In the world of competitive shooting, we all know the firearm in your hand is a critical choice, but without sure footing, what good is the most skilled shooter? I’m starting at the bottom, working my way up – in all aspects of life – but today I’m specifically talking about my Nike Special Field Boots, or SFB’s. While attending Crimson Trace’s Midnight 3-Gun Invitational, I did my obligatory pass at the vendor tables. Danner displayed some stellar boots as usual; Otis and Glock also enticed me to linger a bit longer, but this time Nike SFS (“Special Field Systems”) had my full attention. Created specifically for what Nike calls the “Tactical Athlete”. . .
Nike boasts their SFB’s are extremely durable and supportive while weighing in well under a pound if you’re a men’s size 9 or smaller. Fast-drying and highly articulated, Nike claims they require no break-in period and when they get dirty, you simply toss them in the wash. Yeah, you heard me correctly…just toss them in the wash!
As soon as I reached for a sample pair, a jolly voice inquiresd as to my size. Then he tossed me men’s size sixes, saying, “Wear ‘em. Bring ‘em back before you leave and let me know what you think.” Is he serious? I am in Bend, Oregon. More specifically, the high desert. Did he see the amount of sand and lava rock I’d be traversing over the next few days?
Eager to give them a try, I thoroughly loosened the laces (necessary for proper fit since the tongue is permanently attached to the boot) and slipped on Nike’s answer to the Field Boot. I immediately noticed how very lightweight they are, fitting almost like a pair of slippers. But how would they fare in the Oregon high desert? My job was to find out.
By 1:30am on the final night of the Midnight 3-Gun Invitational, I ached in places I didn’t know I had, but my feet wasn’t one of them. In fact, I didn’t have a single blister and the only sign of “new shoes” wass a bit of a raw spot on the back of my heel which is probably due to me not lacing them tightly enough.
Nike lives up to their claims; the articulated outsole, reminiscent of the traditional waffle design, allowed my feet freedom of movement over the uneven terrain. And the combination leather/Kevlar foot bed mimics Birkenstocks’ cork foot bed, conforming to my feet and allowing me to walk the way nature intended.
Not only do the boots weigh almost nothing, they’re also completely breathable – all the while keeping sand out. Had moisture been an issue, I’m sure these boots would dry quickly with perhaps only a change of socks. They’re not only great for the competitive shooter, but would also be ideal for any first responder or outdoorsman.
Finally, I tracked down the Nike employees that kindly allowed me a little R&D time, ready to reluctantly turn over my SFB’s. But by the time I got there, the booth had already been packed up and they were saying their goodbyes. “Did you like them?” asked one of their Product Innovation Specialists. When I told him I did, he said, “Then keep them and wear them.” He didn’t need to tell me twice! As it turned out, I’m one of the few who had ever actually tried to return a pair. So with a clear conscious and a new pair of boots, I packed my gear and headed home looking forward to tossing these bad boys in the wash!
- Quick-drying synthetic leather overlays for durability and support
- Multiple ventilation zones that allow the boot to breathe and drain quickly
- Genuine leather footbed for durability, flexibility and comfort
- Nike Free-inspired outsole, for traction and range of motion
- Sticky rubber forefoot lugs for exceptional traction on all terrain
- Weight: 15.9 oz (men’s size 9)
- Price: $140 and up
Ratings (out of five stars):
Design: * * * *
True to Nike co-founder Major Bill Bowerman’s ideal of making sure a boot does its job and is light, these field boots do that and more.
Comfort: * * * *
I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it feels like I’m wearing slippers. Would have been a five star rating had I not had hot spots on my achilles.
Durability: * * * *
I can only speak to the few nights I pounded the desert floor with these boots but they took a licking and showed little wear and tear.
Overall Rating: * * * *
I’ve worn several field boots over the years and these are the best that have graced my feet. Nike’s is onto something good here.