It’s not unusual for gear developed for outdoor activities, such as climbing, caving and camping, to make the leap into the tactical arena.
The most famous are the pants made by 5.11, which started out as Royal Robbins. The pants, originally designed for cave exploring and “discovered” by the FBI, have now grown into the largest tactical clothing line in the world.
There’s good reason for this trend, as gear designed for outdoor sports gets a great deal of R&D and quite often the toughness built into such gear works well for special-mission military and police operations. Gwinnett County (Ga.) SWAT/K-9 cop Jason Teague, who acts as co-host with me on Ruger’s TV Show Ruger Inside and Out, keeps track of which gear companies best make the transition to the tactical arena and while talking with him recently, he recommended I check out Salewa. A company known for their high mountain climbing gear, Jason was working with their shoe line and was quite impressed. I contacted the company and arranged to have a pair of their approach shoes sent to see if they would be a good choice for law enforcement training and other mission-specific LE functions.
I was sent a pair of their Alpine Approach low-cut shoes for review. These shoes are designed to be used to climb the lower elevations of a mountain until the heavier, more robust high-cut boots are needed. Because of this unique mission, these shoes are built to exacting standards and, it would appear, make a great shoe for police training personnel, especially those teaching firearms in a wide range of environments.
Salewa’s Mountain Trainer is a very comfortable but robust shoe, which makes it a good choice for technical hiking and trekking. An environment-resistant suede upper, climbing-grade rubber rand under the foot bed and over the toe, extended lacing and a sticky Vibram outer sole make this shoe a very tough performer. Their 3F system creates an unbeatable combination of flexibility, anatomically positioned ankle support and precision fit that keeps the shoe from creating any abrasion points. No blisters or raw spots are created with a properly fitted Salewa shoe. The climbing lacing system allows the end user to adjust the shoe fit and make allowances for sock thickness, and the multi-fit foot bed allows for individual fit. The shoes are also Gore-Tex lined so they’re not only retain heat but repel moisture, as well.
Available in multiple colors, I chose to test the black version. The only change I made was to replace the bright-colored shoe string with a black boot lace. I wore the Mountain Hikers as I went about not only my firearms training routine, but also my daily life and I admit to being very impressed with the shoe. The first thing I noted was no break-in period was needed. The shoes were comfortable from start to finish and never shifted on my feet. I wore them in hot, cold, dry and wet weather for months, and my feet stayed dry and comfortable throughout. I asked for the low-cut version for use as a year-round training shoe, but I’m convinced the boot version would be an excellent choice for SWAT operations.
The Mountain Hiker is light, nimble, flexible and “grippy” in all terrains due to the Vibram sole. The shoe adapts well to a variety of environments and would be a good choice for both rural and urban police operations. Although the outside appearance wouldn’t go well with uniform patrol officers, the Salewa Mountain Hiker would fit well into any number of other LE roles.
Salewa has a complete line of hard use outdoor gear, and I’d suggest you check them out at www.salewa.com.