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When it comes to police products—guns, patrol cars, handcuffs, etc.—most cops have long-held brand loyalties. As cops, we develop these loyalties based on other officer’s suggestions, or from our own personal experiences. Police boots aren’t different in this regard, and for good reason: We spend more time wearing our boots than we do sitting in a patrol car or shooting a firearm.
Unfortunately, too many officers purchase cheap, low-quality boots so they can spend more money on sexy items like the newest gizmo or gadget to attach to their patrol rifle. Basing a boot purchase purely on cost will often leave you with ill-fitting and poor-quality footwear that won’t last long. Wearing an uncomfortable pair of boots for 8–12 hours a day can make you irritable at best and contribute to various physical problems.
I’ve worn various Magnum boots off and on for the last 18 years and was excited when I laid eyes on the new Spider 8.1 Tac Spec HPi boot. Its stout appearance gives the immediate impression that it’s made for action in austere conditions. The boot’s non-metallic construction includes a combination of full-grain leather and ballistic nylon on its upper portion. The Tec-Tuff leather toe guard resists abrasions, unlike many other leather boots. The tread design is aggressive for superior traction and slip resistance, but somehow the boots are quieter than other boots on interior, hard-surface floors.
Magnum’s Vent-Guard system features small vents located on the forward half of each boot. As a sort of evolutionary step forward from the drainage vents found on old-style military jungle boots, the Vent-Guard system allows air to flow in and out while blocking debris from entering. The air flow provides improved breathability and fights foot fatigue.
The Ion-Mask technology found in the boots treats every fiber—including those in the seams—making them all repellent to fluids such as water, oil, fuel, alcohol and blood. This technology also makes the boot retain less weight than other boots when wet.
One downside to the boots is that the combination of eyelet and lace design seems to cause the laces to slip annoyingly when trying to tie your boots. However, I’ve seen similar styles on other boot brands, so industry experts obviously see value in this design.
The Exo-frame build of the boot incorporates a “fast-rope system” which may be vital to special ops forces, but doesn’t do much for a patrol officer like myself, who’ll likely never have the opportunity, let alone the need, to fast rope. Still, it’s comforting to know the Tac Spec HPi is built to such high standards: It’ll resist noticeable damage from friction and melting for approximately 50 fast-rope runs, compared to approximately two fast-rope runs in typical boots.
The Spider 8.1 Tac Spec HPi boots are very comfortable. The Ortholite insoles provide great support during long periods of standing on a hard surface, walking and running. The mesh lining and Vent-Guard help promote comfort and breathability during periods of physical exertion. They’re easily the most comfortable boots I’ve worn during my career, but I would personally prefer a side-zip version to facilitate emergency call outs.
Magnum’s new Spider line is built from the ground up as the ultimate boot for the tactical athlete, but also includes several other new boots for men and women. Although boot manufacturers continue to strive to make the perfect athletic shoe for fit and comfort, Magnum’s Spider 8.1 Tac Spec HPi is the closest to that goal right now.
Spider 8.1 Tac Spec HPi
• Comfortable, lightweight & fluid-resistant
• Vent-Guard system improves breathability
• Slippery lacing system
• Side-zip version not yet available
Approx. street price: $165