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Swiss mountain boots (Gebirgsjäger Bergschuhe) - old models

The classic mountain low-laced military boots of Switzerland are fairly simple, reliable and easy to repair by their design. It makes little sense to discuss them for a long time, because these boots are well-known in the whole world and are quite popular with collectors, reenactors or just fans of "good old quality footwear".

If to describe briefly the features of these Swiss low mountain boots, it is worth mentioning that the top of the boots was made of thick (about 3 mm) cowhide (box-calf) leather, flexible (due to high fat content), very strong and durable. It was usual to replace the out-soles, worn-out completely or partially, while the boot's top was in almost excellent condition.

Under the lacing these boots feature an original leather "shutters" to provide better protection of the upper sides of the feet, relieve the laces' pressure and improve the overall construction reliability and durability. Such lather "shutters" were used later in the subsequent models of the Swiss military boots, for example in KS90. The stamp-marking with the manufacturer's name (e.g. "BALLY" or "AMMANN"), size and width of the boots as well as the production date used to be placed on the upper insides of the boot's top.

The size of a Swiss mountain boot traditionally corresponds to the length of the insole, not foot (as distinct from the boots of many other armies, for example, the German Bundeswehr). This peculiarity sometimes leads to difficulties in selecting the proper boots sizes.

In the first half of the 20th century to sirca 1960s the out-soles of the Swiss mountain boots were made of thick leather, padded with hobs, assorted nails and the so-called "tricouni" (tooth-shaped taps made of soft non-hardened steel, which covered the welts of the out-soles).

The word "tricouni" itself came from "Tricouni" - the name of a Swiss company, which, in turn, was named by the nickname of Félix-Valentin Genecan (1878-1957), a jeweler and mountain-climber from Geneva, who invented . Using "tricouni" improved stability and traction of the boot's soles on ice, scree, rocks, and even wet stones or grass.

The shapes of "tricouni" and the method of attachment to the boot's out-soles welt were different, starting from special nails and staples (up to 25 mm in length) to screws, and one-piece metal plate with teeth could be attached to the heels instead of individual clips. Mountaineering crampons used to be worn over the "tricouni".

The design of the boot's upper did not change after the out-sole replacement from leather to rubber. The renovation to the cleated rubber sole with "Vibram" tread pattern was caused by deficiencies of the leather soles, equipped with nails and "tricouni": these metallic elements significantly increased the weight of the boot. In such boots the feet felt cold faster because of close proximity of the metal pieces to them. Moreover, being exposed to moisture, the leather sole used to get wet quickly and lose the integrity of connection with metal parts which often dropped out and lost, requiring replacement...

Therefore, the transition to more lightweight and practical rubber sole was simply inevitable. The new soles of the Swiss mountain boots featured the licensed modification of the "Vibram" tread pattern (the acute-angled crosses were replaced with simple squares in the center of the sole pattern, while the heel pattern had no such elements at all). The marking was put on heels and soles, and consisted of the size, year and producer abbreviations.

The lacing system in the low Swiss mountain boots ranged from completely consisting of hooks to mixed options when one or two of the lower elements were just simple round eyelets or "D"-shaped rings. In the later versions of the boots the lacing design and system were improved - the boot's design contains minimum of seams, added soft leather cushion on top of the boot and the hook clamp to maintain the fixation of unleashed lacing.

The out-sole tread pattern has also changed - instead of squares there appeared the classic crosses, like on the Swiss coat of arms.

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