Jungle Boot History


Photo by Pike Bros

Prior to WWII, the United States' armed forces had engaged in a number of campaigns in jungle terrain. However, there were no specialised units for jungle warfare, and no special equipment had been developed. The constant presence of water, sand, heat, and various insects, fungal and bacterial infections characterises jungle conditions. To equip soldiers for that environment, lightweight, durable, quick-drying boots that provided protection from jungle hazards ranging from mildew to punji sticks were required.

Punji stick is a simple spike, made out of wood or bamboo, which is sharpened, heated, and usually set in a hole. Other additional measures include coating the sticks in poison from plants, animal venom, or even human feces, causing infection or poisoning in the victim after being pierced by the sticks, even if the injury itself was not life-threatening.



The First Pattern Jungle Boot



The first jungle boots were made of canvas and rubber and were used in the South Pacific. The first model was standardised on August 31, 1942, and went into production the following year. It had a canvas duck top and a tongue that was attached to keep mud and insects out. The corrugated rubber sole provided adequate traction, and a removable fabric insole kept the feet away from the rubber. When worn with cushion sole socks, the boot was lightweight and kept the feet and lower legs comfortable. It was simple to clean and dry. However, it provided little assistance, resulting in troop complaints of "aching arches." The high canvas tops chafed the soldiers' legs, so they were frequently folded over or cut.

During the latter stages of World War II, a modified jungle boot was designed and tested. It was made of spun nylon with a leather midsole and a full-length rubber outsole. Production did not begin until the summer of 1945, near the end of the war, and the design of a successful jungle boot was not completed as the war came to an end.




1965 Jungle Boots

Some WW II Jungle Boot stocks were discovered and shipped to Vietnam, but they performed poorly and quickly deteriorated. However, under a new specification tested in 1962, Army and Marine field troops began to wear a cleated black leather and OG107 nylon-webbing tropical combat boot. This was the "Jungle Boot," with the designations "Boot, Combat, Tropical, Mildew Resistant" or, later, "Boot, Combat, Tropical, DMS with Spike Resistant Sole Shield" and "Boots, Hot Weather." The Direct Molded Sole was designed using technology developed by Wellco, one of the major contractors.



1962 Jungle boots


The constant presence of water, sand, heat, and various insects, fungal and bacterial infections characterises jungle conditions. To equip soldiers for that environment, lightweight, durable, quick-drying boots that provided protection from jungle hazards ranging from mildew to punji sticks were required.

From 21 February to 21 June 1966, the US Army Tropic Test Center in the Panama Canal Zone service tested the Third Pattern Panama Sole (Boot, Combat, Tropical, Direct Molded Sole with Spike Resistant Sole Shield) on 85 pairs of boots. The boots were worn by personnel from airborne, mechanised, and regular infantry battalions, special forces units, and field cadre at the US Army School of the Americas and the US Air Force Tropic Survival School. Among the applications were local unit training and field exercises. Spike protection tests were conducted elsewhere in the Army and were not part of the Panama test.





1967 Panama Jungle Boots

With the exception of a few minor issues, the test boot was found to be functionally suitable for field and garrison wear in Vietnam's hot, wet climate. The new model, with the flaws ironed out, was released in 1967. Any subsequent production of the Vibram sole model received the same spike protective plate.

Okinawa

A modified WW II double buckle boot with brown leather and canvas panels for tropical climates was developed in the 1950s. Because some early US advisors sent to Vietnam from Okinawa wore this boot, it was dubbed the "Okinawa Boot." It had a Vibram® pattern direct moulded sole (DMS).

The First Pattern

1962: Black leather, OG107 green canvas, top leather band, leather strap from heel to top. Sole: DMS Vibram.

The Second Pattern

Black leather, OG107 green canvas, nylon band at top, nylon strap from heel to top, 1965 or earlier. Sole: DMS Vibram.

Vibram Third Pattern Sole

1965-1968: Similar to the second pattern, but with a nylon ankle reinforcement band added. In the DMS sole, a spike-protecting thin metal plate was introduced.

Panama Sole in the Third Pattern

1967 and later: Except for the change to the Panama sole, the same as the Third Pattern Vibram Sole.





Okinawa Jungle Boots