Source: Navy Times
Back in October, the United States Navy Exchange began stocking a revamped safety boot, which is currently called the “I Boot-4.” The revamped boot was designed with the intention of enhancing comfort in four primary areas: the collar, the lining, the upper, and the rubber compound used in the sole of the boot.
However, even given its improved design, the I Boot-4 has only sold 924 pairs since December 30th, according to the Navy Exchange Service Command spokeswoman, Courtney Williams.
Shortly after the I Boot-4 was announced via a NavAdmin message, it “was buried inside a string of other uniform updates,” which may partially explain the boot’s low number of sales.
Currently, the I Boot-4 is only available for purchase from eight different locations: Norfolk, San Diego, Jacksonville, Yokosuka, Sasebo, Great Lakes, Newport, and Pearl Harbor. Another possible barrier could be the boot’s price. It costs over $70 more than the standard issue replacement, which means that in order to purchase it, enlisted sailors will have to go above their allocated budget – if they even have access to it, that is.
Finally, the specifications for boots worn by sailors at sea are stringent, which can limit what’s available.
And unfortunately, while the I Boot-4 improves on some of the features of other safety boots, it doesn’t meet all of the Navy’s needs. Due to tread patterns on the I Boot-4, it’s unable to be worn on flight decks because “the soles can pick up and spread small objects onto the surface,” and the resulting debris can damage aircraft engines.
The Navy continues to work on other options, though, with testing for an “I Boot-5” version which began in 2018 drawing “rave reviews,” even though an official release date has yet to be announced.