I recently had the opportunity to purchase a pair of combat hikers by Tactical Research, a subdivision of the Belleville Boot Company. Belleville is a longtime supplier of military and law enforcement footwear, but Tactical Research is a recent addition to their line and only a hard workout will tell if the same quality Belleville is long known for is still there.
This spring I found myself in the market for a new pair of hiking boots. Not the dilemma of the century, but I do have some personal preferences that make finding that perfect pair of boots difficult. First, I wear heavy boots all day at work and wanted something lightweight yet durable for my off duty time. Second, I wear a wide boot so whatever I purchased needs to be available in at least EE. Third, I wear my off duty boots for a variety of uses including outdoor sports, manual work and casual wear so I would need a single pair of boots suitable for each. Fourth, once I find a quality pair of footwear, I want them to last but also be available for future purchases – so I tend to buy from big name companies I know will be there in 2 or 3 years.
After doing a good deal of online research, the Range Runner appeared to meet my basic requirements. Keeping with the trend of supplying lightweight, tactical-style hikers, they are 6 inches in height. They are available in a variety of whole and half sizes, including wide selections. Although made for hiking, they are equally suited for general outdoor use and casual wear around town. Finally, Belleville has been making military and law enforcement footwear for 112 years, so I doubt they will be leaving the business anytime soon.
Each of my basic needs were addressed so I ordered a pair from the U.S. Patriot Tactical website and was pleasantly surprised when they arrived in 3 days after being drop shipped directly from Belleville. As soon as I opened the box, I was impressed by the lightweight, durable craftsmanship and what looked to be a quality pair of boots. But it was wearing them that truly made me believe they were the correct choice.
Each of the many features made the Range Runner a solid choice for any of the activities I might find myself wearing them for:
- 6” height provided ankle support without unnecessary bulk
- Combination cowhide leather and nylon mesh uppers provided both reduced weight and durability in a breathable design which dries easily when wet
- Shock absorbing insole, low profile outer sole and load bearing orthotics provided a level of comfort needed for long term wear on or off the trail
- Vibram sole with deep, sharp lugs and matching toe/heel cups provide excellent traction on any surface – wet or dry
- Soft, cord-style laces tie easily and do not come undone unexpectedly
Despite all the positives, there were some aspects of the Range Runner I did not care for. For one, despite Belleville’s long tradition of being American made at one of their three plants, the Tactical Research brand is made in China. Second, the pair I ordered was advertised as coyote. Although this is a very popular color option in the tactical market, no two manufacturers seem to have the same definition of what exactly it is in terms of an actual color. This means they do not match any of my other coyote items. Third, although they are advertised as waterproof they also include twin drain vents on each boot. Obviously it is impossible to have both drain vents and a waterproof design. On the plus side, they do dry quickly and being wet does not appear to affect their quality or fit once dried.
In the end, the pluses far outweigh the negatives. I believe I have found a quality pair of combat hikers I will wear until they fall apart on my feet. When that happens, I will be looking to Belleville’s Tactical Research line for replacements and encourage you to do the same.
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.