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, and 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. 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.
Early military boots
The first soldiers to have been issued boots were the foot soldiers of the Roman legions
, who wore hobnail boots
to war. Hessian boots
were used during the 18th century.
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.
Boots, Service, Combat M-1943
The first true modern combat boots, officially called the "Boots, Service, Combat M-1943 (Double Buckle)," were issued with the M-1943 Uniform Ensemble
during World War II
. They were modified service shoes, with an extended, rough-out or, more commonly, a smooth leather high-top cuff added. 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. The boots, and the service shoes they were made from, had a one piece sole and heel, made from molded synthetic or reclaimed rubber. These "double buckle" boots were worn through the Korean War
and were issued at the beginning of the Vietnam War
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
. Both of these boots had a direct molded sole. The jungle boot had a black leather lower and an olive drab nylon upper. Black boots continued to be worn following Vietnam, with the M81 BDU
, although non-shine boots were considered by the Army. As the BDU was replaced with the MCCUU
, Army Combat Uniform
, and Airman Battle Uniform
the services transitioned to more practical, non-shine footwear.
Current American combat boots
As the United States Marine Corps
transitioned from the BDU
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. 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.
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. 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. Two versions exist, a 2.5lb temperate weather boot, and a 2lb hot weather (desert) boot. Current manufacturers are Altama, Bates, Belleville, McRae, Rocky and Wellco.
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.
Current United Kingdom combat boots
In 2006, the British Army elected to replace both the "combat assault boots" that were in general service and the desert boots issued for operations. They conducted trials in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cyprus during autumn of 2007, and are now issuing new boots made by Meindl
and Lowa (including boots specially designed for women's feet) for operational purposes.
British soldiers still use the CAB 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
. The Boots being primarily made of leather can be brought to a high shine for the ceremonial purpose, although the boots used as every-day military footwear, tend to be left comparatively dull, but clean. See image comparison below where drill purpose boots are on the left, and daily use, on the right.
Swedish military boots
The military started using boots 1779. The current model is m/90 that is designed to be both comfortable and light as well as giving ankle support.
Combat boots as fashion
Combat boots are also popular as fashion clothing in the goth, punk, heavy metal, industrial, skinhead, and BDSM subcultures, however, they are becoming more and more mainstream. 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. For these and other reasons, they can be purchased in almost every moderately sized city at military surplus stores.