When you start diving into the world of issued gear within the military service, there are not many people jumping for joy to tell you how much they loved the gear. There are a few items that have made their way to the forefront of service members’ favorites list, but after a few long rucks in the sand with 120 lbs on your back, that joyful welcoming of new gear is quickly shoved in the dirt with the unwelcome feelings of back pain and sore feet.
I once was given an opportunity when deploying to Ramadi, Iraq, to try out a new pack a company was testing. Each Marine was given one out of the four test items, and I actually loved it, but three weeks into the pipeline and we were done with that adventure. That “wonderful” rucksack lookalike was gone. But an even more controversial discussion when it comes to standard issue gear is boots. You get issued your first set in boot camp, and you either like them or you don’t. If you don’t, you quickly find a new set and stick with that.
Many of us would love to be able to slap on our favorite pair of comfy boots and go on our merry way 20 kilometers down the road. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in, and we must use what options are presented. Each service has their own requirements, and some are more lenient than others when it comes to straying from standard issue. Some have an approved commercial boots list with similar designs and command authorizations, while other branches like the Navy are more strict, with specific brands and models that are authorized.
If we look at the broad spectrum, a majority of the boots worn by service members are flesh-side out, cattle hide leather with diagonal patterned, same-color laces and thick, matching soles. There are also different types of boots, made for various climates or seasons throughout the year. With a standard 8-10 inch height on the boot itself, it’s made to protect the shin and ankle while surviving long ruck marches and immediate actions to the enemy. The emphasis of issued gear is on affordability and durability for the troops.
Cons of Standard Issue Boots
Most of the complaints that come from the standard issued boot are the weight and how uncomfortable it is. If you take the black leather boot out of the question and look at only the coyote cattlehide boots, they are extremely heavy. When worn on long marches, after a time, the boot usually stretches out, and blisters and hot spots become a problem. I find a large majority of my fellow service members have had to come up with intuitive ideas to make the boot fit tighter to prevent foot movement. You’ll find that commercially available boots are much lighter in weight and don’t stretch out as much over time, so if they fit when you get them, they’ll always fit.
Another aspect to consider at is keeping the boots clean and waterproof. Many members have multiple types of boots, and you usually need two of each. That way you have garrison boots that are clean and are presentable, and then you have your field boots to use and abuse when conducting training. Although not a deal breaker, when you have certain senior enlisted harping on the way your boots look, expenses can add up. Many non-issued boots are easier to keep clean so you may get away with having just one pair.
Pros to Standard Issued Boots
The issued boots are dependable and durable and can last for years when properly taken care of. I had a certain pair of boots that lasted me over 8 years, and that consisted of deployments to Fallujah, Ramadi, and Kuwait. When you have different boots for specific aspects of the job, they tend to last longer. One aspect of the durability is the unusually large soles. They withstand more pounding and can be worn longer. As long as you don’t have a canted walk and permanent limp, you should see even wear patterns across the board and can even get them resoled if need be. Some of my most comfortable boots are the issued ones I have had for the longest times.
Another pro is the convenience factor. Not many people see this as a pro, but for me, it is gold. I hate shopping for shoes and boots, and just want to go to the PX and pick out a pair of boots from the shelf. Without there being a huge selection to choose from, you know what you need to get and go. Also, you get used to a certain style of boots, so the new ones feel more comfortable and break in more quickly.
Recently, authorized boots have become more widely available, and more compliant boots are getting added all the time. Everyone knows your feet are a huge asset in the military, and Commanders are realizing there are better options out there for the troops.
So take your own pros and cons from your standard issued boots, and make the choice to find the perfect boot for you. If your cons consist of the heavyweight and the amount of effort needed to take each step, then maybe a lightweight version is your best bet. If you’re sick and tired of getting your weekly tongue lashings for the grime and dirt on your boots, get ones that are easier to care for and keep clean.
When you’re ready, don’t hesitate to check out U.S. Patriot Tactical with their huge selection of authorized boots for men and women in uniform.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.