Source: Army Times
When surveyed, about 50 percent of soldiers would prefer to buy their own commercial boots than wear the ones they receive from the service itself.
The survey results are part of what is driving the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Soldier Center in Natick, Massachusetts to develop a boot that is lighter, more comfortable, and more durable than the current standard issue general purpose boot.
The first to field test the new prototypes will be new 800 new recruits in Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, and Fort Jackson, SC. In addition to new recruits, 800 infantry soldiers in Fort Bliss, TX will also receive prototypes.
The Soldier Center is “evaluating new types of leather and some man-made materials” that are more flexible than the materials used in the current boots. The Center will also be testing for durability, water resistance, flexibility, traction, and more.
The prototypes, which will be built by Altama, Belleville Boot Company, and McRae Footwear, will feature upgraded leathers and lighter materials to “provide greater flexibility and reduce weight,” according to service spokesman David Accetta.
Boots will be fitted to soldiers by a Soldier Center team through the end of January, and will return to collect feedback in March and April. Both soldier feedback and test results from the Soldier Center will play a part in the final design of the updated combat boots.
In addition to improving the general purpose boot, Army developers have also made improvements to the Jungle Combat Boot. A final version of the boot is expected to begin production this year.