When you think about it brown has always been a much more sensible color than black for field / combat boots – the only “drawback” being that it doesn’t polish up into a nice glossy finish for the parade ground like black does. So, rather than issue two types of boots to every soldier, most armies went with black boots – since you could also buff them up to a nice finish for garrison and parade use.
In recent years, due primarily to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many forces (most notably the US Army and US Marine Corps) have switched over to light brown or khaki colored boots instead of black. Now, and following their change over to the new PCS uniform in MTP camouflage, the British Army, Navy and Air Force are also switching over to brown boots.
According to information released today, British Armed Forces personnel will receive a new range of brown combat boots to replace the black and desert combat footwear they currently wear.
As part of a contract worth £80m, troops will have the choice of wearing five different boots depending on where they are based and what job they are doing. The five types available are:
- Desert Combat – worn by dismounted troops conducting high levels of activity in desert environments exceeding 40 degrees Celsius
- Desert Patrol – worn by mounted troops, typically drivers/armoured troops conducting lower levels of activity in desert environments exceeding 40 degrees Celsius
- Temperate Combat – worn by dismounted troops for high levels of activity in temperate climates
- Patrol – worn by mounted troops, typically drivers/armoured troops conducting lower levels of activity in temperate climates
- Cold Wet Weather – worn by dismounted troops for high levels of activity in temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celsius.
Each of the five boot types comes in two different styles, so personnel can wear whichever one is more comfortable for them. The improved brown boots will also be made in two different width fittings, taking into account for the first time the different shapes of men and women’s feet.
The new boots have been chosen after months of trials involving 2,000 troops serving across the world in Kenya, Cyprus, Canada and the UK. The brown boots will be rolled out to personnel in all three Services later this year.
Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Julie Lodge from the MOD’s Defence Clothing team said:
“The boots we have now do the job well, but having footwear that is specially designed for female troops means we get an even better result and marks a real development in the kit available to us. The new boots are very comfortable and fit so well I feel like I could run a marathon in them.
“We have had excellent feedback on the new boots from both male and female soldiers, and we are buying a variety of styles to cover the full range of conditions we might encounter on operations, which means all our troops will have new boots for all seasons.”
WO1 Regimental Sergeant Major Ian Wright of the Parachute Regiment took part in the trials, and said:
“The choice offered to us with this new range of boots is fantastic as it means troops can find the right boot for the right job.
“It is important that we continue to feel comfortable in the boots that we wear and reassured that they are going to provide the right protection and these new brown boots offer that.
“They performed well on the trials and I am sure our soldiers will be delighted with them.”
Black boots will continue to be worn with most non-camouflage uniforms such as RAF and RN blues, and by units on parade in full dress uniform, such as Guards regiments on ceremonial duties in central London.