These are the most comfortable boots we've ever tried.
Nothing makes or breaks an outdoor adventure like a good pair of performance boots. They can make the difference between an awesome day in the field and one of your worst.
That is why I was excited that 5.11 Tactical was willing to send me a pair of their new A.T.L.A.S. 8-inch boots in dark coyote.
Having had several weeks to test them in a little bit of everything Michigan has to offer, I can safely say this is one of, if not THE nicest pair of boots I've ever worn. Let me break it all down for you.
The A.T.L.A.S. system
We got our first look at these boots back at SHOT Show in January. The A.T.L.A.S. boots were one of 5.11's big announcements for the New Year. In addition to the 8-inch height they sent me, these boots are also available in a mid-height, but they also make a side-zip boot and a trainer too.
A.T.L.A.S. stands for "all terrain load assistance system," and it is nothing short of awesome. The company says they designed this system, which has a heavy emphasis on the multi-directional tread pattern, makes this a slip and oil-resistant outsole. Some additional features include excellent toe and heel protection. What you get is a hybrid between an outdoor boot and a working boot.
5.11 has said in the past the goal was to create a boot built for workers that handles their "work weight" all day. What that means is that whatever the job may be, the job will handle both your weight and the weight of whatever you're carrying. It's been a long time since I had a physically-demanding job like that myself, but I can immediately think of at least two I've had in the past where these boots would have been an absolute lifesaver. One job was in a screw-packing facility where I was constantly moving heavy loads of nuts and bolts around. The other was in a box factory where I was constantly loading raw corrugated materials and later, the finished product around. In either one, these high performance tactical boots would have certainly given my feet some much-needed relief when you're on them all day.
Combine the A.T.L.A.S. system with an ortholite footbed and you've got some seriously comfortable boots.
Testing the Tactical ATLAS
Here in Michigan, we've been under strict COVID-19 rules just like anywhere else. However, I was able to get out into nature numerous times in the past month or so I've had these boots and I was able to test them on a variety of different terrains.
One of the first spots I wore them was my uncle's land while searching for shed deer antlers. I went on a rainy, cloudy day and got to test the water resistant qualities right off the bat because the area was partially flooded. The outsole seems to be waterproof. My feet stayed nice and dry despite having to walk through a four-inch deep flooded area to get back to the good areas to search.
One thing that immediately struck me was just how comfortable these boots were right out of the box. Almost every other boot I've ever owned has required a break-in period, but with the A.T.L.A.S, there was none. I've never encountered a brand-new boot that I felt could be worn on an all-day hike without feeling it a little. I can't safely say that will be the experience for everyone with these boots, but it was mine and it was quite jarring. I probably would have hiked for many more hours had the rain and thunderstorms not cut my day short.
Over the next couple weeks, I kept heading out when I could on weekends or after work in the evening to the local state game areas. I'm fortunate to have a lot of variety in this part of Michigan. We don't have high mountain peaks here, but over 100,000 years ago, an ancient glacier scraped through my area and left some wildly varying terrain. From open plains to numerous kettle lakes. One state game area has flat open fields caked with thick mud. I was able to walk through corn and bean stubble near effortlessly. Dare I say it even made it fun to search these normally problematic areas for antlers?
Over this past weekend, I took the boots to another area that features a moraine where the glacier scooped out gullies and deposited rocks and gravel everywhere. Normally I hate climbing any sort of hill. However, the ankle support on the high-quality leather uppers is fantastic. Combine that with the tread pattern and the echo foam pad's high energy return and I was able to climb up and down several deep washes with relatively little effort. I can't say the experience of hiking those same areas has been that pleasant in the past with some of my other footwear.
The force foam cushioning feature of these boots combined with the grip provided by the high traction outsole makes me think of some of the higher-end UTVs I've test driven for Wide Open Spaces in the past. These boots feel like an all-terrain vehicle's independent suspension system, only for your feet.
Before you go thinking I'm saying these boots are flawless, they're not. The tread pattern did slip a couple times for me on some steeper areas and as I was hopping fallen logs. They are also a bit difficult to pull on quickly. However, no boot is going to be one hundred percent perfect. In truth, any boot would have probably had a the terrain slippage problems in those spots. However, these instances were few and far between in the miles I put on these boots during testing.
A.T.L.A.S. Boots are a winner
I review quite a few products here at Wide Open Spaces and it isn't often I'm completely blown away by one. I was quite impressed with what these boots have had to offer. Not only do they look great, but I feel confident in saying these are great for workers, hikers and backcountry hunters who are heading into the thick stuff for their next trophy. These are boots I'll be wearing, hunting, hiking, geocaching and more until they're completely worn out. At that point, I'll be picking up another pair.
The A.T.L.A.S. boots feel like they increase performance over my other forms of footwear. To the point where I'm considering picking up the mid boot for more casual situations and outdoor activities.
Simply put, like many of 5.11's other products, these boots are a winner and worth checking out before your next big outdoor adventure.