The black combat boot is one of the few types of shoes that you can rely on to carry you through pretty much any situation. As well as useful, it also looks great on a night out or at a concert - its both an awesome fashion accessory and actually useful. Taking on that two-day hike you and your friends have talked about for ages? Combat boots will get you through it. What'll protect your feet and keep you comfortable in a hard day's work? Black combats. Rock club? You can't go without.
Here is a list of the Best Black Combat Boots
Black Combat Boots
Having said that, there's plenty that could go wrong if you don't get the best black combat boots for you and for your needs. There's generally a lot less “give” to boots and often no amount of wearing them will “break them in” - believe me, I've had enough blisters to callouses to know this for certain. If you buy boots that don't fit you or with the wrong role in mind, you can expect them to hurt or be uncomfortable for as long as they last – and they tend to last a long time.
So I've reviewed what I think are the best eight black combat boots on the web. Why black? Because it goes with everything and it's easy to clean, that's why.
I've rounded these boots up, given them a try and divided them into three major usage types.
- Casual: Better for your nights out and office work than heavy-duty stuff out in the fields or the warehouse.
- Work: Reinforced toe boxes and shafts, good ankle support, slip-proof and everything else you need to keep yourself safe while on the job.
- Combat: Often used by armed forces and security personnel, these are often called “tactical” but they also double as excellent for hiking and other outdoor activities.
While they have different roles, there's a couple of factors that all these boots have in common and are the reasons I chose them: they're made with high-quality materials (mostly leather), they'll keep you warm and dry in the rain, they're comfortable and most importantly of all, they're durable. These are boots that won't let you down; you'll be wearing them for a long time.
A Glossary: Many of you will already be familiar with the terms, but here's a run-down of what the sections stand for if you're just beginning to look at combat boots for the first time.
- The Upper: Basically everything alongside and above your foot, all the way up to the top of the boot.
- The Outsole: The outsole is the bit that comes in contact with the ground, while inside there can be many layers to cushion the foot and keep it comfortable.
- The Insole is the surface your foot rests on inside the shoe – sometimes this is removable.
- Water-proof vs. water-resistant: Water-proof means the fabric or material will completely block water out and will not get drenched. Water-resistant means the material will resist the penetration of water to some extent, but dipping it entirely in water will leave it soaked.
- Shaft: The part of the upper that goes from the arch of the foot to the top of the ankle.
- True-to-size: Quite simple: if a boot is true-to-size, and you are a size 11, you should get a size 11 boot. Sometimes boots are not true to size because of how tight a fit they are, because of their reinforcements or because its implied you wear them with thick socks. If it isn't mentioned, then assume the boot is true-to-size.
The guide will have three sections per boot: The Upper, The Outsole and Within and Comments. Like any good tool or accessory, combat boots require specific maintenance, so I've added some some tips at the end of the guide.
Finally, this applies to anybody who wants to get decent shoes, not just combat boots: get a professional shoe-fitting done. You'll thank me for it on day two of your hike or when you've been standing for seven hours straight on your warehouse shift.
Right, let's dive right in.
Top 8 Best Black Combat Boots
1. Dr. Martens Men's Pier Boot
Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
Could any black boot list be complete without a Dr. Marten's boot? Of course not. I've classified this as “Casual”, but really this full-grain leather boot is a no-nonsense hybrid between that and combat; it will get the job done in pretty much any environment.
The Upper: Black, full-grain leather, the upper is plain and simple with eight reinforced metal eyelets, eight hook eyelets and no add-ons other than stitching. The only detail these boots concede to fashion is the suede top of the upper, which doubles as a pull-on loop for the laces. Less is more in this case, and the minimalism makes it a timeless, sleek-looking shoe.
The Outsole and Within: The outsole is fairly thin and while the leather around it is pretty comfortable, there's not much give to it. The heel is approximately one inch high and the synthetic tread has a good grip for most surfaces, though not enough to work in greasy environments like a kitchen – chefs stay away. The insole features a cushioned EVA foam footbed, and the rubber midsole makes it a very comfortable surface underfoot.
Comments: I find this is a great boot for particular types of work, especially outdoors in hot environments – the full-grain leather makes it breathable as well as durable. It does not have a steel-toe boot and isn't crush proof, but its welted construction makes it ideal for any kind of job that will have you on your feet for a long time. Also these are the first boots I'd put on if I was going to a punk concert. They've got a fast-lacing system which reaches all the way to the top of the shaft, which gives the ankle good support. Get these if you want boots that will remain fashionable and serve you well for a long time.
2. Maelstrom Tac Force 8-inch Zipper Tactical Boot
Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
The Maelstrom Tac Forces are designed for people operating in harsh environments, specifically with law-enforcement personnel in mind, and I'm seriously impressed with how light they are: they're two ounces each, in a size 9. If that doesn't convince you on their quality, I'm not sure what will.
The Upper: Water-resistant leather and nylon fabric, with a shaft that's about 8” long, starting at the arch of your foot. Both the leather and the nylon are polishable, but really these boots are made for going places where polish doesn't matter. The collar and tongue are both padded and the lining inside is moisture-wicking and breathable. As well as laces (16 ring eyelets) they've also got a side-zipper which runs for almost the whole length of the shaft.
The Outsole and Within: A very good tread on the water- and oil-resistant outsole makes it grip on the majority of surfaces. The real star here is on the inside: The insole is removable with excellent arch support, while the midsole is molded and shock-absorbing, and there's two layers of Texon platform for lateral support. The toe is stitched, while the rest of the sole is cemented and the heel reinforced.
Comments: The first thing that should be said is you can run in these. Not many boots allow you to do that. What it does give you in flexibility, it sacrifices a bit in toughness: the boots are not crush-proof and do not have a steel toe-cap. However don't confuse toughness with durability: these boots will last a very long time regardless of the elements you expose them to. They are also very breathable, meaning you can use them in a variety of temperatures, and are true to size, though they are imported, so you'll have to know your foot size in EU measurements.
3. Danner Men's Acadia 8" Boot
Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
Danner is pretty famous for making high quality boots, but this takes the cake. The materials run-down for the Acadia boots reads like a best-of durability list, they're recraftable and provide excellent ankle support with their tall shaft with laces reaching to the very top. Their only flaw is they're not insulated from electricity. While the version I've linked lacks a steel toecap, there is a model that includes it. In regards to everything else, these are a true workhorse.
The Upper: Made in 100 Denier nylon cordura and full-grain leather, the shank (at the sides of your feet) is reinforced with fiberglass while the inside is lined in breathable Gore-tex. The construction is in stitchdown, and the 20 eyelets start just above your toes to reach all the way to the ankle. I don't often use the word “indestructible”, but these come close.
Danner Men's Acadia 8 Boot Video Review
Outsole and Within: Continuing its use of extremely hardy materials, the Acadia's sole is made in Vibram rubber and can be replaced in the rare event it is damaged, increasing the value of these boots even further. The tread is in the classic Vibram style, providing a steady grip on all kinds of surfaces. The insole is easily replaceable, but a characteristic of Danner is that they make quite flat insoles with little arch support. Be aware of this if you have flatter feet.
Comments: Used by many military personnel, these boots are straight-up functional, no extra bells or whistles. The only “aesthetic” detail is the Gore-tex metal plate the laces thread through. These particular ones don't feature a steel-toe, but they're good for pretty much any outdoor terrain and are waterproof as well as breathable. They weigh just over two pounds per shoe, not bad considering how sturdy they are. They are true to size but modeled to be a very slim fit: consider going for the “EE” or “wide” model if you have wider feet or want to use them with thicker socks.
4. Rocky Men's S2V Work Boot
Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
I've seen these on armed forces personnel more times than I can count, and that's no surprise: they're the best selling combat boots in the US. They're known as “Objective-based” boots – meaning they will get you to your objective, no matter what, and will not let you down.
The Upper: Mostly leather with a Lycra tongue, the shaft rises about nine inches from the arch, with eight metal eyelets and a further eight speed-lace “NATO” hooks. All the sections in the upper are held together by triple-stitch, the lining is Dri-Lex and the shank is reinforced with fiberglass. The attention to detail is astounding: even the laces are 550 paracord (read: good luck trying to break them.)
Outsole and Within: The outsole is a proprietary Vibram rubber sole, which in itself makes the boot worth it, and renders it one of the most comfortable to wear on long marches and rucks. The Outsole, which is stitched to the upper, is also flash- and water-resistant. The insole also features some awesome engineering, with inner drainage ports funneling water out and a sieve system to let your foot breathe.
Comments: This boot does not have a steel-toe. I have nothing more to say: I highly recommend it for anything else. If the army can march in this, everything else is easy. Also, a tip from me personally: use these to drive stick. Their grip and the flexibility make it an absolute dream.
5. Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0 Men's Tactical Side-Zip Boots
Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
Smith & Wesson have been in the security, weapons and tactical business for over 150 year, so they're fairly clued up on what it takes to make a good combat boot (hint: that was an understatement). The Breach 2.0 is the peak of their footwear range.
The Upper: It's a mix of leather and nylon, but the main features here are the side-zip, which runs the inside length of the shaft (you can choose between 6” and 9”) and the tongue designed to keep dirt out. Both the tongue and the collar, which gives the ankle great roll-over protection, are foam-padded and the top is PU leather, making it really easy to clean. The toe is composite, but the shank is steel-reinforced: not quite crush-proof, but pretty sturdy!
Outsole and Within: A very slip-resistant tread in non-marking rubber and an EVA foam midsole to support the foot. Everything is cemented while toe is stitched to the sole. The insoles are removable, but nothing special there. They do the job though.
Comments: There is a bit of breaking in to be done with this boot, but once you're through that, it's going to last you a long time. Do note that they are water-resistant, but not entirely water-proof. Something that I feel needs to be said is that a portion of the proceeds from this boot goes to support wounded personnel through Operation First Response.
6. 5.11 ATAC 8 Inches Men's Boot
Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
One of the best products made by 5.11 Tactical and used by plenty of security professionals and the army, the ATAC's shock-mitigation system makes it great for marches, hiking and pretty much any outdoor activity. Also they have “stay tied sausage laces” - love that name.
The Upper: A full-grain, reinforced leather toe attaches to a mix of synthetic and leather materials on the rest of the upper, rising 8” with twelve eyelets and one NATO hook midway up. The side-zipper also features a leather tongue to cover the top of the zip when it's fully closed. Finally, both the heel and shank are reinforced (non-metallic) and the lining is moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial.
5.11 ATAC 8 Inches Men's Boot Video Review
Outsole and Within: This is where all of the engineering talent at 5.11 was poured into, and there's a lot of it. Injection-molded midsole in Phylon supports a cushioned insole while the outsole has 5.11's patented shock mitigation system, is oil and slip resistant, and has the kind of track that'll make you feel like a tank on pretty much any surface.
Comments: They are true-to-size and feature a fairly comfortable toe-box and shank, so you can go ahead and order your regular size – there is no breaking in. If you're worried about polish, these don't hold it so well, but then that's probably not why you're buying them. Water-resistant but not water-proof.
7. Bates Men's Safety Enforcer 8 Inch L N Steel Toe Uniform Work Oxford
Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
An improvement on Bates' original Enforcer series, I've found this new model is perfect for work – it's warm, it's flexible, it's got a steel toe-cap and it's surprisingly light-weight for the amount of protection it provides. They also go well with pretty much any uniform that I've seen.
The Upper: Leather and nylon with a padded collar, the 18 non-metal eyelets reach all the way to the top of the 8” shaft. The mesh is very breathable, and while not waterproof, it'll keep most weather out and heat in. These are work boots, not hiking-in-the-snow boots, but they'll keep your feet warm.
Outsole and Within: EVA foam footbed and non-slip, oil-resistant rubber outsole with a 200gr thinsulate insulation make this both a comfortable, warm and safe boot to wear to work. The whole thing is held together with a light cement construction.
Comments: Honest, no-nonsense construction makes these boots ideal for any kind of heavy-duty work. Not fully waterproof but very water-resistant, the materials on the boot respond well to waterproofing leather spray. I wouldn't recommend you stand in any deep puddles with them, but you can wear them confidently out in harsh weather. They're also true to size, and the shank has plenty of space for socks or wider feet.
8. Rocky Men's Alpha Force 8" Side Zip Steel Toe Work Boot
Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
The “big one” for work safety in this list. The Alpha Force is not about marching, it's not about being light: it's about being the sturdiest, safest boot you can get that will resists the worst punishment you can throw at it. In a dainty touch, the rubber sole is also non-marking, but everything else here screams “safety first.” Just look at that tread.
The Upper: I'll go with the facts here, because honestly they speak for themselves. 8.25” shaft, starting from the arch. Eighteen eyelets, composite steel toe (ASTM certified), YKK side-zip with velcro zipperhead cover. Full-grain leather and 1000 denier nylon, all double-stitched. Gore-Tex, Polartec, and Thinsulate mean it is both waterproof and insulated.
Outsole and Within: Outsole is oil-resistant, slip-resistant and non-marking, as well as being ASTM-certified against electrical hazards. Inside, there's a supported footbed and Air-Port technology for extra breathability, circulating air around your foot with each step.
Comments: Basically has all the features you need. Also, they are as black as can be.
Combat Boot Maintenance
The boots we've chosen here are all highly durable and will likely last you a long time despite heavy use. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take good care of them however – not only will they last longer, but every ounce of care you put them translates into comfort and ease of use for you.
Most of these boots are waterproof, but you can improve this by using leather-specific treatments to keep your feet even dryer. There are plenty of sprays and lotions out there, easily searchable on the internet – the only two things we would advise is always reading the instructions, and making sure you do the treatment well before you actually need it! A lot of times it requires multiple passes, or a few days to dry out, so you want to do it before the rain starts. As the saying goes, you fix the roof when the sun is shining.
As for cleaning, leather is durable but can easily scratch. If you're using these for work, this isn't too much of an issue, but if you want to keep your boots in top shape for a night out, there's a few tips you can follow.
Soap and water is all you really need, but don't use a hard-bristle brush or you may damage the combat boots permanently. Suede on the other hand requires a suede brush, as it's far more susceptible to scratches. It also discolors quite easily, so if you have a stain, don't spot-clean it; clean the whole suede section to keep it an even color. If you have salt marks from water or sweat, a bit of white vinegar added into the water will do the trick.
Finally, black leather can discolor, and there are leather-specific products to dye it again. Always give the dye appropriate time to dry, and be careful where you use it: leather dye will not do well on Gore-tex or Nylon, and there are varieties specific to suede too.
These are the best eight black combat boots out there, and if you haven't found something that suits you specifically, I'd suggest looking at their individual pages – they often have variations like adding toe-caps or zippers which could make the difference for you.
One thing I haven't bothered to mention is price – if you're reading this, it's because you want black combat boots that will a) last b) be comfortable and c) protect you. You can't put a price on that, and all these boots are so durable that, if you compare their dollars-per-hour cost to that of any other shoe, you'll see they are one of the smartest buys you can make.