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Swiss Army combat boots (KS 90) Generation II

Everybody knows that Switzerland is a country of mountains. So the military footwear of such country must be applicable for highland’s conditions of service and comprise the most characteristic features of the mountaineering boots.

From the very beginning, the Swiss Kampfstiefel 90 were designed for heavy use in challenging terrain, providing the comfort and feet safety on the level of high-end mountaineering and ski boots.

The designers of KS90 paid special attention to ankle support provision and protecting of the potentially vulnerable parts of the wearer's foot.

At the moment one can find out that basically there are two types of KS90 boots on the market, depending on the out-sole peculiarities, and the year of production as well. It is possible to say that there are two generations of these boots.

The Generation I KS90 was produced from 1990 until the early 2010s.

A wide variety of the famous European contractors from Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Austria and France provided the boots and / or the soles for the Swiss military, trading off different contracts.

After the termination of those contracts, it was "Minerva" which prolonged the contract until the year 2017, appearing to be the single company to produce the Generation I KS90 boots, though having slightly updating its tools and manufacturing lines.

First introduced in the beginning of the year 1990, the Kampfstiefel 90 has been serving for years, and the process of these boots phasing out by the Swiss military began in 2017. Both generations of KS90 are still in service: most Generation I boots on the warehouses were produced in the period from the late 2000s to the early 2010s, while Generation II boots are made during the last five years.

The peculiarity of the Generation I KS90 boots was the construction of its thick, hybrid-type sole, which consists of several rubber (rather thermoplastic elastomer) layers stacked together, tacked to the welt, and protected with a thick rubber belt from the outer side.

The outsole features a Vibram-licensed outer tread (with a variant of classic tread pattern, developed back in 1937 by the famous designer Vitale Bramani),

embracing a contoured shock-absorbing layer inside. The sole material represents by itself a compromise between being supple enough for better traction and flexible yet not extremely soft to preclude prolonged wear.

The resulting outlook of these boots might seem quite rough and not so elegant, but these boots appeared to be comfortable enough, functional, and feet safe for all the kinds of military activities, including running, walking, hiking and crossing wet and muddy terrains.

Most boots with high level of excessive rigidity and reinforcement are the source of potential ankle injuries. But the design of Kampfstiefel 90 features flexible multi-layer joint in the ankle area, giving the feeling of wearing the sneakers rather than traditional heavy combat boot. In other words, the leather is extremely supportive around the ankle and the soles feel like you are wearing a sneaker.

This feeling might seem paradoxical, because the upper of KS90 is made of full-grain thick leather, with a high-cut gusseted boot's tongue and reinforced toe. Under condition of systematic and proper boot's care these high-quality leather boots are practically waterproof, and very well suited to cold and wet weather, and serve faithfully in rain and snow conditions.

Having pulled the boots on, the wearer feels his/her feet slightly recessed into an improvised "cradle" between the multiple soft padded-leather inserts, which embrace the ankle from the sides like an orthopedic shoe. If the boots are properly laced, the padding gently distributes the loads and pressures on the feet, effectively eliminating the ankle sprains.

However, the years of service in the Swiss armed forces highlighted the big problem of the Gen I boots. The layer-cake design of the sole makes them defenseless of improper long-term storage and drying in excessively hot and dry environments , especially when placed in direct, strong ultraviolet light (i.e. left in the sun). In such circumstances the sealant protecting the layers will degrade over time, eventually disintegrating the layers of the boot sole, and the sole will inevitably degrade.

As distinct to many ordinary civil owners of KS90 boots, the Swiss Army use to store their combat boots supplies in climate-controlled military warehouses.

Generation II boots are identical in boot's top construction, except the sole is directly over molded onto the boot. This technology is more technically advanced, resulting in a single piece outsole embracing a cushioning layers confined internally within.

At a first glance, the outward difference between the Generation I and Generation II KS90 boots is faintly discernible, and both kinds of boots are identical in performance, appearance, features, and user comfort. However, Gen II are much more reliable and applicable for long-term storage.

Swiss training manuals recommend you clean these boots with wax and polish them on a regular basis, spray-on water repellent is also recommended when the boot is clean, dry, and polished. It is strictly not recommended to apply water proofing treatments to a wet boot or polish such boots.

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