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Boots of Bundeswehr (Federal German Armed Forces) for "Paratroops" and "Infantrymen"

The "ankle boots" of Bundeswehr (this name was used for West German army before unification with East Germany, and retained its name further on) are among the most recognizable and popular types of military boots in many European countries. These boots embody the long tradition of the German army footwear. This is due not only to very high quality of materials and design, comfort and ease of use, attractive appearance and distinctive style, but also to their availability. Shoes, uniforms and different military stuff of the Bundeswehr are not prohibited for export and use abroad, in contrast to some other countries like Denmark, Sweden, Canada, etc....

There are different ways by which the army stuff (uniforms, backpacks, belts, tents, isolation mats, sleeping bags, tableware sets, soldiers folding knives, "Esbit" type pocket cooking ranges, gloves ...) and, of course, Bundeswehr boots, used and brand new get to their new owners. As for the army boots, not always the buyers can understand what boots did they purchase, the date of boots manufacture. It is not obvious in what period of time were they used.

Bundeswehr boots of 1970-1990s are very recognizable due to their traditional German design and good quality, perfect workmanship and good grip of the soles tread.

Brown-coloured boots were introduced circa 1971, having replaced high army boots of the so-called "Knobelbecher" - type, which were widely used for decades in the German army. "Knobelbecher" means "dice cup". This strange name appeared thanks to the specific sense of humor of the German soldiers. As these sturdy high boots were made of very thick and hard leather, the soldier's feet used to be clattering inside the boots very similar to the dice in a cup. The Dutch army has created quite a similar term, and even nowadays the Dutch army boots are still called "Legerkisten" or even "Legerlaarzen" ("army chests" and "army boxes" correspondingly).

The brown colour of the combat boots was widely spread in most countries of the world at that time.

In 1973, the Bundeswehr has switched to brown-coloured army boots almost completely, having left the "Knobelbecher"- type high boots only for official ceremonies, for use in German navy, air force, and for specific conditions (such as at low temperatures) as well.

From 1971 to 1975, the polyurethane outsole was not only glued, but also stitched along the edges of the outsoles. For this purpose the tread pattern of the outsole was slightly shifted from the edge of the sole closer to the center.

From 1975 to 1978 they produced the boots with the glued soles only. Since 1978, the Bundeswehr switches to black-colour boots instead of brown. Presumably, this was made due to the fact that black boots are less noticeable for the infrared sight. As a huge amount of brown boots have already been manufactured by that time, the soldiers were often ordered to repaint the issued brown boots to the newly authorized black colour by repeated applying black shoe polish.

In 1984 the army boots design was modified and lasted until the year 1993, when these boots were replaced by the new type boots called "Model 2000". Some boots, manufactured in the period 1984-1993 have been resoled with experimental soles of "Model 2000" type.

For each pair of boots the identification information (size and width, month and year of manufacture, manufacturer's code) is specifically indicated on the tongue, at the top inner side. Initially the size was specified in millimeters ("Mondopoint" system), later on - in the "European metric", e.g., 42 or 46.

Example of box marking (brown boots, European size).

The tread pattern of the classic German army boots, the so-called "Berghaken Profilsohlen", was very successful and well-developed. It was copied, for example, in the M-91 model Finnish Army boots.

The outsoles of German army boots were produced by many manufacturers, for example:

- "Continental" (among all the contract manufacturers of the Bundeswehr boots outsoles, this company produced the most hard and durable polyurethane outsoles, resistant to wear and tear on the typical city pavement).

- "Metzeler" - the most soft of all the outsoles, though the boots heels used to be worn out heavily on the asphalt);

- "Ir", "Tewa", "Winterberg", "Cosmoped", "SKYWALK" and the other were of medium softness (and wear resistance).

A very important issue is the choice of a good insole. The German statutory green plastic thin-mesh insole is one of the best options for good air circulation and comfort of wear. The only precaution that should be taken into account is the necessity to choose the exact size for the particular pair of boots, because the pressed and molded edges of the insoles can crumble if the size selection was wrong.

A curious fact - on some Russian-language forums the Bundeswehr "paratrooper's" and "infantry" boots are quite oftenly mixed, sometimes they are wrongly called the "corporal" boots, although the rank of corporal has never been used in the German army.

Actually, the aforementioned "paratrooper's" and "infantry" boots are quite different.

Let's consider all these boots in details.

The German "paratrooper's" boots (in German they are called "Fallschirm Springerstiefel" or "Fallschirmspringer-Schnurstiefel") have unpadded tongue, they are made of smooth black leather and feature yellow-coloured solid lining (soft padding plus thin soft "glove"-type leather) along the tibia to the top.

Such boots were made back in the 1960s. Further on, since 1990s the copies of such boots, with "Vibram"- type outsole, are still produced by commercial copy-cats like "MilTEC" or "MFH" in some variants: with steel toe-cap (yellow or black lining) or without steel toe-cap (orange lining).

"Die Fallschirmspringer-Schnurstiefel" ("Paratrooper's top-laced boots") were manufactured in 2 versions - depending on the outsole type.

Variant 1 This model did not feature reinforced counter, the tongue was unpadded, but the top part of the boots featured the inner layer of cushioning material (wadding).

Variant 2

In the year 2000, the boots were very similar to the Variant 1 boots, but featured hook clamps for laces fixation.

The "Infantry"-type boots differ from the "paratrooper's" boots (which, as we remember, featured the inner layer of cushioning material (wadding), unpadded tongue, also they lacked the counter reinforcement).

The Germans themselves do not call these boots the "infantry", preferring to call them brown or black lace-up boots.

Brown boots ("Die braunen Schnurstiefel"):

Variant 1 - there outsoles are stitched and glued

Variant 2 - glue-fixed outsoles.

The tongues of these boots are padded, as different from the bootlegs. This is not "paratrooper's" boots, but the ordinary Bundeswehr boots!

Black boots ("Die schwarzen Schnurstiefel"):

Variant 1: "Der Glattleder-Schnurstiefel" (Smooth leather lace-up boots)

Variant 2: "Genarbtes Leder, durchgeschnurt" (Grain leather, lace -through boots (without hook clamps))

Variant 3a: "Genarbtes Leder, Schnurung mit Haken (Grain leather, lace-through boots with hook clamps)

Variant 3b: "Genarbtes Leder, Schnurung mit Haken und neuer Sohle" (Grain leather, lace-through boots with hook clamps and new type outsoles)

All these Variants (1, 2, 3a, 3b) are what we call the "infantry" boots. This is not "paratrooper's" boots.

Thus, the "paratrooper's" boots have undergone few changes: new tread outsole + hook clamps in some later models.

The evolution of German army boots of the second half of the 20 century:

Images: Pics by: Rene, 14. April 2006

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