Combat boot

Combat boot
Black combat boots as worn by the Bundeswehr
Sole of modern German combat boot

Combat boots are military boots designed to be worn by soldiers during actual combat or combat training as opposed to during parades and other ceremonial duties. Modern combat boots are designed to provide a combination of grip, ankle stability, and foot protection suitable to a rugged environment. They are traditionally made of hardened, sometimes waterproofed leather. Today, many combat boots incorporate many technologies originating in civilian hiking boots, such as Gore-Tex nylon side panels, which improve ventilation and comfort.[1] They are also often specialized for certain climates and conditions, such as jungle boots, desert boots, and cold weather boots as well as specific uses, such as tanker boots and jump boots.[1][2][3]



Pair of hobnailed boots


The first soldiers to have been issued boots were the foot soldiers of the Assyrians.[citation needed] The soldiers of the Roman legions wore hobnail boots, called caligae.

During the English Civil War each soldier of the New Model Army was issued three shoes or ankle boots. After every march the soldier would change them round to ensure they received even wear. Following the Restoration shoes and uniforms followed the civilian pattern: shoes with buckles were used by most armies from 1660 until around 1800. Hessian boots were used by cavalry from the 18th century until World War I.

Late in the Napoleonic Wars the British army began to be issued lace-up boots that replaced the older buckle shoes. These "Blucher" boots remained in use throughout the 19th century and were used in conflicts that included the Crimean War, Zulu War and Boer War. By World War I, they had been replaced with the Galosh pattern or "George" boots. These in turn were replaced by ammunition boots which were used from World War II until the 1950s.

Rifle units of the US military were equipped with calf-high boots in the War of 1812.[4] From the 1820s until before the American Civil War soldiers were issued ankle-high boots which were made on straight lasts. There was no "left" or "right" boot: instead they shaped themselves to the wearer's feet over time. Needless to say, until they were broken in, these boots were very uncomfortable and often resulted in blisters. These were replaced in 1858 with an improved version used until the 1880s, known as Jeff Davis boots after Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of War who re-equipped the army in the 1850s.

Trench boots

The 1917 Trench Boot was an adaptation of the boots American manufacturers were selling to the French and Belgian armies at the beginning of World War I. In American service, it replaced the Russet Marching Shoe. The boot was made of tanned cowhide with a half middle sole covered by a full sole. Iron plates were fixed to the heel. It was a great improvement, however it lacked waterproofing.

It soon evolved into the 1918 Trench Boot, also called the Pershing Boot after General John Pershing, who oversaw its creation. It used heavier leather in its construction, and had several minor changes from the 1917 Boot.

US Army Boots, Combat Service

The first true modern combat boots in the US Army, officially called the "Boots, Combat Service," were introduced in conjunction with the M-1943 Uniform Ensemble during World War II.[5][6] They were modified service shoes, with an extended, rough-out or, more commonly, a smooth leather high-top cuff added.[5] The cuff was closed using two buckles, allowing the boots to replace the existing service shoes and leggings worn by most soldiers with a more convenient and practical solution.[5] The boots, and the service shoes they were made from, had a one piece sole and heel, made from molded synthetic or reclaimed rubber.[5][6][7] These "double buckle" boots were worn through the Korean War as a substitute for the Boots, Russet, Leather Lace Up introduced in 1948. The first type of Combat Boots, or Combat Tropical boots were based on the "buckle boot" design and worn during the early parts of the Vietnam War.[8]

Shined black combat boots as worn by the IDF
U.S. Army soldiers are issued their boots

Shined combat boots

In 1957, the US Army switched to shined black combat boots, although the transition to black boots was not completed until late in the Vietnam War, which also saw the introduction of the jungle boot.[3][8][9] Both of these boots had a direct molded sole.[10] The jungle boot had a black leather lower and an olive drab nylon upper.[11] Black boots continued to be worn following Vietnam, with the M81 BDU, although non-shine boots were considered by the Army.[3][12][13][14][15] As the BDU was replaced with the MCCUU, Army Combat Uniform, and Airman Battle Uniform the services transitioned to more practical, non-shine footwear.[3][16][17] The only current military service mandating shined black combat boots is Civil Air Patrol, the Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, in conjunction with the BDU utility uniform.[18]

French Army

Brand new mle 1965 combat boots made of shined black leather with direct molded soles.

Combat boots of the French army are nicknamed "rangers" because of their similarity to the M 43 American model. Since the end of the war, three models have been manufactured. The first model was based on the 1952 combat ankle-boots on which a leather high-top cuff with two buckle was added. It was made of sturdy but very stiff brown coloured cowhide leather. It was called "brodequin à jambière attenante Mle 1952" and was widely distributed from 1956 on, in priority to airborne troops engaged in Algeria. In 1961, a simplified version was introduced, the boot and the leather cuff being made in one piece. In 1965 a new version of the 1961 model was introduced made of shined black grained leather more flexible than the original one. Their soles were of a direct molded type. In 1986 a transitory model with laces to the top and enhanced waterproofing was experimented under the designation "combat boots model F 2" but was not adopted. The two first models had to be blackened with coloured grease and shoe polish. They were issued to French soldiers including Foreign legionnaires until the begining of the 90ties and then were kept in store in case of conflict. A lot of them have been released on the market after the gendarmerie dropped the territorial defense mission at the beginning of the XXIst Century. A winter model, with laces to the top and a Gore-tex lining was introduced in 1998. The third and winter model are still in service in the French army but are progressively replaced in operation by more modern Meindl type boots.

Current Australian Combat Boots

The Australian Terra Combat Boot.

Since 2000, the Australian Army (As well as other its other Defence branches), primarily uses the Redback Terra Combat Boot as a replacement for the Vietnam War-era General Purpose combat boots. It was given a limited amount of tests in 1999, and was later distributed in 2000. Despite the boot's general aptitude for the tasks which the ADF had first put it in place for, it still had major flaws. 90% of all negative feedback from soldiers was about its inappropriate sizing, having only 43 different sizes. Many also claimed that its sole could rot in worst case tropical circumstances.

Currently, development is underway to create a better boot. To address concerns, the Australian Army maintains a list of approved non-standard issue boots than can be worn by troops.[19]

Boots approved by the Chief of Army as at 25/6/11 include:

· ALTAMA 4156 or 4158 3LC Hot Weather

· Belleville M590 or M591 Hot Weather

· Bates 30501 Durashock desert

· Crossfire Peacekeeper plus

· DANNER Arcadia Desert

· MEINDL Desert fox Safari

· LOWA Urban Desert

· GARMONT T8 Multi Terrain

Current United Kingdom combat boots

In 2006, the British Army elected to widen the choice of boots available to all British soldiers and started to look at offering boots from Meindl, Lowa and Altberg with the end result being that now in 2011 the MOD are currently taking tenders for a company to supply a new basic issue boot with firms such as YDS shortlisted so far. Apart from Operational issue boots, soldiers with foot injuries or special boot requirements for flat-feet can request a pair of boots through the supply chain again from Altberg or Lowa.

The CAB is still current issue and is used primarily for combat training and general service although privately purchased boots are often deemed acceptable as long as they are made of black leather. The Guards Regiments in the Household Division still use modified ammunition boots. These boots, being primarily made of leather, can be brought to a high shine for the ceremonial purpose, although boots used as every-day military footwear tend to be left comparatively dull, but clean.

In recent times, combat boots from specific manufacturers have been introduced into some areas of the British military due to modern technological advances that make the combat boots safer, stronger and help improve the ability of soldiers to carry out their orders. Magnum boots are one such manufacturer.

Current United States combat boots

As the United States Marine Corps transitioned from its utility uniform to the MCCUU, they discarded shined black combat boots, and switched to more functional tan rough-out (non-shine) combat boots, with either hot weather or temperate weather versions. The standard-issue boot is the Belleville 500 Waterproof USMC combat boot. Commercial versions of this boot are authorized without limitation other than they must be at least 8 inches in height and bear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor on the outer heel of each boot. By 2012 these will be replaced by 2 variants (waterproof and hot weather) of the Danner RAT (Rough All-Terrain) boot, which uses a combination of nylon, rough-out suede, and smooth synthetic leather in its construction.

The United States Army followed suit in 2002 with the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform, which also switched to tan rough-out combat boots, called the Army Combat Boot, and moisture wicking socks.[1][3] Commercial versions of this boot are authorized without limitation other than they must be at least 8 inches in height and are no longer authorized to have a 'shoe-like' appearance.[20] Two versions exist, a 2.5 lb temperate weather boot, and a 2 lb hot weather (desert) boot.[1] Current manufacturers are Altama, Bates, Belleville Shoe, McRae, Rocky, Warson Brands/Converse and Wellco.[1][21]

The US Air Force uses a foliage green suede combat boot with its Airman Battle Uniform, although a tan version is authorized until 2011, when the green boot will become mandatory.[22]

Swedish military boots

Swedish army boots made by Tretorn. These are NOS from 1968. Over time (and with the use of shoe polish) they turn black.

The military started using boots 1779.[23] The current model is m/90 that is designed to be both comfortable and light as well as giving ankle support. They are part of the m/90 uniform system.

Norwegian Combat Boots

The current combat boot used by the Norwegian armed forces is the M77, it was introduced in 1977 and is produced by Alfa Skofabrikk AS. The M77 boot took ten years to develop and strict requirements were set for weight, durability, water resistance, comfort, as well as having to be easy to maintain and good at resisting heat for quicker drying. [24] The Norwegian army frequently test boots from other manufacturers, they have, however, not made any plans to change boots for their soldiers.[24] The M77 boot has notches along the sole and in the heel made for the NATO issue skis used by the Norwegian Armed Forces. The bindings for these skis fit the M77 boots as well as the thick waterproof outer shoes they can be put in, and can be used for skis as well as snowshoes.

Combat boots as fashion

Combat boots[citation needed] worn as fashion apparel

Combat boots are also popular as fashion clothing in the goth, punk, grunge, heavy metal, industrial, skinhead, and BDSM subcultures; however, they are becoming more and more mainstream.[25] Beyond fashion as such, many individuals choose to wear combat boots simply due to durability, comfort and other utilities, as the boots are specifically designed to be comfortable to wear in a variety of changing conditions for long durations without significant long-term wear. Combat boots have a longer lifespan than fashion boots, which can give them a vintage feel, even after recrafting.[26] For these and other reasons, they can be purchased in almost every moderately sized city at military surplus stores.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Building a Better Boot - Military Information Technology[dead link]
  2. ^ The Logistics of War. DIANE Publishing. p. 318. ISBN 978-1-4289-9378-5. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Tanner, Jane (2001-12-09). "GRASS-ROOTS BUSINESS; On the Home Front, a Welcome Economic Kick". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ C&D Jarnagin, 18th century footwear (Dec 8 2008)
  5. ^ a b c d Service Shoes And Combat Boots
  6. ^ a b Shoes and the Army - WWII
  7. ^ Stanton, Shelby L (1995). U.S. Army Uniforms of World War II. Stackpole Books. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-8117-2595-8. 
  8. ^ a b Katcher, Philip R.N.; Mike Chappell (1980). Armies of the Vietnam War, 1962-75: Bk. 1. Osprey Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-85045-360-7. 
  9. ^ Rottman, Gordon L.; Ronald Volstad (1990). U.S. Army Airborne, 1940-1990: The First Fifty Years. Osprey Publishing. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-85045-948-7. 
  10. ^ Direct Molded Sole Boots
  11. ^ Jungle Boots
  12. ^ "NO-SHINE COMBAT BOOT IS FAILING ARMY TESTS". The New York Times: p. A23. 1981-11-12. 
  13. ^ "SHINING'S OUT IN ARMY TEST OF NEW BOOT". The New York Times: p. A8. 1981-06-13. 
  14. ^ Extract CC 670-1 and AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia[dead link]
  15. ^ Stanton, Shelby L. (1998). U.S. Army Uniforms of the Cold War, 1948-1973. Stackpole Books. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-8117-2950-5. 
  16. ^ Halberstadt, Hans (2007). Battle Rattle: The Stuff a Soldier Carries. Zenith Imprint. ISBN 978-0-7603-2622-0. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Fresh boot policy". Army News (Australia): p. 2. 20/03/2008. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  20. ^ Army Combat Uniform (ACU) Ensemble
  21. ^[dead link]
  22. ^ Air Force Instruction 36-2903
  23. ^ Nordiska museet: Skor
  24. ^ a b Salutt til gammel sliter - Norsk Designråd
  25. ^ Hochswender, Woody (1992-06-28). "SIGNALS; Your Sister Wears Combat Boots". The New York Times. 
  26. ^ "Danner Recrafting". Military Boots Blog. 2009-07-28. 

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