U.S. Army uniform officials recently asked commercial industry for fresh designs to use in its search for an "Improved Hot Weather Combat Boot."
"The Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center ... is seeking information on novel component materials, and/or designs that may be beneficial to future Army combat footwear systems," the May 23 request for information states.
Natick wants info on "materials/designs optimized for performance and protection in a hot weather environment [where temperatures range from 50 to 120°F]," the solicitation says.
It's unclear whether the RFI is related to the Army's ongoing effort to develop a Jungle Combat Boot for soldiers to use in potential operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Last August, Army officials announced a plan to evaluate improved versions of the Jungle Combat Boot the service developed in early 2017. The plan was to issue about 1,000 pairs of boots -- made by Altama, Bates, Belleville, McRae, and Rocky boot makers -- to soldiers in the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii at the beginning of this year. Testers planned to return in April or May to collect soldier feedback.
Military.com asked Program Executive Office Soldier to provide an explanation for the new RFI but did not receive a response by press time.
In 2016, the Army began working to develop a new Jungle Combat Boot that's more breathable, dries significantly faster and provides more traction and protection in jungle environments than the current hot weather combat boot.
The Army and Marine Corps retired the Vietnam War-era jungle boots in the early 2000s when both services needed a desert-style combat boot for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Corps has also been working to develop a new tropical-weather boot since late 2015.
Marine Corps Systems Command plans to conduct a test involving two designs of lightweight combat boots: the Danner Reckoning Hot Weather Boot, currently available to Marines for optional wear, and the Rocky Tropical boot, which was tested in recent evaluations of jungle footwear for Marines.
The Corps will issue 700 pairs of each design to recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, for the assessment.
The May 23 Army RFI for the Improved Hot Weather Combat Boot emphasizes that new boot designs must have puncture-resistant soles, breathability and fast drying times. Boot manufacturers have until June 15 to respond to the RFI.
-- Military.com's Hope Seck contributed to this story.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.