Comfort for Soldier's Sole? New Boots

NGAUS Washington Report

(Aug. 27, 2013) The Army should choose a new boot for soldiers next spring and have it available soon after that, according to a newspaper report this week.

Three companies have created boots that will stand up to the heat and dust and mountainous terrain like that found in Afghanistan and across the Middle East. The effort began nearly two years ago after soldiers complained of sore feet in an Army survey, according to The Boston Globe.

“The soldier lives in his boots,” Bob Hall, a footwear project engineer at the Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts, told the newspaper. “If he’s having problems with his boots, he’s having problems with everything.”

Three companies are finalists in the competition: Bates Footwear of Rockford, Mich.; Belleville Boot Co. in Belleville, Ill., and Danner in Portland, Ore. They have all created boots that are lighter, have greater ventilation and better expel mud and dirt from the sole.

The boots have been tested twice, including for 200 days by soldiers at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, Calif. Researchers will either choose one of the boots or ask the companies for new versions based on characteristics from each.

“We hope the end product answers the soldiers’ needs,” Maj. Mia Bruner, who is involved in the development of the new boot, told the newspaper.