What you wear on your feet as a police officer is as important as what you carry on your belt. Whether you’re standing for long periods, bailing from your squad car or running after an offender, every action you take impacts on your feet. Your safety depends on good footwear.
As a young officer, I was instructed by a respected old salt to buy a pair of jump boots. The boots weren’t waterproof and the soles were hard as slate, but those boots saved me a likely broken ankle in a foot pursuit when I stepped into an unseen pothole.
Since those early days, I’ve worn boots to work, with the exception of dress occasions. I’m always looking for a better boot.
More than a year ago, I met with Bates representative Bill Schiesser at the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association Conference, which is held annually in the Chicago area. I told him about my quest and asked him what he felt would meet my needs. I wanted boots that were leather, lightweight and waterproof, and provided good ankle support. He handed me a pair of Bates DuraShock 8" lace-to-toe 3135s. The boots looked great and seemed to meet my criteria, but the real issue was how they’d wear over time. Thus, I asked him to send me a pair for an extended-wear test.
I wore these boots every workday, in all weather conditions, for nearly one year. The following was my experience.
• Break in: This took only a couple days. My rule is the boot must break into my feet, not the other way around. I’ve owned boots that felt like instruments of torture, and they’d often sit unused in storage. However, the DuraShock system provided a very comfortable foot strike platform, and they quickly conformed to the contours of my feet.
• Stability: When purchasing a boot, stability should be one of the most important considerations. After all, we’re typically in constant motion; running over uneven surfaces; moving on ice, snow or wet surfaces; jumping fences or climbing other barriers.
I wore the DuraShock boots while doing my daily work, in addition to firearms, active shooter and tactical classes I teach. I wore them in the “Gig Pit” course of the 2009 National Patrol Rifle Competition, which is a mud, sand, water, biathlon-type event. Through it all, the DuraShock boots protected my ankles and feet. Additionally, I tend to roll my feet outward, and the DuraShock sole design kept that from being an issue.
• Traction and durability: Traction is a vital issue, as slips and falls on ice have injured many officers. The composition and lug design of the sole is key and the DuraShock boots kept me upright through the rough-and-tumble in various situations. Since I’ve been testing the boots, the soles have worn very little.
• Weather protection: This particular model wasn’t insulated. In fact, I didn’t want insulated boots. They can’t be worn during our summers when the surface temperatures of the ranges or sidewalks are well above 100° F. In very cold weather I generally wear two pairs of socks. With the DuraShocks, I didn’t have to wear double socks, and I wore the boots all summer without issue. Overall, the only issue I had was with the waterproof inner liner on my right boot. It sprung a leak, which may have been due to a loose stitch.
• Customer service and guarantee: Bates immediately addressed the failed waterproofing, and a new pair was sent to me without further question. The company’s only request was that I send the old boots back to be inspected. I should mention that, when you first get the boots, you have 30 days to wear them to assess their comfort and fit. If you don’t like them, you may return the boots for a full refund.
Overall, these are good boots, and with Bates’ return guarantee, you win no matter what.
DuraShock 3135 Boots
• Comfortable foot strike platform
• Good ankle protection
• 30-day guarantee
• Liner leaked during test (replaced by company)