Updated: Nov 2023
Hi, I am Mike I am a veteran EMT with more than a decade of experience, and I want to help you pick the best pair of EMS boots for your career as an EMT or paramedic.
In my experience, the best and most reliable pair of boots are the 5.11 A.T.A.C Shield Boot. In brief, the shield boots are affordable, comfortable, and meet industry safety standards. These boots are available for both men and women, and they are the boots I personally wear on the job.
This article covers the 15 best boots available for first responders. While I personally recommend the 5.11 shields, there are many great choices on the market.
Best EMS Boots for EMTs and Paramedics Shortlist
I understand that your time is valuable. So here is a complete list of my picks for best EMS Boots. Think of it as a TL:DR for my list.
- 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Tactical Boot – Our Top Pick
- Merrel Moab 2 Tactical Boot – The Runner Up
- Maelstrom Tac Force 8 – Best Budget Boot
- Kenetrek Wildland Fire Boot
- Thorogood Gen-Flex 2 Tactical Boot
- Original Swat Classic 9″ Tactical Boot
- Bates Ultralight Tactical Boot
- Under Armour Micro G Valsetz
- Smith and Wesson Breach 2.0
- 5.11 A.T.A.C. 2.0 6″ Tactical Boot
- 5.11 Women’s A.T.A.C. Storm – Best Women’s EMS Boot
- Bates Women’s GX-8
- Rebook Women’s Sublite Boot
- Under Armour Women’s Micro G Valsetz
- Danner Women’s Kinetic 6″ Boot
Table of Contents
My Ranking Criteria
When I was evaluating the boots for this list I chose the following criteria as I feel these are the most important ranking factors when choosing the best pair of EMS boots.
A good pair of EMS boots need to be comfortable. EMTs and Paramedics spend long hours on their feet. Boots need to be durable as first responders spend time in multiple environments and the last thing you want is to feel wet feet while helping a patient in the snow. Lastly, EMT boots need to be built for the job. It is important to know the features of a boot that cater to the EMS professional.
The Top 15 Best EMT Boots for 2023
Below you will find a roundup of the best EMS boots for EMTs and Paramedics. We chose the boots on this list by not only wearing these boots on the street ourselves but asking the opinions of other first responders in the field. The first three boots are our top picks, following that we have subdivided this list into the best men’s EMS boots and the Best Woman’s EMS boots.
1. 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield Tactical Boot
Our Top Pick
This is our most recommended boot. The 5.11 A.T.A.C. Shield. I have owned multiple pairs of these boots and they are my preferred EMS boot. The typical lifespan with proper care is around 3-4 years.
These boots stand up to the harsh Michigan winters and the road salt that comes with it. They are very comfortable, the shock-absorbing heel is perfect for being on your feet all day. The 5.11 A.T.A.C Shield boots are my go-to footwear for the field.
These boots are also great in hot weather as well due to the moisture-wicking lining. With proper socks, you won’t even feel your feet get hot on a summer day.
The A.T.A.C. Shield is very lightweight and feels like wearing a sneaker as opposed to an 8″ boot. They are waterproof and extremely breathable. My feet always stay dry, and that is important. Working with wet feet makes for a long shift especially if you do not have a station to return to and are on the road all day. Dry feet also prevent chafing.
The A.T.A.C. Shield is very lightweight and feels like wearing a sneaker as opposed to an 8″ boot. They are waterproof and extremely breathable. My feet always stay dry, and that is important. Working with wet feet makes for a long shit especially if you do not have a station to return to and are on the road all day. Dry feet also prevent chaffing.
These boots are ASTM 2413-17 M I/75 C/75 EH PR certified & CSA Z195-14 Certified. This is important because they protect your feet in case you drop something such as a Lifepak on them. Many companies require safety boots and these make a great alternative to steel-toe boots.
These are great duty boots for those that are looking for a quality product that falls under most EMS companies’ boot allowance.
- Certified Saftey Boot
- Bloodborne Pathogen Resistant
- Fits most boot allowance budgets
- Can not replace the soles
- Break in period can be uncomfortable
2. Merrell Moab 2 Tactical Boot
The Runner Up
If you are looking for comfort then look no further than the Merrell Men’s Moab 2 8″ Tactical Waterproof Boot. Merrell has taken the comfort and ruggedness of their Moab hiking boot and created one of the most comfortable and job-ready pieces of tactical footwear on the market.
The boot features Merrell’s M-Select Dry membrane and is 100% waterproof. The boot is also one of the lightest on this list and has a VIBRAM TC5+ outsole for superior grip on a variety of surfaces. These boots will suit you on wet summer streets or in deep snow.
Your feet will stay nice and dry with these boots. These boots are also great at keeping away blisters and for all-day walking. Given they are built upon a hiking boot model you should be comfortable all day on the city streets. It should be noted these boots can have a little harder time gripping ice due to the nature of their Vibram outsole.
For the EMS provider, this boot offers superior comfort for long shifts on their feet. The Moab Tactical is breathable and lets moisture escape from the boot. This helps to prevent odor and athlete’s foot. If you are looking for a comfortable boot with a little break-in time that will keep your feet dry, then consider the Merrell Moab Tactical.
- Supreme Comfort
- M-Select Dry Membrane lining for a breathable waterproof experience
- Reduced odor and prevention of diseases like athlete’s foot due to M-Select Membrane
- Fantastic foot support
- Not able to be resoled
- Can have gripping problems on ice
Best Budget Boot
At first, I was going to dismiss the Maelstrom TAC FORCE 8. How could a boot this cheap be any good? The TAC FORCE fits the definition of a good cheap boot.
These boots are made of leather and nylon fabric, they are not waterproof, however, they are durable. They feature YKK side zippers and a moisture-wicking lining to keep your feet dry during long shifts.
If you absolutely need a bottom budget quality boot then give these a try. You will be surprised at its durability and comfort. Nothing much to say here. It is a good boot at a good price.
These boots are water resistant but not water proof. This is the only limiting factor on these boots. However, these boots are great if you need a new pair now and have to worry about not breaking your bank account. Honestly, these boots should cost more than they do for how good they are.
- Unbeatable price
- All-day comfort
- Great traction
- Not waterproof
- May need aftermarket insoles
Best Men's EMS Boots for EMT's and Paramedics
Best Wildland Firefighting Boot
Kenetrek’s Wildland Fire Boot is a special boot for a specific need. If you are not only an EMT or paramedic but a firefighter as well this is the boot for you.
The fire boot meets all NFPA 1977 Standard Requirements on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting 2016 edition. And are independently lab tested to ensure quality.
These boots come highly recommended by wildland firefighters.
The Kenetrek boot is comfortable and has great support to keep you up and battling blazes all day. They are also great if you are stationed on a box running medical calls.
The laces and stitching are made from kevlar. So you don’t have to worry about them catching fire.
In terms of firefighting boots, these are lightweight. They weigh only 4.2 pounds. Lightweight boots are great for reducing fatigue while on the job. These boots have a little break-in period and most responders report they have none. They are ready to go right out of the box.
- NFPA 1977 certified
- Tough enough for a fire call, comfortable enough for running medical calls all-day
- Bearly any break in period
- Doesn’t breathe very well
- No side zipper
5. Thorogood Gen-Flex 2 Tactical Boots
Thorogood is an American Boot company that has been around since 1892. Their boots are American Made and tough. Gen-Flex boots are very comfortable. Once you break them in. I owned a pair of these for almost 3 years.
I bought them because the uniform supplier my company was using did not carry the 5.11 brand. I gave these boots a try. I was not disappointed. They look sharp and handle the rigors of the road.
I found that my 5.11’s lasted a bit longer, but as far as comfort goes they are about equal. Again once these boots are broken in. Prior to breaking them in these boots are stiff, they took a bit to get used to. The Thorogood Gen-Flex Jump Boot is a strong boot for any street EMT or Medic.
The boot is an ankle-high work boot made in the USA, with an upper made of oil-tanned leather. The leather has a high-shine polished toe cap and heel counter, adding to its sleek design. The boot has a rubber sole, a shaft that measures approximately 8.5 inches from the arch, a heel that measures approximately 1.5 inches, and a platform that measures approximately 1 inch.
- Great Ankle Support
- A Sharp and Good Looking Boot
- USA and Union Made
- Slip Resistant Rubber Outsole
- ASTM F11677-05, ASTM F2913-11 Certified
- Not Waterproof
- Not Very breathable
6. Original Swat Classic 9” Tactical Boot
The Classic 9″ Side Zip Boot by Original S.W.A.T. was the very first boot I ever owned in my EMS career.
I bought these boots because I needed a boot as part of my clinical rotations in EMT school. These boots served me well and provided me with an excellent experience.
I kept these boots as I entered the EMS workforce back in 2006. It was February, and it was a snowy Michigan winter. Though the Classic 9″ is not waterproof my feet stayed dry.
I would not walk through deep puddles with these boots. These are included on this list because they are very affordable and good-quality boots.
It occupies a niche that exists between what I would rate as a mid-range priced boot and an entry-level boot. These boots are constructed of durable leather and canvas and feature a side zip to make these boots convenient for station duty boots. Easy on and easy off.
Your feet are supported by a steel shank, which also provides protection from punctures. The side zip is durable with YKK zippers. This is a fantastic first EMT boot, or as a mainstay for workers that do not have to worry about water. The canvas construction makes the boot very breathable which is important for long hours on the job.
- Exceeds ASTM F2913-11 test standards
- Comfortable fit, with a little break-in period
- Breathable canvas construction
- Full Grain Leather for easy polish
- Great traction on wet and dry pavement
- Not waterproof
- No side-zipper
7. Bates Ultralight 8" Tactical Boot
Bates Footwear is a very good and respected brand of tactical footwear. I have owned 1 pair of these and I was happy with the boot. The Bates Ultralights have features of more expensive boots at a price that fits into any budget.
These boots are a slightly more expensive alternative to the Maelstrom boots mentioned earlier.
My pair lasted 2 years before I had to replace them. This was mostly due to wear on the soul than on the boot itself. They are breathable, waterproof and comfortable.
This boot lives up to its designation of Ultra-Light.
These boots feel more like athletic shoes than boots when worn. They provided excellent heel support and I would recommend these boots to a new EMT or an EMT Student, due to the low cost and durability. Though they did not last as long as other boots I have owned.
The Bates Ultralights feature a leather and fabric upper that is waterproof, keeping your feet dry in any weather. The rubber sole provides great traction and the shaft measures approximately “Mid Calf” from the arch. The lace-up vamp allows for a secure and customizable fit, while the breathable lining keeps your feet cool and comfortable.
The cushioned removable insert provides added comfort and support, and the lightweight cement construction makes this shoe durable and easy to wear. The slip-resistant outsole ensures that you can work confidently on any surface.
I prefer the 5.11s as they are more comfortable for me but these boots are probably the best value for performance.
- Amazing Boot has features of more expensive boots for a budget price.
- Breathable Leather and Fabric Construction
- Side Zip
- Slip Resistant Rubber Sole
- Not Recraftable
- Need to replace these boots sooner than others.
8. Under Armour Micro G Valsetz
The Under Armour Micro G Valsetz are tactical boots that think they are shoes. Another offering that was designed to be police footwear, these boots warrant consideration for EMS professionals as well.
These boots fit like a second skin and are extremely breathable. They are perfect for workers that are employed in hot environments. These boots are great for responders that work in controlled areas (like a factory setting) or that function as security guard EMTs.
These boots are great for EMS professionals that work in hot environments that do not see a lot of rain. I would not wear these in the snow.
The upper of these shoes is made from a combination of lightweight synthetic leather and textile, making them both durable and breathable. The forefoot has an added overlay for protection and the toe cap is made from molded TPU for extra durability. The medial side zip, pull loops on the heel and tongue make it easy to put on and take off the shoes.
The footbeds feature Anti-fatigue, molded Insite® Contoura® Support, and shock-absorbing foam for added comfort and support. The full-length Micro G® foam midsole provides long-lasting and responsive cushioning. The outsole is made from oil- and slip-resistant high traction rubber lug for enhanced grip on a variety of surfaces.
While these are the most comfortable boots I have worn, that comfort comes with a price. These boots do not last as long as other tactical footwear and will need to be replaced yearly. However, they fall well within most EMS companies’ uniform allowances so it is not that bad of a drawback.
- Supreme Comfort
- Side zip for easy on and off action
- Excellent in dry urban settings
- Perfect for the security guard EMT market.
- Not waterproof
- Reported Durability Issues
9. Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0 Tactical Boots
Most people know Smith & Wesson as a firearm manufacturer. However, recently this company has branched out into the tactical apparel market.
The Smith & Wesson Breach 2.0 Tactical Boot is their entry into the tactical footwear market. This boot is a decent offering for police and EMS personnel. S&W puts the same craftsmanship into their boot as they do their weapons.
The boot features a combination of leather and nylon upper for added protection and comfort. The PU collar is easy to clean and the foam-padded collar and tongue provide protection and increased breathability.
The gusseted tongue keeps dirt and debris out and the EVA midsole provides lightweight comfort and cradled support. The steel shank offers superior support and the board-lasted construction provides torsional rigidity, reducing foot fatigue during long work shifts. The slip-resistant, non-marking rubber outsole is available in both 6” and 9” heights.
This boot is comparable to the Bates Ultralights. This is a boot that needs to be replaced sooner than other boots, it is water-resistant but not completely waterproof.
This is a good boot for its price and one we feel EMTs and Paramedics should take a look at.
- Great support for long shifts
- Snug Fit
- Not waterproof
- No side zipper
10. 5.11 A.T.A.C. 2.0 6" Tactical Boot
Do you hate tall boots? 5.11 offers their popular 8″ A.T.A.C. 2.0 Boot in a shorter version.
This boot is virtually identical to the Shield (Our best boot). However, it is missing the composite toe other than that this is a great boot that does not go all the way up your leg.
This boot features a variety of technologies designed to provide maximum comfort and support. The open-cell foam cushion and cushioned Ortholite insole work together to provide a comfortable and supportive footbed.
The injection-molded nylon midsole and non-metallic shank provide added support and cushioning, and the oil and slip-resistant outsole ensures maximum traction and safety. These boots are bloodborne pathogen resistant.
A semi-rigid heel and toe reinforcement provide added durability and support, while the moisture-wicking lining keeps your feet dry and comfortable. The full-grain leather adds a touch of style and durability, and the 5.11 Shock Mitigation System provides added shock absorption.
These are a great boot in a more comfortable package. Great for EMTs and Paramedics that hate a full 8″ boot.
- Fit more like shoes than boots
- Durable full-grain leather with polishable toe
- Keeps your feet dry
- Non-Metallic shank, airport safe.
- YKK Side Zipper
- No composite toe
- Lacks the waterproofing of a full 8″ boot
Best Women's EMS Boots for EMT's and Paramedics
11. 5.11 Women’s ATAC 2.0 8″ Storm Military Boot
It is no secret that we at EMTTrainingStation.com love the 5.11 brand. I have personally worn primarily ATAC storms over my decade-long EMS career. The ATAC 2.0 Storm improves on the original design.
The boot is great. Great fit, great, durability, great price. 5.11 makes products for first responders and is a leader in tactical gear.
Let us talk about traction. The Storm is oil and slip-resistant, these boots are also blood-born pathogen-proof. The toe is made from durable suede leather and is polishable.
The boot utilizes 5.11’s SlipStream waterproof membrane. This membrane allows your feet to stay dry and cool. Its shock mitigation sole lets you stay on your feet all day or night. Working a 24-hour shift? These boots are easy on and off with their YKK side zippers. My only complaint about these boots is they have a little longer of a break-in period.
But once these boots are broken in, they are some of the most comfortable boots you will ever own.
- Side Zip
- Bloodborne Pathogen Proof
- Waterproof SlipStream Membrane
- Oil and Slip-resistant
- Best value fits nicely under most company boot allowances
- Break-in a period longer than other brands
- Lacks a composite toe
12. Bates Women’s GX-8 Gore-Tex Side Zip Boot
The Bates Women’s GX-8 Side Zip Boot is one of the best pairs of EMS footwear on the market. This boot is appropriate for all seasons, is waterproof, and has a little break-in period.
One of the greatest things about this boot is its use of GORE-TEX lining. GORE-TEX allows the boot to be waterproof and breathe at the same time. A common complaint of waterproof boots is their lack of breathability. EMS workers tend to work long shifts on their feet and these boots help keep your feet dry and cool.
These boots are lightweight with YKK side zips that allow you to take your boots on and off quickly (useful for those of us working 24-hour shifts). This is a complete EMT boot that will last years in the field and allow you to do your job comfortably.
This is also the most recommended boot when we asked female providers their boot of choice. Chances are if you look around your co-workers are wearing Bates GX-8 Boots.
- Boot allow your feet to breathe well
- Gore-Tex Waterproof Lining
- Slip Resistant Lining
- Mid Price Boot, might be outside some boot allowances
- No side-zipper
13. Reebok Women’s 8″ Sublite Cushion Tactical Boot
Reebok is typically associated with athletic shoes and apparel. The Reebok Women’s 8″ Sublite Cushion Tactical Boot is an evolution of their athletic line expanding into the workplace. This is a tough boot designed to handle the job while keeping your feet happy.
The main selling point of the Reebok Sublite is its namesake. These boots are very lightweight when compared to other tactical boots. In fact, wearing these boots is more akin to wearing a running shoe than a boot. Its MemoryTech foam footbed adapts to the feet and is perfect for long shifts.
The outer construction is made from leather and ballistic nylon, it should be noted that these boots are not completely waterproof so you should avoid them if you are working in wet conditions. However, these are also some of the most breathable boots we have tried out. They wick moisture away and help keep your feel free of sweat and odor.
These boots hug your feet nicely and are very flexible. There is a short break-in period as with any boot. This is a great boot from a veteran footwear maker. Personally, we are excited to see that Reebok is making a quality tactical boot.
- Moisture Wicking Ballistic Nylon Mesh
- MemoryTech Massaging Footbed
- Feels More Like a Shoe Than a Boot
- Water Resitant, not Waterproof
- They Do Not Last as Long as Other Boots
14. Under Armour Women's Micro G Valsetz Tactical Boot
The comfort pick. The Under Armour Women’s Micro G Valsetz is built for providers that spend all day on their feet. These are boots that do not feel like boots. They give you the feeling of wearing shoes, yet maintain the functionality of tactical boots.
They are extremely lightweight. You have a tactical boot here that weighs less than a pound. 15.2 ounces. This is one of the lightest boots in the industry. The Micro G is extremely breathable and will keep your feet dry.
They are water-resistant and will handle ice and snow. I would avoid the puddles though. However, adding some warm waterproof socks in the winter can solve this issue. This boot is best suited for workers in environments that do not have to worry about large amounts of rain.
Shout out to you California or Arizona EMS providers.
This is the most comfortable women’s boot on this list. Our only complaints are its lack of a side sip and it not being completely waterproof.
- Supreme comfort
- Under 1lb
- Feels like a shoe performs like a boot
- Not Waterproof
- No Side zipper
15. Danner Women's Kinetic 6 Inch Boot
Danner is known as a quality boot company and the Kinetic 6-inch Boot does not disappoint. This is a nice 6-inch boot. Some of you might not want a full 8-inch boot but still want the ankle support of a boot.
The Danner boot is made of full-grain leather and ripstop fabric. They are also Gore-Tex lined, so they are waterproof and allow your feet to breathe. The boots feature a speed lacing system instead of a side zip. However, you are trading the side zip for great ankle support.
It all comes down to preference. Do you want a full boot, do you need a side sip? Or do you prefer the weight of a 6-inch boot? The kinetic is a good boot. The drawback of this boot is mainly the price. For a little less you can get an ATAC Storm. For a little more you can get the full-featured Moab or Bates boot.
However, both these boots are full-size boots and if that isn’t your preference then these are a strong contender.
- Gore-Tex Waterproof Lining
- Speed Lacing
- Full-grain leather
- Excellent Ankle Support
- No Side Zip
- On the expensive side for what you get
A Guide to buying EMT/Paramedic Boots in 2023
1. EMS duty boots must be compliant with foot protection standards.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires under Regulation 1910.136 that employers provide protective footwear for personnel who work in establishments or areas where there is a likelihood of foot injuries that can happen in places where their lower extremities are significantly exposed to hazards. For instance, stepping on a needle. Will your boot protect your feet from punctures?
Although OSHA sets safety rules, it is the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) that sets the standards.
ASTM standard (F2413-05) refers to the minimum requirements for the design, testing, performance, and classification after having passed the first requirements of impact and compression resistance of the footwear.
Impact test – EMS boots should need to meet either 50 or 75 testing criteria, this is measured by dropping a weight from a predetermined height at a specified speed on top of the toe cap.
- I/50 will shield your toes from impacts of up to 50-foot pounds while
- I/75 rating will likewise protect the toes from impacts of up to 75-foot pounds.
Compression test – the boots must satisfy one of two criteria for compression rating, by applying a measured load up to the specified number of pounds needed to cause the toe cap starts to crush or break.
- C/50 rating will protect the toes from a maximum of 1750-pound compressive loads
- C/75 rating protects the toes from a maximum of 2500-pound loads.
2. EMS work boots must protect the EMT from job hazards.
Protective footwear comes either as steel-toed or with a composite toe cap. Either way, these “shields” are designed to keep toes safe.
EMS boots should keep feet safe. Look for boots that comply with the above compression and impact tests. Make sure the sole is sturdy, many come with a hard plastic plate on the bottom. Boots should be waterproof and slip-resistant. The treads should have a good grip on many different surfaces.
EMTs and Paramedics will encounter these common job hazards.
- Adverse Weather Conditions.
- Hazardous Materials on medical scenes, such as sharp metal, broken glass, chemical substances.
- Exposure to biohazards like blood, vomit, and feces.
Think about all the places an EMT or Paramedic will have to walk. All of that environment the boots are exposed to. A good pair of boots, along with gloves, are a medical responder’s first line of defense in the field.
3. They must be well-fitting.
Be sure that boots fit correctly. Buying the wrong size of boots will negatively impact the job performance of emergency personnel. Before purchasing a pair of boots, be sure to know your size as well if you need regular or wide-fitting boots. Side Zippers are a huge benefit as they allow EMS providers to get in and out of boots quickly.
For example, a crew is stationed at a station (IE a firefighter). Having Side Zip boots allows them to remove the boot with ease and put them back on when the need arises and the responder has to get out the door.
4. The boots must be comfortable.
EMS personnel tend to work long shifts. 12 or 24 hours is a long time to spend in a pair of boots. It is important to get materials that breathe. Look for boots that are made from waterproof materials like Gore-Tex or some other advanced material. All leather boots are not recommended, as there is little airflow and this can result in blisters.
5. Look for reputable brands.
Brand name boots typically are of better quality. They have the market research and resources to ensure that the product being produced is not only quality but complies with safety standards. Brand name companies usually offer replacement programs for defective products.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What boot brand is best for EMTs?
Q: Do I need boots for EMT?
A: The short answer is yes. EMTs and Paramedics are required to work long hours in various environments. You need a good pair of boots for your comfort and safety.
Q: Why do EMT's Wear Boots?
A: Boots are required equipment that are there to protect the EMT from environmental factors like needles, nails, and heavy objects being dropped on their feet.
EMTs and Paramedics have a tough job. That job requires tough footwear. We hope that this article has helped you select the best pair of EMS boots for you!
If you are new to EMS, Thinking about training, or are a current student check out our EMT Training Page for helpful content!