The nice folks at Magnum Boots have provided me with another opportunity to review a set of their boots, and this time, they sent me a set of Magnum Stealth Force 8.0 Side Zip boots. This has been a unique experience for me as I have never had side zip boots before, so I was excited to see what so many of my friends and colleagues have been raving about.
Previously, I have added the lace replacement zipper modules for my Danner’s, but I never really liked them because I felt that my skinny ankles lost a lot of support by not being able to cinch them down very tight. I honestly had no such problem with the Stealth Force boots. I felt they provided excellent ankle support after I finally adjusted them to where I felt I got the best mix of tension versus enough looseness to allow rapid donning and doffing. This took me almost a month to refine though. They do untie themselves about every couple of days. I never found a solid tie method where they would remain tied, but the knot wasn’t so bulky as to cause blisters or pressure points. It was a give and take relationship.
Although these aren’t my favorite boots for comfort, they certainly held up well to the rain, snow, floods, mud, and daily grind. They are a durable boot and I would consider buying a set without the side zip option. They provided excellent traction and foot protection, and were broken-in in under a week of daily wear. No raw spots, and with my Under Armour socks, my feet came out dry and not odoriferous. Personally, I felt the support was better than the lace replacement for my old Danner’s, but I don’t think I gained any remarkable advantage by having the side zip. I want to clearly note that my experience is in the minority. I know several people with these boots and they absolutely love the side zip option. The best I can say is to try it out for yourself.
What these boots did lack was the ability to secure a boot knife. I tried a couple different boot knives (2.5″ blade and 4″ blade) in many different positions, but they fell out every time. One, I lost walking into the IMAX debut of Rogue One when it was just a light rain and I dodged a couple awnings dripping right into my path. Fortunately for me, a group of friends attending with me were just a bit behind me and they found it and returned it to me. I find this frustrating because I like having a backup tool available that’s not too inconvenient to access, plus my boot knives tend to stay a lot sharper than my 11-year old SOG Flash II EDC folding knife, which I literally use daily. If I were to add only one improvement, I would like to see a way to add a boot knife holder. I saw one set of boots a few years ago that tried this, but never bought them. Maybe something that could lace through the sheath.
In summary, despite my personal preference for non-side-zip boots, they are rugged, durable, and comfortable, especially when paired with a high quality, moisture-wicking sock, and they are well worth every penny you will pay for them. My thanks to the Magnum Boot company for allowing me to evaluate and review another pair of fine boots.