I remember a time, maybe two or two-and-a-half decades ago when I believed that Magnum boots were "cheap". First and foremost, I owe them an apology. Back then, any boots that were made with nylon uppers were generally perceived as of less value than all-leather boots (except the soles of course). Still, Magnum's boot designs have come a long way since I was a young cop on the street and one of their newer boot models - the Spider 8.1 Tac Spec HPI. While that may be a mouthful of a name, I've come to think of them just as the Magnum Spider Tacs and have given them a decent field / wear test. Here's some info about my findings and general published info about the boots.
Let's start with the general published information. On its website for this model of boot, Magnum lists the following features:
- ion-mask hydrophobic surface enhancement
- Full-grain leather / 1650 denier ballistic nylon upper
- Tec-Tuff leather toeguard resists snags and abrasions
- Vent-Guard sandproof ventilator technology
- TPU exoframe reinforcement for support
- Spider Mesh lining for comfort and breathability
- Certified to EN 20347:2004 safety standard
- Ergonomically designed
- Metal detector safe with non-metallic TPU shank
- Lace storage system on tongue
- M-PACT comfortable contoured sockliner
- Fast-rope system with SuperFabric
- Spider outsole with reinforced stabilizers with flexible toe fins to silently grip walls
That super-fancy sounding ion-mask hydrophobic surface enhancement simplified means:
The materials the boot is made from is treated so that it's water-repellent at the molecular level. Every fibre is given a layer of water repellent polymer only moleculres thick. Because the treatment is applied at the molecular level, even where the fabric has a weave - which usually means gaps in between where moisture can get in - the materials themselves are water repellent so they don't absorb moisture. Finally, because a treatment is used rather than adding a layer of water-repellent material, the boot's overall weight is kept lower.
Some of the other features I like include that Tec-Tuff leather toeguard. Yes, I "grew up" in uniform in a time frame where all boots - even combat or street patrol boots - had to be shined. High gloss black surfaces polished to a reflective finish may not exist in nature, but they certainly did in my Basic Training and my Military Police units. Someone finally realized that such a polished finish might be counter-productive to the mission and the time spent in developing such a shine could be invested in more productive ways. So now we have boots like the Magnum Spider Tacs that have an abrasion resistant non-polishable toe guard that still maintains a uniform and professiona look (unless you don't even clean it).
I like the metal detector safe non-metallic TPU shank as well. I may still have to take off my boots to make TSA happy at the airports, but when I come and go from the courthouse, the metal detectors don't light up because of my boots. (usually the thing goes off because of something I've forgotten in one of my pockets.)
The Fast Rope System with super-fabric means that the boots have been reinforced in the appropriate places so that when you're fast-roping you have better grip control with your feet and less damanging wear and tear to your boots. Both are good things: one saves some heat to your hands and the other means you don't have to buy a new pair of boots quite so soon.
Now, as to how they wore...
I have to admit that I came at them with an initially negative outlook. When viewed in profile, the tongue and front of the boot's upper stands up an in or more above the back. I've always been a fan of boots that were the same height all the way around so I wasn't sure if I liked that or not. I liked the general appearance and the lace system although, for speed of lacing, I'd prefer an open hook lacing system. I know those can't really be made out of plastic and that would defeat the purpose of the metal-detector friendly boot, but if I could have my druthers, I'd like the open face hooks. Maybe some boot manufacturer can pioneer a new plastic material strong enough to do that?
Also, the lace storage system on the tongue is a phenomenal idea. I like it alot, BUT I'd prefer it made out of some flexible material rather than the relatively stiff plastic/rubber synthetic that is used. When I bunched up my laces to stuff them into the pocket, I eneded up feeling the pressure of it against my shin. The pressure should be kept pushing outside of the boot - not inside.
Aside from those two comments / preferences, I found the boots comfortable to wear. My feet broke them in - and it didn't take much. This is good for two reasons: 1) If the boots break your feet in it's always uncomfortable, and 2) uncomfortable boots suck to wear. The faster you can break them in the less time you spend wondering when they're going to be comfortable on your feet. These boots were never UNcomfortable on my feet and within a day or two of wear they had conformed nicely to my feet / walking pattern.
The boots kept my feet warm during some of the chillier nights I wore them (temps in the low '50s) and cool during some of the warmer days I had them on (tempts in the high '90s).
The support provided to the ankle is good without feeling restrictive to movement. I have high arches and I found that the ergonomically designed shape of the insole provided me with good support.
On a scale of one to five - with one being the worst and five being the best - I'd rate this boot between 4 and 4.5. Oddly enough, Magnum boots has a system online that allows you to do exactly that and most users appear to agree with my assessment.
The Buy Direct (MSRP) price on the Magnum boots website is $175 which is reasonable given the current market prices for comparable boots. However, a quick Google search revealed these boots from several dealers at prices as low as $150. So do your research (as always).
All in all, a good boot that I can recommend without hesitation. And if the Spider Tacs don't float your boat, Magnum boots has plenty of other designs and models to choose from.
About The Author:
Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) is the Editor In Chief for Officer.com, and has over 29 years of military and civilian law enforcement experience. An instructor since 1989 and having delivered training across the country, he stays active in police work, training, and writing. Frank has had four non-fiction and two fiction books published along with two research papers of specific interest to the law enforcement and/or military communities. All can be found / purchased on his Author Page on Amazon.com linked above. If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email to [email protected].