The tactical footwear market is very competitive. Their are a multitude of companies out there offering their take on comfort, durability and function. Haix is a German based manufacturer which has grown a strong reputation for performance, comfort and durability. The Nepal Pro is the civilian name for the boots which are known in military circles as the Chaussers de Combat Centre Europe, or CdCCEs for short. They have been purchased by French army (hence the name) among others in Europe. There are rumours that the English army may also be wearing them soon. Passing muster for military acceptance is no easy job and thus my interest in these boots was greatly elevated.
It just so happened that I started a new job as the Nepal Pros arrived. I now work as a ballistic technician, shooting rifles and demonstrating ammunition for a defence contractor. I spend most of my days in fields in all weather conditions and so far it has been freezing.. If my feet get cold and wet then it doesn’t take long for the rest of the body to become cold as well. Shivering is not what you need when accuracy and precision are job requirements… The Nepal Pros would be used daily in harsh conditions and they needed to be excellent..
It isn’t often that boots have new and innovative features.. Most manufacturers will use some scientific sounding words to describe the materials used.. Yawn! Haix have actually made some physical changes to the design of the boot which I have found to be superb. The laces do not require tying.. They have a tab which simply pulls tight, so fast and easy. The excess lace is then tucked into an elasticated pocket on the outer ankle. It really is a very slick system.
At first I wondered if It may be a bit of a gimmick and I might revert to traditional methods. I have continued to use the tab system and it has kept the laces tight and most importantly out of the way. They do not snag on bushes or become saturated after dangling in wet areas.. A fantastic system which I am sure other manufacturers will soon be copying..
The laces also have another clever little design. The loops which the laces go through halfway up the boot can be locked down. They simply push down over a raised polymer piece trapping the lace. This allows you to keep the bottom of the laces tight or loosened off depending on preference. You can then tighten or loosen the upper section of lace withought it effecting the laces further down. It saves time and adds convenience and comfort. A very simple idea but one that I have found very useful. I like to leave to bottom of the laces a little loose and tighten the top. This gives me good movement and flex around the toes while maintaining support at the ankles.
The Nepal Pros are touted as being both Waterproof and breathable. The outer upper material (leather) has had a treatment with a hydrophobic compound. The inner layer is Goretex which is my preference for inner boot material. Goretex has been proven over many years to be an efficient barrier of moisture whilst allowing the foot to breathe and prevent sweating and discomfort. The downside of Goretex is the expense.. It does add cost to the item in question. If you want quality it isn’t going to be cheap! The outer and inner layers sandwich a fleece mid layer which helps to insulate the boot for use in cold environments.
The top of the boots have breathing holes in the outer layer which helps keep the air circulating.
The insoles are designed to resist any pressures from walking across uneven terrain and the removable inserts are anti bacterial and hydrophobic. In laymans terms that means they shouldn’t get smelly! If they do then they can be pulled out easily and washed.
The rubber/PU soles are heat resistant, non slip and conform to the health and safety requirements specified in Europe (and possibly the world which I have neither the time or the interest to research)… In short the spec of the Nepal Pros will be suitable for most work environments and certainly for military, LE and civillian hard use.
Firstly I will deal with aesthetics. This may not be an issue for some.. I like my boots to look reasonable as I tend to wear them in front of prospective clients and often socially as I hate wearing “fashion” footwear or “formal” footwear. I just wear boots.. Deal with it! The Nepal Pros look superb. The Brown earthy colour goes well with anything and they look a little less tactical than some of their black or tan counterparts.
I have worn them on field firing ranges which are usually sodden with mud and rocky outcrops. They also get used for hiking across the hills and through the woods. I have quite wide feet which is often an issue when I buy boots. The Nepal Pros were a comfortable fit especially as I could leave the lower part of the laces loosened a little.
I experienced some pretty harsh weather while shooting in Wales. We had rain, snow, sleet, hail stones and high winds followed by some sunshine after the storm had passed.
My feet remained dry and warm throughout which allowed me to focus my attention on the shooting.
The soles gave excellent grip across steep loose shale and wet mossy cliffs.
My feet did not become damp or sweaty which can happen when your wearing waterproof kit. The goretex combined with air holes around the tops ensured airflow.
The Nepal Pros retail at around £180. While I appreciate this is a lot of money for some it does put them in line with other brands Goretex offerings. I have no doubt these boots will provide me with several years worth of dry cold feet. The fact that they are being selected for military use confirms their durability and longevity. If they were flawed the rigid military testing prior to their selection would have discarded them as an option. If you need a rugged environment boot which keeps your feet warm, dry and healthy then I strongly suggest trying a pair of these. I will continue using them for poor weather shoots and hikes. In the summer I will switch back to something a little lighter and athletic such as the Haix Black Eagle or the Swat Original H.A.W.Ks.
Haix – www.haix.co.uk