It's hard to imagine a more essential piece of equipment than good footwear. As I get older, I've become acutely aware of how vital good shoes or boots are to the way we do our job and to our energy level. In January, while attending the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) in Orlando, I saw a new boot line launched by Magnum called the Elite Spider. OK, I'll admit I was intrigued by the name, perhaps because I remember being fascinated by Spiderman when I was a kid. That aside, the boots seemed very well-made and extremely light. When offered the opportunity to wear-test them in the real world, I readily agreed.
I've been wearing the Magnum Elite Spider 5.0 model, the mid-level offering of the Elite Spider line, measuring 5" in height. You can also get the Spider 8.0 boot (8") and the Spider 3.0 low-rise shoe (3"). All share some important design elements, most notably quality components and construction along with an aggressive, effective tread pattern.
When I donned my Spiders, I was once again impressed with the light weight. Magnum claims the boot weighs 20 percent less than other boots in this category, and that seems consistent with my experience. The boot's visible aggressiveness and quality construction leads one to believe it's going to be heavy, but this has been one of the lightest I've ever worn; in fact, it s noticeably lighter than some dress shoes I own. The Spider reminds me of my Glock 27 packing an effective punch but with great design and light weight.
What makes the Spider different? Well, it s designed on a running shoe last (the last is the base that approximates the form of the human foot). This means it provides comfort for a variety of tasks and a great level of support. Under that base, Magnum has added a Vibram outsole with a rubber compound that s incredibly effective at grabbing and holding in slippery conditions. The upper part of the shoe is made of a combination of full-grain leather with a very breathable mesh in areas that need flexibility. The blending of the leather and mesh make for a boot that s comfortable, light and breathable. Inside the boot is a lining Magnum calls Spidermesh and I call comfortable so comfortable I found myself leaving my boots on until bedtime, something I never used to do. I also like that the height and design are just perfect for letting the wearer insert or remove the foot without unlacing.
I have two noteworthy boot-related experiences to share with you. During my wear test, which lasted about two months, I noticed an officer in our jurisdiction on a traffic stop with a biker under an overpass. Steep concrete embankments flanked both sides of the street. I always like getting a little different angle on my photos, and I had my camera with me, so I scrambled up the concrete thinking I d get a high-level view. The embankment proved much steeper than it looked from ground level, and I became aware that if I lost my footing, I d take quite a tumble. Compounding the challenge was some type of dried moss or debris that made for uncertain footing. Fortunately, the Spiders were true to their name and provided a great deal of traction. As long as I kept my center of gravity low to the embankment, I had sure footing and made it up to the top without a problem. The bad news is I missed the photo op, but at least I didn t make a fool out of myself by tumbling down in front of everyone.
The other experience has to do with something I find myself doing more of lately standing or walking for a long period at a trade show. Last month I attended a two-day event where I spent the bulk of the day either standing or walking on a concrete floor. Although they are more casual than dress attire, I wore the Spiders throughout the conference. I could not believe I didn t have sore feet and a tired back at the end of the day. I ve been so impressed with the support these shoes offer that I find a reason to wear them as much as possible they actually seem to help my feet feel better.
I do have two pieces of constructive criticism about the Spider boot. First, a leather tab at the base of the laces tends to point upward because it falls along the natural break of the shoe. It s not a major deal, but it s kind of like an unbuttoned sleeve it just looks out of place.
The other issue concerns the incredibly effective sole of the shoe. It grabs everything very, very effectively, but I do notice that on flat, glossy surfaces it makes a pronounced squishy-sticky sound as it grabs on and lets go. It s loud enough that I noticed a couple of people look up to see what was causing the noise when I walked across a shiny wood floor. Maybe this is something that will wear off over time (I don t think so because I ve been wearing the boots a lot), or maybe it s an early production anomaly, but suffice to say this makes it pretty difficult to be quiet and stealth-oriented if the surface you re walking on is smooth.
The boot carries a suggested retail price of about $90, and I found at least one Internet site offering them for about $70. For that price, they re a great value. Bottom line: The Elite Spider 5.0 is well-built, very comfortable, and extremely light. I like it a lot.
Elite Spider 5.0 Boot
4801 Stoddard Road
Modesto, CA 95356