The search for the best men’s style essentials and the perfect wardrobe really is never-ending, right? Well, it can feel that way at times, but curating a standout ensemble day after day starts from the ground up with what’s on your feet, like combat boots for men. Now, don’t get us wrong: The best combat boots might seem like a bit of an odd place to start a new and improved footwear rotation, but bear with us. Every guy needs a few pairs of classic, essential footwear, and durable lace-up men’s boots are just one way to go.
We don’t think you should be intimidated, either. Rugged and durable combat boots actually share quite a bit of history with the rest of the building blocks of your wardrobe. Be it rugged leather chukka boots or one of the best field jackets, combat boots are another men’s style staple with highly functional and rather epic, tactical roots. Naturally, that makes them a hard-wearing, no-nonsense and highly practical addition to your wardrobe.
The right combat boots can be the shot in the arm that your next look needs.
Of course, we’re not under the impression that you’re going to be able to wear combat boots every day, but if you wanted to give it a shot and develop a signature style (think of Justin Theroux’s well-worn boots), then our guide to combat boots right here is a solid place to start. Combat boots have been worn in some form for, well, as long as there’s been combat, with different iterations for different situations taking on various monikers (think of trench boots, designed for trench warfare).
Some companies make durable canvas styles that are mighty close to tactical boots currently worn on the ground (check out this pair of boots, for starters) and others make handsome leather boots that are both rugged and yet slightly dressy. All that being said, you still might have a particular style or type of boot in mind when it comes to combat boots.
For instance: Dr. Martens boots have been the combat boot of choice for punk rockers and other off-the-grid groups for decades, and they’re still an arbiter of cool style, although you’re probably most likely to find them at a craft coffee shop or indie rock show these days. Still, they are indeed combat boots (and more on those in a second).
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, think of combat boots as a critical part of your footwear rotation, designed to suit any activity in which boots might come in handy. One exception is hiking, of course — wear your hiking boots for those pursuits. The rest of the time, combat boots can be teamed with slim blue denim and a white tee for a crisp and classic look, for starters. They can be used to dress down a chambray shirt and slim chinos, and if you want to go edgy yet tailored, combat boots can even be rocked with a slim black suit. A reminder: More formal occasions – black tie events, weddings, funerals – still call for sharp dress shoes. The rest of the time? The right combat boots can be the shot in the arm that your next look needs.
Above all else, you’ve got to find the right pair before you can amp up your style to 11. Here’s what to look for as you keep a weather eye out for your new favorite boots.
How to Shop for the Best Men’s Combat Boots
Finding the best pair of combat boots to step out in style is a delicate art — keep these keys in mind, and you won’t misstep.
- Materials and Construction: Traditional combat or trench boots were made out of leather, and were put to the test in grueling conditions. Most combat boots in this day and age are also made of leather, but leather that’s either waterproof or at the very least, water-resistant. Some boots, like Dr. Martens boots, have a variety of finishes available, all the better to give your boots some added shine. Combat boots can also be made out of weatherproof suede, but it’s likely that you’ll want to stick with a rugged leather or canvas boot atop a treaded rubber outsole (like these Thursday Boots combat boots — stay tuned for more on ’em).
- Color: As with any approach to crafting a wardrobe filled with men’s style essentials, you’ve got to coordinate with the rest of your wardrobe. If you’re anything like this writer, that means a plethora of brown leather boots in various shades, the better to wear with blue denim, chambray shirts and more. Maybe you want to go all-in and get a pair of black combat boots. Maybe you’re of the mind to nod to Bowie and lace up some white combat boots. As we keep saying time and again at Jacob Graye, versatility is the name of the game in matters of style. Choose wisely.
- Utility: Whereas dress shoes are made to cruise smoothly into the office and perhaps to happy hour, it’s OK to be a bit more demanding when it comes to your rugged and rough-and-tumble combat boots. These boots, after all, are ready for the field and ready for stomping through town, snow drifts or rainy weather be damned. All you need to do is lace ’em up (wearing the best boot socks, of course), then plan out your day-to-night itinerary. When worn the right way, after all, the coolest men’s combat boots can indeed be a 24/7 pair of boots.
Those are just the three most important keys when shopping for new boots, but they’re not the only ones to keep in mind. We’ll talk more about what to look for, and naturally, we’ll dial up the best combat boots to shop for this very instant. Still with us? Let’s rock.
The Best Combat Boots for Men Right Now
Thursday Boots Cedar Explorer Boots
There’s plenty going on to set these dependable and much-loved Thursday Boots apart from the pack, including what the brand calls “rugged and resilient leather,” all the better to truly stand the test of time and fight the elements. Although these combat boots come in three different shades, it’s the Cedar leather that you can wear with everything from slim black denim to navy chinos to durable stretch nylon performance pants without missing a beat. The brand also calls out the “Vibram® Newflex Outsoles” for added ease of movement and grip on slippery city streets, and to hear Thursday Boots tell it themselves, these Explorer Boots really are a “streamlined take on the traditional American combat boot.” If that sounds like a pair of boots you can put to good use, then we suggest you make it happen and add them to your cart.
Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots
Remember earlier when we mentioned the iconic design behind Dr. Martens boots? It was a pair like this that arguably started it all, or at least helped springboard the idea of combat boots into the public eye. To hear the brand themselves tell it, “The 1460 is the original Dr. Martens boot.” We sure are glad they started making these and distributing them widely across the globe. Any stylish person in your life has probably laced up a pair of Docs at least once. Maybe you yourself have, too. It’s time to welcome them back into your life, we say. And if you’ll also remember, we said that combat boots can feature different materials, some even with a smooth finish. Well, allow us to present to you the Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots, an iconic pair of black combat boots. The contrast yellow stitching is a timeless classic, the price ain’t half-bad and the durability and history of these boots is unmatched.
Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill Boots
The thing with a design as classic as the combat boot is that the silhouette gives plenty of the world’s best dress shoemakers the opportunity to flex their muscles. What we mean by that is, the art of perfecting the combat boot is as subtle and nuanced, at times, as the art of making a pair of sleek dress shoes. USA-made Allen Edmonds knows the process behind both inside and out, using a custom insole for an ideal fit, plus an all-weather sole. These boots were inspired by logging boots, but they fit the mold and profile of durable and classic combo boots. The waxed suede leather makes these the rare pair of combat boots that can even go a bit dressy, especially when paired with an unstructured navy blazer, a white Oxford shirt and slim light wash denim. Combat boots that are cool, sleek and classy? That’s the Allen Edmonds way.
Alexander McQueen Worker Boots
Although they’re dubbed Worker Boots, there’s no denying this high-fashion take on the typical lace-up boot owes a debt of gratitude and style to the classic combat boot. As far as sleek and sharp men’s boots are concerned, we could see a man like Tommy Shelby himself wearing them, even if Alexander McQueen’s menswear and the badass gangster exist in different worlds. Peaky Blinder style aside, these are a pair of grade-A luxury stompers if we’ve ever seen ’em, the kind made to stand up to a burly winter suit or slim blue selvedge jeans and a grey pocket T-shirt. How’s that for some of the coolest boots on the market, right? That’s what we thought.
Blackstone Combat Boots
The best combat boots these days aren’t going to get as much action as combat boots in days gone by, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to skimp on the proper pair. These Blackstone Combat Boots for men are aptly named, for starters, and that’s not all these remarkable boots have going for them. There’s the fair price — these won’t break the bank at $250 — plus the dark brown leather. That handsome shade of leather in particular works with light wash jeans, olive chinos or burgundy corduroys. In our book, that makes these a pair of boots you truly can wear all year-round. If you want utility, one of the three things we said to watch out for when shopping for combat boots, it’s hard to top these dependable combat boots for men from Blackstone.