Back in the day, one of my friends had a pair of these boots.
Made by Palladium, Made in France, used by the French Foreign Legion… he absolutely loved them.
But here’s the thing:
The other day, I saw a thread on Survivalist Boards of someone trashing these boots.
Long story short:
Apparently new Palladium boots are unreliable and fell apart within days of purchase. Palladium still sells the boots on Amazon, but their quality is gone since they moved their production to China.
But I decided to find out for myself – they’re cheap enough to take the risk.
So I got myself a pair of Palladium Pampa boots and see if they are as bad as people say.
You might be thinking:
“What’s the big deal anyway? It’s just a pair of cheap boots…”
And you’re right – but that’s what they are now. But before… In fact, Palladium’s strong heritage is the only reason why we’re even talking about them right now.
- They’ve been making boots for more than 70 years
- The original boots were made for the French Foreign Legion to be used in military operations in Algeria and Indochina
What made Palladium boots special was their construction:
- Canvas upper
- Rubber sole
The boots were made for desert and jungle operations, so they needed to be light, breathable, and durable at the same time.
And they pulled it off.
But that’s history…
Today… Palladium is more of a fashion company. They still make boots… but also sneakers and tennis shoes. Too many models to list.
Perhaps most important…
The production has been moved to China to keep down the costs. But cheaper boots = cheaper quality. Still…
Are the boots worth the money?
Here’s what I think.
Palladium Boots Review
Palladium Pampa – The “Original” French Foreign Legion Boot
Pampa is THE Palladium boot.
It comes in three colors – gray, khaki and black.
They say it’s the original design that the French Foreign Legion still uses in tropical climates.
But I’ll bet you…
…that the foreign legion is not using the same issue of the boot that you see on for sale on Amazon right now.
All in all, the construction is not bad… for the price.
The canvas upper is nice and strong, but it ain’t waxed or anything. Hard to clean when it gets dirty, but possible. (you’ll just have to work hard).
There is double-stitching in most of the areas.
Since it’s made out of canvas, The Pampa is not waterproof. The thicker canvas makes it water resistant at best… but this thing will soak through in the rain in no time.
The good thing is that the boot will also dry fast. Mine took around 30min in the sun to be completely dry.
The rubber sole is nothing special, but it can handle extreme heat (won’t melt like Converse). Small rocks will get stuck in the sole, but this is the case with most boots.
Something I didn’t like is that the boot is very slippery on wet surfaces. It’s not a problem out in the country, but if you’re wearing them in the city, beware.
The covered toe cap makes the shoe more durable and resistant to all kinds of small damage that you can find on the hiking trail. It will also protect the front of the boot against tearing.
The boot (or any other shoe) will usually break from two places: a tear in the front, or a heel blowout in the back. Covered toecap protects against this.
Shoelaces are very shabby. (I didn’t think that they would have held long, so I switched out mine as soon as I got the shoes.)
Another thing that I didn’t like is that the tongue of the boot is not attached to the sides.
Again – just imagine how the tongue on Converse looks like.
This means two things:
- Debris will get into the shoe through the opening
- it’s impossible to make the shoe waterproof(even if you coat them)
I can feel every step that I take in these boots – there is no midsole separating the rubber from my foot, and the insole is too shabby.
The Pampa is comfortable on the feet because it is lighter and more flexible (cotton stretches) than your normal boots.
When I’m wearing it, it feels more like a shoe than a boot. Like a heavyweight converse made for hiking.
One thing that bothers me: Very little arch support – and I really feel it when walking downhill. I don’t recommend you to go hiking in this one.
With daily use, I’d say that a pair of these will last you anywhere between 6 and 12 months. It’s cotton after all. (Most people report the same on Amazon.)
Sounds good for the price? Here’s the catch:
The boots can break on you within days of purchase. Their quality control is completely unreliable. You get what you pay for.
And if you get a bad pair… you never know it’ll break down on you.
Verdict: These are fashion shoes, not “desert boots”.
- You get what you pay for – there is no padding and no arch support
- It’s not really a boot – it’s more like a fortified converse sneaker
- Completely unreliable – this boot can fall apart on you in a few days
So… now you know why the Foreign Legion doesn’t use these boots.
Also, don’t forget that they’re old – this design is from 70 years ago. Technology has evolved, and the cheapest hiking boot on Amazon today will probably perform better than these “boots”.
Obviously: this is a no-go for survival.
Pampa Tactical Combat Boot
Disclaimer – I don’t own the tactical combat boot. Below info is based on what I could find online. Reviews from people who own the boot. As you’ll see, they’re more than enough to convince you not to buy the boot.
What do we have here?
A “Tactical Combat Converse” sneaker?
- Unlike the “original” Pampa, the tactical combat boot’s upper is made out of leather and ballistic (read: extra strong) nylon.
- The boot is also taller: 11” from top to bottom – giving your feet more protection from the elements.
- It’s got the standard Palladium rubber sole with the covered toecap.
But here’s the problem:
These boots “tend” to fall apart.
They’re marketed as “tactical”… but they’re made in China out of cheap materials with poor quality control.
Think I’m being too harsh?
Amazon reviews speak for themselves. People are complaining about their:
- Zippers breaking
- Fabric tearing
- Buttons coming off
- Logos falling off
Seriously, the pretty photos are all that these boots have going for them.
And guess what?
The boot starts falling apart in 2-3 months while being worn in city conditions.
(City conditions means sitting in the office 9-5)
These boots are trash. Do not buy them.
They look sturdier than the normal Pampas, but looks are deceiving.
This kind of product is why the label “made in China” has such a bad rep.
Pampa Hi leather
There’s also a leather version of the Pampa that seems to perform better (read: fall apart slower) than other Palladium models
The boots are thin, flexible, and has no insulation. They weigh around 2.5 lbs. You’ll have to wear thick socks with them.
You can treat them as light summer hiking boots… but for they’re overpriced for the quality. The reviews are slightly better, though.
Here’s a video that reviews the boot in more detail:
Although the video is positive…
…considering the Chinese quality control standards of Palladium, I wouldn’t recommend these boots.
They’re not worth the risk, especially if you’re going to use them in the nature.
It’s a shame that Palladium boots are still associated with the French Foreign Legion.
I hope this review will help set things straight.
Palladium boots are garbage. Don’t buy them.
- Palladium boots are of poor quality and can fall apart on you anytime.
- The boots are not made to last longer than 12 months. They’ll probably last less.
- The boots are overpriced for the level of quality that you are getting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Palladium Boots Good for Hiking?
If Palladium’s boots break in the city, they’ll break on you when you’re hiking.
They’re absolutely not good for hiking.
I don’t recommend you skimp on boots… if you absolutely must buy a cheap pair, get yourself some boots that are made for hiking instead. Second hand or just cheap boots.
They’ll probably fall apart on you too, but not as fast as Palladium.
Where can I get vintage palladium boots?
Check out Etsy and eBay, I’ve seen some of them selling there. Good luck finding your size though.
Does Palladium Boot fit true to size?
The boots run a little small, so order ½ size up for them to fit (1 size up for additional insole + thick socks). They do run narrow so keep this in mind if you have wide feet.
Boots Similar to Palladium
The original Palladium boot reminds me of the Vietnam Jungle Boots.
They cost about the same as Palladium’s “tactical combat” boots, but they’re actually made for combat and won’t fall apart on you in a few months.