While 5.11 is still making outstanding tactical gear and footwear, like their new A.T.L.A.S. line of boots, the company has been gradually expanding from its tactical roots over the years with clothing, footwear, and EDC gear that functions like hardcore tactical gear, but looks and wears like inconspicuous civilian clothing.
A shining example is their new Norris high-top sneaker. I’ve had the chance to give these a test run for a little while now, and they are certainly something new and excellent.
In some ways, they feel like flat-bottomed skater sneakers—Airwalks and Vans—that I used to wear as a kid, casual and comfy, but with a whole lot more support and that feeling of having armored feet that you usually only get with boots.
The Norris feature a Vibram Marbani outsole with XS Trek, giving you great balance and traction on all surfaces, including wet ones. Plus, the sneaker is ASTM certified for puncture resistance and built with a Welmax board that guards your feet against up to 1,200 Newtons of force, according to 5.11.
I may or may not have put almost all of my weight on an upturned nail just to make sure…and it may have felt like standing on a wooden board. Just saying. These things are not what you think of when you think of sneakers and if your outdoor shooting range is a berm in the woods or an actual range with a horrid gravel parking lot full of sharp stones and ankle turners like mine is, you’ll be thankful for how tough these shoes are.
As far as looks, they can be worn with shorts, jeans, or cargo pants and be utterly contemporary and not draw an eye. Hell, they just plain look good.
But they do feel like sneakers on the inside thanks to the Ortholite footbed and upper cuff that also provide a secure “grip” on your heel so your foot doesn’t slide around inside.
And if you happen to go trekking through rough terrain with them, your toes are protected by a cap of climbing-grade rubber.
Personally, I’m always in favor of gear that offers enhanced layers of protection without making me look like I’m prepared to assault an enemy stronghold—or, more importantly, without making me look like I’m carrying a firearm to the casual observer.
The sneaker is available in all black and in Ranger Green with a black toe and sole. MSRP: $99.
Mission Ready Chukka
Another footwear example showing how far 5.11 is taking their casual tactical concept is the Mission Ready Chukka.
This is a high-ankle dress shoe that would look fine with dress pants, a business-casual suit, or jeans—but it features a D30 Lite EVA midsole with an Ortholite X-25 footbed to provide maximum comfort and stability for people who are on their feet all day.
The handsome shoe also features an Ortholite Achilles Cuff for added comfort and enhanced heel hold.
Where the rubber meets the road you’ll find a Vibram Overland high traction outsole with HS Trek that provides extreme slip resistance under a full grain upper.
The Chukka is available in black or Flat Dark Earth. MSRP: $165.
If you think of 5.11 as just a boot company, you should give their footwear section another look—you’re likely to find something just perfect for you.