The Ultimate Airsoft Footwear Guide

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The Ultimate Airsoft Footwear Guide - Austin - shoe1-626.jpg

So you are new to airsoft. You had a $200 budget, and after perusing the forums, you have purchased your first airsoft rifle for $150. You spent the remainder of your budget on batteries, chargers, ammo, mags, and eye protection. The day of your first game is now here, and upon getting out on the field you notice something; the majority of other players are wearing boots, and you are in sneakers. Why is this you wonder? Well, these players were most likely in your shoes at one point (figuratively, it would be creepy otherwise), and learned that when playing airsoft, ankle support is crucial.

Maybe you come here as a veteran player and just want to learn a bit more about footwear in the great sport of airsoft, you are welcomed here too. Sit back and enjoy the read!

The first thing we need to deal with is sizing. As anyone who has spent any time in an unfitted pair of boots knows, having the correct size boot is important. If the boot is too tight, your feet will not breathe well, which makes sweat, which causes blisters, which means you won't want to walk for a few days after playing. If the boot is too loose, your foot will slide around which can also create blisters and damage your foot in the long run. Many modern-day shoppers make the mistake of buying their footwear online, and while this is tempting since prices are more competitive, let me encourage you to go into a store and be measured professionally. If you absolutely must buy your shoes online, go to YouTube and find a video on how to size your foot correctly.

While sizing, there are a few things to keep in mind. Everyone's foot will be different; some people have high arches, some are flat footed, some have a wide foot, others have odd toe shapes. Each of these things will change how a boot will fit your foot. Once again this is a good reason to go into the physical store and try them on before buying them.

The next thing to consider once you have your shoe size is boot features. This too will vary depending on where you plan to play. The first thing I would consider is the terrain of where you are playing. If there are a lot of hills, dips, rocks, gullies, or any other uneven terrain I would suggest a boot with a height of at least four inches. The next thing I would consider is the wetness of your terrain. If you live in a rather dry area, with a sandy environment, and few places with standing water, this part isn't as important, however for those of us living in rainy areas, that have standing water or creeks on the field, a waterproof boot is a must. I personally recommend boots waterproofed with Gore-Tex as they allow your foot to breath, yet they keep water out. Also, note that a boot is only waterproof up until the top of the laces, you obviously cannot submerge your boots in water and expect your feet not to get wet.

The next consideration to make is probably the biggest, and that is price range. How much can you afford to spend to keep your ankle undamaged and your feet comfortable? Below I am going to make a few suggestions in several different price categories.

In this price category, your best bet for a quality boot will be used from a military surplus store. Something such as Bates is great and can easily be found both new and used in this price range on Ebay.

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$40 - $100
This price range opens you up to a whole new world of possibilities. In this range, you can get multi-functional boots, meaning that you can play in them one day and hike in them the next. Here are a few of my top suggestions:
-Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus $70ish
-Merrell Men's Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot $90ish
-Timberland White Ledge Men's Waterproof Boot $95ish
-Columbia Men's Redmond Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot $100ish
You can also generally find New (Non-used surplus) Bates boots in this price range.
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In the over $100 price range, your options are nearly limitless. As it would be impossible to list them all, I will just give a few suggestions.
-Oakley Assualt Boot $180ish
-Oboz Men's Bridger $180ish
-Salomon Men's Comet 3D GTX Hiking Boot $160ish
-Garmont Combat boots $150ish
-Danner Combat boots $130ish

Once you have been fitted, decided on specific needs, and have purchased your boots, you are not quite done. You will need a good pair of boot socks as well. I would recommend picking up a pair of Smart Wool socks which run about $20 a pair. However, you can purchase cheaper options on Amazon. Remember, a boot is only as good as the pair of socks in it. Cheap socks hold moisture which causes blistering. You want a good pair of socks to wick away sweat and keep your feet from blistering.

If you get your boots and find the insoles lacking, I would recommend purchasing a Dr. Schols active insole. These are meant for hikers but work very well for running around the airsoft field all day. They also help the boot fit a bit snugger if your toes have too much wiggle room.

Another issue that many people run into once they have their boots is slippage on different parts of their feet. This infographic shows how to tie your boots in various ways to treat certain problems with how the boot/shoe fits.

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With all of this in mind, you are now ready to have a fun, safe, and comfortable day on your feet at the field. A good pair of boots can be the difference between having a blast with your friends and having to make a trip to the ER with torn tendons in your ankle. While the sport has its inherent risks, there are ways to mitigate them. Having proper footwear is one of those ways, and is something that is often overlooked by new players. I hope that through this guide you have learned the importance of proper footwear, as well as how to pick out, and effectively use it! Comment below and let me know if you found this guide use! Tell us what kind of footwear you rock on the field!

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July 13, 2017  •  07:07 PM
A surplus store is your best friend. A pair of well made surplus jungle boots can be as low as $30. They're not fancy, but they're sturdy, lightweight, and the lack of waterproofing material is made up by their ability to drain water/dry quickly.
July 14, 2017  •  02:24 AM
Great article Osawaab. Really great.

Get both feet measured. Most people have one foot slightly larger than the other.

As for the $100+ shoes, there are some more brands to consider:
Asolo - great quality, well built, usually lightweight due to fabric leather combination on the most popular models.
Meindl - heavier shoes, great for larger guys, very sturdy.
Planika - Pretty much a copy of Meindl, similar design, same sturdiness, slightly cheaper - easy to get in Europe, not sure about the US.
July 14, 2017  •  10:10 PM
I have found Merrells to not last very long. Salomons are always good but I've had some issues with their laces. Keen boots are phenomenal. They last forever but some can be a little heavier. I also recently gave an off brand I found on Amazon a try and they have been fantastic thus far. They're called Arctiv8.
July 14, 2017  •  11:19 PM
@Shiftyshooter Yeah for sure. One of mine is an 11 the other is an 11 1/2. The reason I don't mention it is because you can't get two different sizes from most stores unless you order custom. However, it is still important to keep in mind as you want to get the size of the largest foot, not the smallest. You can always stuff some padding in to make the smaller one fit! Thanks for the encouraging words
July 14, 2017  •  11:20 PM
@Str8Oper6n Ive heard some of their new boots have longevity problems. Their old shoes were great, I still have a pair from 6 years ago that I wear nearly every day. They are just now starting to give out since I wore them nearly every day the past two years.
July 14, 2017  •  11:30 PM
@osawaab I have had great luck with my Keens. I have a pair that is 3 years old that are still holding up like new, and 3 more pairs ranging from 1 year to a few months. All great.

I have been wearing the Arctiv8's now for a couple months pretty much daily and love them too.

My Merrells always fell apart within 1-2 years. The only Salomons I've destroyed were the Speedcross'. They still hold up but I destroyed them externally with one inverted rappel.
July 14, 2017  •  11:50 PM
@Str8Oper6n Interesting. About a year ago I had 200 to spend on a pair of hiking boots, it was between Oboz and Keen, after trying both on, and given what they had at REI, I went with the Oboz. They have been an awesome boot, but Im going to try Keen here in a few years when my Oboz wear out
July 16, 2017  •  09:42 PM
Don't buy Rothco boots. Also, surplus jungles will mess up your toes because the toe box isn't large enough.
July 17, 2017  •  11:58 AM
Nice guide, even if it's a bit sparse. I'd draw a distinction between military surplus Bates, and civvy Bates. I've run 4 different pairs of civvy Bates, and they don't last more than 6 months.
July 17, 2017  •  12:02 PM
Anyone have any advice for a set of boots that'll last me more than 6 months? I wear boots pretty much every day, running, sprinting, jumping, etc. Need to be black, side zipper preferable. Bates tend to either have the stitching rip out or the treads get worn off.
July 17, 2017  •  12:25 PM
@-Spitfire- have you ever tried danner? I have had a pair for about 4 years, wear them about 100 days out of the year, used them for hiking, backpacking, airsoft, and just everyday life. They havent worn down much at all
July 23, 2017  •  01:15 AM
Gonna throw in my required plug for Rocky S2Vs. The only boot I've worn for work and airsoft going on six years now.
July 23, 2017  •  09:31 AM
@-Spitfire-look at the shoes from the guide. Civilian,boots are more expensive because they usually are of higher quLity and build.

I suggest you focus on thosd.
July 24, 2017  •  02:07 AM
@-Spitfire- Salomon just introduced a new, all black, law enforcement style boot that may interest you.
July 29, 2017  •  01:34 PM
Are snake boots any good for airsoft?
July 29, 2017  •  11:51 PM
@Cbg133 They arnt great, too rigid and hard to run in. Could also cause long term damage to your foot. I would avoid them.
August 16, 2017  •  01:26 PM
Yah me too. I would totally avoid AMT. Had them once and never again.