Yes, it seems a catchy title but it is actually more than that. You see, Magnum Boots recently ponied up two pair of boots for field testing: the models were the Stealth Force 8.0 and the Response II, both in 8-inch height. As virtually every police officer knows, a stealthy response is often what is most needed, and it seems Magnum Boots has the options covered. Let’s take a look...
Because response is important, whether it’s stealthy or not, let’s start out with the Response II. As I said, it’s an 8-inch tall boot and is the more basic of the two models. The upper is a mix of “action leather” and 900 denier nylon. The lacing system is specified as a “Bluecher lacing system,” but for the life of me I can’t find any definition or description of how it differs from standard lacing systems. The bottom line: The laces hold the boots securely and aren’t a challenge to thread.
The features that should most attract those of us in law enforcement are the moisture-wicking lining, the steel shank and the high traction, slip-resistant sole. Face it, as much time as we spend in our boots, no matter what kind of socks we wear or what the weather is, our feet end up sweating. That moisture-wicking lining helps keep the moisture inside the boot down, which is healthier (not to mention more comfortable) for our feet. Since we never know what we’re going to have to walk over or through, that steel shank can be a foot saver (literally). We know we’re often called upon to walk on slick surfaces such as wet concrete, ice or oil/gasoline slicked roadway. Anything that helps increase our traction is good.MSRP on the Response II is $89.99 and in today’s market that is a great price for a good quality basic boot.
The Stealth Force 8.0 is a higher featured boot and is priced accordingly. With an MSRP of $159.99 (still a great price for a high quality duty boot in today’s market), the Stealth Force 8.0 is waterproof (to the height of the tongue/upper split) and the construction is more robust, using a mixed full grain leather/1680 denier ballistic heavy duty nylon mesh upper. There is a composite safety toe as well as shank, a moisture-wicking lining and an antimicrobial treatment, which helps to keep the boots fresh and clean internally. The outsole has ten advanced features to ensure stable footing and the non-slip or slip resistant sole leverages that provide more stable and safe footing for the wearer. The side-zip design makes getting the boots on and off much faster and more convenient, and the YKK heavy duty zipper will take a lot of abuse before failing (I haven’t seen a failure yet).
The wear test
So, that helps us understand design and construction. But what about actual performance and wear testing? Thankfully today’s boots don’t break in your feet, but allow your feet to break in the boots. And, since the uppers are, more often than not, a leather/nylon mix, they are far more flexible than the boots of old (like the ones I was issued by the Army in the ‘80s. Ouch!) I tried out the Response II boots first and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of support they offered. They were comfortable out of the box (I was wearing standard, every day boot socks) and I wore them for about ten to twelve hours per day for two weeks. On four of the eleven days worn (limited wear time on the weekends), I walked ten miles or more. I had no complaints about them and still don’t. I had limited experience wearing them in water other than rain and wet pavement, but they are not advertised as waterproof, so if they leaked at all it couldn’t justify a criticism. Getting them on and off meant unlacing them halfway down the upper—four of the eight holes—and then snugging them back up. Because of the Army training I’ll never forget I still tuck my boot laces into the top cuff of the boot and had no issues with the boots loosening, even through the long days. The Response II is available with a steel toe and in a side zip model, both with an MSRP of $99.99. So, if either added feature is worth the extra $10.00 to you, have at it.
Next came the Stealth Force wear test. Where I had worn the Response II in a mostly city setting, the Stealth Force boots were wear tested exclusively in a wooded and beach environment (trees right up to the sand). These boots did get wet—at least four inches deep—and my feet never got wet. While my feet did sweat appreciably (during a few hot days of hiking), they managed to dry relatively quickly, and I didn’t have the “curse of the wet stinky socks” at the end of the day. The Stealth Force boots I had for testing incorporated the side-zip, and I’m too old school to be much of a fan, but the boots are good to go.
All in all? Good marks for comfort and performance and great marks for pricing on these models from Magnum.