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Pros and Cons: Side Zip Tactical Boots for Law Enforcement Officers

When it comes to your law enforcement uniform, your boots are probably one of the most important pieces of gear. They’re what keeps you going through those double shifts and what helps keep you from getting injured.  

So, the big question is: should you go for a side zip tactical boot or a traditional lace up boot? We’re breaking down the pros and cons of the side zip style to help you decide.  

Pros of Side Zip Boots 

When you think of police boots, most people automatically think of a black side zip tactical boot. And there’s a good reason for that when you think of all the pros – let’s explore. 

Easy to get on and off 

danner side zip police bootThe biggest pro of the side zip boots is that they’re easy to get on and off. So, you can easily get into your gear when you’re ready to respond to an emergency. It’s also helpful if you have to go through security that requires you to take off your boots – or if you just want to take them off quickly when you get home after a long shift.  

NEW Garmont AR670-1 & AFI 36-2903 Compliant Boot NEW Garmont AR670-1 & AFI 36-2903 Compliant Boot

Same fit every time 

It might take a little extra time to fit your boots the way you want them, but once you do, you’re set for a while. Every time you pull those suckers on you can expect the same exact fit—and that makes a difference when you’re trying to get ready quickly.  

More room at the top 

Side zip boots usually have a little extra room at the top, which is great if you have wider ankles or if you need to tuck in your pants. However, if you need more support in the ankle, this can turn into a con.  

Side Zip Boot Cons 

Side zip safety boots aren’t for everyone and they do have some cons you need to consider seriously before making the switch.  


propper side zip bootA zipper is just another way for water to get into your boot. If you’re doing some heavy duty rucking through water, you might need to reconsider the side zip. However, if you’re using the boot in relatively normal conditions, you should just be sure that your zipper is gusseted to prevent water from getting through.  

Broken zippers 

Over time, your zipper might get stuck or break altogether—and it’s a lot harder to repair or replace a zipper than it is to replace a lace. This can lead to more boot purchases over time.  

Ankle adjustments 

Getting the right fit on your ankle can make a big difference in stability. The good news is that stability is built into most size zip boots, the bad news is – if you need extra adjustments – it can be a lot harder to do it in a side zip boot than in a traditional lace boot.  

How to get the right fit 

Since a big pro of zippered boots is the ability to get them on and off quickly, it’s important you get the fit right the first time you put them on. We recommend lacing up your boots with the zipper unzipped initially. Walk around like this and make sure the laces are well-fitted. Pay special attention to your ankle support and any hot spots you normally feel on the top of your foot (check out our boot lacing guide if you need to adjust).  

Once your laces feel good, go ahead and zip the boots up to do your last fit check. The goal is to have your boots laced tight enough to be comfortable and stable, but loose enough that you can use the zipper to get them on and off in a matter of seconds. This process can be used for both law enforcement officers or anyone using a side zip work boot.  

The best piece of advice we can give you is to try out both styles of boots and see what works best for your feet and your work needs.  

Ready to find the right fit? 

Browse All Police Boots


NEW Garmont AR670-1 & AFI 36-2903 Compliant Boot NEW Garmont AR670-1 & AFI 36-2903 Compliant Boot

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