I really wanted my first review to be positive, especially about a product from a company that seems to support the same ideals as I do, as an American. So, when I saw negative reviews about these boots I am reviewing, I got nervous—because VIKTOS boots are made in China. Chinese-made products have a reputation for being subpar and coming from a company that focuses their marketing on being a US veteran-ran company, it seems wrong for the shoe to be manufactured in China. Right?
Don’t get me wrong, I think VIKTOS designs a lot of high-quality and affordable products. I also know from experience that they have the utmost integrity and a fantastic customer service team. Even the name of the company itself, “VIKTØS”, is derived from the Latin phrase ‘invictus’, which means unconquered. But ask yourself this: How can an American company manufacture affordable, high-quality boots, maintain impeccable customer service, and continue to make money? The answer: China. It’s not pretty, but it’s an obvious and easy decision for a business when survival is on the line. If they made them in the US and employed all the CHAZ protesters in Portland, the boots would probably be worse, cost $3,000, and VIKTOS would cease to exist. Plenty of companies are starting to change the reputation of Chinese-made products and establish a high level of quality control before they get to the end-user.
So, are VIKTOS boots good? Let me start by saying that so far in my illustrious quarter-century of life, I have yet to become a gear guy. I don’t care much about having top-of-the-line boots, and I’m likely to take the first recommendation from a friend who I consider knowledgeable. Having said that, understand my review of these boots won’t be in comparison to a competitor. Instead, it will be subject to my very standard and minimalist checklist I expect from anything I want to own—does it fit; does it function; and is there peace of mind?
How do the Johnny Combat Waterproof Boots Fit?
If you’re considering purchasing this boot, you will likely find reviews from verified purchasers. You can’t always tell from a quick comment who is clinically insane, but some of the one-star reviews are obvious. Most of the rational negative reviews come from the fit of the boot. Some say it runs too small, while others say it is larger than their normal size. I wear a size 10, and the Greyman color Johnny Combat boots I have are a 10.5 with a perfect fit. The recommendation on the VIKTOS website says you should order a half size up for the Waterproof Johnny Combat boot, and I would absolutely agree.
I didn’t put these boots through an extreme beating but I gave them at least 8 miles of off-road terrain. I had no complaints of blistering or any stabbing discomfort. The toe box had plenty of room for foot splay and the liner was surprisingly breathable for being waterproof. VIKTOS uses a foam material called D30 that acts as a shock absorber on the outside of the ankle. You can’t see it since it’s built within the shoe itself, but you can definitely feel it. Having that extra protection isn’t for ankle support, but rather to protect your ankle from impact.
The sole was comfortable, but nothing to write home about. Luckily for us, the sole is removable so you can swap to whatever custom sole you prefer. VIKTOS even makes their over form-fitting replacement sole, and Johnny Combat socks, if you’re a full kit kind of guy. Unless you find yourself buying custom insoles, you’re not likely to need them. These boots are comfortable and lightweight, and fit snug in all the right places.
But do the VIKTOS Johnny combat boots fit me? Not fit physically, do they fit my needs? Not unless I’m going to combat sometime soon. It should come as no surprise that these boots weren’t made for me. They work for me, but I am unable to test their combat readiness, which is their stated purpose. These were designed with veterans in mind, and my hikes and backyard work won’t require nearly as much capability as they offer. If anything, the Johnny Combat boots over-deliver on my needs. I might have the same success with a cheap pair of waterproof hiking boots from any discount store, but I certainly wouldn’t look as cool.
How do the Johnny Combat Waterproof Boots Function?
There isn’t a lot of information about the Strife warfighter bottom unit, other than the fact that it was developed in compliance with the military’s AR670 standard requirements. It uses the D30 material mentioned earlier to prevent impacts from damaging the ankle and is much more than just the sole. The VIKTOS Johnny Combat boot has a “self-cleaning” tread at the front of the shoe with the tip of the cleat being smaller than the base, which helps get mud and muck of the tread easier. The center tread grips well on ladders and is raised slightly to help lock your foot in place.
The major problem was water, unfortunately. A few drops of water on tile or asphalt will have you questioning your balance very quickly. It seems like a waterproof boot, whose purpose would be constituted on being in and around water, would have some traction in the water. Apparently not. Rubber and water typically don’t stick well in general, but whatever texture is used for the sole is great for thick mud and uneven surfaces, but not wet rocks.
I was very disappointed that the Johnny Combat Waterproof boots do not come with Kevlar laces and metal aglets. They come standard with the non-waterproof Johnny combat boots which allow you to run through thick brush and come out with laces that aren’t frayed and damaged. I considered buying new laces for most of my regular use boots simply because I know they will be the first part to wear out. In this situation, I’ll likely need to do the same, because after a few temperature and humidity changes it will begin to fail.
About that lamination. It’s not impressive. A lot of the little details here may just be nitpicking, but I didn’t put these VIKTOS Johnny Combat boots through a lot, and I can already see wear that shouldn’t be there. Glue that shouldn’t be seen. Stitching that isn’t straight. Maybe I’m too picky. The boots work well, for now. How long will it take for the sole to delaminate in one small area, and compromise the integrity of the boot being waterproof? From looking at it, my hopes aren’t high.
Is there Peace of Mind with VIKTOS?
At the end of the day, the only thing that can make me feel better about buying products manufactured in China is a solid US-based customer service team. Every time I’ve interacted with the VIKTOS returns and customer service team I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. They are a four-year-old company for crying out loud, and they have already established a stellar reputation. Is there a chance you can buy something from VIKTOS with a subpar lamination job, or poor stitching? Yes. Is there a better chance you can send those products back to VIKTOS and get it replaced? Also, yes. That is enough for me to believe in them as a company, and that’s why I don’t really care if the boots were made in China.