From New York City’s Lower East Side to the Wild West, no item of clothing translates as seamlessly as a great pair of boots—an essential investment for any man, and one that will carry you further than any other item in your wardrobe. Of course, quality comes at a price, with most worthwhile pairs—we’re talking about lifetime investments—starting at around $300. But exceptions to the rule exist, if you can find them, and that’s exactly what happened when I came across the Etnies Militarise.
Etnies, an established action sports footwear manufacturer, has been venturing into boot territory for a while now, most notably with the Califas, a leather boot that clearly helped inspire this latest offering.
But the Militarise delves even further into fashion territory with bold styling (I opted for the brown model), high-quality materials, and the same built-to-last construction that is the foundation of skateboarding shoes. Due to the high-impact nature of the sport, skateboarders’ nuanced knowledge of footwear technology tops perhaps even that of runners. And thanks to the griptape—basically glorified sandpaper—that covers the top of a skateboard, shoes usually don’t last more than a few months. As a lifelong skater, I couldn’t tell you how many pairs (and sprained ankles) I’ve been through. As a result, support and durability are chief among skateboarders’—and, consequently, manufacturers’—priorities. In other words, by virtue of its origins, this boot’s got a hell of a lot going for it under the hood.
With a gusseted tongue, metal hook eyelets, and STI Evolution Foam midsole, the Militarise is supremely comfortable and supportive. (Not that I’d skate in them, but I certainly feel the same stability that I get from the Etnies I actually do skate in—the Marana E-Lite and Highlight, both of which I highly recommend if you skate.) On the exterior, premium leathers and a grippy outsole give the Militarise its classic, rugged appearance. I wear them on the street with cuffed dark jeans, but they’d be equally at home on a hiking trail.
Overall, for $160, the Militarise is a stylish, supportive, and affordable boot that will serve you well—and earn you a little street cred on the side.