The tactical officer is a special breed of officer. This is the officer who defines his physical and mental envelope on a regular basis. Law Enforcement Technology tested Magnum's latest boot designed specifically for tactical operations: the Magnum Elite Spider.
Although they look and act like boots, do not be deceived. The Magnum Elite Spider Boots are athletic shoes. Its full-grain leather, mesh material and a proprietary Spidermesh inner lining is similar in quality and feel to performance undershirts. Its non-metallic eyelets are oval shaped, which allow for speed lacing without protrusion. The leather upper is punctuated by carbon fiber-patterned panels, reminiscent of the interior of a fine sports car.
The toecap is constructed of easily polishable full-grain leather, but can be left non-reflective for warrant service. The pigments in the material, sole and leather are deeply embedded so well-used boots could be brought back to their original luster.
While officers need a boot suitable for running, jumping and standing on concrete, the boot also must be presentable. Many department policies require a boot that will hold a shine, but boot makers also must maintain a balance between comfort, which includes breathability, and support, which includes design features to prevent fatigue.
Magnum intentionally set out to make a featherweight tactical boot. Where most patrol duty boots tip the scales more than a loaded duty gun — these boots weigh less than an unloaded backup. During inspection, everyone looked inside to see if the boot was unlined or filled with helium.
The second most prominent feature is the inherent breathability of the product. The Magnum Elite Spider has several panels on the side of the foot allowing maximum air circulation. This is tricky. If these panels were simply mesh opening into the upper, that part of the foot would go unprotected. These panels are outlined by raised areas that serve to reduce the amount of contact between mesh and an abrasive environment.
The tongue and top of the boot have a perforated foam material behind the mesh lining. This construction aids in the breathability and lightness of the product. The boot circulates air as one walks but does not feel spongy when one tightens the laces.
Most advertisements tell customers to purchase shoes providing a lot of support to prevent fatigue. Often, this concept of support is never explained further. Many customers buy taller boots, thinking ankle support is more important than footbed support.
Footbed support is derived from three components: design, materials and fit. Tactical boots have specific criterion for these components.
The Elite Spider footbed has three density levels of EVA compression foam for support, not including the proprietary Magnum insole. It is a board lasted shoe, meaning a semi-rigid Stabilaflex board is placed under the insole. This protects the foot by maintaining the contour of the inside of the shoe and keeping the shank from flexing too much. This is a lightweight alternative to a steel shank.
Testers found using a Stabilaflex lasting board worked well in this product. For the likely tasks a tactical officer might perform, like climbing a chain-link fence or a using a hasty tactical ladder, the area between the ball and heel must be rigid enough to prevent trauma from standing in stirrup-like supports.
The combination sole flexed appropriately at the ball of the foot. This might seem like a simple thing, but this boot was built on an athletic shoe last. Unlike some athletic shoes, it afforded a little more protection from fatigue.
The sole also rolled over the point of the toe in the high scuff area. This feature is very desirable for an officer who needs to kneel behind cover.