Magnum released two boot styles in July 2011 that are guaranteed to generate the most buzz amongst end users and observers alike, they are the 'All MultiCam' boots, the Sidewinder HPi and the Spider 8.1 HPi.
According to Magnum these boots, which took more than a year in development with the aid of American, British and Southern Hemisphere Special Forces personnel around the globe and for over 14 months in Afghanistan, are also the first solid MultiCam boots to be wear-tested in Afghanistan by actual military personnel. This is not the UK issue Multi Terrain Pattern (MTP). The comparisons between the two can be found elsewhere on this site and have been already covered
Magnum are using genuine licensed Crye Precision MultiCam patterns and their own unique ion-mask technology which keep the boots resistant to water, blood-borne pathogens, and other chemicalsall while keeping the boots breathable and lightweight. These lightweight boots are industry firsts on multiple levels. Every aspect of both boots are full MultiCam, including the outsoles, midsoles and lace eyelets and even the Magnum logo. The whole boot may not be everyone's taste visually but I have tried to review the boot without reference to the look.
These boots were built with one goal: enhance the survivability of the world's most elite operators. Magnum have used the hardest durometer of Vibram soles to prevent tears or cuts from rugged, mountainous terrain. The boot is designed to carry 80kg (175 lbs) of kit (on top of the operator's body weight) for at least a year of heavy use in a combat environment.
Out of the box the boots feel well made and they look to have a well thought out construction, this has surprised me as I have never been a Magnum fan and have always had Altbergs.
Straight away the fit and feel is good and the insole is supportive. I am a 9.5 Wide foot and these are a 9.5 size. I am wearing a standard issue combat sock and my feet don't feel pinched. Upon lacing I come across my first issue with the boot. The lacing system is completely made up of eyelets apart from the lace locks at the ankle point. The boots arrived pre-laced. The lace is just slightly smaller than the diameter of the eyelet, when pulling the laces out to open the boot for getting my foot in they laces jam up and it needs patience to undo the boots. The laces just aren't long enough to undo the boot without removing the lace out of the eyelets and I couldn't get the laces out of the eyelets at speed as they just jammed. Once on I couldn't get my fingers under the laces to start pulling them tight. I see this as a major issue for those who need to get there boots on and off quickly. The solution would be to replace the eyelets above the lace locks with hooks or D-rings. Metal ones, not plastic.
Once I finally get the boot on, as I said the fit and feel is very good, I spend the next week out on the area on foot. Breaking in wasn't an issue but there was slight discomfort across the top of the toes when kneeling to fire, though this soon disappeared after a few times kneeling. The toe protector stood up well to the gravel of the firing points.
The breathability worked for me, my feet didn't get too hot and I didn't get damp feet anymore than usual and when I eventually removed them there was no lasting odour within the boot. The boots aren't waterproof and I didn't submerge them. I didn't get wet feet through the early morning wet grass so the repellency again worked for me.
The soles are good quality Vibram and they have a good grip pattern. They performed even on wet rock. I did get the occasional small stone wedged in but no dramas. I didn't get the chance to fast rope anywhere so couldn't test the fast rope epoxy guards. I had absolutely no problems tabbing anywhere in them.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort fit and performance of the Sidewinders. I did get constantly ripped by the rest of the guys for having Multicam boots and that's probably the only downside along with the laces. Unless they're on general issue, will you be allowed to wear them in general service. Who knows?