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Black U.S. "Jungle" Boots, Speed-Laces, "Panama"-type out-soles

The "jungle" boots of the Vietnam era proved to be very successful and the increasing use of these boots as a general-purpose combat boot brought some changes.

Since "jungle" boots were introduced in the early 1960s and used widely by the American troops in Vietnam, these boots have gone through only minor design changes and some improvements. Some novelties were accepted, some of them were discarded, but most of modifications were proposed for the reasons of cost and convenience to the contractor.

For example, the artificial rubber out-sole composition was changed to avoid marking linoleum floors at stateside military bases. The removable ventilating "SARAN®" insoles were changed for waterproof "Poron®" linings, but this idea can hardly be considered as any improvement, because water still entered the "jungle" boots via the drain eyelets, and soaked the open-cell "Poron®" insoles which remained in constant contact with the bottom of the foot. Some countries, in contrast, still continue to use the removable ventilating "SARAN®" insoles primarily because of their good insulating properties.

In the 1980s some of the issue boot's the "Panama®"-type out-soles were reverted to the "Vibram®"-type out-soles. The "Vibram®"-type out-soles were more suitable to use on rocks, sand, or other hard terrain, but lacked the mud-clearing features of the "Panama®"-type out-soles, and were inferior for use in swampy or jungle environments.

Some changes were made to lower acquisition costs, which sometimes led to quality of materials decreasing. At the end of 1980s, some incidents of heel blowouts and loss of screened water drain eyelets due to lack of quality control and use of poor materials were reported.

Anyway, for decades following the Vietnam war, the "jungle" boots has become the standard combat footwear for mild weather.

An interesting fact: the American G.I.'s use to have two "dog tags" (identification steel plates with personal information). During combat operations, one of these "dog tags" use to be tied to the soldier's boot lacing. This should increase the probability of successful personality identification of the G.I.'s body even after heavy wounds.

The last nomenclature for the "jungle" boots was "Boot, Hot Weather, Type I, Black, Hot-Wet" and allowed for both OG107 green and black for the nylon sections of the upper. In addition, the Type II boot was defined, identical except with desert tan color for the leather and the nylon.

Black nylon was added to the spec with revision of military specification MIL-B-43154K (Amendment 1) of September 15, 1989. Speed Lace Assembly also added in later specs, and a Tan desert version as well.

Black Speed Lace "jungle" boots came with the following "Lacing Instructions for Speed Laces":

Step 1. After first lacing through all loops and tying each end of the lace with a hard knot, loosen up lace for easy step-in of foot.

Step 2. With thumbs on either edge remove all pleats and wrinkles by pushing tongue securely around leg.

Step 3. Hold lace ends at pre-tied knots. Pull up lace to desired tightness.

Step 4. Wrap extra-lace length around collar and secure.

The last revision of military specification for these boots is MIL-B-43154M of June 26, 1992, which was canceled on May 15, 1999, described these boots in the following way:

"The fore-foot part of the upper is leather as is the area along the closure system. The rest of the upper is nylon Cordura®. The entire upper on this boot is unlined. Two screened eyelets are set in the upper leather in the medial side of the boot in the waist area to facilitate air circulation and water drainage (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Nylon tape (1 inch) is on the back of the boot (backstrap area) and around the collar. A nylon tape (2 inch) also runs diagonally across the ankle (Figure 3).

Figure 3

The toe box is the same as the Army Combat Boot ("Boot, Combat, Mildew and Water Resistant, Direct Molded Sole"), as is the heel counter, and Poron® insert. A Panama tread pattern out-sole (Figure 4) is direct molded to the leather insole .

Figure 4

A 0.28cm stainless steel plate is inserted between the leather insole, which is split in half and resewn around the edges. The plate extends the entire length of the boot. A zinc-coated steel shank extends from the middle of the heel through the arch and ends just back of the ball area".

The identification and manufacturer's data, as well as sizing information were indicated on the out-soles (Figure 5) and inside the boot's tongue (Figure 6):

Figure 5

Figure 6

The U. S. Marine Corps replaced black "jungle" boots from front-line military service in 2005 with 2 versions of a new tan combat boot made of suede instead of smooth leather:

- "Jungle (Hot Weather) boot", featuring no lining but drainage and ventilation holes on the instep of the boot;

- "Temperate (Infantry) Combat Boot" (with breathing and waterproof Gore-Tex® lining inside), intended to keep moisture out of the boot. The word "Temperate" in the name of these boots means their limited use to environments with temperatures of human body, i.e. 98 F (36.6 C) or less, due to the fact that the lining tends to limit air exchange.

After adoption of the ACU (Army Combat Uniform with UCP camouflage pattern) by the US Army and the ABU (Airman Battle Uniform with "Digital USAF Tiger-stripe" pattern by the US Air Force, the black "jungle" boots were also removed from their front-line service for suede leather desert-style boots of distinctive colors (tan and sage green, correspondingly).

Wear of the green-and-black "jungle" boots is no longer authorized in the U.S. Armed Forces after April 30, 2008. But the armed forces of many other countries outside the U. S. are still using the American-type "jungle" boots.

One can not help mentioning multiple commercial "fakes" by "copy-cats", which manufacture just funny copies of black "jungle" boots or just footwear, that looks like black "jungle" boots from some distance. These products can look more or less similar to the real "jungle" boots, but they no way robust, reliable and comfortable nor safe for use while used in harsh terrains.

It is often enough to keep in hand a pair of real "jungle" boots and a pair of copies to see the difference. The copies usually last for quite short period of time and they start to disintegrate from the counter (heel cap) area. Such boots are not DMS, and the boot's top is just glued to the out-sole.

The copies and fakes usually don't have "Ro-Search®" logo on the out-sole, any other markings are missing or very roughly made, the rubber out-soles are softer but more thick. The tread pattern of the heels on some copies (Figure 7) are "inverted".

Figure 7

Figure 8

Actually there is no sense or reason in this modification, because these outer margins of the heels are usually exposed to an increased tear-and-wear loads, and these parts of the heels are more thick and strong on the out-soles of the original black "jungle" boots (Figure 8).

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