It’s extremely rare that you will ever catch me wearing anything other than boots. Being extremely hard on my boots, I tend to wear them out faster than most of my teammates and buddies. That’s why at first I was very skeptical of the "Valsetz light weight boots" from UnderArmour.
Constructed completely out of synthetic materials, these extremely light weight boots are the first I’ve ever worn that are completely void of leather. Not being a tree hugger, leather free boots are not something I typically go hunting for. Perhaps this is because I'm a little too traditional and biased. I’ve just always associated natural leather with durability and longevity of the footwear. However, we live in a world full of synthetics and mad-man materials, used in millions of applications on a daily basis. So maybe my skepticism was arguably a bit unfounded.
The mid height kicks were designed primarily as desert/ hot weather boots, and they seem well suited for that. Having worn them for the last few months in the sweltering heat of summer, I’m extremely impressed with the performance. I base that on the performance of boots worn previously during hot months in Iraq and Africa. When first lacing them on, I immediately noticed the “squishy” feel of the tread.
As a result, my very first thought was: "These are gonna suck." I figured the give and perceived bounce would screw up my stride or throw me off balance when walking over rocks. Happily the result was quite the opposite; after hitting the trail that first week, my initial perception quickly changed. The tread doesn’t change my walk, stride or running pace at all. The “give” of the inner layer of tread, sheathed with a harder external layer that actually contacts the ground is great. It dampens the strike of the heel when hitting the ground. Standing on concrete all day is also more pleasant. The shape and style of the tread actually hugs around uneven terrain such as baseball sized rock trails, and shape corners of granite. After three months of urban and woodland wear, the tread is still like new.
The next feature I found interesting is the micro vented nylon that comprises the majority of the boot. You can literally feel a breeze on your toes on a windy day. This venting allows your feet to breath and sweat less. The light desert tan color, although easily stained by oil and petro based fluids, repels heat and cleans up easily from mud and dirt. It’s the first summer that I can remember, where I didn’t feel like my feet were baking when standing in direct sunlight.
Despite all the venting, the boots remained respectably dry when out in the rain. Having waded through several streams and creeks over their use, the boots flood quickly but drain and dry in relatively short time. Much like a modern day jungle boot, they would be great for occasions where you know you will be getting your feet wet. With the soft insole, you could even get away without wearing socks so your feet would dry in no time at all.
Due to all the venting and padding build throughout the boot’s construction, the UA boots are extremely comfortable to wear all day long. The synthetic material doesn’t hold moisture at all, and seems to be a bad home for bacteria to grow. These boots are actually the only pair I can wear all week and not stink when I take them off at night. Although I'm not particularly a fan of the light tan color, these boots would be great for prolonged use in desert or arid conditions. The color would match many arid locations, and staining would be pretty much a non issue. The damn things feel more like slippers then rugged boots, but that’s what they are. Light, durable, and a lot of value even at full MSRP ($100.99 here). If you spend a lot of time in the heat, or are simply looking for an affordable pair of light weight tactical boots, take a hard look at the Valsetz from UnderArmour.
Note: I received these boots from TacticalGear.com for T&E; I did not pay for them. Although I have worn them frequently for approximately three months, including hiking in the mountains and running, I have not yet done a ruck march in them, nor worn them without socks for a lengthy period in wet conditions. Stand by for a followup after I put more mileage on them. MDN
From the website:
- Height: 7"
- Weight: 15.5 oz.
- Lightweight, water-resistant mesh upper remains durable and breathable, for superior comfort
- Fully contoured, compression-molded EVA midsole cushions your foot, without adding excess weight
- ArmourGuide® ensures efficient foot-strike guidance from impact to propulsion
- ArmourBound® delivers superior, responsive cushioning
- ArmourLastic® absorbs shock at critical impact zones in the heel and forefoot for maximum protection
- Molded Ortholite® sockliner cushions your foot and keeps your foot locked in
- Rubber outsole is engineered to grip on- and off-road
- Textured, high-abrasion rubber toe rand protects your foot
- Speed-lacing shanks on the upper, for easy on/off without sacrificing a secure fit
About the Author: Mad Duo Nate is a USMC Sergeant and graduate of the Camp Lejeune School for Wayward Boys. Formerly an Infantry Platoon Sergeant he is currently filling the billet of Scout Sniper team leader. He has many years of experience as a Lead Farmer spiral tube tech, is a fully qualified American Jedi and all around handsome badass. He has numerous deployments to the Middle East and Africa, is something of an idiot savant when it comes to trigger-pulling and is probably best described as a Quixotic knuckle-dragger, tilting at Big Green windmills. He may very well have vestigial (grunts: vestigial) warrior poet tendencies. You can read more from him on Breach-Bang-Clear.