More than two years ago I received a couple pair of boots from Warrior Wear - part of the BLACKHAWK! Products Group - for test and evaluation. Initial reports are easy but the true value of boots is found out over the course of time. So here I sit, two years later, composing the report on those two pair of Warrior Wear Boots and I'm pleased to say they've done well. The black Light Assault Boot and the tan Desert Operations Boot are still worn frequently and continue to serve. Let's take a look at the differing features of each - and the pros and cons of each in various field conditions.
First we're going to look at the Light Assault Boot. Pictured to the left here, these boots are a combination of rubber, mesh and "leather" upper material. BlackHawk's sight calls this, "a combination of double layer lightweight, breathable nylon mesh and quick dry synthetic microfiber high-abrasion" materials. It looks like MOST nylon uppers to me, but looks can be deceiving. What mattered to me is that they aren't stiff leather requiring a long period of breaking in before becoming comfortable. They are relatively soft - kind of like neoprene - with leather supports built in. They were comfortable from day one, but two years later they remain equally comfortable and, perhaps more importantly, equally supportive.
The insole has the expected shank along with breathable padding, etc. The outsole is Vibram(R) with the toe and heel outer sections covered in a rubber material. This "scuff resistant" coating - for a lack of a better way to put it - protects the boots from getting scuffed up while kneeling, going prone, moving, etc. That said, it's NOT going to shine, so don't try. It looks like rubber tread tape. I was actually quite surprised that these soles (made of something called "Trail Run rubber with TC4 Plus") provided as much friction as they do. They LOOK like they're a little stiff and wouldn't provide much traction. They provided good traction (across two plus years now) on every surface I've encountered except ice and nothing without spikes provides traction on ice. No boots are waterPROOF. If the water is high enough it will come in over the top - or it will leak in between the tongue and uppers. The tongue is attached to the uppers to a height between 5.5" and 6" (depending on how your foot is shaped, etc). To that height, they seemed waterproof to me. I stood in some four-inch deep puddles and experienced no leaks. BlackHawk's published information about the boots says that they have Dri-Lex(R) lining. The Dri-Lex is supposed to allow water and moisture to evaporate away to help keep your feet dry - not sweaty.
What's cool about these boots is that if there's a breeze you can FEEL the air moving through the sides of the boots. The design lets air move in and out (helping them to dry) while keep water on the outside as much as possible. If you DO get water inside the boots they drain pretty quickly and don't maintain that squishy feeling for very long.
Two years later I still appreciate the lace-clip feature although I know a couple guys who don't. I enjoy being able to pull on the boot, yank the laces, push the clip into place, roll the lace ends and push that bundle into the special pocket created just for that at the top of the tongue. I know a couple of experienced guys who like the boots but not the lace-clip. What do they do? Push out the metal pin that serves as the hinge on the lace clip so they can take the clip itself off, and then they tie their boots as normal and tuck the laces into the top.
I talked to one SWAT Officer who wears these boots pretty regularly and whose captain wanted to know why he never shined his boots. The officer invited the captain to feel the material on the outside of the boots - toe and heel - and that one touch was enough to show the captain why the boots can't be shined. I could just picture the captain fondling the officer's boots and that mental image was enough to make me smile. The captain may have rank but the officer had the smarts. After all, how many guys do you know who can get their captain to feel up their boots?
Let's move on to the Desert Ops Boots. The upper is a combination of Cordura, suede and that rubber stuff on the toe and heel. The outsole is a bit stiffer, wider and has a much more aggressive tread. These boots don't have the lace-clip (at least my test pair don't and I don't believe the current production ones do) so I have to settle for tying them the old fashion way and tucking what's left into the top of the boot.
The Desert Ops boots are slightly stiffer than the Light Assault Boots and, as such, seem to offer more support and protection for the ankle. They are not, however, uncomfortably rigid as leather boots can be until you spend months breaking them in. The boot sports a steel shank in the sole which provides a level of protection from puncture and support to your foot when you're traveling carrying a lot of weight (like a full pack). I find it pleasing that a great number of people agree with me about the comfort and stability of these boots as proven by the testimonials available on the BLACKHAWK! webpage for the Desert Ops boots.
Across the past two plus years I've regularly worn both pair of boots. I've worn both for several 5-mile hikes and I've hiked sand wearing both of them as well. I've intentionally saturated the Light Assault Boots in the Chesapeake Bay on a couple hikes just to find out how fast they'd drain and how quickly they'd return "to normal". I haven't been disappointed.
Two years later I can still report that the boots are performing satisfactorily (at a minimum).