The Bottom Line: Reasonable Boots for Every Occasion
Bates are generally the least expensive of the small number of officially approved USMC boots. Anecdotally, they seem to be the most widely-worn brand in the fleet. There are several different models, so don’t get confused:
Bates E30501 Men’s USMC DuraShocks Hot Weather Boot
This is the temperate or hot weather boot offering by Bates. Hot weather boots of any brand are generally less insulated than cold weather boots and include the two small drainage or vent holes under the inside arch of the feet. These boots are probably the best deal out of any of the USMC-certified boots out there. They are rugged, long-lasting, and look good. You’ll probably want to invest in a better pair of insoles than the stock models, however–especially if you have flat feet.
Bates E50501 Men’s Bates Lites USMC DuraShocks
Bates Lites. You’ve heard about them. Not too expensive (everything’s relative) but not too rugged either. Best for garrison or boots and utes running. Definitely not recommended for climbing the ragged peaks of Afghanistan or Colorado, but a very popular choice for candidates and Marines alike. Probably most Marines own a pair of Bates Lites.
Bates Rugged All Terrain (RAT) Boot
The Bates RATs were originally issued to troops headed to Afghanistan but were discontinued after the first batch delivered to the Marine Corps was of shoddier construction than their Danner competition. They are, however, extremely comfortable, and the waterproof front and back parts are very helpful when walking through wet grass or in snowy conditions.
However, they are not allowed at OCS. (Except for priors.)
They would be fine to wear around the woods going on nature walks or to get used to running in boots before OCS, but not a useful boot for OCS or deployment.
Bates RATs can only be recommended if you need a cheap option to train in, or as a garrison boot post OCS.
You might consider buying Bates a size too big, to fit thick boot socks. Although some sites online claim “Bates USMC Lights: Select a size one-half smaller than your dress shoe size. They used to fit true-to-size, but something changed in the production line and they fit differently now.”
Order with enough time to return for a different size.
Bates are the boot of the everyman. You’ll probably get a hot and cold weather Bates at OCS or after. They’re not too expensive, but you’ll want to get a comfortable and supportive insole to go with your pair(s).