The Marine Corps will soon test new cold-weather boots and socks designed to perform at temperatures from -20 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature range currently not covered by the service's boot inventory.
Marine Corps Systems Command plans to award two sole-source contracts for two types of Intense Cold Weather Boots and Intense Cold Weather Socks, according to a recent MCSC press release.
"There are currently no Marine Corps issue boots designed for use in the -20 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit range," according to the release.
The Temperate Weather Marine Corps Combat Boot was designed for a temperature range between 20 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boot was designed for a range from -20 to -65 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Based on market research, industry days and events such as Modern Day Marine, we narrowed our decision for the orders down to two companies for cold weather boots and two for socks," said Todd Towles, program analyst for the Clothing and Equipment Team at MCSC.
MCSC plans to buy 1,000 pairs of boots from Belleville Boot Company and 1,000 pairs from Danner Boot Company, according to a June 1 solicitation notice.
The Marines will also buy 25,000 pairs of Intense Cold Weather Socks from FITS Technologies and 25,000 pairs of the socks from Ellsworth & Company, according to a May 17 solicitation notice. The service expects deliver of the boots and socks by Sept. 28.
"This effort to acquire the cold weather boots and socks will help [Marine Corps Systems Command] evaluate commercial off-the-shelf solutions and offer the potential to reduce or eliminate the current environmental protection gap," Towles said.
The socks will have much higher wool content than the polypropylene wool socks Marines currently use. Additionally, the clothing and equipment team is hopeful the new gear will offer increased water repellency, comfort and insulation in extreme cold weather environments, according to the release.
MCSC's Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment will conduct a field user evaluation December 2018 through March 2019 to gather feedback from Marines who will wear the ICWB and ICWS prototypes at the Mountain Warfare Training Center, Fort McCoy and Norway.
"The Army is conducting evaluations with similar boots and socks, so there is potential to have some consistency with our results and products," said Lt. Col. Chris Madeline, program manager for ICE, in a news release.
"Marines will keep the prototype boots through the duration of testing. Once data is collected, it will inform future acquisition decisions and allow the Corps to purchase boots and socks that bridge the gap between the existing cold weather boots."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.