We love gear, don’t you? Guns, optics, thermal, night vision – but unless you intended to scout and hunt naked you need some awesome apparel and great footwear. That counts as gear in my book. A few months ago I was introduced to some new boots and the company behind them. The Lalo brand boots were essentially part of a care package I received on a visit to High Speed Gear on the North Carolina coast and were unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t sure what to think of them when I pulled them out of the box, but three time zones and climates later I’m happy to share what I discovered.
Eastern Time Zone
I had no idea who Lalo was or what they were all about when I opened the box. Performance boots was what I understood, but really, that could just be marketing hype, right? The boots look plastic and green. For whatever reason, the green really threw me off. I mean, I’m a pew professional and need to look good in pictures, seriously! There was a lot happening at that moment and I didn’t stop to read anything about the boots. I needed to dive in and move on with the program. Had I read the label I would have been more prepared for what happened later. Mine are the Lalo Shadow Amphibian 8″ Ranger Green boots.
So I picked up a boot from the box. It seems to be reasonably lightweight. Light as in one pound five ounces, about the same as basketball or half the weight of your brain. That’s nice, wonder how it will fit? Won’t know until I loosen the laces which looks like it could take a minute or two.
I slipped my foot in and it had a solid stop. Footwear doesn’t usually do that with my flat feet. There’s no wiggle room but they didn’t feel tight, they literally fit like a glove and might be the first pair shoes or boots I’ve ever owned that did. Yep, weird, but weirder still was what happened next.
We went to a shooting range to get some trigger time with Sig MCX carbines and P320 pistols. We’d feed mags from our new HSG Battle Belts. There was a lot of standing in the boots that day, not a lot of ground got covered. But at the range just a few miles off the coast there was some shallow standing water near a place I wanted to take a picture. No big deal, I’m wearing fancy boots I’ll just step into the two inch deep puddle and – “What the heck!?! There’s water in these brand new boots! How is this possible? Guess I won’t review these…” Thoughts spin through my head but there’s nothing to do about it so we carry on. Distracted by the activities I didn’t notice my feet had completely dried until much later. In fact, I didn’t notice my feet at all and that’s strange because standing for long periods usually induces some serious foot and lower leg pain.
Central Time Zone
After I got home I realized that these Lalo Shadow Amphibian boots were named “Amphibian” for functional reasons, not just marketing. They are not waterproof. Lalo assumes you’ll get wet. Right in the sole they have what Lalo calls “Dual Directional Drainage Ports” that coincidentally let water in as well. Stay with me here, I didn’t think I’d want that either but it got me thinking, “If they vent water I bet they vent air and that could be great.” With that thought and their comfort in mind I packed them for a Texas hog hunt. These hunts usually call for miles of walking through the dark of night in wheat fields. Occasionally they require full on sprints, or at least solid jogs of couple hundred yards or more. Hot sweaty feet are just not fun. I theorized that the Lalo Amphibian boots would mitigate that and they did and more.
The wheat was knee to thigh high everywhere and as dawn approach the dew became ridiculous. My pant legs were so soaked I felt like I might as well have been wading through a lake. While the last thing I expected in West Texas was wet feet, gravity and my socks got together to move that moisture into my boots. I began squishing water with every step as we headed for the house. I haven’t cut my boot in half to see how it works, and maybe I’ll be able to go into more detail in another report, but it seemed that the Shadow Amphibians would literally pump the water out the drainage ports with each step. I’m not talking about sloshing, I’m talking pumping.
But that wasn’t all I learned in Texas. I learned about efficiency. In my conversation with Shannon Baker at Lalo, she described how the boot sole and inner plate yield more efficient movement. They have independent lab results that scientifically validate that, but my own experience was validation enough for me. I exerted less effort covering those familiar field than before, and moved more quickly without tiring.
Mountain Time Zone
The next test is for hunters who traverse rocky trails and perhaps climb in elevation. I grabbed a backpack, added some useless weight and traveled to spot south of Estes Park, Colorado. Starting at 8500 feet of elevation, I’d climb most of a thousand more in my Shadow Amphibians. Parts of the trail were nicely groomed, parts nothing but pointed rocks resembling a 3D model of the Rocky Mountains themselves, and parts with little to no trail to speak of.
The Lalo boots gripped everything from slick rock (not wet) to the super pointy bits. It was the later I wanted to really find out about. I’ve worn other boots in similar terrain where I could feel all the sharp surfaces through the soles and it’s not fun. Then there are boots that you don’t feel the rocks in but they don’t flex so you fatigue much faster. Wearing the Amphibians I had great grip and comfort. I believe it’s the “puncture resistant composite plate for protection and fatigue reduction” that makes the difference here. Either way I believe my feet would have been happy going a much longer distance.
One last test for the Lalo boots: Let’s see how fast the boot will clear water. Next to a waterfall I submersed my foot and left it there for a minute or so to take pictures. Within two tenths of a mile I couldn’t tell I’d ever stepped in the water. To me, that’s impressive. I’d guess there was still moisture inside, I didn’t take off my boot to check, but I couldn’t tell it and I wasn’t wearing any super high tech socks. I guess I can thank the boot lining for that. Lalo says it’s, “Moisture wicking hydrophobic antimicrobial.” It’s been a week since the second hike there and I just verified these Amphibians don’t stink!
When it comes to gear, wisdom generally dictates getting the right tool for the right job. Any footwear review must take that into account. I’d never have guessed that I’d be so enthusiastic about boots that let water in. As it happens, Lalo makes an alternate version of these called the Intruder without the passive drainage system. I rather imagine I’d prefer those in the winter.
There are two things I’ve found I don’t love about these boots. First up, the laces. Well, not laces exactly, but lacing. These are eight inch tall tactical boots and there’s no getting around the ten rungs of lacing you need to loosen to get in or out of the boot and then cinch to wear. It’s pretty normal and I have several other tactical boots that require the same process. If you want tall tactical boots, lacing is a requirement. So this isn’t a knock on the boots as much as it is an FYI. Either way there’s hidden pocket in the Amphibian tongue to tidy up the tied laces. I didn’t always use it but it’s nice to have.
Lastly, and I know this is petty, they are green. “Ranger Green” to be precise. I know, that’s not really weird to many in the military, law enforcement, search and rescue, etc. who wear these around the world. It’s not like Lalo even asked a color preference. But really, who cares? You if you’re buying them new, and they are available in Coyote, Black Ops and Desert Sand as well. As for me, I like them well enough to wear them in the back country with shorts and bright socks sticking out the top, green, blue or whatever.
Lalo makes other products that hopefully we’ll get to review down the road. They look different than the usual types of footwear you see on the shelf so I suspect they are different.
- Hidden lace pocket
- KPU Grill designed to keep out debris while allowing for breathability
- Full grain leather
- Sleek vamp profile to allow a secure fin fit
- Blade resistant and water repellent SuperFabric™ ceramic-treated textile overlay for abrasion resistance
- Dual direction drainage ports
- Slip resistant injection molded rubber outsole
- Multi-density EVA designed to cushion at foot-strike and propel during toe-off
- Articulating heel and outsole shape for a quiet stealth approach
- Fin lock or IR Glint tape pocket
- Moisture-wicking, hydrophobic antimicrobial lining
- Puncture-resistant composite plate with rotation for protection and fatigue reduction
- Contoured metal arch
- Rip-stop nylon accents
- Engineered Achilles flex notch
- Seamless, lightweight quarter protection construction
- MSRP $350
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