Ready to strap on your rucksack and move some weight? First, prep your feet with shoes or boots that can comfortably handle the most weighted miles. Here’s a list of our favorite footwear perfectly fitted to help your feet go heavier / further.
Before breaking down our picks in each of these categories, let's answer the question most newcomers are asking.
Should I Ruck in Shoes or Boots?
This just in from the U-Do-U department, what you wear on your feet while rucking is entirely up to you; whether that's your favorite tennis shoe, a military's-style boot, or your childhood tap shoes (not advised). However, many experienced ruckers have found it advantageous to consider their load, distance, and terrain when picking their footwear.
Distance is the least of our concerns. In fact, the longer the ruck, the more appealing comfortable tennis shoes may sound. If it's a leisurely stroll with minimal weight on mostly flat and consistent terrain, you needn't get decked out for warfare. Stay comfy. However, as the ruck becomes more of a job, you'll need to get mission-minded and advance to some padded and protective hiking shoes. As you get more ambitious, it's the load and topography that can get particularly hairy. Trying to negotiation considerable weight on inconsistent terrain screams CAUTION, and boots with good ankle support are definitely recommended.
Best SHOES for Rucking
Again, comfy tennis shoes are perfectly suitable if you're keeping things light (lightweight, few miles, easy path). Here are our favorite hiking and trail shoes for when you're to take things to the next level.
- Salomon Mens X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot
- La Sportiva Men's Spire GTX Hiking Shoes
- Danner Trail GTX Mid Trail 2650
- Merrell Moab 2 Tactical Shoe
- Salomon Xa Forces Mid Military & Tactical Boot
Our criteria is simple. We want shoes that are comfortable, durable, and that don't add tons to the weight that we're already hauling. Good water management is a nice plus, but smart tread with good grip is even more important. Oh, and who are we kidding? We also really dig the way these shoes look!
Sorry, Salomon. You say it's a boot, but we see it as a high-top shoe. Whatever you call it, the X Ultra 3 gets high marks for its comfy EVA foam that absorbs shock on impact. The shoe's thick, rubber lugs provide incredible grip even on slick rocks. The Salomon Men's X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking "Shoe" (deal with it) has an effective anti-debris mesh that keeps irritants out while its waterproof build also deflects puddles and rainwater. Finally, Salomon had the nerve to add a protective mudguard around the perimeter that makes the shoe really easy to clean.
This super sturdy low-top performs great on lawns, pavement, and gravel while also managing jagged, mountain surfaces just fine. They waterproof, anti-abrasion mesh adds surprising warmth during cold, morning rucks but still vents well on warm days. Funny thing about this shoe. Everyone we know who has La Sportiva Men's Spire GTX Hiking Shoes has multiple pairs. It's not because they wear out easily. It's because people love the shoe so much, they're stocking up for years to come.
Don't be fooled by Danner Trail's stylishly sleek design. This shoe is proof that fashionable footwear can also be functional. For a lightweight shoe, the GTX Mid Trail 2650 provides incredible stability on challenging grounds. Move quickly, and enjoy the added protection of toe and heel bumpers you usually only see on hiking boots - rarely on trainers. Best of all, Danner has perfected the wide toe-box without compromising its secure fit. BOOM!
These flat black shoes from Merrell (also available in tan) admittedly weigh twice as much as La Sportiva Spire. However, the weight is distributed well with waterproof polyurethane (PU) coated leather to fend off any extra water weight. We love the arch support; and if traction is priority numero uno, the Moab 2 is the way to go. The 5mm lugs can outgrip shoes twice their price.
Once again, we're calling this Salomon boot more of a high-top shoe. That said, this shoe is definitely more "booty" than all the other (and yes, we know how ridiculous that sounds). The overall aesthetics have a real military vibe. That's why it's no surprise how durable they are. Nevertheless the Quest 4D is lightweight with reliably responsive rubber soles that will make you want to turn your ruck march into a ruck run.
MudGear Ruck Socks
Whether you're rucking in shoes or boots, your footwear isn't complete without MudGear Ruck Socks. They were the first and are still the best socks for moving heavy weight over many miles.
Best BOOTS for Rucking
Surely, if you've see one tan military-style boot, you've seen them all. Right? First, don't call me "Shirley." Oh, and you couldn't be more wrong. True. There are no shortage of imitators out there, but real deal ruck boots are built to absorb the weight so that you can pick'em up, and put'em down for more rugged miles. We think these ruck boots get the job done.
- Garmont T8 NFS Tactical Boot
- Altama OTB Maritime Assault Boot
- Danner Men's Tanicus Coyote Military and Tactical Boot
- Rocky C5C
- Tactical Research Mini-Mil TR105 8" Tactical Boots
Unlike the aforementioned shoes, the criteria for ruck boots is a lot more narrow. That's why these top contenders share a lot of the same qualities. Pay attention to the nuance if you want to find the ruck boot that's right for you.
This crazy-high boot pushes all of the right buttons. With a blend of suede leather, nylon webbing, and canvas liner, the combination adds up to incredible ventilation - a lot more breathable than you'd expect from a work boot. That said, it's the grip that steals the show. The Garmont T8 has trapezoidal lugs that are strategically spaced to ensure 360° traction and offer full control, even during immediate braking.
Okay. We broke our own rules with this one. Altama's Assault Boot technically isn't taller than some of the aforementioned high top shoes. In fact, at first glance, it's looks like a camo canvas Converse. Even the modest-looking sole left us skeptical. However, after slipping them on, the Altama's feel won them the right to called what ever they want - even a boot. The boot's shank provides incredible support, and the no-slip grip even on wet surfaces was a nice surprise. While it's not waterproof, it dries fast.
The more you ruck, the more you will get to know Danner. Their boots sport an easily recognizable combination of rough-out leather and rugged nylon. The Tanicus is Danner's lightest military boot with an added layer of cushioning in the midsole. The polyurethane (PU) footbed ensures lasting comfort, and the moisture wicking mesh liner has good breathability - keeping you cool in hot climates. Plus, the lug pattern's grip and stability are perfectly on-point.
The Rocky C5C Commercial Tactical Boots are stylish, almost pretty - and that concerned us. Unless we're rucking Coachella, fit and function trump fashion. However, Rocky's lightweight kicks proved ready for action with a long-lasting leather vamp, reinforced toe guard, and aggressive rubber outsole. Plus, the ventilation and water-wicking design will allow you to enjoy dry feet even after a full day of rucking.
Not only is the TR105 compliant with military dress code, the boot is structurally prepared for whatever mission you throw at it. Here's another brilliant combination of leather and nylon for resistance against abrasion, incredible breathability, and noticeable moisture management. Tactical Research (by Belleville) was especially determined to master impact distribution to lessen the weight of each loaded step. The coolest feature may simply be how sturdy the slip-resistant tactical grip soles are while, somehow, still letting you feel the ground underfoot.
You're still here? Thanks for reading this far into the article. It's tells us that you want to treat your feet to the best ruckwear possible. That's why we want to reward you for your commitment. Enjoy 20% off MudGear Ruck Socks when you use promo code: RUCKWEAR. The code is good for one use per person - and specifically for the purchase of MudGear Ruck Socks. Enjoy wearing the original sock built specifically for rucking!
Best GORUCK Footwear for Rucking
If you noticed a lack of representation from the most popular brand in rucking, it was intentional. It's not that we have anything against GORUCK. In fact, we find that they're in a class of their own that, unfortunately, attract biases both for and against. You either love them or hate them, making it near impossible to deliver a completely unbiased comparison. So, we'll just admit that we have hella respect for our friends at GORUCK, and this is our favorite GR footwear.
Links go to GORUCK.com. Supplies may be limited.
Any illusion of objectivity may be shot with this statement, but GORUCK'S MACV-1 Hight Top may be the perfect ruck boot. It's durable to a fault in that one pair is all you'll ever need. We share GR's sentiment that the MACV-1 is "lightweight like a running sneaker, tough like an assaulter’s boot."
Interesting side note: Much of their success can be credited to Senior Director of GORUCK Footwear, Paul Litchfield. The 30-Year "Shoe Dog" was the inventor of the Reebok Pump.
We're back in black with GORUCK'S trademark Challenge Leather. These have that classic military look - like you can knockout a muddy ruck, wipe them down, and still look suitable for church. Choose between the 6" or 8" shaft height for preferred support, and the cushioned insert will become a lifesaver during especially long rucks.
Some people prefer the casual comfort of hiking shoes for rucking. Meanwhile, some rucking purists insist on tactical boots. We're fans of both. Just make sure you're complimenting you selection with the original sock built specifically for rucking - MudGear Ruck Sock.
Affiliate Disclosure - MudGear.com receives compensation from affiliate partners for placing links to their products on our website; sometimes this influences our decision on what products we recommend.