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Why Side Zip Tactical Boots? | Advantages and Disadvantages

There has been a debate about the usefulness of side zips in tactical boots by many people. However, although the military, police, and other law enforcement departments are the primary users of tactical boots, many people wear them these days.

Why? This is primarily due to their functionality. For example, people wear them for work, hiking, camping, and other physical activities. And tactical boots, just like every other footwear, require that you wear the right one for comfort and function.

Undoubtedly, tactical boots have different designs, and this includes the side zips. However, this side zip feature barely differs from the lace design function. Both the side zip and lacing system help to ensure that the boot fits snugly around the feet after being worn.

But, the question remains, why should users choose side zip tactical boots over the ones with only laces. That is why we will discuss why you should wear or not wear side zip tactical boots in this article.

Let’s dive right in!

Why Side Zip Tactical Boots?

Let’s discover some good reasons why you should use side zip tactical boots.

1. Ease of use

Bates Men's 8" Ultralite Tactical Sport Side Zip Military Boot, Coyote, 10.5
Click image for more info on Amazon

The first reason you should use side zip tactical boots is that they are easy to use. However, since both designs have laces you have to tie, how is the side zip easier to use?

First, with side zip tactical boots, you may not need to unlace and redo the laces of your boots every time. Once you lace up, pull up the zippers, and you feel comfortable, you may be good to go for the rest of your activities.

And if you need to take off your tactical boots, you don’t need to untie the laces. All you need to do is pull the zippers down, and you can get your boots off.

In some cases, you don’t have to undo the laces for a while, except if you want to clean them or adjust the lace to a better fit. Once you have the perfect fit, support, and comfort from the combination of zips and laces, you don’t have to adjust your boots every time.

Also, if you like saving time, you should wear side zip tactical boots. This would save you a lot of time than unlacing and re-lacing would take.

Another instance is if you have some dexterity issues that may affect your tactical boots’ easy and quick lacing. For example, it will be easier for you to pull up the zip than lace if you have arthritis, hand injuries, and other dexterity conditions.

So, generally, side zip tactical boots are just easy to use. Another example is taking a few breaks; you can quickly zip down and remove your boots.

However, if you had to undo and redo the lace, you may be discouraged even to do that since you don’t have much time for it. Therefore, if you want tactical boots that are easy to use beyond functionality, the side zip designs are just what you need.

2. Helps improve breathability

Another reason you should use side zip tactical boots is because of breathability. Since breathability is one of the features people consider when choosing footwear for work and important activities, side zip designs are it.

For instance, you can choose not to zip your boots up to allow airflow into your feet and make you more comfortable. However, if your feet sweat a lot, you can also pull the zip down a bit or halfway.

That way, you can get your feet to breathe and tone down the sweat without completely taking off your tactical boots. As a result, you feel comfortable in your boots, and this could help boost your productivity.

Also, you reduce your chances of smelly feet, blisters, or other conditions in your tactical boots. Therefore, if you want more breathability options or choices, choose side zip tactical boots.

3. Your shoelaces last longer

tactical boots with zipper and long laces

Side zip tactical boots are a go if you want your shoelaces to last longer. Unfortunately, shoelaces can be problematic to a certain extent.

First, you have to tie them whenever you wear your boots. Then, you have to undo them to remove your tactical boots, which can be a bit exhausting when you want to crawl in bed after a long day.

Not only that, you have to adopt the correct lacing technique that will make your tactical boots fit appropriately and for other functions. Thinking about that alone is stressful when you just want to wear your boots and do your work.

But the sad thing is, tying and untying your shoelaces make them slack, wear, tear, and old. However, you can preserve their lifespan and save yourself some stress by just pulling the zippers down. As long as you don’t have to lace them every time you wear them, they are more durable.

The only times you would need to remove the shoelaces are when you need to wash your tactical boots or adjust the lacing style to a better fit or comfort. Not regularly changing your shoelaces means you are saving yourself some money from buying quality shoelaces regularly.

4. Helps with flexibility

Under Armour mens Valsetz Rts 1.5 Side Zip Military and Tactical Boot, Black (001 Black, 10.5 US
Click image for more info on Amazon

If you want more flexibility in your tactical boots, think of the side-zip design. Why? Side zippers provide many flexible options for you.

How? For example, the side zip option leaves room at the top of your boots for free and adequate foot movement in your tactical boots. Therefore, you can flex, bend, and move your feet easily in your boots.

The room also makes it easy for you to quickly wear and remove your tactical boots when you need to. That way, if you are working long shifts, you can unzip your boots without taking them off so your feet can be comfortable.

Another thing is that flexibility is good for you if you have wide ankles that need to fit in your tactical boots correctly and comfortably. Also, the side zip design allows more room if you want to tuck your pants in your boots for a smarter look or other reasons.

If you need flexibility in different ways in your tactical boots without sacrificing functionality, then side zip tactical boots are an ideal choice. It will help give you the flexibility you need and improve comfort in your boots.

5. It aids in cleaning

black tactical boots with side zipper

Another reason for wearing side zip tactical boots is that they aid in cleaning, . Unzipping helps to improve your hold and fit your hand in when you clean your boots. Plus, since it’s a side zip, your boot will tend to open wider than with lace, allowing you to clean it better.

That way, you can scrub the parts you need to and get the dirt off. If you want to clean your tactical boots easily, especially in the inside, you should get the side-zip design.

6. Good for responding to emergencies

Side zip tactical boots are good for emergencies. And of course, this is due to their ease of use. For example, if you and your team have to respond to an emergency call, you can easily pull on your tactical boots, and with a zipper pull, your boot’s in place.

In no time, you and your team can be on your way to save the day. Another instance is when you need to rescue someone or a team member who is drowning.

In such situations, it may not occur to you to remove your boots because the situation calls for it. However, if you need to or remember to, the zipper is there for easy pulling off, and you can save the person.

Why Not Side Zip Tactical Boots?

While side zip tactical boots are nice, they can also be a bad choice. Of course, they would support your ankle, protect your feet, and perform their other functions. But, what are the reasons why side zip tactical boots are a no-no. What are they?

1. Zippers might mess with boots durability

a soldier wearing black tactical boots

Zips or no zips, your tactical boots would function just like they should. However, it may not be for a long period. How so? One issue with zippers is that one day they may stop working, become stiff, hard, or even wear out.

This may render your tactical boots almost useless because you will be unable to wear them since they won’t fit snugly around your feet. While this may not happen throughout the lifetime of tactical boots, they are prone to that.

Also, they can be prone to rust from water exposure, especially if the zippers are steel. The more water touches them, the more they are prone to wear or rust.

This makes the zippers stuck or reduces their easy movement. So, it may be goodbye to your tactical boots when this happens.

But, of course, you should fix them if you have not worn them for a long time and you are not ready to replace them. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the zippers can shorten the lifespan of your tactical boots.

2. It may affect waterproofness

waterproof leather tactical boots

Another reason you should not wear side zip tactical boots is that they may mess with the waterproofness of your boots. Usually, tactical boots have waterproofing features, alongside other features like gusseted tongues, waterproof membrane, toe cap, and others.

This is the case with side zip tactical boots as well. However, due to the zipper, water may get into your feet from the area. The fabric in that area or tiny holes in the zip area can make water penetrate your boots. This can irritate your feet and make you feel uncomfortable when you wear them.

So, it may not be suitable if you have some heavy-duty work to do or you have to stay inside water for most of your work. However, some side zip tactical boots have gusseted tongues that will aid in keeping some drops of water out.

But, of course, the gusseted feature would be more effective if you are working under normal conditions. That is if you are working on plain ground, in your office, or in other places that are not filled with water.

3. Side zip boots are a no for the US army

US army wearing tactical boots with no zipper

If you are working in the US army, you would probably know that they don’t wear side zip tactical boots. This is because of many reasons and factors.

First, those in the army are used to tying the laces of their boots when they need to. Second, their laces have to be tight every time they wear their boots, so there is almost no need for a side zip.

Also, they see side zips as some sort of weakness that can affect them or hinder their safety on the battlefield. This is because side zips can fail on the field (with harsh terrain and difficult environment), either by getting stuck or unzipping.

So, while some people may see side zips as a positive convenience use, the army sees it as some sort of weakness. Therefore, side zip tactical boots are not an option for you if you are in the army.

4. It may undo while working

You should not wear side zip tactical boots while working because the zip is prone to unzipping. This can happen if the zips are too tight, and it takes you a lot of effort to pull them up and stay in place.

Also, it may be undone during strenuous exercise or when you lean on your ankle, which somewhat boils down to it being tight. Therefore, you may have to keep zipping the zippers every time they undo.

If you decide to ignore it, that leaves your feet vulnerable to some harm, which would just make you feel uncomfortable. The solution would be to get appropriate tactical boots fit; that way, the zippers won’t undo now and then.

5. Ankle adjustment issues

tactical boots and ankle adjustment

Side zip tactical boots may also be unfit because of ankle adjustments you would need at some point. While side zip features allow room for easy foot movement in your boots, it may be a problem when you need to adjust them.

Plus, it may not be able to provide the ankle support and stability you need when you work. But, of course, this is not to say that side zip tactical boots lack stability and ankle support.

But sometimes, you want to adjust your boots for more support. However, you may not be able to get this, no matter how tight you lace or re-lace your boots. It would have been easier if the tactical boots only had laces without the zips.


You’d agree that the debate whether people should wear side zip tactical boots or not has been on for quite a while. However, since they have the same functions, what difference could it possibly make if you wear the ones with zippers or not?

However, there are some visible differences which are reasons you should or can wear side zip tactical boots. Like we mentioned earlier, they are good for more breathability, flexibility, shoelace durability, easy cleaning, use, and more.

On the other hand, side zip tactical boots are unfit for you for some reason. For instance, they mess with the boot’s durability and waterproofness. Also, the zips may get undone while you’re working, and you may have issues with ankle adjustments.

So, in the end, it is dependent on what you want and what you are more comfortable with. If you want to wear side zip tactical boots, that is fine.

However, ensure you get the appropriate fit which will help with avoiding issues with zippers undone and ankle adjustments. Also, check out for gusseted zips to keep the moisture out.

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