These boots were made for walkin’…

I was in the infantry, the walking branch. And boy, did we walk a lot. When you put that many miles on your poor feet, footwear becomes, if not quite a fetish, then certainly a topic of more than passing interest.

Ever heard of the KISS principle? Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

If you poke around on these interwebbythingies, you can find about 15 gazillion types of boots. As for me, my favorite footwear while in the Army was the early issue jungle boot.

Early issue jungle boots
Early issue jungle boots

Light, comfortable, and best of all, cheap. In anything other than cold weather, they were just about the perfect boot. In fact, they were so comfortable, after a pair had been sufficiently broken in, I could wear them without socks.

Another nice thing was that in Hawaii, they were “organizational clothing” which meant we were issued two pair when we arrived, and when they wore out, would be replaced at no cost.

In other units, while they weren’t issued, they were permitted for wear. You would have been hard pressed to find a troop that didn’t have at least one pair of jungle boots.

Sadly, the Army, in its infinite wisdom, found some supposed shortcomings with the jungle boot. And they proceeded to “improve” the boot. They changed the canvas color from green to black, added a padded collar to the top of the boot, and added speed-laces to them. The net effect was a boot that was no more comfortable or durable, but sure as heck cost a lot more, and frankly, didn’t look nearly as good.

5 thoughts on “These boots were made for walkin’…”

  1. I hated the desert version of those boots. When jumping off equipment or walking on concrete or pavement, they had no cushion.

    Hot and flimsy, the newer desert boots with the vibram soles were much better.

    Now there are boots they feel or look and feel like sneakers. But the cost is over $120.

    The issue boots are better, but I must admit, seeing a drill sergeant in jungle boots for the first time was scary…

  2. I was actually kind of partial to the “new” style jungle boots. Those were about the only foot gear that didn’t rub blisters the size of pancakes. In fact, I still have four pair (my stash) as hiking boots.

    I had two pairs of “old” style jungle boots. And on both, the canvas popped at the seams.

    We had a difficult time in Korea convincing fresh fish they didn’t want to buy the $20 TDC special jungle boots. Those wore out after 1 field trip.

    The desert boots, what I see as a cousin of the jungle boots, was initially “cool”. Sort of like a suede shoe. No polishing needed, so Joe Troop was happy. But those things tended to shed heels with uncanny regularity.

  3. I didn’t have any real problems with the “new” jungle boots. I just hated having to go from paying $30 for a pair to $59 for no real improvement. And I just didn’t really like speedlaces.

    When we went to the Big Island in Hawaii, they wouldn’t let us take “leg” boots, because the lava rock would tear up boots so fast, they didn’t want us to have to buy replacements. Instead, trash a pair (or two) of jungle boots, and let the Army replace them.

    I was never issued a pair of desert boots, but did end up buying a pair for my own self. Not bad. But nothing to get excited about either.

  4. BTW Brad, the Army is acutally looking at real mountain-climbing boots for Afghanistan. PEO-Solider is evaluating boots with detachable crampons for the mountains there. These boots are modified civilian boots.

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