Bottom Line Up Front
Lauded for their comfort and stability, the GX-8 performs better for convenience and daily work on pavement and in workshops than it does for a serious time out in the field. Practical over tactical.
Overview: Bates GX-8 Sage Comp Toe
Given the excellent reviews these boots had, I was super excited to get my hands on a pair of the GX-8 finally. Zippers weren’t regulation while I was in the Army, so I never had a chance to test these out while I was in. The boots use Bates’ Wolverine Warrior Leather, advertised as a superior material for repelling oil and other stains. There weren’t any oil spills to test this on, but between the reviews and generally trusting Bates, they seem to work great out in on an airfield or in the motor pool.
It took some time to understand why these boots were so well received coming from the Army, even as a Military Intelligence professional. Most of my time where boots mattered was spent marching and hiking through various terrain, and there were a lot of features on the boots that seemed counterintuitive to that purpose. When I stopped trying to judge the boots solely on their tactical nature, I realized how practical they were for a majority of the 21st-century warfighter in their most common environments; artificial terrain such as pavement and in offices. They are comfortable, sturdy, and built with combat-support and service-support occupations in mind. Knowing what I know now, I’d have most certainly owned a pair for daily use if I could.
In Depth: Upper (and Zipper)
This is one sturdy pair of boots. The interior zipper doesn’t interfere with ankle support thanks to the numerous leather support bars crawling up the ankle. There’s no venting that you’ll find on rucking desert boots, and that helps to keep oils and chemicals out of your boots. As a note, do not go wading through puddles with these boots on if you want to keep dry; while taking the boots through brush and wet foliage water did leak in through the top of the boot and the lacings.
The most notable feature about the GX-8 is the interior zipper for easy donning and doffing. Thanks to my Army indoctrination, I initially scoffed at the idea of a zipper but came around to appreciate the feature over time. They worked well for their intended purpose and could even serve as a safety feature in being able to remove the boots quickly if covered in a caustic substance. This is great because the lacing on the boot is confusing. While most of the laces are speed-style laces, the circular top holes inhibit the quick lacing and tying that speed laces are generally associated with. However, the zipper felt sturdy, and I had no problems using it solely for donning and doffing the boots while keeping the boots tied. The small hook and loop tab that secures the zipper has a small problem; I have a minor issue of pronation which caused the tabs to hit each other and un-secure themselves occasionally. A snap or other fastener would have been better, but in the end it the zippers are still a great feature, and it doesn’t take away from the overall quality of the boot.
This is my second experience with Bates’ proprietary outsoles, and they once again proved themselves against competitors such as Vibram. The daily rain here in summer-time Florida means that everything is wet for a good portion of the day and the boots held up well with their traction on oily, wet pavement. I’ll have to come back to this review in the future to see how well they hold up over time, but overall these boots accomplish the task of keeping you steady when it’s most important.
In Depth: Wear & Comfort
The break-in period for the GX-8 was short; I felt as though the boots were adjusted after a day or two of wearing them. As a warning, the first day was tough, and I’d recommend wearing them for a little bit off-duty before committing an eight to twelve-plus hour-day wearing them. After the adjustment period, these boots were phenomenal in comfort. They did get warm, thanks to the lack of venting, but that’s a factor that can be solved by the zipper, which allows you to take the boot off to vent during breaks (which you should be doing anyway with any boot in a hot environment).
For field use, there are better options out there. Instead, these boots shine in the daily routine with machinery, aircraft equipment, and oily pavement that comes with work on an airfield, in the motor pool, or any other workshop. The boots kept my feet dry when I wasn’t specifically trudging them through marshy terrain and felt great on any sort of pavement. Heat management can wind up being a problem with these boots and can be alleviated with better socks and replacing the standard insole. I would not choose these boots for marching long distances, and I wouldn’t choose anything with hook and loop fasteners for when stealth is a factor.
Conclusion – 4 out of 5 Stars
Overall, I’d give these boots a solid 4 out of 5 stars for their support, traction, and comfort. If you’re looking for a tactical boot for out in the field, there are boots more optimized for those tasks. However, if you’re looking for a great daily use pair of boots, the GX-8 excels for those long duty days.
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.