Are Your Boots Made For Walking?
by TS Alan
You’ve been hunkered down for over three months, but now your food and water supplies are dangerously low. You have an evacuation plan and you know where you need to go. You get in your vehicle that hasn’t been started since you barricaded yourself in, you turn the ignition and… nothing. Your vehicle is dead and you have no idea how to fix it. On to your backup plan… walking.
Your bug-out-bag is strapped on, your weapons are at the ready, and you’re about to open that door for the first time since the world became overrun by the undead. Stop. Look down to your feet. What type of footwear are you wearing? Is it adequate for the journey you are about to undertake? For many, probably not. Footwear is not high on most people’s list for survival supplies, but it should be.
Choosing boots for the long haul is as important as the clothes on your back and the items in your bug-out bag. The average human adult walking speed is 4 mph, so in a 12-hour day you could walk 48 miles. That is if you are not wearing any load-bearing equipment (LBE) and are wearing proper footwear for the trip.
In a report by SFC Robert J. Ehrlich, from the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, typically a soldier’s LBE varies from 101.5 pounds during cold weather and 88.3 pounds during warm weather. This did not include basic soldier clothing — BDUs, T-shirts, socks, underwear, and boots. With all the weight they carry around (and probably what you will be carrying) improper footwear quickly adds to fatigue, and will impact the speed at which you walk and the distance you travel.
Go online to any online military forum where footwear is being discussed and you still will find our servicemen dissatisfied with some their Department of Defense-issued boots. The biggest complaints are how uncomfortable they are, followed by their weather adaptability; i.e., waterproof, breathabilty, insulation, etc. But today’s modern warriors have options, they do not have to settle for DoD-issued footwear, they can purchase their own providing it follows the guidelines like what set forth in the…
Department of the Army Pamphlet 670–1: Uniform and Insignia Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia.
(3) Optional boots.
(a) As an option, Soldiers may wear commercial boots of a design similar to that of the Army combat boot (tan), as authorized by the commander. The boots must be between 8 to 10 inches in height and made of tan flesh-side out cattle hide leather, with a plain toe and a soling system matching the color of the tan upper materials. Rubber and polyether polyurethane are the only outsole materials that are authorized. The soling materials will not exceed 2 inches in height, when measured from the bottom of the outsole, and will not extend up the back of the heel or boot or over the top of the toe. The exterior of the boot upper will not contain mesh but will be constructed of either all leather or a combination of leather and nonmesh fabric. Soldiers may wear optional boots in lieu of the Army combat boot (tan), as authorized by the commander; however, they do not replace issue boots as a mandatory possession item.
Other branches of our military have similar regulations, though the authorized alternate footwear seems to vary from service branch to service branch and command to command. However, there seems to be two major suppliers/manufactures of military issued footwear, Belleville and Danner.
On February 18, I attended the New York State Citizens Preparedness Corps two hour disaster response training course held at Pace University, which was organized by one of the university’s residence directors, Kit Lee-Demery. There I had the opportunity to speak to a group of New York State Army and Air Force Reservists, who were participating in the event. They gave me a lot of information on the boots they wear during active duty and when not on duty.
Based on comfort, weather-readiness and the product’s longevity (but not in any particular order) here are the boots our troops are talking about and wearing as their choices for footwear on the front line and at home:
- Danner Military (particularly their winter boots).
- Merrell Moab
- Oakley SI-8 Tactical
- Rocky S2V Tactical Military Boot
If you find your boots uncomfortable, here are two tips from the reservists at event to help make them more comfortable:
- Take the soles out and wear them in the shower, and then walk around in them for several hours to break them in.
- Go out and buy a pair of Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics. These are not the gel inserts, but rather the ones found at the footmapping kiosks found in Walmart stores. Cost $50.00.
As for what some branches of our military allow, I have sourced a list from various official military documents and compiled them below. Most of the boots below are the Allowed Hot Weather (HW) or Temperate Weather (TW) Boots:
- Belleville Model 390 DES (This IS an issue item)
Altama Desert Ripple Sole Boot (This IS an issue item)
Danner Desert TFX
Oakley SI Desert Assault Boots
Marines Corps (MUST have full MC logo on boot)
- Danner USMC RAT Temperate (This IS an issue item)
Bates (This IS an issue item)
- Wellcos (This IS an issue item)
Belleville #650 (This IS an issue item)
Rocky S2V Tactical Military
Sorrell Premium or Mukluks (Authorized for wear during winter flight operations at the discretion of the unit commander)
The information should give you a basic starting point for choosing boots for the long haul. Just remember: Think smart, shop wisely, stay vigilant, and be safe.