Product Review: Magnum Elite Force 8.0 Boots

My first two years as an EMT, I was a cheapskate when it came to footwear. I wore whatever was 1) black and 2) cheap, which usually meant I picked up a pair of Brahmas, or whatever Wal Mart had in stock.

And I spent that two years hobbling around, footsore, buying new boots every six months. I eventually figured out that buying a $75 pair of boots once beats buying three pairs of $35 boots in the same time period.

I bought my first pair of Hi Tec Magnums in 1995, and I’ve worn nothing else since. They are comfortable, durable, and with a service life measured in years rather than months, well worth the price.

Currently, my work boot of choice is the Magnum Viper II 8 inch side zip model, and they are as comfortable a pair of boots as I’ve ever owned. The current pair is a little more than a year old, and still look and wear like new. In fact, the only pair of these boots that lasted less than three years was the pair ruined in my motorcycle crash.

So it was with a measure of pleasant surprise that I viewed a recent offer by Magnum boots to review their newest offering, the Elite Force 8.0 WPI. My first instinct was to turn them down, but then I figured, “Hey, they’re asking for a review, not an endorsement. I’m free to write whatever I choose,” so I had them send me a pair. You can read reviews by other bloggers on these boots here, here, here, and here.

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First impression: Nice lookin’ pair o’ boots.

Second impression: Where’s the boot zipper? This is a big problem, people. I lurves my boot zipper.

But then I got to thinking,  “You don’t work 24-hour shifts any more, AD. Dressing quickly isn’t quite as important as it once was, AD. Do you really need a boot zipper?”

Besides, a zipper on the side of these things would have all of the watertight qualities of a screen door on a submarine, and the waterproofing is one of the big features of these boots. So, I wore ’em to work last night for their inaugural run. My initial impression was mixed.

First of all, the left boot tends to gall me on the lateral malleolus of my ankle, and I can’t seem to get the laces tight enough or loose enough to eliminate that problem. On the other hand, they are full leather boots. Clearly, they’ll need some breaking in. I’ll reserve judgment on the ankle issue until I’ve worn them for a week or so.

On the plus side, they are every bit as comfortable and breathable as my decidedly non-waterproof pair of Vipers, and that’s saying something. Those of you who have worn waterproof boots know what I’m talking about: hot, sweaty feet, and Toxic Sock Syndrome after the take them off at the end of the day.

So far, there are no such issues with Hi Tec’s Ion MaskTM water repellent technology. Apparently, the boots are treated with a fluorocarbon painted on by a family of Swiss elves who have been practicing their dark arts for many generations, and this fluorocarbon  – equal parts awesomesauce and unicorn tears – is then bonded to the boots by the skillful application of a phase plasma rifle in 40-watt range, and then vacuum sealed in a space-age ion chamber while Gregorian monks burn incense and chant.

Or something like that.

However it is they do it, the stuff breathes well. Soon, we’ll see just how durable and water-repellent they really are. Stay tuned…