Luigge served 16 years in the Air Force as a Pararescueman. In addition to being a contributor at Spotter Up, he is also the founder and President of ADAPTAGEAR INC.
The tactical boot market is a huge industry and with advances in design processes and technology, it’s no wonder manufacturers are creating phenomenal products. There is, however, one company that stands out from the rest. Located in San Diego, California, Lalo Tactical regularly sends its footwear to nearby Navy SEAL’s to get put through the ringer. Using their advice, the team at Lalo embarked on creating the ultimate boot for Special Operations Forces. Although the boot is great for landbased operations, it’s specifically designed to ensure SEAL’s have a smooth transition when moving from water to land. With the Shadow Amphibian, Lalo Tactical may have possibly created the best tactical boot on the market.
On the day my boots arrived, I was unsure of what to expect. That hesitation quickly faded as soon as I opened the box. I had already read up on the boots and upon seeing them, it was immediately clear to me that Lalo had hit the nail on the head with this one. In addition to being sleek and sexy, the Shadow Amphibian’s are nothing but design functionality at its best.
- Twoway passive drainage system
- Patented composite plate and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) outsole to aid in keeping the boots silent
- Contoured climbing arch
- Compression molded ethylenevinyl acetate (EVA) midsole
- Compression molded EVA insole
- Slip resistant
- Lightweight injected blown TPU outsole
- Articulating heel with achilles flex notch
- Blade resistant “SuperFabric® toe cap
- Microfiber H2O shedding synthetic leather upper with breathable membrane
- Moisturewicking, H2O shedding antimicrobial upper lining
- Ripstop nylon accents
- Sleek vamp profile for secure fin fit and climbing
- Gusseted tongue construction with invisible lace pocket ● Seamless, lightweight quarter protection construction.
I decided to break the boots in while teaching a Tactical Medicine course in Los Angeles. Knowing that I would be on my feet for the next three days, I figured this would give me ample time to ensure a good fit before taking them out on a hike.
Being a lush for highend active footwear, I worried I would spend too much time unfairly comparing these to my favorite pair of Salomons, or more recently, my awesome pair of Hoka’s. Instead, I decided to focus on how they felt relative to some old Keen and OTB boots that were always top notch. I can honestly say that out of the box, they felt wonderful. The integration of flexibility and stability was surprising and I was excited to see how they would perform on the hill.
The one drawback I did find was that it took me a while to get them on and properly laced. This may have something to do with the fact that I normally wear Combat Flips Flops or speedlace shoes. However, as a person that was always on rescue alert; being able to get my boots on quickly was a must. I know that people have mixed feelings about speedlace systems, but in my experience, I’ve never had a problem with them. Weighing 200 pounds, I think it’s fair to say I put a lot of stress on my shoes while charging down a hill and I’ve yet to (knock wood) lose tension with these systems.
The first three days of breaking the boots in went well and on the fourth day, I was ready to hit the hill. I’m originally from Los Angeles and since I was there for this course, I decided to pay a visit to my favorite trail in Pasadena. It’s 5.28miles with 1,381’ of elevation gain. From the start, it was obvious I wasn’t wearing running shoes. At the same time, it didn’t feel like I was wearing boots. The best way I can describe it would be to say that they reminded me of basketball midtop’s. They’re reactive, have great traction, and are comfortably functional. Better yet, the reinforced design with Super Fabric takes them from being a hikeroriented midtop to a tactical boot built for speed and durability.
When I reached the top of the hill, I was happy to find the lacing needed minimal retightening, if at all. Seeing as how I planned on running down hard, I wanted to make sure to reset. I’m happy I did because while going full speed, I turned a corner to find a snake (thankfully not a rattler) in the middle of a 4’ wide trail. What really stood out to me was that I stopped on a dime. After the snake had passed, I remember running and thinking, “wow, I’m not sure if other boots I’ve owned would have performed the same way. I guess they really are like basketball shoes; except basketball shoes for the field.”
Overall, the first hike went very well. However, I was particularly intrigued by Lalo’s claims of the boot shedding water in an efficient manner. Therefore, I decided to fill up an ice chest and dunk one of the boots while I made my way to a new hiking location. Upon arriving, I took it out to see how fast the water would drain. True to their word, it did in fact come out quickly.
With the temperature being close to 80degrees, I knew the run would be tough. I could only imagine what my fellow hikers thought when I pulled the boot from the ice chest and watched as the water drained out. As an added bonus, it was cool to so see that it floated the entire time. Regardless of how much I tried to keep it submerged, it always came right back up. Being a waterborne piece of apparel, I thought this was a nice feature. After taking a while to put them on, I launched the gps and started on my trek. I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though one of my boots was soaking wet, I couldn’t notice a weight difference. In fact, given that it was such a warm day, the coolness on my foot was actually refreshing.
Overall, the hike was 5.47miles and had an elevation gain of 889’. As I jogged along, I wondered whether I would disproportionately break in one boot more than the other. Seeing as how they’re constructed with synthetic material, I didn’t think it would be an issue. To be sure, however, I called the folks at Lalo to ask about proper breakin procedures and mentioned my concerns about getting them wet. The rep was both jovial and knowledgable. She stated that in her experience, the majority of customers say there’s minimal breaking in required and that the boots should feel comfortable out of the box. Moreover, given that they’re synthetic, soaking them in water wasn’t necessary. Instead, this is a practice normally reserved for a leathertype boot. The Shadow Amphibian’s are, after all, designed to be waterborne shoes and therefore won’t morph due to submersion.
As I came to the final climb of the hill, I thought about what I would write for this review. In true mountain fashion, I found some inspiration in the form of my favorite brand of beer sitting on a trail marker. Although I don’t condone littering, I couldn’t help, but smile when I saw this.
Obviously, I had to stop and take a picture. Once done, I continued my trek smiling and inspired with my only complaint being that the can was empty. When the hike was finished, my feet felt great and I was curious to see how “shriveled” my right foot would be after spending over an hour in a soaked boot. The first thing I noticed was that the wet boot (right side) actually stayed slightly more snug than the dry boot (left side). As with any shoe, my recommendation would be to always re-tighten your laces if you’re going to cover a large distance.
After removing the boots, I took off my socks and felt little difference in their moisture levels. This only reinforced my tendency to invest in socks of the highest quality. After all, if your feet are done, so are you, and so is the mish. An inspection of my feet revealed minimal wrinkling and with some airing out via flip flops, they quickly returned to normal.
Overall, I was extremely happy and impressed with how these shoes performed. Having worn a ton of tactical boots in my life, I can say the Shadow Amphibian’s are at the top of the list. Whether you’re in the Special Operations community or simply an active individual that puts a beating on their performance boots, the Shadow Amphibian’s are definitely worth looking into.
Pros And Cons
- Extremely functional
- Comfortable from the start
- Agile, yet durable
- Great 2way passive drainage system
- Quick drying
- Added protection and efficiency via composite plate
- Donning and lace-up should be more expedient
- Special Operations tactical approach boot
- Water and shipboard operations
- Hurricane response and support
- Helicopter operations
- Swiftwater operations
- Urban operations; especially when climbing
- Parachute operations. Sleek design mitigates snagging
- Hiking and backpacking
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