Fall has always been my favorite time of year to go out rucking. The air, especially in the early morning has a nice crispness to it, the bugs from the summer are gone and of course, the colors of the foliage are always a big plus.
So, it is time to get back out rucking again, something that I haven’t done in several months for a couple of reasons. Firstly, having relocated from central Massachusetts to southwest Florida, this was our first summer in the south in several years and the we most definitely needed to get acclimatized to the weather once again. The second reason was that I have arthritic knees that were quite painful and limited my mobility all summer.
The first reason was easy to resolve: As more and more time wore on, the weather quickly became a non-factor. All of those years living in the South or downrange in Central and South America didn’t completely go away. And in order to ease my knees I did a lot of swimming, the exercise which helps with knee pain. I also used the TB12 vibrating pliability roller. I’m sold on the TB12 clinic and the pliability that they preach and have become a client of theirs. I think anyone attempting to go to Special Forces Selection or is even an active operator could benefit from their program.
Which brings us to what we wear on our feet. The rolling rocky hills of central Mass. are long gone. SW Florida, actually all of FL is pretty damned flat. And the terrain tends to be pretty soft. I have always been (and always will be a fan of Merrells, especially their MOAB boot), but I can’t say enough good things about the Salomon XA Forces Mid-Boots, which I’m wearing presently.
Salomon are producing some of the most popular boots on the market and our troops, specifically our Special Operations Forces, are wearing them frequently during their overseas tours.
Salomon is a long-time standard in the boot business, they began the company under François Salomon in 1947 in Annecy, Rhône-Alpes which is located on the southeastern border of France. Now the company produces some of the very best in a variety of options. Everything from water shoes, trail running, hiking, ski boots and of course the tactical boots.
I ordered a set of the Salomon XA Forces Mid-Boots through Tactical Outfitters about a year and a half ago and have loved them ever since. I’ve used them for everything from rucking on rocky trails, soft sand, mud, snow, and hard-packed roads to plinking on the range to just everyday use like doing yard work around the house.
Here are my pros and cons about the XA Forces boots:
- Very Lightweight
- Versatile, can function in nearly any environment
- No break-in time required. Worn straight out of the box
- Sturdy, with improved design for hikers and tactical users
- Excellent tread design, sure footing everywhere
- Speed laces and lace storage is a small but great feature
- Ortholite Sockliner
- Rubber toe cap and nice roomy toe-box
- Breathe well
- Runs about a half-size small
- A bit pricey, but not outrageously so
Aesthetically speaking, the Salomon are great-looking boots. Their light weight immediately stood out as these not only look the part but will cut down on weight and the clunkiness of some of the heavier boots on the market. They come in different colors (Coyote Brown, Green, and Black). I opted for Coyote as they won’t soak up as much heat in the sun as some of the darker ones.
Based on Salomon’s iconic XA Pro 3D, the XA Force Mid has been designed for Special Operations and Law Enforcement units. The XA Force Mid has increased durability and a beefed up the outsole compared to the Pro 3D.
With a mid-length construction, the XA Forces are light but still provide excellent ankle stability and support. On your feet, they feel more like a tactical running shoe than a boot. They were comfortable right out of the box requiring virtually no break-in time.
The Salomon Forces feature a Quicklace® system, a nice feature and the storage pocket at the top of the tongue is a favorite feature of mine. Don’t it seem like your boots always become untied at the most inopportune time? Well, these boots will obviously never become untied. I wish we had this quick lace system back in the day.
The outsole uses the company’s Contagrip® MD. Along with their lug pattern which works well on hard, smooth, soft, or loose surfaces, it is designed to provide long-term durability. Our trails in Massachusetts had all of these surfaces… and more. Down here in Florida, I’m alternating between hard-packed trails, paved surfaces, and soft and muddy ones (with all of the tropical rain we’ve been experiencing). Despite the heat, humidity, and wet surfaces here, my comfort inside the boots was outstanding.
For the tactical users in the crowd, Salomon has beefed up the upper with a thick rubber panel which along with the curved area at the outsole seems designed for protecting the boots while fast-roping. One of the weak areas that was addressed in the new design was the area around the toe cap. I had read that in previous designs this was the area where these boots (as well as those of many other manufacturers) would separate. So, to rectify that Salomon went from a double to a triple stitch.
The gusseted and nicely padded tongue keeps debris and crap from getting into the boot. It also keeps the tongue centered saving you from a royal pain in the backside. The mesh and textile lining do help to keep your feet cool, although I’ve found that it works better with a thin layer of socks. I always wore thick socks up north… not down here. I tried it but my feet were too hot, so I stuck with thinner ones.
I love these boots and you will too. However, there’s one small caveat: You should probably order a pair a half-size larger. I’ve experienced the same thing with Merrells as well.
While Salomon’s price may be higher than some of the competition, I don’t mind paying for quality. And, in this case, you most definitely get what you pay for.
So, in conclusion, with the rucking season upon us, these are some tremendous, versatile, and comfortable boots. You can wear these boots hiking, on a trip to the range, or even as a casual kicking-around-the-town boot. For rucking, I couldn’t recommend them more. Outstanding value.
If you’re a serious outdoor enthusiast, a military or law enforcement professional, or just even a weekend hiker, they’re well worth checking out.
C-ya on the rucking trails. Even us “FOGs” still enjoy it.
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