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Men’s combat boots have an interesting history. Naturally, there are real-world roots to the style, as well as natural adapters among the world’s most prestigious (and accessible) fashion brands. The most famous brand is, of course, Dr. Martens (colloquially known as “Doc Martens”). The hard leather lace-up boot with its famously comfortable soles was first popular with German housewives in the late 1940s, but you’ll find them inside every hipster’s closet in 2022. Dr. Martens are universally recognized as the best combat boots for men and women, but they aren’t your only option.
Dr. Martens’ combat boots first appeared on the British fashion scene in 1960, and they became the favored footwear of workmen and skinheads. Then they were adopted by the Punk movement in the 1970s before they became the footwear of choice for 1990s Grunge rockers.
Today, Dr. Martens’ combat boots are a fashion staple and not simply a symbol of rebellion or rock n’ roll. Pharrell Williams even wore a pair when he received his honorary doctorate from NYU in 2017. Stylish men’s combat boots can be found in zillions of colors and fabrics, and it seems that almost every menswear designer has at least one or two men’s combat boots in their repertoire.
Men’s Combat Boot Profile
What the heck is a combat boot anyway? A combat boot (usually) sits on a thick rubber or crepe outsole. It is a lace-up shoe and the boot’s shaft ends a little over the ankle. Traditionally made from hard, durable leather or canvas, you can find them in suede, nylon, cotton and any combination of those fabrics. This durable military-style men’s boot is designed to provide excellent traction and ankle support.
How To Wear a Men’s Combat Boot
The easiest way to style men’s combat boots is to wear them with dark blue or black jeans. Since many combat boots’ uppers look like oxfords, brogues or lace-ups, you can sneak them into offices that accept more casual attire. While the iconic Dr. Martens combat boot comes in a dark color like black or burgundy, you can now find men’s combat boots in a wide variety of colors and prints.
Keep reading to see our favorite men’s combat boots for sale right now.
1. Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace Up Boots
This is the classic Doc Martens men’s combat boot. When someone says, “Doc Martens,” this is the boot they’re talking about. Named after its debut date (April 1, 1960), this lace-up style’s been worn by everyone from The Sex Pistols to your next-door neighbor. It has eight eyes, yellow topstitching, and the famous air-wave, air-cushioned sole.
2. Good Man Brand Modern City Combat Boots
When considering the men’s combat boot, you very well might be tempted to shop a pair with some notable signifiers, like the yellow contrast stitching of a pair of Dr. Martens. We’re also of the mind that classic style is what counts, and in this regard, these sleek all-black combat boots are about as streamlined and timeless as it gets. The sturdy lug sole makes these boots ideal for gripping slick city streets, while the slim profile turns them into a pair of combat boots you can even wear with a finely tailored grey suit.
3. Thursday Boots The Explorer
We here at SPY are huge fans of Thursday Boots, and we’ve featured them in round-ups in the past. One of the reasons why we’re so enamored with the brand, aside from the workmanship, fit and transparent sourcing/pricing, is that they literally have a style for every facet of your life. Take The Explorer, it’s a cool mashup of a hiking boot, a work boot and a combat boot. Easy to wear on or off the trails, it’s made from leather that’s made to last, and has storm-welt construction that’ll keep the boots on your feet for years. Did we mention that they’re lined in glove leather, and have shock-absorbing comfort insoles? They’ve got it all, and they’re handcrafted too.
4. Belstaff Alperton Full-Grain Leather Boots
Belstaff knows the gear that the bold need to hit the open road — perhaps you’ve trusted one of the brand’s famously durable leather jackets or waxed coats to get you from point A to point B. No matter whether you’re behind the wheel or traipsing around a hip neighborhood, Belstaff boots are a terrific bet, too. Granted, they’re pricier than average (try north of $400), but that’s not a bad thing to invest in — especially considering you can rock these rugged cap-toe boots just about every single day. The key is the textured full-grain leather (made to get better with age), and the ridiculously dependable rubber lug sole.
5. Beckett Simonon Oscar Boots
The idea of wearing a combat boot as a dress boot is nothing new (thank Peaky Blinders for the continued rise of suited-and-booted gents everywhere). But to do it right, you’ve got to ensure a few key factors are correct. For one, the boots should be slightly streamlined in terms of their shape, and not overly clunky, like work boots. Next on the list? Leather. The leather should have some nicely polished sheen to it, especially in a rich color like the one shown here. Even better if the boots in question have a pebbled leather shaft for some textured, visually striking contrast. Speed lacing and a padded collar are utilitarian touches that provide a snug fit, comfort and no-slip performance, too — even if your only feat is walking from speakeasy to speakeasy.
6. Vince Raider Leather Boots
Every combat boot on our list of the best combat boots should prove uniquely durable and hard-wearing, in our opinion. That goes for canvas combat boots, too. But sometimes, you need a boot that’s built for situations both dressy and casual, and that requires a unique durability that certain types of combat boots don’t have. Enter these handsome combat boots from Vince. They use a lug sole topped off with supple leather and mixed-media inserts on the boot shaft, all the better to withstand abrasion and the elements. They’re as easily wearable with black jeans as they are with rolled tan chinos — go on, give ’em a try.
7. Palladium Pampa Hi Boots
Combat boots most commonly found on the market tend to be made out of leather, but there’s a subset of brands we love making incredibly cool combat boots out of canvas. Palladium has been a streetwear favorite for years — before they made boots, Palladium made airplane tires, so you know the material and craftsmanship are as durable as can be. The result is a sturdy sole and a sturdy canvas upper, and the Pampa style was most notably worn by the French Foreign Legion. That’s quite a legacy for a pair of combat boots, and the fact that these feel as light as high-top canvas sneakers — and as tough as traditional boots — is a major plus.
8. Dr. Martens Combs II Canvas and Suede Boot
BEST FOR SPRING & SUMMER
To many, Dr. Martens or “Docs” are the alpha and omega of combat boots. We’ve discussed how they’re an iconic boot above, and their designs have been copied by many brands over the years. For summer, they’re lightening up their classic combat boot in tonal black suede and canvas. It has everything you expect from a pair of Docs, including a cushioned footbed and their classic airwave sole.
9. Dr. Martens Vegan Felix 101 Boots
Instead of eight eyes, this men’s combat boot has six and sits a bit lower than Doc Martens’ classic 1460 style boot. The Felix is made with vegan leather for guys who want to enjoy the best men’s combat boots without animal products. These boots still have most of the brand’s hallmarks: yellow topstitching, the back loop and the brand’s air-cushioned sole.
10. Vostey Combat Boots
BEST BUDGET BUY
For those of us who like to switch off styles and matching footwear daily, Vostey’s combat boot fits in nicely in your boot repertoire and is also kind to your wallet. This combat boot has style for days and can easily go from weekends in jeans to chinos when you hit the office or have a need to feel a bit more dressed up when you walk over to your WFH desk. They have a padded collar, and you can either lace or zip them up. They rest on a flexible, rubber sole. They’ve been reviewed over 1,300 times in Amazon, and wearers rave about the fit, style and how they found a combat boot that not only looks good but can easily be worn for miles and miles of walking.
11. Alexander McQueen Tread Slick Bleached Cotton Canvas Ankle Boots
BEST DESIGNER BOOTS
Alexander McQueen’s menswear is refined, comprised of clean lines with an air of slight subversiveness as if the designer is (quietly) deflating the preciousness of the luxury market. Made from bleached cotton, these boots sport a rubber toe cap and sides and sit on a chunky treaded sole.
12. Nike SFB Field 2 8″ GORE-TEXBoots
Techwear is a newer trend that combines activewear, streetwear with a Goth and sci-fi bent. We wrote up a quick primer on what it is, and how to wear it. Nike, known for their incomparable sneakers, has released a few tech combat boots and the SFB Field is the most badass-looking one of the group. This is a waterproof performance boot that’s made of leather and GORE-TEX. It’s built for heavy-duty hiking and clambering around rocky areas due to the way the sole has been engineered. This performance combat boot has a variety of patterns on the outer sole that ensures everything from improving stability while climbing to a sawtooth pattern around the arch that gives extra grip when rope climbing. If Parkour is your middle name, if you adventure around the world, and have never met an off-road obstacle you didn’t like, this is your combat boot.
13. Pajar Men’s Combat Boots Rocky
BEST FOR ANY WEATHER
This men’s combat boot is office-friendly and can be either laced up or zipped. The vintage-style leather upper sits on a thermal rubber outsole that’s non-skid and slip-resistant. Canadian brand Pajar made its reputation creating footwear that can be worn during arctic blasts, and this combat boot is cold rated to -13 degrees.
14. Dr. Martens 101 Yellow Stitch Smooth Leather Ankle Boots
BEST WHITE COMBAT BOOTS
About two or three years ago, white boots exploded into the footwear scene. First primarily worn by women, men and kiddos started following suit. What was thought to be a quick fad, has turned into a long-term trend. Much like white sneakers, white boots need that extra bit of care to keep them gleaming. The 101 is a shortened version of the brand’s iconic boot and has six eyes instead of eight. Made with smooth leather, these lace-up combat boots have a cushioned insole and sits on the brands’ famous airwave outsole. And yes, they also come in black.