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Posts Tagged ‘New Balance’

Fear Not, New Recruit – Your American Made New Balance Running Shoes Aren’t Ugly

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

During last week’s Warrior West Expo, I had a chance to check out the Berry compliant running shoes being offered by New Balance in response to DoD’s announcement that new recruits will now use their vouchers for running shoes to buy American made products.

Until now, troops have been buying foreign made kicks. Now, the same money that would have purchased these shoes manufactured oversea will be used to buy ones made here at home.

Running shoes have remained the last frontier of Berry compliance for DoD. New Balance and Saucony have stepped up and invested in the technology to manufacture running shoes right here in America. Hopefully, this is only the first step and others will follow. This opportunity is only open to those manufacturers who offer Berry compliant shoes and are willing to undergo certification.

Fortunately, DoD made this happen on their own, as past attempts in Congress were blocked by the likes of Sen John McCain (R-AZ) and others. One more time. Congress did not direct DoD to take this course of action.


The New Balance 950v2 is a low cut running shoe that incorporates ABZORB cushioning in the heel and forefoot. They’ve been working in this military version for some time.


As you can see these aren’t “ugly”, as they were recently referred to by the seemingly anti-American manufacturing website Gawker. Ignorant rants like theirs fail to comprehend the importance of the Berry Amendment in maintaining the protective edge for our service members.

Socialism, it isn’t. Ask the countries that have outsourced the production of their defense related textile needs how that is working to for them. They’re not exactly pushing the envelope. America remains the world leader in the development and production of protective clothing and individual equipment for the warrior. It’s investment in our industries like this that make such development possible.

Unfortunately, the ignorant comments regarding this development aren’t confined to Gawker. I’ve seen some really ridiculous stuff spewed all over, including Facebook, various blogs and even here on SSD.

Let me address a few of these claims by internet “experts”.

Everyone will have to wear the same shoe
This is restricted to new accessions so serving members will continue to purchase and wear the shoes of their choosing, just like now. New recruits receive a voucher for running shoes during processing for initial entry training. Now, instead of foreign made shoes, they’ll be offered American made trainers.

I’m still trying to figure out how buying American made products from companies that employ American workers is bad. But, I’ve run across several who feel that the Berry Amendment, which dates from WW II, is antiquated and should be repealed. That is, until I have them consider the alternative. I haven’t met anyone who wants their helmet and armor manufactured overseas.

“Follow the money!” aka “they paid off Congress” aka “they’ve hired a retired General to make this happen”
I’m pretty much sick and tired of this meme. I don’t know of anyone who is actually involved in graft or the greasing of palms. This business space just isn’t that lucrative. In truth, New Balance would be better off selling offshore made shoes or selling American made ones at full retail. The numbers here aren’t that big as they are restricted to new accessions. Make no mistake, New Balance is in business and they are going to profit but they’ve done it (invested in the required infrastructure) in part, because it’s the right thing to do.

Writ large, there isn’t that much money in textile items, at least not ones made in America, for DoD. Granted, some companies, particularly armor manufacturers, made some good money during the height of the war, but considering we are a capitalist society, that’s not a bad thing. However, in case you haven’t noticed, that train has left the station and many firms are hurting in the face of Sequestration.

But, but, but…they’re not Brand Y…I wear Brand Y
Don’t fret, unless you are a new entry, this doesn’t affect you and even if you are, you can buy your favorite brand after basic, even if they aren’t part if this program. The same goes with boots.

This move by DoD is a good thing and if, by happenstance, it turns out to not be, I’ll be there to talk about it.

Warrior Expo – New Balance

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

The New Balance Minimist line has been a huge success and they continue to introduce new models. Here are two of the latest.

First off, I’ll show you a sneak peek at the MX20 V4 which comes early next year. It offers a 4mm drop from heel to toe.


The MX00 is a completely neutral shoe meaning no drop heel to to toe. Think gym shoe. It’s meant to get those weightlift into a minimalist shoe. It allows for biomechanically correct foot positioning. It’s out now.


Finally, we’ve got the Fresh Foam 980 which is a neutral cushion running shoe with a 4mm drop from heel to toe. It has been winning awards since being released about two months ago thanks to its innovative Fresh Foam midsole. It’s a single piece of foam that offers concave foam for cushioning
and convex for stability. Awarded “Best Ride” in the Competitor Magazine Spring Shoe Guide. Available now!


New Balance – Minimus Military Exchange Exclusive Colors

Friday, October 4th, 2013


New Balance will soon be releasing two models of Minimus athletic shoes, the MX20 and MT1010, in colors exclusive to Military Exchanges.

The MX20 is a training shoe with a 4mm drop from heel to toe designed for weight lifting, resistance training, and mid distance running.

The MT1010 is a trail shoe with a 4mm drop from heel to toe designed for trail running. It features a 1mm ultra-lightweight REVlite midsole and a ROCK STOP plate in the forefoot.

USAF Approves New Balance Merino Clothing

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013


New Balance announced that on July 19, 2013 the Air Force Uniform Office approved several New Balance items for use with FR uniforms. The items on the list are intended to be worn next to skin only.

It includes a wide range of No Melt No Drip products that are appropriate for a wide range of climates. NB’s synthetic blends and proprietary Merino wool blends will offer Airmen a next to skin layering system appropriate for their unique mission.

AFR701 Flame Resistant T-Shirt
AFR105 Flame Resistant Boxer
AFR105w Flame Resistant FR Women’s Boy Short
AFR801 Flame Resistant Mid Weight Top
AFR201 Flame Resistant Mid Weight Drawers
MIL865 Flame Resistant Mid Weight Light Weight Top
MIL245 Flame Resistant Mid Weight Light Weight Drawers
MIL126 Flame Resistant FR Women’s Boy Short
MIL708 Light Weight Merino Wool T-Shirt
MIL810 Light Weight Merino Wool Crew
MIL811 Mid Weight Merino Wool ¼ Zip
MIL102 Light Weight Merino Wool Boxers
MIL211 Light Weight Merino Wool Drawers
MIL212 Mid Weight Merino Wool Drawers

More information is available at under Military. Additionally, unit and agency ordered can be handled by

Warrior Expo – New Balance

Friday, July 12th, 2013


Each year, New Balance offers a special color run of select shoes from their Minimus line to AAFES. This year, they will be the MX20 and 1010v2. Both will hit Exchanges in October.


I’m pretty excited about this new MX20 mid-trainer. It offers all of the advantages of a minimal training shoe with the mid height. It kind of reminds me of a wrestling shoe. Look for these 1/1/14.

Warrior West – New Balance

Friday, April 26th, 2013


New Balance developed an FR bra and boy short to fill the capability gap in the Army’s Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble. They were designed for New Balance by a former Moving Comfort employee with a great deal of experience creating performance undergarments for females.


New Balance models in a similar fabric are already issued to deploying females in the Air Force, the bras and boy short are currently stocked at AAFES MCSS in 120 stores for private purchase.

Warrior West – New Balance Abyss USA

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

The 601MBK Abyss USA is a Berry compliant version of the popular 6″ water boot manufactured in Skowhegan, Maine.


It features a 2-part insole system so that it can be worn with dry suits or to accommodate thick socks. It features a Vibram outsole with integrated drain holes. The combination of synthetic and mesh make the upper very abrasion resistant yet breathable. In fact, it is designed to release all water in less than 3 minutes with testing indicating it can accomplish this feat in as little as 45 seconds.

The Abyss USA is already in use with US military units.

Open Range Service Group Military Mountain and Cold Weather Workshop

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

In late January, Open Range Service Group coordinated the Military Mountain and Cold Weather Workshop, a two day round table workshop designed to bring together Military and DoD personnel with industry leaders in the area of military equipment for cold weather and mountainous operations. Held in Essex, Vermont the location is well known to those in military mountaineering circles. The forum of discussions provided insight on operational requirements based of lessons learned, current technology and future developments to support mission requirements and future needs. Topics covered ranged from advanced fiber technology and materials used for insulation in cold weather protection garments, individual mountain equipment to include stoves, sleep systems and lighting. A third day was dedicated to actual ice climbing training that utilized products discussed in the workshop briefings.

Denali Climb for the Fallen, 2nd Ranger BTN, Open Range Service Group from Marc Womack on Vimeo.

The conference kicked off with a presentation on the Denali Climb for the Fallen by members of the 2nd Ranger Bn and led by Open Range Service Group. This video is a synopsis of the ascent. The group summited Denali on Memorial Day of 2011. This key presentation really set off the tone of the entire event and while the climb was completed under training conditions, the environmental challenges faced by the crew were the same as in combat. This led to excellent observations on kit, nutrition, health and techniques. In later presentations, I was able to make direct correlations back to the initial address which was very helpful considering I had never undertaken a climbing expedition.

I attend a lot of seminars and trade shows and I have to say that this event was well worth my time. The subject matter was poignant and the speakers and attendees were a great mix. There was heavy attendance by military and industry personnel involved in mountain and cold weather ops. I was really impressed with the backgrounds of military and civilians alike and everyone added to the discussion but from different perspectives. While ultimately, everything is based on civilian climbing, different units adopt different techniques and gear at different speeds.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of ORSG’s events in the future, make sure you do it. I can’t think of many conferences where you can talk about new techniques and technologies and then try them out. If it’s even half as good as this one, you won’t be disappointed.

I want to give out a special thanks to my hosts Open Range Service Group and in particular, sponsor Primaloft.

Also, be sure to ask ORSG about their excellent performance t-shirts from New Balance commemorating the Denali Climb for the Fallen. Proceeds from sales of the shirts go to the Pointe du Hoc Foundation.

Run Walk to Home Base 9K Run

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

On May 20th the Run Walk to Home Base 9K Run will raise funds to provide clinical care for veterans with combat stress or traumatic brain injury as well as support services and counseling for wounded vet’s families. Presented by New Balance, the Red Sox Foundation, and Massachusetts General Hospital participants can run or walk with the finish line at Fenway Park’s home base.

One of our industry friends is participating. For those of you who’d like to support this cause visit

Army Seriously Looking at Wool

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

While this isn’t exactly breaking news, the fact that the Army is publicly acknowledging their efforts regarding wool is. Wool was long a mainstay of Soldier clothing. Take for example this Soldier circa 1941. He is essentially wearing the same clothing that his forebears wore in the trenches of World War I. This same gear served us well through World War II, Korea and on. Wool pieces remained in the cold weather bag up into the 90s. And then, beginning in the 60s with selected items up through early 90s, the services began to turn away from wool in favor of synthetics such as polypropylene and acrylic. As operations in Afghanistan and Iraq ramped up, the flame threat associated with Improvised Explosive Devices caused a shift to a new generation of FR performance fabrics.

In recent years there has been a move to investigate the possibility of reintroducing nature’s performance fabric into the Soldier’s kit bag. Wool’s advantages, particularly of the Merino variety, are myriad.

-Warm even when wet
-Comfortable in a wide range of temperatures as well as against the skin
-Inherently FR (No Melt, No Drip)
-Grown Naturally

Now, according to an Army press release, Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center has contracted for several efforts with the American Sheep Industry Association and its subsidiary, Sheep Venture Company, to develop, test and evaluate wool fabrics for combat clothing. The ASI is no slouch, with over 45 state sheep associations, all told it represents more than 82,000 sheep producers.

“We can enhance wool’s inherent properties by engineering high-performance fiber blends and fabric structures. It all begins with the wool fiber fineness, where some breeds of sheep and what they are fed directly affect the wool fiber diameter and flexibility,” said Carole Winterhalter, textile technologist for NSRDEC.

“In the military world, Natick is recognized as working on cutting-edge technologies in support of all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Work done at Natick is thorough and credible,” said Mitchell Driggers, program manager for Sheep Venture Company, or SVC, and government contracting consultant of the American Sheep Industry, known as ASI.

“Natick provides the expertise of textile technologists to engineer optimized individual clothing for the field,” Winterhalter said.

In 2009 NSRDEC selected three organizations for Phase I Small Business Innovation Research contracts specifically calling for shrink-resistant treatments for wool and our friends at Propel LLC were involved in these efforts. SVC received the Phase II contract and created different wool shrink-resist techniques through chemical and enzyme-based technologies. Subsequently, the sheep and wool industry spent its own funds to install a manufacturing line with energy-efficient equipment to run the shrink treatments.

This line accommodates multiple shrink treatment methods. SVC’s washable wool line exceeded its production by more than 40 percent in the first year, and the company expects to double its production this year.

“The work done with Natick Labs is important because ASI is able to better understand the needs of all of the military services,” said Rita Samuelson, wool marketing director for ASI. “Together, we can develop products that are functional and valuable to our servicemen and women.”

There has been an impression that there isn’t enough domestic wool to go around, but the facts belie the myth. The US wool industry exports approximately 65 percent of American-grown raw and semi-processed wool to overseas markets, and 10-15 percent is used by the domestic textile industry. The rest is consumed by the US military.

The next step is engineering better performing wool blends. For example, spinning long-staple (four-inch) wool into worsted yarns with Nomex and Kevlar fibers from DuPont was done through NSRDEC and SVC for flame resistance and durability purposes.

“We believe we’ll be able to make a fabric that is much stronger with the long-staple worsted yarns,” Winterhalter said. “We’ve already demonstrated a 20 percent increase in yarn strength over the previous short-staple yarns.”

On the other hand, New Balance is out in front of this concept as well with their FR wool blend featuring FR Rayon.

“Through these different parameters, we can engineer high-tech protective clothing made from environmentally friendly natural means,” Winterhalter said. “We hope these fabrics will be used across the board for FR applications, just as the nylon/cotton blend has been the all-purpose combat uniform fabric.”

To further refine the technology, SVC was awarded a three-year contract to develop FR fabrics for the future.

“Wool does not melt or drip and has significant fire-resistant qualities, both of which can help protect Soldiers from IEDs,” Samuelson said.

The advantages of wool for the Soldier are obvious. It is truly nature’s performance fabric and when combined with other technologies, performance is further enhanced. For the Army and by extension the taxpayer, wool offers a cost advantage. Expect to see more and more companies enter the domestic wool game as they eye military business.