cost around 150 euro ~ 190 $.

// Kristian