Raise your hand if you’ve ever had bloody, blistered, or swollen feet after a ruck march. Well, the good news is, your feet will get used to the punishment of military life. But the bad news is that if you cannot find the right boots for ruck marching, you’ll be walking with blisters for the rest of your contract. Ruck marching is one of the brutally necessary tasks soldiers, Marines, high-speed airmen, and sailors perform. It doesn’t matter how many pushups, sit-ups, and pull-ups you can do or how fast you can run around a 1-mile track, a 45-pound bag gets heavy for everyone.
Aside from proper uniform fit and ruck for a march, the only really important things are a decent pair of socks and an excellent pair of boots for ruck marching. First, are you going to be rucking for time or completion? On or off the trail? Dirt or paved road? All of the above? These are questions you should ask yourself what kind of footwear you’ll be fielding that day. The list we’ll present today will cover two categories: 12-milers and objective-based boots.
12-milers are boots that are best suited when carrying a strict 35 pounds over a single type of terrain, usually road, in a set amount of time. These are boots you can run in with little or no risk to your ankle stability. Then there are the objective-based boots. These boots carry you and 100 pounds up a mountainside in the rain. You probably couldn’t run very far or fast, but you can walk forever in a pair of objective-based boots.
Here are our top ten boots for ruck marching, in no particular order:
Top Five Boots for 12-Milers
Rocky C4T Gen 2
It has been a long five years since C4T was compliant. Luckily, the wait is over! If you aren’t familiar; We could consider the OG version a cult classic. It is incredibly fast drying, easy to break-in, oil and slip-resistant, and has been compared to a tactical slipper. The midsole does not compact down and becomes uncomfortable over time, meaning these will feel great on today’s ruck and next year’s as well. The Gen 2 version, which US Patriot partnered with Rocky to create, boasts all those same features but is in a now completely compliant revival of these incredible boots that are perfect for ruck marching.
Garmont T8 BIFIDA
This boot is a customer favorite and for all the right reasons! It’s unparalleled in its ability to be a tough and trustworthy boot while also having the technology behind it that allows it to remain light on its feet. The boot has a unique lace locking system that uses ball bearings in two of its eyelets to lock the laces from the top of your foot down, with speed lacing the rest of the way up. These eyelets can be tough to break-in, I would recommend bypassing them until they loosen up and form to your foot, but once you are over that hump, you are good to hit the ground running. Lots of shock absorption makes this an easy pick for Air Assault or any school that requires your body to take a hit from the ground.
The NFS, or Need For Speed, is the non-Vibram outsole version of the above Bifida. They have the same locking ball-bearing eyelet to keep your ankle stable with a loaded pack, just without the extra shock absorption from the unique Vibram outsole that the Bifida has. These boots will dry quickly while the lining provides incredible breathability to the whole foot and forces sweat out and away from the inner lining. This boot is one of the most well-rounded boots that I have come across with every box ticked off in what you could want/need in a rucking boot.
A newer to the scene boot, Belleville built the AMRAP with insights geared specifically towards what its military customers have been saying for over 100 years. This boot is supportive and rugged with no excess weight as they crammed incredible technology into an easy break-in boot. Namely, the outsole, built with “Athletic Strobel” construction, makes this boot feel like an athletic shoe but with all the durability we expect and trust from Belleville. New boot styles can be daunting, we tend to “go with what you know” with the boots we trust to carry us through whatever beating we are going to put them through. Belleville knows exactly what they are doing.
Nike SFB Gen 2
The GEN 2 looks a little different from anything that Nike has come out with before. The lacing system is unique to this style of boot. Nike calls them flex grooves, which translate into a boot with a ton of movement and assist your foot in moving as naturally as possible. This style mimics the now non-compliant original Nike SFB in how they fit and will form to your feet over a relatively short break-in period, making them an incredible option for our soldiers who don’t feel like waiting a month for the break-in before taking their boots on their first test ruck.
Under Armour Loadout
Another newer to the scene boot, the Loadouts have been an unexpected hit amongst Army and Air Force alike, selling quickly and consistently at our brick-and-mortar locations. The inner midsole is where it’s at, made with Micro G EVA, foot fatigue is a thing of the past and holds true no matter how many miles are put on them. Add in quick-drying materials, a Vibram outsole with their MegaGrip rubber, and tough heel pull tabs for quick on/off and what you have is one solid and trustworthy boot.
This style comes in a few variations: jungle, all leather, composite toe, Gore-Tex, and even a duty boot. Rocky created a boot style that is a signature look, signature in comfort, and signature in consistently being a solid buy. Rocky has even made these go down to a size 3.0 in men’s, or a 4.5 in women’s, which is huge for our female customers. Unique features for this one include a PTFE coating for flame resistance and an anti-microbial shield within the footbed.
This boot style is an underdog in the tactical world. At 13oz per boot, they are not the absolute lightest of the light and sneaker-like. I have had more than one customer let me know that they took two pairs of these to Ranger school and say they saved their feet during the long 61+ day stretch through the elements. These will dry quickly with good airflow through the footbed and the EVA midsole will keep that footbed feeling just as sturdy and supportive through all the trials you put them through. Additionally, these boots have extra space in the toe box, which was made for carrying heavy packs and changing directions quickly, but also makes them one of the easiest boots to fit medical-grade insoles in.
Oakley Light Assault 2
Straightforward and simple, this boot is an easy addition to the Top 10 rucking list. Your feet have great natural movement in them, and the lip from the outsole that extends past the heel will keep you stable with your pack loaded. Oakley ensured the midsole and outsole can take a good amount of shock from whatever terrain you may march over, huge for an extremely lightweight and simplistic boot. They take a little getting used to, the arch support has a hard underfoot, so pre-wearing these before taking them out on their maiden ruck-voyage is imperative.
Merrell MQC 2.0
Merrell is known for its hiking boots and footwear; it was only natural for them to add a line of combat boots. The MQC 2.0 style has everything you could ask for in a great ruck marching boot. It is lightweight with low fatigue, has an outsole designed to grip all environments, and keeps your feet safe from debris with its smart tongue design. Trustworthy boot from a trustworthy brand.
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