Maelstrom Tactical is a company dedicated to providing duty related uniform items. One of their most popular items are the TAC FORCE 8″ Boots. Designed specifically for law enforcement and other first responders, the TAC FORCE 8″ boots combine leather and nylon materials with reinforced support and YKK zippers. The TAC FORCE 8″ boots provide users a pair of duty boots that are comfortable, professional in appearance, and supportive for the rigors of duty activities.
A couple of months ago Maelstrom Tactical reached out and asked us to perform a review of the TAC FORCE 8″ boots for our readers. This article is a culmination of our experiences with these Maelstrom boots during our on and off-duty testing.
EDITOR’S NOTE: BlueSheepDog is committed to providing our readers and supporters with objective reviews and information on the latest gear available to law enforcement officers. In short we do not accept payment for product reviews, and do not have paid advertising on our site. We have provided additional information on our review policy at the end of this review.
Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ Boot
The Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ tactical zipper boots were specifically designed for the critical tasks performed by today’s tactical and law enforcement officers. The quality materials used to form the Tac Force 8″ boots can enhance officer performance in a wide range of diverse environments.
One of the key design considerations with a law enforcement or first responder duty boot is the compromise between comfort and protection. The results tend to focus on one over the other, always leaving the user with an unenviable choice. However, the Maelstrom TAC FORCE boots appear to be a solid combination of the materials and principles necessary to satisfy both comfort and protection needed for long hours on the streets.
The Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ zipper boots are fitted with polishable, water-resistant leather providing both protection from the elements, and the ability to have that high gloss shine. This leather component surrounds the foot and provides a solid connection for the sole. Behind the heel and toe Maelstrom added a thermoplastic board for greater support and structure reinforcement. Leather surrounds the lace eyelets, and is the foundation of the pull strap on the back of the boots. The zipper has a leather lining for better protection from the elements, and there is a leather strap that uses Velcro to secure the zipper in place when the boots are zipped up.
Maelstrom uses lighter weight, but very durable nylon for the upper. Using nylon reduces overall weight while providing greater flexibility and mobility than an all leather upper. Nylon provides some water and liquid protection, keeping the officer’s feet dry and more comfortable. The nylon upper has a breathable moisture wicking liner to prevent bacterial buildup, while cooling the officer’s feet during high activities or warmer temperatures. The TAC FORCE 8″ zipper boot padded collar gives extra support and comfort during the entire shift.
To enhance speed, a lightweight, flexible, shock-absorbing synthetic compound is engineered for the mid-sole system. Arch support is a critical component of any duty boot, and unfortunately not given its due attention by all manufacturers. The Maelstrom polyurethane support provides superior foot cushioning for uses ranging from standing still to running and jumping.
The TAC FORCE boots have a durable rubber out-sole providing optimal traction, and slip prevention and stability for those steps on slippery, rough, or soggy surfaces. The cemented construction makes the boot lighter and flexible for swift movements during active pursuits. The TAC FORCE 8″ duty boot has a side zipper for extremely easy and fast on and off. The Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8” duty boot is priced nearly half as much as most competitors with similarly featured boots.
Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ Boot Features
- Polish-able leather and nylon upper
- Breathable moisture-wicking lining
- Thermoplastic board toe and heel reinforcement
- Lasting Board: 2 layers of Texon platform for lateral and torsional stability
- Athletic cemented construction with toe stitched
- Padded collar and tongue for extra comfort
- YKK side zipper with closure for easy on/off
- Composite shank for lateral support and stability
- Slip, oil-resistant rubber out-sole
- Lightweight, shock-absorbing polyurethane molded midsole
- High performance removable polyurethane cushion insert
- Non-fray thread laces
- Rust-proof metallic lace eyelets.
Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ Boot Specifications
- Material: Leather and nylon
- Style: Sid-zippered duty boots
- Height: 8.0 inch sides
- Width: Medium or wide
- Length Sizes: 4.0 – 15.0 (U.S.)
- Color: Black or Tan
- MSRP: $59.99 Standard; $104.00 Waterproof; $114.00 Insulated.
Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ Boot Review
When the Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ side zipper boots arrived nearly two months ago I was immediately impressed with their overall appearance. I examined the new boots and observed quality craftsmanship, and no obvious defects. The combination of leather and nylon gave the TAC FORCE boots both a professional appearance and a lightweight, flexible practical design for street work. These boots take on a very classic duty boot appearance.
Trying the boots on for the first time I was again impressed with the fit and comfort of the boots. Shoe sizing has given me problems for most of my life. Even into adulthood I have struggled to hammer down one size to fit most shoes or boots. I have used boots from many manufacturers ranging from 10.5 to 12.0 in order to get the size that fit my feet the best.
With Maelstrom I ordered a size 12 boot, since recently the larger sizes have worked out best for me. The Maelstrom TAC FORCE boots fit nearly perfectly. With the lacing and side zipper I could easily don or doff the boots. They fit with just enough toe spacing to avoid that irritating or painful toe crunch during high impact activities, while not being too loose or feel like overly big clown shoes. My feet tend to be on the slim or narrow size, so these standard boots did give a little wiggle room on the sides. However, with proper lace adjustments this movement was limited and did not affect the overall comfort or fit of the boots.
The leather had a glossy shine right out of the box, so I did not need to polish the boots. Each leather piece was double or triple stitched to provide a sure connection to the adjacent piece. The nylon uppers appeared thick enough to provide support and protection, while not being uncomfortable. There are four stitch lines across the ankle area of the nylon uppers. This provides additional ankle support and protection, without sacrificing overall mobility or comfort.
The boots came pre-laced from Maelstrom. The manner of lacing resulted in a very neat, over the lip appearance. However, the final lacing at the top leaves the laces going inward through the eyelets, instead of a more traditional outward for knotting. That is not my typical way of lacing shoes, but I left it in place for the review – adjusting the tightness to fit my feet. I’m actually glad I left them in this manner. It caused the tie down and knot to stay very close to the separation between the two sides of the lace eyelets. I feel this helped prevent the knots from coming undone during heavy or long-term use. The laces are thinner nylon with the plastic tips to prevent unraveling. Since the boots are really designed to be donned and doffed through the zipper, the thinner laces was not a distraction for me, and I feel they will perform just fine for their intended use.
The YKK zippers used by Maelstrom are larger than many other zippered boots I’ve seen and used. This helped immensely in providing an easy zip up or down. The zippers worked without fail each time, and could be used one-handed without any significant effort. I have had some zippered boots that required a forceful 2-handed operation to work. These Maelstrom boots were far from that, and were easily zipped. I could literally be in or out of both TAC FORCE 8″ boots in seconds.
The soles have significant grooves and traction points, with an outer ring that just slightly overlaps the boots themselves for greater stability. The inner traction forms a kind of infinity emblem with the traction more directed at forward movement. The rubberized texture is somewhat softer than several competitors. From my experiences I think this helped the Maelstrom boots provide excellent traction, without being overly squeaky when on smooth wet surfaces. That is more than a pet peeve of mine, it is a legitimate officer safety concern when conducting building checks or attempting a stealth approach on a dangerous situation. I was very happy with the TAC FORCE 8″ boots in this area.
During my review I was exposed to temperature ranges from below freezing to 90-degrees. I wore the Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ zipper boots in sunny and dry conditions, and cloudy and rainy conditions. We have just started to get our first snow fall where I live, and so far it has just been a dusting so I wasn’t able to fully explore these Maelstrom boots in that weather. However, the boots lived up to the manufacturer’s claims for comfort, protection, and breathability. My feet stayed comfortable and dry throughout my trial shifts, though long-term exposure to wet or cold conditions should be expected to have some adverse results.
While working my shifts I did a lot of walking, and climbing and these boots provided very good support and comfort. When running, the TAC FORCE 8″ zipper boots felt good, though not quite as good as shorter 6″ boots that take on a closer athletic shoe feel. This is a trade-off for more ankle support, and weather protection, and one I am willing to concede. The comfortable use of nylon did mitigate the stiffness of traditional hard-sided boots. During long periods of standing on hard surfaces, I did notice my feet starting to get sore. This is the compromise of support versus comfort. To be fair, I have not found a pair of shoes or boots that has completely solved this problem, and in many ways I’d rather have the extra support for duty work rather than the tennis shoe feel.
There was one area feature that is a pet-peeve of mine, as it tends to make unprofessional appearance a constant concern. The leather loop on the upper, back of the boots is intended to assist the officer in pulling the boots on. I’m not sure if it is just my narrow feet, but I found I could slip into the TAC FORCE boots fairly easily by simply stepping into them. The leather loop wasn’t used by me at all. Even if I needed a little more support to finish getting my foot into the boots I simply grabbed the uppers themselves.
However, those leather loops do have a tendency to snag the back of the uniform pants and bunch them up when you stand from a seated position. This left me having to grab my pants to undue the snag, which is annoying and distracting when I was exiting my patrol car for actual police work. This may not be a big concern, and it obviously did not affect the overall performance of the Maelstrom boots, but it is one feature I could do without. Maybe a retractable loop, attached with stretchable but sturdy material that sits flush to the back of the boot when retracted would solve this dilemma.
Overall I have been very impressed with the Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ zippered boots. The boots came with a glossy shine on the leather, and I did not add polish during the entire test. Despite some dirt and scuffs here and there, the boots still look shiny from a short distance. Comfort, flexibility, and breathability were all highlights of these boots, but I would have to say the outstanding YKK enlarged zippers were the icing on the cake. They made these boots incredibly quick to put on or off, and still provide good protection from the elements and a secure fit.
The Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ zippered boots have an MSRP of only $59.99! This is an incredible price considering all of the features these boots offer. Despite not being fully “waterproof” my feet never got wet during exposures to rain, or standing water. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, Florida, or some other location with a lot of rainfall, you might consider the waterproof version of these boots that go for $104.00 – still a very good price.
Based upon my experiences I would have no hesitation recommending the Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8″ side zipper boots for on or off-duty use. For the price, you will be hard pressed to find a better or more comfortable duty boot.
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