Gear review: Smith and Wesson Breach Athletic Boots
This review was posted a ways back on kitup.military.com. I wasn’t going to post it here, but what the heck, maybe some readers are interested in boots. The Kitup editor changed it up a bit, but I like mine better so I’ve posted the original.
To write a fair and objective review of a pair of boots, you need to have done a few things first. You need to have marched many miles in them. You need to have worn them in freezing rain. You need to have climbed mountains in them. You need to know if they’re going to lose shape and look like clown shoes within weeks, as my boots from a very popular company did back in the 90’s. You need to know if they’re going to weigh a ton each, like those horrible speedlace boots I was issued in the Marine Corps in 89. You need to know if, like my Danners at Fort Lewis, they’re going to keep your feet all warm and toasty while your footsoaked, freezing, miserable friends mutter curses at you (I still have wet dreams about those boots). You need to know if the soles are going to be worn so smooth after less than six months in Afghanistan, like my issue “desert jungle boots”, that your French buddy asks, “Chrees, did you walk through ze acid in zose boots?”
Alas, the most stress I was able to put on my pair of Smith and Wesson SW53TZ “Breach” Desert boots was walking from the car to the office. I never even got caught in a warm summer shower in the parking lot. I marched no further than the length of our building’s hallway. But while I was unable to put the Smith and Wesson boots through a true test, I’m pretty sure I know how they would do compared to the boots I mentioned above.
First thing: right out of the box, these boots look pretty impressive. They certainly appear well-made, with no obvious weak points. The boots are solidly built, with much thicker material than any other military boot I’ve worn except for the Danners. The first time I put them on it felt like I had armored up my feet.
They’re also light. Real light. Like, tennis shoes light. I’ve been wearing heavy, clunky Army-issue Frankenstein boots for a long time. Putting these on made me feel like a stripper slipping on her favorite pair of 8 inch stiletto heels (just a figure of speech guys, I’ve never actually been a stripper or worn stiletto heels, I swear). They just felt much more comfortable than any pair of boots I’ve ever been issued.
They also have kind of a bouncy feel to them. They have plenty of built-in cushion, thanks to a removable insole. I’m an old guy now, and because of the abuse I’ve inflicted on my feet in the past they try to get back at me by radiating pain whenever I stand (or walk, or run, or drive) for too long. While it hasn’t really affected my ability to do anything, it’s a constant annoyance. But I’ve noticed it a lot less since I started wearing the S&Ws.
Also, they have a side zipper. I love me some side zippers. I don’t have to explain how much easier zippers make life for a boot-wearing man. On the other hand, if that zipper fails, that boot is useless. Although they’re plastic, the zippers on the S&Ws don’t look cheap, and didn’t have any glitches in the short time I’ve worn these boots. I’m cautiously optimistic they won’t fail in the future.
As far as bad stuff, there were only a couple of things. One might be the fault of the previously mentioned thick removable insole. For about the first week I wore the S&Ws, I felt kind of like my heel was much higher than my toes, which made my feet slide slightly forward and cramp inside the toes of the boot. That didn’t last long, but it did give me some misgivings for a few days. I don’t notice that problem anymore though.
Another thing I noticed was that white fiber is visible along the edges of the material where the lace eyelets are. It’s not much white fiber, and after the first time I walk through mud it’ll never be white again. But it’s something that’s just out of place on a combat boot. As minor as this is, I still think S&W should fix it. The 1980s Marine part of me says you don’t market boots with visible white material to combat troops.
But these two issues are minor. Out of the many boots I’ve worn over the last 24 years, I’m pretty confident in saying these are second only to the Danners. And it’s not really a fair to put the S&Ws in that #2 spot, because the Danners were with me in some really crappy situations. The S&Ws haven’t had a chance to impress me like the Danners did. But they seem like they would do just as well under stress, or maybe even better.
Since I wrote this I’ve put the boots through a little more stress. I wore them for a three mile run at a park, and they felt like running shoes. A few days ago I wore them for a 5K run in ACUs with a plate carrier, plates and water, and they did great.
As for bad points, I’ve discovered a couple. Some thread came out at the back of the right boot just above the heel, but the material was also glued down and the boot isn’t coming apart. Stitching also came loose on a small tab that goes over the top of the zipper, so the tab is now in two parts. No big deal, it’s not a critical part.
I’ve also discovered these boots are not the least bit waterproof. I mean, not at all. I walked through wet grass with them and soaked my toes. I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Jungle boots had holes in the side and wearers expected to get their feet wet; the holes helped them drain and dry faster. But it’s something to be aware of. I wouldn’t wear these in cold wet weather, although hot wet weather is probably fine.
All in all, I still really like these boots.
Filed under: Gear reviews | 3 Comments
Tags: boots, breach, S&W, veteran writers