Military Wiki

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]


Aa hobnailedboots 01

Pair of hobnailed boots


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

England and United Kingdom[]

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 ankle 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 (1853-1856), First Zulu War (1879), and First Boer War (1880-1881). These in turn were replaced by ammunition boots which were used in a variety of similar patterns from the late 1880s until the late 1960s. The "George Boots" worn with the Officers' dress uniform and mess dress are similar, except they lack the leather counter (heel cap) and toe case (toe-cap) and omit the hobnails and steel heel- and toe-plates.

United States[]

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.

Post 1900[]


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Terra Australian Combat Boot

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 that can be worn by troops.[5]

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 Acadia Desert
  • MEINDL Desert fox Safari
  • LOWA Urban Desert
  • GARMONT T8 Multi Terrain


Rangers réglementaires de l'Armée Française

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 world war 2, 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 beginning of the 90s 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 21st 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.


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.[6] The Norwegian army frequently test boots from other manufacturers, they have, however, not made any plans to change boots for their soldiers.[6] 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.



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.[7] 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.

United Kingdom and Commonwealth[]

In late World War I, the standard Ammunition boots were replaced from 1917 to 1918 with the high-lacing calf-length Field Service Boots for service in the trenches to combat trench foot.

The British Army introduced the DMS (Direct Moulded Sole) ankle boot in 1958[citation needed]. This had a moulded plastic sole and was externally similar to the World War Two Ammo Boot. However, as the leather was of shoddy quality at best, the boots leaked and could not be made satisfactorily water-resistant. The low sideless tongue also allowed water to get in over the top of the foot. Once water had got into the boot, it would evaporate through the top of the boot but not through the plastic sole, thereby keeping the foot wet and accelerating trench-foot. Although mesh insoles were issued to combat this, they were themselves fragile and could lead to 'burning' of the sole of the foot[citation needed], with the result that most soldiers used commercially available sports-shoe insoles instead. This type of boot continued in service until the mid-1980s, after its unsatisfactory characteristics became a matter of public concern owing to the severe cases[citation needed] of trench-foot incurred during the Falklands War. The DMS boot was worn with anklets or wind-around puttees. The immediate successor of the DMS boot was the "Boot, Combat High" - or as the soldiers themselves described it, the Boot Cardboard Horrible. Basically little more than a toecapless DMS boot extended up to mid-calf length, it was scarcely better than its predecessor. Theoretically waterproofed, it was therefore sweaty and unpleasant, and could cause acute tendinitis. A MkII version was introduced to solve this, but found little favour. Its only real advantage was that it was not supposed to be 'bulled' to a mirror shine. The Combat Assault Boots (CAB) are still current issue and are 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[citation needed]. The Foot Guards 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.

Various levels of shine can be achieved with CAB. However, when on exercise (in the field) or on operations, soldiers are only required to shine their boots to combat high[citation needed].

Jungle boots supplied by various manufactures are also commonly worn in barracks due to the ability to carry out loaded marches faster and for longer[citation needed].

From 2012 Armed Forces personnel will have a newly designed range of brown combat boots to replace the black and desert combat footwear they currently wear. Personnel will have the choice of five different boots depending on where they are based and what role they are in.

  • Desert Combat – worn by dismounted troops conducting medium to high levels of activity in desert type environments with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius
  • Desert Patrol – worn by drivers/armoured troops conducting lower levels of activity in desert type environments exceeding 40 degrees Celsius
  • Temperate Combat – worn by dismounted troops for medium to high levels of activity in temperate (European) climates
  • Patrol – worn by mounted troops (drivers/armoured troops) taking part in lower levels of activity in temperate (European) climates
  • Cold Wet Weather – worn by dismounted troops for medium to high levels of activity in temperatures down to - 20 degrees Celsius.

Each of the five boot types comes in two different styles, so personnel can wear whichever one is more comfortable for them. The new brown boots, which have been developed to match the Multi Terrain Pattern uniform worn by Service personnel, will be made in two different fittings designed for the first time to take account of the different shapes of men and women's feet. The current black boots will carry on to be worn with most non-camouflage uniforms as well as units on parade in full dress uniform, such as regiments performing ceremonial duties in central London.[8]

United States[]

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[]

Combat Boots

M-1943 Combat Service Boots.

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.[9][10] They were modified service shoes, with an extended, rough-out or, more commonly, a smooth leather high-top cuff added.[9] 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.[9] The boots, and the service shoes they were made from, had a one piece sole and heel, made from molded synthetic or reclaimed rubber.[9][10][11] 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.[12]

Shined combat boots[]


Shined black combat boots as worn by the IDF

Basictraining boots

U.S. Army soldiers are issued their 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][12][13] Both of these boots had a direct molded sole.[14] The jungle boot had a black leather lower and an olive drab nylon upper.[15] Black boots continued to be worn following Vietnam, with the M81 BDU, although non-shine boots were considered by the Army.[3][16][17][18][19] 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][20][21] The only current military service mandating shined black combat boots are the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, the Auxiliary Cadet Detachment of the Naval forces, and the Civil Air Patrol, the Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, in conjunction with the BDU utility uniform.[22]

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[citation needed], 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.[23] 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 Boot, McRae, Rocky, Warson Brands/Converse and Wellco.[1][24]

The US Air Force uses a sage green suede combat boot with its Airman Battle Uniform, although a tan version was authorized until 2011, when the green boot became mandatory.[25]

Combat boots as fashion[]

Tattoos by Martin Roberson of Lucky Stars Tattoo

Combat boots 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.[26] 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.[27] For these and other reasons, they can be purchased in almost every moderately sized city at military surplus stores.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 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. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 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. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2008-03-20). "Fresh boot policy". p. 2. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Salutt til gammel sliter - Norsk Designråd
  7. Nordiska museet: Skor
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Service Shoes And Combat Boots
  10. 10.0 10.1 Shoes and the Army - WWII
  11. Stanton, Shelby L (1995). U.S. Army Uniforms of World War II. Stackpole Books. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-8117-2595-8. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 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. 
  13. 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. 
  14. Direct Molded Sole Boots
  15. Jungle Boots
  16. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (1981-11-12). "NO-SHINE COMBAT BOOT IS FAILING ARMY TESTS". The New York Times. p. A23. 
  17. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (1981-06-13). "SHINING'S OUT IN ARMY TEST OF NEW BOOT". The New York Times. p. A8. 
  18. Extract CC 670-1 and AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia[dead link]
  19. Stanton, Shelby L. (1998). U.S. Army Uniforms of the Cold War, 1948-1973. Stackpole Books. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-8117-2950-5. 
  20. Halberstadt, Hans (2007). Battle Rattle: The Stuff a Soldier Carries. Zenith Imprint. ISBN 978-0-7603-2622-0. 
  23. Army Combat Uniform (ACU) Ensemble
  24.[dead link]
  25. Air Force Instruction 36-2903
  26. Hochswender, Woody (1992-06-28). "SIGNALS; Your Sister Wears Combat Boots". The New York Times. 
  27. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2009-07-28). "Danner Recrafting". Military Boots Blog. 
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