January 22, 2021

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

RLTW – in cool shoes. The 5.11 Ranger.

5 min read


When I got this pair of 5.11 Rangers to test out, I realized something.  I used 5.11 footwear both on the street and in the military.  The boots I used lasted 3-4 years, and held up longer and more durable than just about any other pair of regularly used pair of boots.  This is pretty impressive when you consider that by design, most shoes are disposable, and these were hard used.  In the case of desert boots by 5.11, I believe the tread wore out before the stitching or any other part of the boot.  In fact, they have been used for ruck marches, hiking, kicking in doors, and every kind of training imaginable.  However, the Ranger shoe by 5.11 was my first actual pair of shoes.

What some people call a tennis shoe, I refer to as sneakers.  Maybe its a little Brooklyn, or maybe its the fact that no one really plays tennis in them, but I feel its a more accurate description.  So the 5.11 Ranger is a low top sneaker design shoe.  A quick once over, and its clear to see the intent of this versatile design.  Anything from street hiking and a semi-formal meeting, to cross-training, duty work and everything in-between.  You can bet your Sergeant Major’s next lawn inspection, that I used the 5.11 Ranger shows for everything above.  I love the fact that the sole and tread are substantial, and not skimped.  This not only helps in longevity of wear, but is also a great relief when long shift, missions, or days keep you on your feet.

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The construction and materials of the shoe are top notch.  When other manufacturers aim to lighten and use cartoonish laminates which make the sneaker more like a slipper, the 5.11 Ranger is true to form with a sturdy sole, solid form which hugs your foot, supportive insole and durable stitching.  The materials used are light but tough: nylon, nubuck, and polymer mesh.  The later allowing for perfect breathability, and being positioned at the top and around the sides of the shoe,  still keeps the elements out, while allowing moisture management.  Additional design features include an 8 mm heel-to-toe drop, and a reinforced toe.  The design is catchy, with a subdued 5.11 logo on the side, conservative and attractive contours, well-paired subtle color shades, and a shape which is perfect as an athletic shoe, but will not point you out if you were it with a uniform.  There are no bulky or outlandish design features, which again make this sneaker appropriate for every day wear, and fit it as well with a pair of slack as a pair of BDU’s.


While the Ranger by 5.11 is not a running shoe, it is comfortable to run in, and definitely sprint.  On concrete the support of the Ortholite insole and full, well-made toe box is obvious, but on softer trails and diverse surfaces the shoe really shines.  There is no flop or travel of the foot, and the sneakers required absolutely no break-in period.  There is perfect support for the back of the foot and the front, and what really rounds the whole thing off are the laces.  The extra material at the top of the opening is perfect for extra support and to prevent pinching or hot points.  All too often manufacturers try different things with the laces and eyelets, almost to eliminate the work of tying the shoe for the user.  But a good pair of laces which doesn’t cut across your foot, retains the shoe and more importantly doesn’t come loose during your shift, mission or training, is critical.

How many times have you put on a pair, only to have to retie them later?  I have not had to do this with the 5.11 Rangers.  The laces work smooth, with plenty of length when using all of the eyelets, and are not bulky.  The tongue also has a lace loop, and is itself perfectly padded.  Again, its not appearance or appearance alone that makes 5.11 Rangers such a joy to wear.  Its the whole of the features designed with purpose, that makes all those features into one functional and comfortable shoe.  The design and function held very true to name, as I hoped.  The sizing is true.  Meaning a 9.5 foot will most likely be a 9.5 Ranger shoes.  No guessing to go up or down.

I ran these sneakers through mud, water, on grass, concrete and interior surfaces.  The traction was outstanding.  The multi-dimensional design of the tread worked really well, and it will be further evaluated how well it wears over time.  I also tried the Ranger’s on ice, and was impressed.  The mesh and rip-stop design not only helps your foot breathe, but also allows for some driving of water and elements if you must go through them.  My previous pair of 5.11 duty boots had an inside traction pad on each one, to allow for rappelling.  While not your everyday requirement, it shows how far the designers at 5.11 are willing to go to make their shoes usable and functional.  In the case of 5.11 Ranger shoes, it is clear that the reinforced lines and are placed for function and support of your foot.  The Rangers by 5.11 have a sturdy heel, which can take a hit, or repeated friction when doing vehicle operations and working the pedals.  The reinforced toe is a great touch, as so many manufacturers are going lite and soft.  Particularly for duty work, this is a thing of beauty.  I am traditionally a boot guy when it comes to street work, but this is one pair of sneakers I would definitely wear every day without worry.  And as noted, they do look good with a pair of dress slacks.

This is definitely not the final review, because seeing this kind of performance from a work-oriented shoe, I will continue to use them daily.  I have no doubt that true to name and history of performance, the 5.11 Ranger shoes will hold their own, and lead the way.

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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