TYR Tactical

Archive for the ‘Boots’ Category

The McRae Industries Story – Part 2, Boots On The Ground

Friday, October 25th, 2019

Crafting combat footwear for the Vietnam War

> American troops in the Vietnam War needed a better combat boot.

The year was 1967, and the Vietnam War raged on. With half a million American troops in South Vietnam, the U.S. was at the height of its combat operations.

One major challenge? The standard, all-leather boot issued to troops was falling apart. As America’s warfighters trudged through the dense bamboo, razor-sharp grass, and perilous swamps of southeast Asia, the stitching on their boots was rotting. The federal government sought a more reliable construction to withstand the hot, wet, and humid conditions troops encountered every day.

A shoemaker’s mission: Combat boots that prevailed in the hot, harsh jungle.

“When lives are on the line – as they were every day in the Vietnam War – no gear is more critical than durable combat boots.”

– Jim McRae, Vice President, Director, and Secretary, McRae Industries

Changing course

Responding to the call: McRae Footwear got its start as a government contractor by making boots for American troops in Vietnam.

More than 9,000 miles away from Vietnam, in tiny Mount Gilead, NC, a children’s shoe company had a solution to the military’s boot problem. Gro-Rite Shoes built its footwear following “Process 82.” Instead of the standard practice of stitching on soles by using the welt construction, rubber outsoles were molded directly onto the leather, yielding a highly functional and long-lasting boot.

Responding to the call: McRae Footwear got its start as a government contractor by making boots for American troops in Vietnam.

Functional and long-lasting: McRae’s olive drab jungle boot.

The U.S. Department of Defense asked Gro-Rite to consider producing combat boots for the Vietnam War. The company bid on and was awarded its first federal contract. The product: olive drab jungle boots, with a hunter-green canvas upper section and thick black rubber outsole.

The war order secured, the company changed its name to McRae Footwear and swiftly exited the children’s shoe business. Although McRae shared the jungle boot contract with 13 other government suppliers, work was plentiful. Jungle boot construction continued steadily in Mount Gilead until 1973, when U.S. troops left Vietnam.

Building a relationship with the federal government

“The military boot business was a huge change for us,” says Jim McRae, vice president, director, and secretary of McRae Industries. “We had the equipment and we had the knowledge, but we needed to learn about government specifications and the ins and outs of being a government contractor.”

Sparked by the abiding tenacity of company founder Branson McRae, the company continued making military boots of various designs for the government using the vulcanizing/direct molded sole construction. Over the years, McRae has emerged as a trusted supplier of military boots.

The jungle boots were so successful that they remained a military-spec item until the mid-1990s. McRae still manufactures commercial versions of these boots using the same vulcanizing presses and molds from the Vietnam War era. Today’s boot is constructed of green canvas-colored nylon Cordura for light weight and maximum airflow.

“The Vietnam War had a huge impact on our nation,” Jim says. “It also had a huge impact on our family business. We started bidding for government contracts, and we have been fortunate ever since to continuously win government work.”

RPFMA Names Bill McCann of SMI, Inc. As New Executive Director

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Domestic Footwear Manufacturing Association to Continue to Defend American-made Footwear

Washington, D.C., October 20, 2019:   The Rubber and Plastics Footwear Manufacturers Association, RPFMA, announced that the association’s management and advocacy operations are now performed by SMI, Inc., a Washington, D.C. based federal marketing and government affairs firm.   Bill McCann, COO of SMI, is the new Executive Director of RPFMA.

“There are a host of pressing trade issues that face our industry.  It is a dynamic and shifting playing field.   RPFMA is committed to protecting the domestic rubber footwear industry’s interests and viability.  It is with this singular goal in mind that the board selected SMI.   The association will remain laser focused on protecting our categories of footwear from imports,” said John Larsen, Chairman of RPFMA and the President Emeritus of New Balance Athletics.

Since the 1930’s RPFMA, and its earlier affiliation with the Rubber Manufacturers Association, has effectively protected the remaining U.S. rubber footwear industry against imports by maintaining the existing duty rates on categories of rubber (nonleather) footwear still manufactured in the US.  

“It’s an honor and a privilege to work for and with the RPFMA members.   These companies are committed to making footwear in America.   In order to ensure that domestic footwear manufacturing is sustainable and indeed able to grow, our nation needs to commit to fair trade policies and investments in advanced manufacturing technologies and workers,” said McCann.   “RPFMA will continue to the be the voice of all domestic footwear manufacturers and will look to lead on fair trade policy and other issues of importance to this industry.”  

As Executive Director, McCann will act on RPFMA’s behalf in Washington.  He will lead advocacy efforts with federal agencies and the U.S. Congress.   McCann is a principal at SMI and previously served as a Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill.  He has both advocacy and management experience.  McCann is well known for his lobbying efforts to require the DoD to comply with the Berry Amendment with respect to athletic shoes issued to enlisted recruits. Patrick Malloy will work with McCann on trade advocacy.   Malloy is a former senior Congressional trade staffer.   The SMI team will also provide event planning, website maintenance, communications, financial operations and membership services.  

RPFMA’s official address is now 1020 19th Street, NW Suite 375, Washington, D.C.  

AUSA 19 – Danner Fullbore

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

Although it’s a TAA compliant boot, this is the first time Danner has offered a hiker-style in their military line.

Available in Black, Coyote and coming this Fall, Gunmetal Gray. The Black and Gray models are waterproof and feature smooth leather. The Coyote is suede and is only water resistant.

The Fullbore features a Vibram Fuga sole with Megagrip technology along with an Ortholite footbed for comfort.


AUSA 19 – WL Gore & Assoc Showcases New Temperate Weather Boot

Monday, October 14th, 2019

The upcoming Terassault GTX from McRae Industies is a temperate boot with improved breathability range thanks to the Extended Comfort membrane from W. L. Gore & Assoc.

It is a very lightweight, low profile design. It offers extreme flexibility and doesn’t impede the design of the boot. In addition to less bulk, it offers at least 30% increased breathability over the Army issue temperate weather boot.

Coming Spring 2020 from McRae Industries.

The McRae Industries Story – Part 1, Caution to the Wind, Flying on a Dream

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

> Growing up in rural North Carolina, McRae Industries founder Branson McRae had big dreams for the future. He went on to become a world leader in manufacturing military footwear.

Mount Gilead, NC, sits at the foot of the Uwharries, North America’s oldest mountain range. With a population of just over 1,000, this Montgomery County community, located an hour east of Charlotte, is small-town America at its best: plenty of fresh air, picturesque charm, and peaceful living all around.

Just outside town, McRae Industries, Inc.  –  a world-renowned footwear manufacturer – has been a legendary mainstay for six decades.    

Small-town charm: Mount Gilead sprung up in the late 19th century.                         

McRae Industries founder Branson Jackson McRae, born in 1920, grew up in Mount Gilead, the third of six children. Branson’s stalwart work ethic was gleaned from his father, James McRae, a farmer and descendent of Scottish immigrants.

The will to succeed: Branson on the family farm in Mount Gilead,1930.

Self-described as an “opportunist and a dreamer,” Branson contemplated his future while working on the family farm. “I’d have a mule in the cotton patch and would be seeing all the nice automobiles drive by,” he once said. “I would think, will I ever have one of them?”

After graduating from Mount Gilead High School in 1937, he set out immediately for a full-time job.

Building ships, houses, and a skating rink

As World War II approached, Branson relocated to Wilmington, NC, to build Liberty ships – cargo vessels that were a frequent target of German U-boats.

While living in Wilmington, he met and married his future wife and spirited soulmate, Lorraine Hamilton, with whom he had four children: Gail, Sandra, Gary, and Jim.

“In the war days, job security for Liberty builders was a given, Branson’s son Gary says. “The Germans sunk the ships so quickly more were always needed.”

Branson’s first job: Building Liberty ships for World War II combat.

When the war ended, Branson joined with brothers JC, Philip, and Finley to launch the McRae Brothers Manufacturing Company, a home construction business based in Mount Gilead. Business boomed, but Branson was always on the lookout for fresh opportunities.

In 1956, he purchased an abandoned brick school building in Wadeville, just a few miles northeast of town, where his daughter Gail had attended elementary school. There, he and Lorraine opened a skating rink, readily building a popular new business.

Starting a shoe company 

Two years later, another prospect loomed. A business group from New York visited Mount Gilead with the vision of opening a shoe factory there. Although the plan was abandoned, Branson sensed the opportunity – and seized it.

“Dad was laser focused on starting a factory in the old schoolhouse,” son Gary says.  “At the age of 40, he threw caution to the wind. He knew nothing about footwear, but he was confident he could learn and succeed.” The new business, Gro-Rite Shoe Company Inc., was soon manufacturing children’s footwear for such industry leaders as Kinney Shoes.

A new business begins: The Wadeville schoolhouse, circa 1967.

To start his company, Branson invested $100,000 in cash and assets in exchange for a third of the new company’s stock, selling the remaining two-thirds’ interest to local investors. With a total $300,000 investment, Gro-Rite was “woefully underfinanced,” son Jim says. “Profits were slim, but Dad persevered.”

Shoemaker mentor: Heinz Rollman taught Branson his patented method.

Learning the craft

Branson’s mentor in his new business venture was Heinz Rollman, a third-generation, multimillionaire shoemaker. Heinz had fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and relocated his company, RoSearch Inc., to Waynesville, NC. He and his partners operated 72 shoe factories worldwide and invented “Process 82,” a patented method of making shoes using vulcanized rubber. Instead of stitching together the upper and lower parts of the shoe, the process “cooks” the two together, creating a highly durable construction.  

“People who won’t give up, no matter what difficulties they encounter, those kinds of people I admire and respect more than money.”

– Heinz Rollman, founder of RoSearch Inc., and mentor to Branson McRae

“Heinz could see that my father, though lacking in funds and knowledge of the shoemaking business, was sincere, ambitious, and uncommonly determined,” Gary says. “He granted Dad a license for Process 82, and Gro-Rite became the first company in the U.S. to receive a patent for vulcanizing children’s shoes.”

Branson renovated the school building’s 12,000 square feet of floor space – and added another 3,000 feet to build a rubber mill.  He hired more than 100 Montgomery County workers and put them through a vigorous training with RoSearch experts. Branson also purchased the machinery to cut, sew, and prepare leather for vulcanizing.


Gro-Rite’s unconditional guarantee: “A new pair of shoes free if the soles wear out or the counters break down before the shoe is outgrown.”

Each step of construction followed the Rollman family’s carefully crafted procedures. The result? A faster construction process, elimination of several steps required in conventional shoe manufacturing, and a shoe that stands up to water.

Six years after Gro-Rite’s launch, America’s involvement in the Vietnam War was accelerating. American soldiers needed resilient footwear – boots that outlasted the treacherous conditions of Southeast Asia. The federal government took notice of Gro-Rite’s vulcanizing technique and asked the company to bid on a contract for combat boot construction. Branson responded, the contract was awarded, and destiny took a new turn.

Hoka One Arkali Trail Shoe

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

I must admit, the new Arkali from Hoka One has me intrigued. Certainly, the last thing I need is another pair of shoes, but I have had good luck other Hoka models.

While still somewhat “chunky”, the to toe lacing is desirable for an approach shoe, and that’s where I’d categorize these.

They’ve included adjustable heel and ankle straps. Additionally, the sole is a Vibram Megagrip hi-traction outsole with 5mm lugs and there a toe cap to resist abrasion.

No specs on drop or weight.


Varusteleka – Särmä TST M19 Combat Boots, Manufactured by Lowa

Friday, September 27th, 2019

Varusteleka just launched the new Särmä TST M19 Combat boots. These boots are a joint development between Varusteleka and Lowa. The aim was to create a robust combat boot, which works well in various Nordic climate conditions, maintains a grip on snow and works well in woodland type of terrain.


• Gore-Tex membrane
• Thick nubuck leather and Cordura
• Injection molded EVA multicomponent sole
• Speed lacing
• Weight approx 1430 grams (3.15 lbs) for pair
• Manufactured in the EU from EU materials


MDM 19 – Haix Combat Hero

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Built specifically for the US Market, the Combat Hero is Haix’ first AR670-1 compliant boot.

This is great for those of you who like Haix but haven’t been able to wear them with your uniform.

It’s the right color, right height abd made from the right materials.