THE BATES BRAND
Since the 1960s Bates has strictly dedicated their brand to providing quality footwear for those of us that serve in uniform. They’ve recently incorporated progressive technology into their products, and claim to produce the most innovative combat boots available today. With the release of their unique comfort system, a concept that caters to each individual’s needs, it’s hard to argue otherwise. But the question is, does it actually work? Keep reading to find out.
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|Bates Delta 8" Desert Tan|
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Bates Delta 8″ Desert Tan Boot Review
Anyone that has ever been rucking knows that comfortable and durable footwear is absolutely essential; however, price, quality, and the number of features also factor in purchase decisions. Even if your buddy swears by a particular pair, that same boot might make you feel like you’re walking through the fires of hell. The build and support system plays a lot into how a boot fits and feels, and sometimes it takes a few tries to find a decent pair.
Every foot is different, and some people walk on one side of their left foot, and a completely different part of their right foot. Custom orthotics can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars, and that doesn’t include boots. But honestly, what wouldn’t most of us give to make carrying 40lbs of gear in 90 degree weather more bearable? Bates has attempted to bring us the best of both worlds with the Delta 8, which incorporates a personalized foot bed with multiple customizable settings.
GIVING BACK TO THEIR COMMUNITY
As a way of giving back to their community, Bates has pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from all online sales to a relevant non-profit during the month of May. In honor of National Military Appreciation Month, they have partnered with the Boot Campaign, an organization that raises awareness about the realities of life for military and veterans. The organization helps veterans reintegrate into civilian life, and offers assistance to families and active duty personnel.
• Removable EVA Insole – EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) is breathable and waterproof, and the supple material offers extra cushioning.
• Rough-Out Cattle Leather – Cattle Leather is water resistant, and protects against abrasions and scuffs.
• 1680 Denier Nylon – The uppers are reinforced with tough nylon, which is more durable than the materials used in most standard issue footwear.
• 1.75” Heel Height – At only half an inch, the platform to heel ratio is the ideal height.
• Mid-weight Design – Weighing in at just 66oz. per pair, each individual boot is around 2lbs.
• Padded Collar – For added comfort and stability, the collar around the calf is padded to prevent rubbing and hotspots.
• Multiple Drainage Vents – 4 vents should keep your feet from getting soggy in wet conditions.
In addition to the basic features the Delta 8 offers, Bates has integrated innovative technology and construction into their most recent model. Some of their new features are designed to keep your feet snug and cozy, while others help to increase overall performance.
• DRI-LEX LINING
Manufactured by Faytex Corp., the ‘Dri’ line boot components are made from blended fibers for increased comfort. The Dri-Lex liner in the Bates Delta wicks away moisture from the foot and redistributes it throughout the boot. It helps your feet dry quickly, and fights against odor and bacterial growth.
• CEMENT CONSTRUCTION
Most boots are stitched together using heavier materials to properly support the ankle. As an alternative to the typical build, Bates took the cement construction of an athletic shoe and used it on their Delta 8. Instead of stitching, the sole is attached directly to the upper with an adhesive glue. This technique greatly reduces the overall weight, and makes for a more flexible design. This method is also re-solable.
• INDIVIDUAL COMFORT SYSTEM
Bates’s unique individual comfort system, or iCS, is like having custom orthotics without the expensive price tag. A removable nitrogen dial located below the insole allows you to select different levels for optimum comfort. The adjustments are ideal for people that walk on the inside or outside of their feet, typically called over- or under-pronators. The midsole inflates and deflates in specific areas to adjust to your individual gait and compensate for problem areas. You can also change the cushioning – more plush to increase shock absorption, or more firm to increase energy return.
• VIBRAM MUTANT OUTSOLE
The Vibram Mutant outsole is made of 100% rubber. The soles are slip resistant and extremely durable. The patterned lugs have extra traction at the heel and toe for maximum grip on hills and rocks. The rubber makes the outsole a bit stiffer, but the cement construction compensates with additional flexibility.
AR 670-1 COMPLIANCE
Bates Model# E01801, Delta 8” Desert Tan are fully compliant with AR 670-1 regulations.
• Height - 8”
• Color – Desert Tan
• Outsole – 1.75”
• Materials – Rough-out cattle leather and nylon
• Build – No zippers, mesh, or outsole extending over heel or toe
• Berry Complaint – for the more demanding CO’s, it is 100% made and manufactured in the U.S.
The Delta design has been around for several years, and over time, the construction and features have changed to address customer complaints from previous versions.
While I haven’t seen many negative reviews specifically for the desert tan Delta, the various features on similar models have been tested thoroughly by both military and civilians over the past few years.
A small handful of customers have said that when inflated, the iCS midsole adds height to the boot, and is something you have to get used to. Two or three of the reviewers across several websites received a defective dial, which Bates promptly replaced.
In earlier models there were a few complains of pinching at the top of the ankle. That area seems to be too tight for certain people with wider feet. While not commonly reported, I’d suggest going up a half size if you typically need a wider boot.
The good certainly outweighs the bad with the Delta 8” boots, and they have quickly become a customer favorite to many Bates fans. Described as having an “aggressive” tread design, the boots offer excellent grip in mountainous and sandy terrains like Iraq and Afghanistan.
With virtually no break-in period, most reported that these boots were comfortable right out of the box, and have enjoyed the customization via the iCS system. Other service members that left reviews posted that the boots work well for combat, garrison, training, and field work. The boots are highly breathable, making them excellent for extended work in hotter climates.
PRICE AND FIT
The Bates Men’s Delta 8” boots have a retail price of $260 via the Bates website and many of their authorized online and in-store dealers. Some discount retailers, like Amazon, offer the boots for around $160 with free shipping and returns. Cost depends on the size you choose, as wider and larger sizes are generally a little pricier.
The Delta 8s are available in sizes 6 ½ through 15. Unfortunately, they are only offered in regular and extra wide widths (3E), and are not available in women’s sizes at this time. 9 out of 10 reviewing customers reported that the boots fit as expected in accordance with your typical running shoe.
When buying the Delta 8 online, make sure that the retailer lists the correct product number and specifies that the leather is made from cattle hide as opposed to pigskin.
My main reservation about the Delta 8” boot is the limited sizing options. The extra wide would probably be too big if you wear a traditional wide, and you’ll have to go up a half size in a medium width. The typical conversion for female soldiers is 1 ½ to 2 sizes smaller than women’s sizes, so unless you wear an 8 or above, these boots won’t fit. The boot also lacks Gore-Tex, so you should purchase liners if you plan to fully submerge them.
Because 90% of customers love the Delta 8” boots, I feel confident recommending them to any soldier looking for a comfortable and solid mid-weight boot. Reviewers on deployment swear by them for desert, temperate, and mountainous terrains. If you typically suffer from pain and fatigue related to your feet, the iCS should alleviate the issue. Priced at under $200 with an “almost custom” orthotic, these would also make great boots for work, hiking, hunting, or anything that involves being on your feet for long periods.
If you already own the Delta 8”s, or have personal experience with Bates iCS technology, feel free to share your experience in the comments below.