Army uniform officials are preparing to test five new jungle boot designs after soldiers in Hawaii told them the new Jungle Combat design needs improving.
The Army fielded 9,000 pairs of its newly-designed jungle combat boots between March and August to the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat teams.
“Initial soldier feedback on the jungle boot was ‘hey thanks for the boot; this is great. Can we maybe make it a little bit lighter, a little bit lower profile and a little bit more flexible? So we said ‘absolutely,’” Capt. Daniel Ferenczy, assistant product manager for Extreme Weather Clothing and Footwear, said.
In April of 2017, the Army issued a request for information to boot manufactures, for new jungle boot designs.
The Army issued contracts to Altama, Bates, Belville, Mcrae, and Rocky boot makers to submit 200 pairs of their prototype boots for testing, Ferenzcy said.
“Each vendor is a little different … they are much improved, but they aren’t radically different” from the current Jungle Combat Boot design, Ferenzcy said.
In all cases the sole is thinner and the each features a lower profile outsole and midsole, Ferenzcy said.
The current JCB design’s thicker sole offers extreme durability, Ferenzcy said.
“The benefit of that thick sole is this boot is going to last a very, very long time … and it absorbs shock very well,” he said.
“Now what it is bad is because it was thicker it mean it was stiffer and less flexibility creates a longer break in period … which can result in more blisters. The feedback from the first boot was that it has a little bit of a ‘platformy feel which doesn’t leave us with a warm and fuzzy on stability.’”
The plan is to issue the new boot designs, 1,000 pairs in all, to 25th ID soldiers in January, Ferenzcy said.
“We give them to soldiers … some will wear them during Pacific Pathways, others will go the Joint Readiness Training Center,”Ferenzcy said.
“Whoever ends up getting these new and improved jungle boots is going to be doing some good training in them to get them a good test”
Soldiers initially didn’t think the new JCB design was very cool looking.
“When soldiers looked at it was ‘wow, that doesn’t look very cool; it’s kind of like the Army Hot Weather Boot that we all stopped wearing after basic training,” Ferenzcy said.
But the boots performed well, he said.
“I just got feedback from a battalion commander down there and he said ‘Hey the boots are great. We have given them a shot; we have worn them some Pacific Pathway missions in Australia, and we wore them during platoon live-fire exercises in the middle of a tropical storm.
“We were all standing in angle deep water and the boots performed great. “They drained very quickly and they were breathable once you got them out of the submerged state in the water.”
Attractiveness was not a requirement the Army gave industry on this new round of boot designs, he said.
“We didn’t tell industry I want to make a boot that is attractive … just make us a boot that’s lighter weight, more flexible and lower height in the sole,” Ferenzcy said.
The plan is to return to Hawaii sometime in April or May to get feedback on the new designs, Ferenzcy said.
“We will get focused feedback on jungle boots and if there is a clear winner we will go with that one and if there is no clear winner, but there are winning characteristics from each one then, we will pull those and put them together into one boot and move forward with that for the final version of the Jungle boot,” he said.