When it comes to choosing the best rucking boots, there are only so many options. "But," you just said, "there are countless boot options to choose from! So many brands and styles, different materials. Do I need waterproof? High top or mid top? There are too many options!"
You're right. There are lots of brands, options, and technologies to consider. So let's start with some features we can all agree the best rucking boots will have. Here's 10 things all great rucking boots will have, and what you should look for when choosing your boots.
The 10 Features the Best Rucking Boots All Have
If you're browsing rucking boots, or asking for recommendations from your GORUCK Club or Tribe members, make sure your list starts with the following features, then write down anything your rucking friends want to add.
- NOT waterproof. We know. It's cool to have waterproof boots. But you know what else is cool? Your boots drying out and keeping your feet happy. You'll want water-resistant, breathable boots with drainage, not waterproof.
- No break-in time. If someone starts with "Once you break these in..." you can cross that boot off your list. The best rucking boots are made with the best materials and don't need to be broken in.
- Wide toe box. The more you ruck in a given day or workout, the more your feet swell. Choose boots that advertise a wide toe box to avoid your toes rubbing against the boots and against each other.
- 13mm offset. This is pretty specific, but it's the offset we've found works best for rucking. You'll want to take care of your achilles (and by proxy your ankles, knees, hips, and back) on long rucks.
- No spacer mesh. Spacer mesh is soft, squishy, and feels comfortable to your hand when you touch it. It's nice to put your feet into boots made with spacer mesh. But it’s a trap, literally. The first time spacer mesh looks at any kind of water, your boots get heavier and they stay that way. Avoid it.
- Breathable, durable materials. Fancy-sounding synthetic boots just don't get the job done. You'll want leather or suede around the foot, and a shaft (the part that goes up your leg a bit) reinforced with breathable materials, like the 1000D CORDURA® we use.
- Functional, comfortable heel counter. This one isn't so obvious when looking for a new pair of rucking boots, but you'll want a heel counter (the firm piece that wraps your heel in the boot) that is designed for rucking. It should lock your heel down (your heel shouldn't slide up or down in the boot) and allow your forefoot to remain flexible. Also, look for a solid plastic heel counter wrapped in anti-abrasion suede. Heel counters matter, make sure you find one that's comfortable and built for wear and tear.
- 3mm speed laces. Laces can be swapped out, but we like to get it right from the start in our boots. 3mm speed laces don't collect dirt and debris like 5mm, and they're easier to clean off when the day is done. If you've ever done the GORUCK Challenge, you know how valuable easy-to-use laces are.
- Rugged outsole. This one makes sense. Look for something with deep tread that will grip the ground. The tread should be on the front (under the toes) and back (under the heel), and might be thicker and reinforced around the heel.
- Positive reviews. Don't buy rucking boots that don't have lots of positive reviews. Period.
MACV-1: Lightweight. Supportive. Proven.
Modern rucking boots were born in the jungles of Vietnam. Hauling gear for days may not have been something new to the US military, but the climate and unforgiving terrain of Vietnam presented new challenges. When we set out to create the best rucking boots, we started there. The boots needed to drain, they needed to protect the feet, and they needed to hold up to unforgiving terrain.
The MACV-1™ modernized the Vietnam-era jungle boot with today’s all-terrain requirements of traveling, training, rucking - and assaulting. We wanted boots suitable for the needs of Special Forces soldiers who spend a career on their feet, all over the world, with heavy rucks on their backs. If we could meet that demand (and we did), we could serve adventurers all over the world who needed quality, comfortable, built-to-last boots.
Here's why MACV-1™ was the best boot ever made for rucking, traveling, adventure, and military service.
- Quality leather materials paired with 1000D CORDURA® and 2" nylon webbing for added ankle support meant the boots don't need breaking in. Put them on and get after it.
- A wide toe box and shielded drain holes mean that your feet stay dry and abrasion-free, which means you don't slow down when the elements get rough.
- A 13mm offset and suede heel counter means your heel and achilles are protected and comfortable during the longest ruck marches.
- An all terrain outsole to go anywhere. Durability on pavement, grip on mountain trails, and comfort in the gym. There is no terrain MACV-1™ can't handle.
- 3mm speed laces because details matter. 5mm laces tend to hold dirt and debris, and the modern rucking boot shouldn't.
MACV-1™ excels to this day, all over the world. Each day our rucking boot platform is tested over thousands of miles under heavy rucks, at gyms and in parks, and on military deployments. We're fortunate to have all that data. All that data led to the best rucking boot ever created, the MACV-2™.
MACV-2: Ready When You Are
If the MACV-1™ modernized the Vietnam-era jungle boot, the MACV-2™ continues that legacy. It's best for Special Forces soldiers who spend a career on their feet, all over the world, with heavy rucks on their backs. It's built for all adventurers who need perfect boots for on long trips, journeys, and in their daily active lives. MACV-2™ features an upgraded outsole with unprecedented traction and support that is finely-tuned to the demands of adventure and rucking, based on the legacy of MACV-1™.
An Upgraded Outsole
The all terrain outsole of MACV-1™ featured dual compound rubber outsole for performance anywhere, including wet and muddy terrain. The forefoot rubber was formulated for increased grip while the heel area provided abrasion resistance and increased durability.
For MACV-2™, we wanted a more aggressive outsole (the bottom of the shoe). We wanted better grip, less debris holding on, and more comfort on hard surfaces.
MACV-2™ features a triple compound rubber outsole. That's three zones of rubber built individually to meet the demands of all-day wear, fitness, and rucking. The forefoot rubber is formulated for increased grip with deep tread specifically shaped to grab the ground while shedding mud and debris. It wraps around the toes for additional protection against rocky terrain or when doing push-ups.
The midfoot (the area beneath your arch) is made from a rock climbing compound and hardened for exceptional abrasion resistance — ideal for fast roping and navigating rocky terrain.
Finally, the durable heel of MACV-1™ got an expanded heel strike area that won't break down over time or distance. It's built to go far and heavy.
Better Support for Rucking and Traveling
The new MACV-2™ midsole design wraps around the entire upper, providing significantly more stability and support to the entire foot. That's support your feet need so they’re not smoked after being on your feet all day, whatever you’re doing and wherever you are.
The combined weight of its EVA midsole and rubber outsole keep MACV-2™ lighter than any footwear of its kind (even lighter than MACV-1™), even with the new aggressive outsole. Lightweight boots ready for anything. That's MACV-2™.
Choosing Your MACV-2™: High Top or Mid Top?
If you're looking for AR 670-1 compliant boots, go with the high top MACV-2™. It meets Army regulations and will perform well in every situation military service can throw at it. However, if you're not shopping for a service boot, you have the option of choosing the 8 inch high top or 6 inch mid top.
In addition to military compliance, the MACV-2™ High Top will provide a bit more support up your ankle and leg, and a more snug feel. These kinds of boots are designed for Special Forces, or anyone who is performing in demanding environments and wants a more secure-feeling, snug boot. How long will you be rucking? Do you prefer taller boots that hug the leg?
If you want a boot that is more versatile (but not compliant with military uniform guidelines), the 6 inch MACV-2™ Mid Top will work. It uses less material, so it's a bit lighter. For some, this makes it better suited for travel. We like the mid top for short to medium length ruck marches and GORUCK Challenges, and for everyday wear. When we're lacing up for something long and heavy (like GORUCK Tough or Heavy Challenges) we opt for the higher, 8 inch boot.
Final Thoughts: Choose the Best Rucking Boots For You
At the end of every workout, ruck, or adventure abroad, your feet will let you know if your footwear performed. Always choose boots with tons of good reviews, and ones that meet the 10 guidelines we listed at the top of this article. Finally, look for boots that have a stellar return policy (like ours) and a lifetime guarantee (like our Scars Lifetime Guarantee).
Oh, and always choose boots that look cool.