The never-ending quest to find the perfect boot has yielded a seemingly infinite list of choices to strap to one’s feet. Trying to find that perfect balance of support, function, and comfort at a price that won’t break the bank is the name of the game, and a major player that supplies all branches of the military and several police, fire, and EMS agencies is Bates Boots.
Over the past week, I have put their Cobra Hot Weather Jungle Boot with the 8” ankle through its paces and have concluded… It could be better. When using a pair of military style boots, comfort and functionality are all that is important, and this boot falls a bit short on both.
When pulling the boots from their box, the first thing I noticed was the weight (or lack thereof). These boots were advertised as lightweight and that is 100% accurate. Without a scale adjustable to ounces, I am unable to give an exact weight, but these boots are the lightest feeling combat boots I have ever held or worn.
Getting past the weight, the suede feels sturdy with solid stitching all the way around and the multiple vent holes on both sides of the foot give hope for a boot that stays cool and breathes well. Interestingly, the vents on this boot are more of what would be expected on a desert boot than a jungle boot, and the vents on the desert boot are more like what is recognized as jungle boot drain holes. The top of the canvas ankle has a very modest pad to keep the boot from digging into the wearer’s calf and provide extra grip to pant legs that may be bloused into the boot. The lace holes appear to be a sturdy polymer speed lace system and the boots come pre-laced boot camp style. The soles are over-molded to provide traction and boast an aggressive, all-terrain pattern that extends about an inch up the back of the heal.
The canvas proved to be sturdy and unlikely to tear under the harshest of treatment. This is probably due to whatever makes it crinkle and crunch like a windbreaker type jacket. Really, these boots are LOUD, and the feeling of the canvas as it crunches and folds around the ankle is fairly uncomfortable.
I was hoping this would fade as the boots wore in, but after moving about 20 miles in them over the course of a week, the noise never diminished in the slightest.
Going to Bates’ website, this complaint was the most common with a less than acceptable explanation provided by the company. Buyers who found the canvas to be odd and loud were told that it was the fault of a “faulty insole that should be replaced” despite the feeling and noise coming from nowhere other than the canvas ankle.
The side supports of the canvas are well placed and helped to keep my ankle from rolling, though not as well as some other boots I have worn, including other Bates brand boots. The back of the canvas has a support strip that would bunch inward and press against the tendon in my ankle, causing a fair amount of discomfort, no matter how the laces were adjusted.
The laces are basic boot laces that should last through rough use, though they would fall short of being handy for emergency shelter making.
The insole is very supportive and allows for good heat exchange. It felt a bit slick, however, and allowed for a bit more movement of my foot than I would like. I tried several types of socks and the problem was never resolved. It is not so bad as to write the boots off entirely, and the support goes a long way to making up for it.
Fitting about a half size too small, the boot itself felt sturdy and the vent holes were noticeably effective at keeping my feet cool and allowing air circulation. They do not have steel toes, but the toe is well reinforced and felt strong and difficult to deform. After a few days, the boot started to break in and fit a bit better, but wearing cold weather socks in them was more difficult than other boots. Also, in the beginning, the toe of the boots had a pressure point that would press on the top inside of my big toes. It lessened after a few miles but never went away entirely.
The tread of the sole provided excellent traction in sand, grass, mud, and on rocks while providing good support and flexibility. In fact, this may be the best part of the boot. The multi-layer design moved with my feet while providing great grip and support for all kinds of actions over a wide variety of terrain without so much as even looking a bit used. My feet were well protected from rocks and debris while being able to move in a near-natural way with the boot soles following suit.
Overall: 3/5 Stars
At an MSRP of $144.59, this boot leaves much to be desired. Bates has stepped up their game and is getting great at making boots with a good sole and good insoles, but this boot just doesn’t cut it in the end.
Cost: 2/5 Stars
For $145, this boot should be more comfortable. There are competitor’s boots $30 cheaper that bring better comfort to the table.
Fit: 3/5 Stars
This boot fits true to size after it stretches out just a little.
Comfort: 2/5 Stars
The pressure on my toes and at the back of my ankle would make this a difficult boot to wear for long periods or while carrying heavy loads. Of course, you may find the fit comfortable.
Support: 4/5 Stars
The support provided by the boot is great and provides a level of comfort to the bottoms of the feet not common in boots.
Canvas: 2/5 Stars
Though the canvas is strong and well stitched, the crinkling and noise are too much.
In the end, this boot has some great things going for it but falls short of the goals when it comes to comfort. Perhaps an upgraded version would have lace points slightly adjusted to relieve the ankle pressure and be built with a different material inside the canvas to get rid of that bizarre crunchy sound that feels like a pair of 1980’s track pants.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.