The Oakley SI Light Assault Boots have been on the market for a while, but they are now available in sage green – the color used by the Air Force for official duty boots. With a new color available, it was time to circle back and put the boots through a second round of testing to see if they have changed at all since our last test of these boots. When I analyze a product, I like to think of it in terms of what I call “The Three F’s”: Features, Fit and Function. For this test, I wore a size 10 boot with a pair of Darn Tough boot socks.
- 8 inch height
- 14 ounce weight (per boot)
- Flesh-out bovine leather and 1,000 denier Cordura upper
- Metal speed loops with anti-IR exterior coating
- Lace lock system
- Braided nylon laces
- Air vents on the instep
- Slip-resistant rubber outsole
- Molded EVA insole and midsole
- Lightweight design
I analyzed the features of the boot one by one to cover everything in depth and I came away quite impressed with the overall construction. The 8” height provides ample ankle support in uneven terrain without becoming restrictive and cumbersome. I never felt as though I was at risk for an injury as I traversed through a mountainous landscape and I felt that I had sufficient range of motion in a garrison environment as well. The boots immediately struck me as incredibly lightweight as I slipped them on, but their 14 oz weight really shined as I increased my distance and really put the boots to the test. They never weighed me down and certainly did not restrict my ability to move as some heavier boots occasionally do.
When it comes to duty boots, durability should be at the forefront of your checklist as you search for a new pair. With that in mind, I was impressed by the flesh-out bovine leather used to construct the lower portion of the boot’s upper. This leather not only stood up to the rigors of a day spent in the field, but it also looked great doing so. Traditional leather boots use the reverse side of the hide which is smooth and able to be shined. Unfortunately, that side is also susceptible to scuffs and scrapes. By using the flesh side out, these boots do not require as much upkeep or care to last throughout use and look good at the same time.
A major reason that leather boots have declined in popularity recently is the fact that genuine leather can be quite heavy. Synthetic materials were substituted to lighten the boots and provide the same leather look, but synthetic leather isn’t as durable as the real deal. Oakley provided the wearer with the best of both worlds for these light assault boots by incorporating 1000 denier Cordura (a heavy duty Nylon) into the construction of the upper to lighten the weight without sacrificing much in the way of durability.
Also on the exterior of the boots are some heavy duty laces. Made from braided nylon, these laces aren’t your standard manufacturer laces that you quickly pull out and replace. These laces have shown no signs of wear through multiple uses and I don’t anticipate they will be fraying any time soon. Holding the laces in place is a lace lock system designed to keep the boots securely attached to your feet. This is an underrated feature that often goes overlooked, but it is so important because tactical boots need to be worn on the tighter side of normal for proper support and protection from ankle injuries.
Even though the boots are outfitted with a lace lock system, the laces are still able to slide effortlessly through the metal speed loops on the boots when you lace them up, so I was able to get the boots on without much effort. Speed loops come in handy, but they can occasionally be a deterrent to tight-fitting boots as the laces slide too easily through them as the wearer moves. The laces stayed firmly in place with these boots – assumingly a result of the lace lock system doing what it’s advertised to do. Adding to the functionality of the speed loops is an anti-IR coating that I did not have the opportunity to test but would be imperative for those who operate in stealth settings from time to time.
These boots stand up to a beating just fine, but it is well known that a heavy pair of boots will last longer than a light pair. If you are ok sacrificing a little bit of longevity at the tail end of the boot’s life in exchange for lightweight boots every day of duty, these are the ones for you. In exchange for slightly decreased durability, you get to experience dry, cool feet on a daily basis. These lightweight boots wick moisture out from inside through the use of two air vents on the instep as well as naturally breathable Cordura uppers. My feet stayed reasonably dry and free from excessive sweat on a warm summer day. No boot will keep your feet from sweating altogether, but these boots do a darn good job of getting the sweat out fast.
When it comes to where the boots meet the ground, you won’t be disappointed. Externally, this is where the rubber truly does meet the road because the outsole is constructed from slip-resistant rubber. Internally, your feet are treated to a molded EVA insole and midsole. For those who may not be familiar with footwear terms, the midsole is the portion that is on the inside of the boot just above the outsole and it is not able to be removed. The insole is the part of the boot that touches the base of your foot and it can be removed.
Both the midsole and the insole are made from molded EVA. EVA is a lightweight elastomeric polymer. EVA is short for ethylene-vinyl acetate and, in layman’s terms, it is a highly durable synthetic material that is also a fraction of the weight of natural materials. This lightweight insole has some give to it, so it forms to your foot’s shape similar to a custom orthotic insole and gives you superb comfort that only improves the more you wear the boot. I also found the material to be slightly tacky, an added advantage because it keeps your foot firmly in place during wear without any internal sliding. Anyone who has spent significant time wearing boots will tell you that sliding in your boots leads to blisters, and they are no fun at all.
The anti-slip rubber outsole has plenty of grip for standard use. I tested it in rocky mountain terrain as well as on concrete, considering many of those who are in the Air Force will spend a significant amount of time on a tarmac. I did not run into any issues with traction and the tread was aggressive enough to grip the ground while still utilizing a simple design that provides a streamlined look for wear in garrison environments. The heel and toe areas of the sole have tightly packed tread for grip while you are ascending or descending, while the middle portion has wider tread that is spread far enough so as not to grip dirt or gravel and trap it in the sole.
By now you have read an exhaustive analysis of each and every feature that the Oakley SI Light Assault boot has, but you are still left wondering how it feels. Don’t worry, I have you covered. Everyone considers durability and style, but the true test of a boot is how it feels when you slide it on your foot. I found the boots to be quite comfortable. I love the lightweight design and want my boots to be as light as possible. These do not disappoint in that regard. I alluded to it in the breakdown of the insole, but I loved the comfort I felt as I walked around on a somewhat flexible, almost spongy insole that formed to my foot and kept it in place.
If you are sold on the boot and want to make a purchase, you need to know how it fits. Different manufacturers use different molds to make their boots, so, unfortunately, there is no universal size acceptable for every brand out there. Furthermore, different styles of shoes should fit differently. You want your dress shoes snug, your casual shoes roomy and your tactical boots tight. As mentioned before, tight boots prevent sliding and, in turn, the formation of blisters.
I wear a size 10, generally speaking, but tend to prefer a wide width if I’m buying boots. This is a personal preference of mine, as I find that a little more room on either side is enough to account for the thickness of the boot sock without being too roomy or too snug. Unfortunately, this boot is not manufactured in a wide width, making it my primary (and only) complaint about the boots. With that said, the boots were true to size and allowed me the ability to wiggle my toes comfortably without being so spacious that I was craving a smaller size. The bottom line is that, if you usually order a size 10, you should feel comfortable ordering your normal size 10 without issue. This should hold true across the board for other sizes as well.
These boots are highly comfortable and incredibly lightweight. Despite their lightweight design, they still hold up through repeated use in a tactical environment. These boots are at home on the tarmac of an Air Force runway and as a daily wear boot while stationed at home. For those of you who enjoy a little time on the trail in your spare time, these boots will make a great outdoor boot for hot weather. They are lightweight to keep you on the move and they wick moisture exceptionally well. I wouldn’t recommend these boots for an extended deployment where you will be experiencing challenging terrain on a daily basis but, when put to use under normal military conditions, these boots will excel compared to heavier alternatives.
If you are looking for a lightweight boot built for durability that is on par with heavier alternatives, the Oakley SI Light Assault Boot won’t let you down. Give it a try; I did and I was not disappointed at all.
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.