I know what you’re thinking. “This is weird. Why is WearTesters reviewing a boot?” Well, we’re reviewing the GORUCK MACV-1 because of the company that created them and their ability to churn out amazing products.
GORUCK caught my eye in 2020 when I learned they hired the creator of the Reebok Pump, Paul Litchfield. GORUCK gave Paul a lot of freedom to create a high performing cross training shoe, the GORUCK Ballistic Trainer. Since I loved the Ballistic Trainer, I agreed to test something a little different for me.
The GORUCK MACV-1 is a modern take on Vietnam-era Special Forces boots designed to handle difficult hikes, long rucks, long travel, and military style field work. While I’m not the right person to test the military side of the design, I tested the hiking, rucking, and traveling parts. Here’s my take:
The best place to start with the GORUCK MACV-1 is the materials. They’re top notch all around and chosen for maximum durability. The upper is primarily GORUCK’s Challenge Leather. It’s a nice cut of leather that feels premium. Once you start wearing it and beating it up, the leather really manages scuffs nicely. It molds well to your foot and patinas in a good looking way, not a scruffy work boot way.
The other upper materials are 1000D Cordura, 2″ nylon webbing for support, metal eyelets, and 3mm nylon speed laces. All of those materials are extremely tough and basically show no wear from my weeks wearing them. GORUCK also makes their signature backpacks out of 1000D Cordura. Over time it molds exactly the way you want while being basically indestructible.
These boots were designed to be beaten up again and again and just keep working. Predicting durability is difficult. But given GORUCK’s reputation and the quality of these materials, I see a lot of evidence these boots will handle years of use.
Just like with the Ballistic Trainer, you should go down a 1/2 size from your big brand size. GORUCK makes their shoes with a wide toe box for toe splay and comfort over long rucks/hikes. The generous toebox is a necessity when the comfort of these guys will encourage you to hike longer and longer.
The leather will mold to your foot over time and that starts happening right away. But…they do need a little break in time. I recommend using thick socks for your first 3-5 wears. Most hikers use thicker socks anyway so that shouldn’t be an issue. In my experience, there was almost no break in time for the forefoot, but the the heel and ankle area need some patience. The main culprits are the internal suede heel counter and the nylon webbing that wraps around the ankle. Both materials are highly durable and I’m happy they were used on the shoe. But for many wearers, the achilles and ankle areas may create hotspots. I tried the shoes with both thick and thin socks. Due to GORUCK’s construction techniques, I only felt irritation with the thin socks. It’s not a big deal as I typically expect these type of materials to need break in time. In reality, this is as close to no break in time as a leather boot can get.
The only other thing to mention in terms of fit is the gusseted nylon tongue. It’s built to keep debris out of your shoe and does that well. You may be expecting a thicker, more traditional tongue. This super thin, minimal tongue folds at the sides under the laces. It’s really nifty because it dries super quick when you end up trekking through puddles. Just be aware it’s a different experience than a traditional tongue.
Compared to the majority of hiking boots on the wall at my local outdoor retailer, the ankle area of the MACV-1 is minimal. The Cordura and nylon webbing of the ankle area really lets your foot move the way you want it to without any bulk. Like the tongue, it’s different.
The large internal heel counter with the suede backing keeps your heel firmly in place. When you lace up tight, your foot will not move. This was great for me walking over uneven roots and rocks. The wide forefoot with tough leather sidewalls adds to the stability and prevents your forefoot from sliding off the footbed. It’s a secure setup despite not using any of the spacer mesh that traditional hiking boots do. The added bonus here is that these will dry 5x as fast as anything else you see on the shelf.
And what’s also impressive about the support offered is that the offset is 13mm. That’s a large offset meant to help reduce strain on your achilles, ankle, and hips. It can often be hard to nail the support on a high offset shoe. GORUCK manages it without any issues. This is a secure boot that can handle any type of trail and shines when you have to get it wet and keep going.
It’s a traction pattern that uses a whole bunch of different shapes. I’m partial to the teeth pattern at the ball of the foot. It helped me dig into the ground and push off. I didn’t have any slippage on wet logs or wooden boardwalks. And, the lugs are spaced far enough apart that I didn’t get any rocks lodged in the outsole. That’s a personal pet peeve of mine so I appreciated the attention to that detail.
If I have one complaint about the outsole, it’s the softness of the rubber. If you’re using these on a lot of pavement or rocks, the durability of the outsole might not match the durability of the upper. True, that’s conjecture, but I’ve burned through enough outsoles over the years to know the signs. Again, stay off the pavement, and you’re not likely to see much outsole wear but it’s worth mentioning.
The EVA GORUCK uses is lightweight and streamlined. The midsole looks very similar to the midsole of the Ballistic Trainer but doesn’t use the same Gradient Density EVA.
I do appreciate the compression insert (insole) that GORUCK uses. It’s got a great contoured arch support (hard to find in any other military style boot) and dual layers of foam. What appears to be a thin layer of Ortholite up top for step in comfort and then a more PU-like base layer that offers long term comfort.
So the cushion is good for a boot. Just don’t compare it to today’s space age trail running shoes because that’s not a fair comparison.
At $160, the GORUCK MACV-1 justifies it’s price with impressive materials, great support, and an accommodating fit. It’s going to be a boot that will last you a long time and handle all conditions. It’s especially worth it when your typical hikes or rucks involve crossing streams or handling plentiful rain. The MACV-1 dries fast thanks to the material choices and its drain holes. You can quickly get comfortable again despite being wet.
If you’ve ever seen what happens at GORUCK’s events, you’ll understand why they built these boots the way they did. Durable, ready for anything, and high quality. Yeah, it’s modeled after a military boot, but it’s one comfortable enough that it’s accessible to everyone.
How to Buy the GORUCK MACV-1
The GORUCK MACV-1 is currently available in multiple colorways at GORUCK.
Thanks to GORUCK for sending a pair to test. GORUCK was not given any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, casual wear, and more.