Sneakers, boots, cleats, or costume footwear?

James Trotta

Diversity Committee
At the last event I attended, I think the majority of people were wearing sneakers. Some modern boots, a couple cleats (soccer maybe), and a couple medieval looking costume shoes.

I'm curious what you wear and what you see and what you prefer.

With decent costume shoe covers, I think sneakers or cleats could look OK (I mean they look as good as the shoe covers). Most people didn't bother with shoe covers from what I saw so the sneakers and cleats looked bad. Boots already look OK (many of them), and the fancy costume things look real nice.

So I prefer seeing the medieval costume footgear, but I wear sneakers. Sneakers I can wear every day in real life (so not an extra expense) and they are not too bad for my flat feet.

norman b

I wear military combat boots. Thus is because they are the most comfortable, support my ankles, and are not sneakers.

Now you can do shoe covers but I see them falling apart a lot. They are the cheapest option.

Combat boots/other boots don't always look the best but can look decently in period. They also help support your feet and ankles in areas that aren't flat grasslands.

Custom/fantasy boots are expensive and look downright amazing. They usually don't have the best traction but some do. You really have to hunt around to find the best pair for your area of play. Some makers will actually cast your feet.


Gettysburg Staff
I have one pair of boots. They are by Son of Sandlar (so, costume footwear) and I wear them for all my characters across the board. Ankle support, traction, and decently waterproof though not even kind of insulated for winter. They were expensive ($3-400, I think, and that's the low end for SoS), but worth it and I've been told that with care and lots of mink oil, they'll last me forever.
They also took, like, A YEAR to break in, but I only wear them three or four times a month so that doesn't surprise me.

I used to wear a pair of little ankle booties I got at a DSW, and my knees and ankles paid for it. You can get decent looking fashion boots, but they tend to wear down with the gravel and dust and mud and sop, etc., and never have good ankle support.

I agree with Norman re: combat boots; they won't always look fancy, but they generally look fine when paired with the rest of a costume AND they have the really necessary support to keep your ankles unbroken and your knees from blowing out.

Really, at the end of the day, it's what someone's wallet can handle and I'll never be mad at a player because they can't shell out for 'spensive boots. Do I think boots look better? Yes, but that doesn't give me license to be a buttnugget about it. :)


I wore hiking boots for years and recently got a pair of House of Andar button boots (basically a knock-off of Son of Sandlar) which are something like $200? I don't wear them all the time - they're a little too big (my mistake) and lacing them up tight enough to run around in can take a long time - but they add a lot to my costume. That said, I can understand why a lot of people wouldn't want to plunk down $200+ on a pair of fantasy boots and combat boots really are probably the best compromise. Sneakers are one of those things that really stand out to me, like characters wearing jeans or a modern dress shirt.


Go any variety of shoe covers/wraps or military/hiking boots (or similar) if money is an issue. They're cheap and easy to make. Gaiters, spats, false boot-uppers, or even simple viking style wraps- yay, awesome. You can do it, the tiny potato believes in your abilities.

Tennies, especially white ones, should die in a fire. But that's coming from a place of costume being huge priority.


I wear nondescript, unmarked, slip-on black tennis shoes.

Shoes and eyeglasses are the two areas of costuming I will be as absolutely forgiving as necessary to get people to attend game. If the only pair of shoes you feel physically comfortable LARPing in are bright pink and say "DA DAT DAT DAT DAAAAH, I'M LOVIN' IT" on the sides in neon orange, I can dig it. (Please consider investing in gaiters.)

Especially for new players, costume footwear is a big hurdle to overcome.


Oregon Staff
I have purposefully made my greaves super long to cover the tops of my combat boots. Nothing I have found compares to the comfort, stability and price of a good set of combat boots. If you keep your eyes open on places like you might even find some very nice $150 boots going for $50 - $60. My last set of Bates boots lasted me 12 years of airsofting, camping, hiking and otherwise beating the snot out of them pretty frequently.
I personally wear a pair of fur-covered 5 toed (Vibram) shoes to represent being barefoot in game. It works well enough, but by the evening of Saturday I'm usually hobbling (and not the sideburn kind!) and my ankles have swollen.
I have a pair of nice boots that I got from a thrift store (lucky find) but they have leather soles and slip around like nothing else. I plan on getting them some rubber soles.

We got my husband his boots from and I cannot recommend their shoes enough. They are AMAZING. And with shoes starting at ~$50 you can't beat it. Once my shoes fall apart they are where I will be getting my next pair from.

Tennis shoes should be avoided, imo, but if it's for medical reasons or significant comfort concerns, they should at least be unmarked and black, or have covers.
I have shamefully worn my neon tennis shoes on Sundays when I can no longer walk in my vibrams or boots :oops:

Gandian Ravenscroft

Chicago Staff
I'm always happy to talk about the boots I wear to events: I wear a pair of leather combat boots I found at a thrift store for $5, and I've worn those same boots to 10+ events a year since May 2010. Needless to say, I've got my money's worth out of them. Admittedly, they are getting a bit ragged by this point and might need replacing pretty soon, but when the day comes and I finally replace them, it'll be with boots of an identical model if I can find them. They're sturdy, comfortable for long periods, and look decently in-genre enough that they don't stand out one bit when I'm wearing in-genre clothes. I love 'em. We're best pals.

To me, footwear can make or break an outfit, and broken outfits can contribute strongly to breaking the atmosphere of your event. Nothing looks goofier and ruins an outfit, no matter how cool the rest of it is, if the person is just wearing a pair of modern tennis shoes at the bottom. I know I might have gotten particularly lucky with my boots, but still: Acceptably-in-game-looking and inexpensive footwear is not particularly difficult to find at thrift stores and the like, so I always recommend folks have a look.


Chief Technology Officer
South Michigan Staff

James Trotta

Diversity Committee
Thanks for the interesting replies everyone! To me the biggest surprise at my last event were the cleats. I don't remember seeing them around 5-20 years ago. I can see how they would give you a nice grip and be just as easy to cover as sneakers.

I notice a lot of people talking about ankle support and boots. The lack of ankle support from running shoes never really bothered me. When the terrain gets too rough I am usually slow - more to prevent a fall than an ankle roll but I've never twisted an ankle in 20 years of larping on and off.

Years ago I looked far and wide for a costume pair of sabatons for the heavily armored look. Never found them and I've since gotten rid of my plate. I did pick up some shoe covers on Ebay recently so now I can wear running shoes or cleats (I wonder how cleats work with flat feet) and look in period.


The last few events I went to I wore my leather vibrams. I play at HQ which has a ton of slopes and various types of terrain. My vibrams were great the whole weekend and I was always ready to go out and run. Never had any ankle problems. There was one time I was playing in NJ and I was using harness boots. At the 14 hour mark I thought 'd be smart and check the ground out for dropped loot. I took a step outside of the cabin and my feet ached with an unbearable pain and that site was perfectly flat. It definitely comes down to what you're comfortable with and where you play. At HQ the slope in front of the tavern is paved with a large aggregate and for me it feels awkward to go up it in boots while I can skip up it in vibrams. Time to work on a nice in period leather cover for them. Vibrams + Rogueing is a match made in heaven.



I've had a good time with Roman caligae. My feet don't get sweaty and I never have problems with traction when I'm outside, though they have pretty non existent traction on concrete floors. You get used to it though and I've yet to have any problem slipping when I'm inside.


I wear a good pair of hiking boots. They're not the best looking part of my kit, but taking care of my feet is more important than looking right in this instance, and they're a nondescript enough brown to pass the 10' rule. Running through the woods in the dark in poor shoes is asking to get hurt, and I've hurt my ankles often enough thanks. :)


Combat boots. The problem I have found with costume boots is the are chincy unless you go for the custom ones and they never fit me just right. I have extremely high arches and a basically flippers (Narrow heel and wide at the front.) Combat boots are available in such a verity of sizes that I can find ones that fit well. If you get the tan or brown then people won't even notice. The sole of my old costume boots basically fell apart so I plan on turning them into covers for my new boots.
Water? As a Californian, I don't personally believe in this 'water' myth (drought jokes! Waka waka!).
In all seriousness they haven't really been in action in significant water. My husband recommends you get your own insert-able insoles (the natural insole is very flat). With a coat of waterproofing spray on them I would expect them to be about as waterproof as any other shoe.
EDIT: Also, their product photos are terrible and don't do their shoes justice. They are far more attractive in person, especially once on.


Since they're a smooth leather, I'd waterproof with mink oil, personally.


I would say about half our chapter wear Original SWAT brand tactical boots. We managed a deal with a local emergency personnel supplier and these boots are fantastic! Light, good traction, and incredibly waterproof, also, in black they are quite non-descript. I personally swear by these boots.
I mostly wear sneakers that I've covered in foam and fur to make coyote feet.

During hotter events or wetter I started wearing rouge type ninja shoes with a hard bottom. They worked very well last event


The only people I notice wearing cleates are the high-combat runner/fighters. At that point, cleats can be a safety issue.

Otherwise I see the full gamut.