For all but my first two years in EMS, I've worn Magnum boots. In my early days as a broke EMT, I wore whatever was black and cheap, and my feet, ankles, knees and hips paid the price. Once I sprung for a good pair of tactical boots, I never went back.
Until last month, my working pair of boots was the Magnum Elite Force 8.0 boots I reviewed here. Four years is a respectable lifetime for an EMS duty boot, and although the Magnums were still serviceable, they had long since lost their waterproofing (more on that later) and the upper was starting to separate from the sole.
So when the nice folks at Blauer sent me a pair of their Blitz 8" waterproof boots to test and review, I gladly accepted. I figured they'd have to make a good impression indeed to lure me away from my beloved Magnums.
They made that impression.
First, the specifications:
The Blitz is an 8", calf-length tactical boot with a puncture-resistant midsole and gel cushion insoles. The outer sole is compression-molded, non-slip EVA rubber with an agressive tread pattern, including fence-climbing grooves in the toe. The upper is waterproof, full-grain leather and suede featuring a breathable, antimicrobial waterproof membrane.
Now, I never got around to climbing any fences in my pair of boots, so I'll just have to take Blauer's word on how well those fence-climbing grooves work. But I have worn these boots near-daily for the past six weeks, and here are my impressions:
My Magnum Elite Force boots were 100% leather upper. They took a week to break in, and even then the lining of the left boot galled my ankle quite a bit, most likely due to a defect in the boot lining that caused the left boot to fail the extended immersion test.
Right out of the box, the Blauer Blitz boots were more comfortable than my Magnum Elite Force boots after break-in. In fact, they're as comfortable as any boots I've ever worn. They run true to size (I'm a 12 regular), and they're very breathable. Just to test the effectiveness of the boots' bonded antimicrobial barrier, I went a week wearing the boots without socks. The wonders of modern science can devise no more diabolical, torturous test than to expose the liner of footwear to my bare feet for a week in hot weather.
My feet grow weaponized funk, baby.
Well, the Aegis Microbe Shield barrier was more than the equal of my feet. Granted, they don't smell like jasmine in the springtime, but kicking off my boots at the station no longer sets my partner to looking for dead animals in the walls. Not only that, but they're comfortable even on bare feet.
They're a good-looking pair of boots. The heel cup on these boots is pebble-grained rubber, and it wraps around the back of your calf, nearly to the top of the boot. One of the things that spelled the end for my Magnums was the heel cup separating from the leather upper, a direct result of having to prod my boot off with the toe of the opposite boot. This quickly compromised the watertight integrity of the Magnum boots, and eventually separated from the upper entirely. On the Blitz boot, the heel protector runs much higher up the calf, and there's no sharply defined seam to catch a toe on. But considering how easily the Blitz boot comes on and off, none is needed.
They passed the "Wear 'Em Around In The Rain All Shift And See If Your Feet Are Moist Twelve Hours Later" test.
They passed the "Run Water Over 'Em For Ten Minutes While You're Swapping Lies With The Oncoming Crew" test.
They even passed the "Oh What The Hell, Let's Stick Our Feet In The Wash Bucket For Ten Minutes" test.
So, after several rounds of rigorous and highly
unscientific testing, I can say with 100% confidence that the Dri-Lex moisture management system used in these boots is indeed waterproof and highly breathable.
BOA Lacing System: B+
Honestly, the only reason I didn't give it an A is because I still harbor some skepticism as to its durability. Rather than laces, the BOA lacing system utilizes a plastic-coated, braided stainless steel cable on a crank. All it takes to remove the boots is to pull the crank out to unlock it, and move the tongue forward. Lacing is as simple as pushing the crank in to lock, and winding it until you reach the desired degree of snugness and ankle support.
The BOA lacing system makes the Blitz boot far easier to don and doff than boots with conventional laces, and just as easy as any zippered boot I've even worn. If the cable and crank lasts as long as the boots, I'll be a big fan.
Overall, I give the Blauer Blitz 8" waterproof boot the official Ambulance Driver Seal of Approval. Blauer, you've won a new customer.