Hiking boot design influenced a new type of footwear from Altai. But so did the serious leather stompers military commandos wear in jungles around the world.
The Altai MF Tactical Boots are something different. I’ve been hiking in the “armored” boots this summer.
The look is all business. Law enforcement and military are main markets. But the brand, based in Oakdale, Minn., cites backpackers, hunters, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts as candidates for the calf-high boots.
Flexible uppers made of SuperFabric, a material coated in hard tiny plates, distinguish the Altai offering.
SuperFabric is a sister brand of Altai, and the unique dimpled material is used on outerwear and other products where flexibility and abrasion-resistance are required.
On the boots, the “super” material serves as an exterior shell for calf-hugging uppers. Pull the laces tight and the material moves to cradle the calf, giving support.
But unlike most big boots they do not feel controlling. The sole is flexible, and the boots are comfortable out of the box.
On a hike the uppers flex and move as you step over rocks. The outsole grips with a medium tread of Vibram rubber.
They are waterproof — step through puddles and streams and the synthetic uppers and leather toes will not let in a drop. But the SuperFabric has some breathability, too, and on warm days the boots were not overwhelming.
They weigh about 24 ounces apiece in men’s size 11. This is nearly half the weight of some comparable combat boots. It’s on par with many mid-top hiking footwear or hiking boots sold at outdoor stores.
Caveat: The company cites they run about a half-size too large. I’d go further and decrease a full size — my size 12 feet fit well in a size 11 model.
At $129.99, Altai has a fair price for beefy boots made with quality materials. They are constructed in Korea and sold online at Altaigear.com.
In the end, the Altai MF Tactical Boots are overkill for most hikers. But if you’re a fan of the combat look, these boots give a stealth aesthetic in a high-performance, tactical package that’s still comfortable hiking down the trail. —Stephen Regenold