The idea of combining the virtues of a trainer and an off-road, combat or hiking boot isn’t entirely original, but my Classic 6″ Swats continue to impress me. The sole has masses of cushioning, all-terrain grip, and a steel shank for stabilization, making it the equal of a high-end trainer (the company says they set out to design what they call a “cross trainer for law enforcement”). But the Swats actually do a better job for me than trainers costing several times their price. I get more ankle support than a low trainer and lose hardly any flexibility or cooling. And these let me walk and run through mud in a rainstorm for two hours with perfectly dry feet and a secure grip.
I’m 220lb, with an ultra high arch foot and hyperflexible ankles. I need maximum stability and shock absorption, a tough combination to find. The boot is docked with a tough leather and Cordura upper that stops at ankle level, giving most of the protection and support of a boot, but still leaving you more flexibility. The result is a shoe that’s good for almost every type of ground and lets you hike, walk, run, jump, wear it all day, and drive in it. Water resistance and breathability are excellent.
The Bates are obviously tough and provide extra ankle support off-road carrying a heavy pack, but it’s a higher boot. There are high-cut, full-on military boot Swats, too. I haven’t tried them. My 6″ lower tops answer a different need. They’re more of a universal shoe you can hike, drive or run in, and still wear at the office without feeling out of place (unless you work in a very formal environment). Another nice feature is these shoes are available in wide and women’s fittings. They’re also surprisingly cheap — less than $80 a pair.