One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it doesn’t pay to purchase cheap shoes or boots. You only have one pair of feet, so treat them nicely by buying the best you can get!
In 1969, when we were on our first day of Basic Training in the U.S. Army, there was one thing the drill sergeants told us (and I’ve never forgotten it) was to “not wear your boots into the shower, get them wet, and wear them until they dry on your feet.” We were told we’d get an Article 15, which is a military reprimand/punishment. Now, we might have been young and dumb back in those days, but we all understood it to mean that we should get our boots nice and wet, and wear them until they dry so they will mold to our feet, but don’t get caught doing it. Back in the day, it sure worked with all-leather combat boots. A good soaking in the shower and allowing those boots to dry on your feet, actually molded them to your feet, thus bypassing a break-in period. Some soldiers didn’t do this, and they had blisters on their feet in short order. It took weeks to break-in those all-leather combat boots, otherwise.
With many of today’s artificial fabrics used in the manufacture of boots and shoes, it’s almost impossible to get your shoes or boots to mold to your feet by soaking them in water and wearing the footwear until they dried on your feet. If you have plans on bugging out on foot, for whatever reason, you must (and I repeat MUST) have a good-fitting and comfortable pair of boots or hikers. Shoes just don’t cut it, especially if you are in the boonies, on rocky or rough terrain. So, boots or hikers are the order of the day if you plan on bugging out on foot.
Sure, go ahead, and purchase that nice “looking” pair of boots or hikers from one of the big box stores. Then see how long they last, how comfortable they are, or what kind of material they are made out of. In the end, you’ll regret purchasing bargain basement boots or hikers. To be sure, I’ve done some research over the years and learned that approximately 90% – 95% of our footwear is made in China. Heaven help us if we ever go to war against China. Inside of a couple months, we’ll all be barefoot.
I have a couple pair of books and hikers that I’ve designated for hunting and bug out purposes, and they are well broken-in, too. Some took a few days, but most took a few weeks or a month to break-in properly, so they were comfortable on my feet and wouldn’t raise blisters. Some are made in the USA; some are made oversea. You get as good as you want when having products made overseas.
I recently received a pair of Altia  MF Tactical Boots for testing for this article. They are made in Vietnam, if it matters to you. That war is long ago over with, and we weren’t allowed to win it. It’s not the fault of the military who fought and died there. It was the politicians who wouldn’t allow us to win, but that’s for another time. The very first thing I noticed about the Altai MF Tactical Boot is how super light-weight they are. We are talking about a 9″ high boot that weighs only about 23-ounces for the pair!
Some other specs on the Altair boots is that the upper is made out of something called “SuperFabric,” and I’m not privy to what the material is, other than I can tell it is light-weight and very strong. The SuperFabric is meant to withstand harsh environments and rough applications. If you look closely at the material, it is covered with evenly-placed “armor plates,” according to the Altai website. They are little tiny “nubs,” and they protect the SuperFabric. This SuperFabric allows for fast-drying; the boots are waterproof and breathable. In my neck of the woods, where it rains for eight months out of the year, I prefer waterproof footwear most of the time.
The SuperFabric is also stain-resistant, and the outer sole is made out of Vibram– one of my favorite materials for hiking and trekking. The laces are a figure 8 style for speed-lacing, which makes the boots easy to get on and off. The eyelets are metal rather than plastic, which breaks easily. The tongue is padded nylon, and the leather toe is waterproof and polishable.
I will readily admit that the Altai boots were comfortable right out of the box, and needed no break-in period at all. The one thing that “bothered” me more than anything was that the boots are light-weight. They might be the lightest boots I’ve ever worn; if they aren’t the lightest boots I’ve ever worn, they sure feel like it. I have light-weight hikers that aren’t this light-feeling, and I do a lot of walking, so I like boots and hikers that are light-weight and durable. I hike some of the logging roads in my area, and they can be rough with big rocks that are used for paving the roads for the log trucks. Those big rocks are really tough to walk on and tough on footwear. The Altai boots had no problems on the logging roads or the asphalt roads when I was wearing the boots. It just doesn’t seem right that boots this light-weight are so rugged. Go figure! In spite of their light weight, they are tough boots, to be sure!
I like the speed-lacing system, as I mentioned, that makes them easy on/easy off. In a bug out situation, you may not have all the time in the world to get properly dressed. You don’t want to waste time trying to lace-up a pair of boots. It can take time, especially with some other boots, to get them on and laced-up. Did I happen to mention, how light-weight these boots are? Yeah, I did. I wanted to mention it once again! I was totally blown away with how comfortable the boots were right out of the box and how nice they felt on my feet . I’ve had tennis shoes that weren’t this comfortable, seriously!
Right now, Altai is having a special on their boots. They are normally $180, but for a limited time, they are on-sale for $160. They are one heck of a bargain, in a light-weight, super-tough boot. One last word, the ONLY product that Altai sells are the Altai MF Tactical Boots. Altai has to have a LOT of faith in their product to make a living selling just one product. I can easily see these boots for law enforcement and security officers. I’m not sure what some of the regulations are in the militaries in other countries, but if troops are given some leeway in the types of boots they can wear, these Altai MF Tactical Boots would be a wise choice. One more note: I’m told the boots run a little bit on the big side, so order half a size smaller than you’d normally wear. I take a 10.5 in shoes and boots, and they sent me a size 10. It fit nicely, very nicely! So, if you’re in the market for a new pairs of boots for hiking, hunting, or bugging out, take a close look at the Altai MF Tactical Boots. You’ll be impressed, very impressed. — SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio