Back in the day, Palladium boots were among the best jungle/desert boots you could get.
Made in France with quality.
Light and breathable - perfect for hot environments.
And if you got your feet wet? No worries - the fabric on these would dry in no time.
In fact, Palladium boots were so good that they were used in desert military operations by the French Foreign Legion.
In other words, Palladium used to make fantastic light boots.
But here's the thing:
These days, Palladium boots have a mixed reputation.
The lovers: On one hand, you have people who have been wearing Palladium for years. They swear by it as their "go to" boot that's light, comfortable, and durable. They couldn't imagine wearing anything else.
The haters: On the other hand, you've got people who have had bad experiences with Palladium. Boots tearing at the seams within months of purchase, zippers breaking, etc.
So what do you make of it? Are Palladium boots worth the money?
Here's what I learned...
Long Story Short: Palladium Boots Are Fine
Palladium Boots are not without fault and do have occasional quality control issues. You can read more about these in the review below.
However, Palladiums are by far the best canvas boots you can get under $100.
If you're looking for a pair of affordable canvas boots, you won't find a better "bang for your buck" deal than Palladium Pampa.
(Believe me, I tried.)
That's mostly because of the weak competition.
Your other canvas boot options are:
After looking at those, I hope you'll agree with me that Palladiums don't have a lot of competition. All of the boots above are heavier, bigger, and more expensive.
Hiking: Palladiums will be fine for most hikes, especially lighter ones where you don't have to do a lot of climbing. For serious hikes, I'd recommend getting a pair of proper hiking boots, as the fabric on Palladiums can rip on the rocks.
The History of Palladium
You might be thinking:
"What's the big deal anyway? It's just a pair of cheap boots..."
And you're right - 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 military operations, so they needed to be light, breathable, and durable all at the same time.
And Palladium pulled it off.
But that's history.
Perhaps most importantly...
The production has been moved to China to keep down the costs. And 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.
The model 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 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, Pampa is not waterproof. Although the thicker canvas makes the boot water resistant, this thing will soak through in the rain in no time.
On the upside, 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 also protects the front of the boot against tearing.
Site Note: The boot (or any other shoe) will usually break from two places: a tear in the front, or a heel blowout in the back. The covered toecap protects Palladium against this happening.
The shoelaces that come with the boot are very shabby. I didn't think they would hold, 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. 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)
Finally, 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 not enough to soften the impact.
Still, Palladium 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.
The only thing that bothers me is that it has very little arch support – and you can really feel it when walking downhill. This might be a problem for longer hikes in the mountains.
With daily use, I’d say that a pair of these will last you anywhere between 6 and 12 months. It’s fabric, after all, and will tear sooner or later. From what I've read, most buyers report the same on Amazon.
The durability is not bad for the price, and while you can have other quality control issues, I say the boots are worth the money. My pair has lasted for about 6 months with on/off wear, and is only starting to show signs of wear.
Verdict: Palladium Pampa is worth the money.
Palladium 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.
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
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.
Palladium Pallarbrouse Hiker Boot - is not for hiking
You can already guess where I'm going with this one. It's the same story as with the tactical ones:
Quality control problems.
Your Pallabrouse Hikers can come apart within a few months. Or days.
Tell me -
When getting a hiking boot - don't you want reliability? Toughness? Ruggedness?
Won't find any of that here.
Palladium Pampa Hi Leather - A bit better?
There’s also a leather version of the Pampa that performs better than other Palladium models
Like their canvas counterpart, these boots are thin, flexible, and light. They weigh around 2.5 lbs. You’ll have to wear thick socks with them.
They're great as light summer hiking boots and last longer than the canvas models. The reviews on Amazon confirm that.
Here’s a video that reviews the boot in more detail:
Palladiums are light, comfortable, and you get decent durability for the money. While there are some things that I didn't like about the construction, they're not deal breakers considering the price of the boots.
So, while Palladium boots are no longer used by the French Foreign Legion, they're the best light desert boots currently available for the money.
As I outlined in the summary above, there is no other boot available below $100 that is as light and as comfortable as Palladium.
With that being said:
There seems to be a vocal minority of people who have had a negative experience with the boots, but that's mostly due to quality control issues.
That's why I recommend buying Palladium from Amazon – you get free returns in case you get a bad apple with quality control issues.
Have you owned/tried Palladium boots? Share your experience in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Palladium Boots Good for Hiking?
Palladiums are decent for hiking on lighter trails.
If you're going for anything serious, I don’t recommend you to skimp on hiking boots. And if you absolutely must buy a cheap pair, get yourself some boots that are made for hiking instead.
Where can I get vintage palladium boots?
Check out Etsy and eBay, I’ve seen some of them selling there.
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. Your mileage may vary on finding the correct size. You'll also see some Chinese "jungle boots" for $20 on Amazon, but you know... when a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.