After conducting a survey of 14,000 soldiers, the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Soldier Center in Natick, Mass. found that approximately 50 percent of soldiers prefer to buy commercial boots on their own than wear the boots they are issued.
In order to increase adoption of Army-issued boots, the service’s footwear experts have begun to field test several new styles of combat boots. In recent years, improvements have been made to jungle, mountain, and cold-weather combat boots, but not those used for general wear.
Contracts were awarded to Altama, Belleville Boot Company, and McRae Footwear to design the prototypes. They will feature improved leather and lighter materials for “more flexibility and reduced weight,” according to spokesman David Accetta.
The Army will issue the new boot prototypes to recruits in Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO., and Fort Jackson, SC., along with soldiers stationed in Fort Bliss, TX. Fort Leonard Wood and Fort Jackson will receive one hundred pairs of each, and Fort Bliss will receive 200 pairs.
Soldiers will wear test the boots throughout training and evaluate them for breathability, durability, break-in period, water resistance, and more. After feedback has been collected, recommendations will be provided to Project Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment for further development.