Sponsored by HAIX
By Warren Wilson for Police1 BrandFocus
Law enforcement is an equipment-dependent profession. We spend quite a bit of time researching our firearms, holsters, vehicles, flashlights, et al. We invest this time in the pursuit of equipment which will help us stay safe and injury free.
Do we make the same investment of time in researching our duty boots? Probably not. We should probably start paying a little more attention to some of the most health-critical pieces of equipment we use every day.
I recall, a few decades ago, a department in which administration required officers to wear a duty boot with slick outsoles (the part that touches the ground). They wanted to ensure that officers weren’t dragging mud into the building at the end of their shift. Not coincidentally, the department was struggling with how to address an epidemic of fall-related injuries to their officers.
Thankfully, times have changed. A duty-grade set of boots should not only protect us from falls, but also against long-term injuries to our feet, hips and back. Budget boots do neither of those things.
Tradition meets innovation
HAIX (pronounced, “hikes”) started in the shoe business in Bavaria in 1948. Bavarian shoe making is rich in tradition and is also established in the workwear, forestry and outdoor industry, thanks to the quality of its functional shoes and safety shoes. Building on that tradition with cutting-edge research and development, HAIX has expanded its market into the U.S. and its offerings include functional footwear for firefighters and police officers.
HAIX combines the German reputation for engineering with advanced athletic shoe technology. Manufactured entirely in Europe, these boots are reportedly some the sturdiest, most comfortable footwear available for American public safety professionals, so I put that claim to the test.
HAIX challenged us to wear-test a few of their new products which are aimed at the law enforcement market. They sent me one pair of Black Eagle Athletic 2.0 T High Side Zip boots and one pair of Black Eagle Tactical 2.0 GTX High Side Zip boots to abuse. I used them for two weeks – every time I worked the range and quite a bit off duty as well. I was impressed.
Both of these boots have side zippers, pull-on loops and are oil resistant with anti-slip soles. One of the most remarkable features is what they call the “HAIX Climate System” – the tops of the boots have vent holes which pump hot air out and let outside air in with every step. The soles are also insulated to protect against extreme hot or cold.
Both boots are constructed with anti-static material and are metal free. Their slip-resistant soles have “self-cleaning” tread (to satisfy that 20th century police administrator) which release caked mud and debris when the boot is flexed. They’re also non-marking.
Giving the HAIX Black Eagle Athletic 2.0 T High Side Zip a test run
The HAIX Black Eagle Athletic 2.0 T High Side Zip boots are much lighter than any others I’ve ever worn, except for a few that proved too fragile for duty work. According to my scale, these boots each weigh 24 ounces. For comparison, one of my high-quality running shoes is 14 ounces and my current uniform duty boots from a well-known manufacturer are 31 ounces.
I would not hesitate to run in these. In fact, I did. The word, “athletic,” is right there in the name, so I thought I’d see if that word was properly applied to this product.
Keep in mind, these are the high side zip boots and HAIX offers them in shorter, lighter models. Still, a normal three-mile run really sold me.
The anti-bacterial soles are well cushioned. They’re advertised as moisture-wicking with “airflow” channels and they live up to that claim. The heel clip stabilizes the rear of the foot, making sprints comfortable and sturdy. They put a lot of thought into this product all the way down to the laces and the way the boot transfers traction forces to the lacing elements.
Water testing the HAIX Black Eagle Tactical 2.0 GTX High Side Zip
The types of weather that made SWAT callouts and training days unbearable were rain, snow or heat. The Black Eagle Tactical 2.0 GTX is advertised to be waterproof and has “Sun Reflect” technology to minimize the effects of extreme heat.
I’ve had a few boots which made that claim but proved otherwise during actual use. GORE-TEX is a great thing but works only when properly integrated into the boot. How better to test this feature than to find a puddle and let them do their thing? I tried putting the boots directly into the aforementioned puddle by hand. I learned one thing about boot testing: waterproof boots float. I had to actually put them on and stand there for 10 minutes.
The test went well and absolutely no water seeped into my socks. These boots breathe very well, and the heel and midsole are tough, but comfortable. They absorb shock better than anything I’ve worn before in spite of their light weight.
The right height for the job
All Black Eagle Tactical Series boots are available in three different heights. I prefer the high side zip for normal law enforcement activities for the protection offered to the ankle and lower leg. Cops who work bicycle patrol or other duties where shorts are necessary will appreciate the abbreviated versions of the boots I tested. The next time you’re looking at duty boots, give these a try. I think you’ll be as impressed as I am.
Do your own wear-test
If you want to give these boots a try yourself, here’s your chance:
HAIX is holding a contest to give 1,000 law enforcement officers the opportunity to get a free pair of the Black Eagle Tactical 2.0 GTX High Side Zip or the Black Eagle Athletic 2.0 T High Side Zip. In exchange for their feedback, wear testers can keep the boots. Click here to find out how to enter.
About the author
Warren Wilson is a lieutenant with the Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a former SWAT team leader, current firearms instructor and writer. He has been a full-time law enforcement officer since 1996.