Words and pics: Rich Norman

[The] Altama Maritime Assault Boot is made for all tactical water operations. With a fin friendly fit, this boot will fit just about any dive fin used by Militaries worldwide.

The first time I saw Altama’s OTB (Over The Beach) Maritime Assault Mids, I wrote them off as a tactical version of Converse All Stars – more fashion than function.

Despite more than a passing resemblance to the iconic Chuck Taylor shoe, they are really quite different. In fact, it’s a tribute to Altama that they’ve packed so many useful features into that time-honoured (though rudimentary) form factor.

Altama’s UK retailer Tactical Kit sent these to me – free of charge. If they hadn’t done so, I’d be none the wiser about what is a very surprising pair of shoes. They weren’t on my want list, because I made a huge mistake in pigeon-holing them as merely tacticool.

Having said that, I was dreading reviewing them – initially.

Unlike my wife I am really, really picky about shoes; which means I only have a couple of pairs in the house at any one time. They wear out and I replace them – usually with exactly the same type.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve tried a load of different stuff to get to this point; but with shoes more than any other apparel, the fit has to be absolutely perfect for me to get on with them. What’s more, I can only wear shoes for an extended period which accept orthoses. That cuts things down remarkably. So I spend a lot of time in high volume footwear – like approach shoes.

Suffice to say the Altamas do accept my orthoses. If you wear Super Feet Green or similar, you will be pleased to know that they will pop right in; as will Blue, Black etc (which are lower volume). I have a whole drawer full of Super Feet, which were my go to before the 3DO and carbon fibre custom beauties I eventually stumped up for.

Nevertheless, Altama provides a pair of insoles which I would guess are perfectly suited to a shoe that’s meant for maritime operations. You notice this time and time again with the shoe’s overall design: quick drying, hydro-phobic materials, fast draining. The insoles are also not going to get gummed up with sand or other sediments.

In so many shoes, the footbed is a throwaway proposition, but Altama thought these through.

Additionally, they are soft enough to mould to your feet whilst wearing the shoes, they have a deep heel cup – which stabilises your foot – and a fair amount of arch support.

In the late 90s I walked the Saklikent Gorge in southwestern Turkey. At the time of year I was there, I needed amphibious footwear. I wore old gen Teva Wraptors which weren’t really up to the wet part of the job; not much support and my unprotected toes were snubbed on submerged rocks; not to mention the discomfort of small pebbles lodging between the sole of my foot and the Tevas’ footbed.

The Altamas would have been absolutely perfect: fully enclosed (with rubber toe caps for extra protection), non-clogging sticky rubber outsoles, fast draining and (crucially) wearable next to skin.

In fact, I really want to say that they are designed from the ground up to be work best without socks; lined with sock-fit spacer mesh (pictured below) and the non-absorbent footbeds described earlier.

Drainage is massive and fast, thanks to the apertures on either side of the toe box. These are protected by mesh, which stops grit and small pebbles getting into the shoe to cause discomfort.

What you can’t see is the full length ABS shank in the sole. While this is helpful for climbing ladders, it also protects your sole from landing on sharp river rocks and means you can walk further in more comfort – as it provides decent support.

So, while for now I will only be using the Altamas for EDC, they really are a different beast to Converse All Stars.

Because I haven’t been spending a lot of time immersed in large bodies of water (aside from a quick test of the Altamas’ amphibious qualities in the Wye Valley) I have been wearing them with socks. The spacer mesh lining still wicks effectively with this combination and I haven’t encountered any difficulties with my orthoses.

I have fairly wide feet, so it’s encouraging that I can wear the Altimas both with and without socks.

I’m normally a UK size 9.5 so I followed the recommendation on Tactical Kit’s website and chose UK size 10. These fit well.

As for aesthetics, the Multicam printed 1000D Cordura is certainly eye-catching, but there are more subdued colours available. The Cordura used doesn’t seem to absorb water like normal 1000D, so I imagine it is treated in some way.

The boots’ are completely non-metallic, so well-suited to travelling through airports and other high security areas – with nylon eyelets (so no rust, either)

The tongue is padded and exhibits Altama branding. It also limits grit ingress in the way it’s attached to the shoe via gussets.

It goes without saying that mid-height boots offer more support than low-tops, but the ankle is also well padded. Again, this protects from knocks.

Lastly, unlike fashion footwear, you really can pull these on using the tabs at the heel.

They are huge and composed of beefy, well-stitched webbing.

Big thanks to Tactical Kit for providing these exceptional boots for review – I’ll report back when I’ve given them a few more miles (and more water).

The pictures featured in this review depict the boots fresh from the box, so it’ll be interesting to compare after some more wear and tear.

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