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It’s Time for the Army to Reconsider Pigskin Leather for Boots

Recently, we posted “Leader Book Notes” on boots from Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond Chandler. While we applauded his candor, there was a very glaring error in the SMA’s information.

SMA Chandler stated that Warrior Leather is a “common use” term for pigskin. Turns out that is untrue. It is actually a trademarked product of Wolverine Worldwide. You know Wolverine because they own Bates Footwear. Wolverine is the parent company of 16 global brands such as Merrell, Saucony and Wolverine as well as Bates.


Oil, stain and abrasion-resistant Wolverine Warrior® Leather is treated with Scotchgard™ protector to create an invisible, stain-resistant barrier that improves durability without changing the breathability, color or texture of the leather.

Boots with Warrior® Leather are easy to clean and engingeered to resist dirt, mud, motor oil, vehicle fluids, gasoline and other oil-based chemicals.

Once we found out that the term “Warrior Leather” was an actual product that people were buying, it was time to learn more. We ended up discussing this issue recently with the folks at Bates. They’re using it for good reason. Bates found that their WWL is lighter weight, absorbs less liquid, dries faster, retains flexibility better, and is more stain resistant than cattle hide.


The real question in all of this is “what has the US Army got against pigskin leather in the first place?” After all, the other services use it. If it’s good enough for the Marines, why not them?

The first issue that must be addressed is durability. Pigskin is, in fact, thinner than cowhide. Some would take that to mean that it is less durable. Bates shared that over the last 10 years, they have delivered in excess of two million pair of WWL leather combat boots to the US military via DLA contracts and military exchanges without a single documented case of leather failure. Plus, pigskin is more supple. It’s easier to work during the construction of footwear and it breathes better than cowhide.

When the US Air Force moved to adopt pig leather, we know that several Jewish Airmen came forward with their objections. We can imagine that Islamic Airmen may well have been concerned as well. However, cow leather has never been completely replaced by pig leather in US combat boots. It’s only been added as another material solution. So service members have never been placed in a position that would compromise their religious duties. While we understand the religious objections of Jewish and Islamic service members, the overall advantages of pig leather should be weighed as an additional material. Just like there are kosher and halal rations available to those that require them, they’ll still have footwear that meets their needs. Conversely, current issue boots force Hindu Soldiers to wear cowhide. If we are going to use religious grounds as a basis for this decision, all traditions should be considered.

One of the most compelling arguments for the adoption of pig leather is that it diversifies the supply chain for boots. Due to the very fragile nature of the US raw material supply chain it is critical the US military have multiple leather sources in the case of a delivery disruption. Right now, the other services can take advantage of such diversification. Now, it’s the Army’s turn.

The last reason I will cite is, for the Army, the most important reason. Pigskin leather is less expensive than cattle hide. It’s that simple. The Army is the largest consumer of clothing and footwear in DoD and could relieve the cost for boots both institutionally as well as for the individual Soldier with the adoption of pigskin leather for boots; at no performance cost. They can turn those savings around to improve other gear or hasten the transition to OCP.

The advantage is there for the Army if they would reconsider their ban on the use of pigskin leather for combat footwear. Now, we’re not advocating the full scale replacement of cowhide here, but rather the addition of pigskin as an authorized boot material. With the current transition to a new camouflage pattern, cut of the Army Combat Uniform and boot color underway, every option should be on the table, including this one. SSD urges the US Army to reconsider their ban in the use of pigskin leather for combat boots.

UPDATE: I forgot to include a reason. More pigskin = more bacon!

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29 Responses to “It’s Time for the Army to Reconsider Pigskin Leather for Boots”

  1. badjujuu says:

    Again and again it shows that the decisions up stairs are made by people who are not fully informed of all the options out there. Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond Chandler needs to start subscribing to Soldier Systems.

  2. bulldog76 says:

    hog leather boots seems like a good idea

  3. That Blue Falcon says:

    Stop making sense, SSD. We can’t have that in this modern army. We’re going to parade ground pretty, 100% uniformity by SOP. You know, the mentality from BEFORE we starting fighting wars for over a decade, because that’s the only mentality that wins fights.

  4. Nick says:

    I’m fairly certain my old Oakley SI 8″ had pig skin on the inside of the upper.

  5. Philip says:

    There you go again, making sense and using facts! 😉
    Good write-up, SSD.

    I wholeheartedly agree that there’s a huge disconnect between senior leadership and the everyday Joe.

  6. Steve says:

    It’s pig leather. We wouldn’t want to offend certain people by using it.

  7. Dumb Ass Marine says:

    But what about us that are politically insensitive or incorrect. I find it offensive that I can’t wear a boot that is insensitive to someone!

    Actually, a very well written article to point. Which means nobody in DOD will have a clue.

  8. AbnMedOps says:

    Horsehide would be better, but that SOB Willie Nelson politicked for a ban on horse slaughter in the US. Now there are zillions of suffering, half-starved backyard horses that people can’t feed, and no option to sell to the glue factory.

  9. Desert Lizard says:

    If you don’t want to touch pig leather, put a liner inside the boot or just wear good socks. Done.

  10. BCP says:

    What about “coon skin and alligator hide”?

    • Buckaroomedic says:

      You beat me too it! “makes a pair of jump boots just the right size”.

  11. cj says:

    what are PT belts made out of?

    whatever it is, its against my religion. bye bye, pt belt.

  12. straps says:

    Was kinda wondering what hey meant when they said pig skin was less durable.

    My personal experience with pig skin was different, though it was civilian LE, where I wore alternated between 2 pair of pig skin boots for 5 years until they added Danners to our “list.”

  13. Mick says:


    You write compellingly; let’s hope someone will listen.

    We await your official editorial saying (officially, becuase you’ve mentioned in asides before) that AF should ditch ABU for Scorpion W2, and Army should allow commercial MultiCam with Scorpion W2.

    Seriously, write more editorials on stuff like this… you have a good handle on it and lay out a clear, logical rationale for your proposed course of action.


  14. Strike-Hold says:

    I just came here for the comments. 😉

    • Mike Nomad says:

      New Morale Patch:

      Pig Wearin’, Pork Eatin’ Crusader.


      Pork Wearin’, Pork Eatin’ Crusader.

      VLMS could make them on pig skin.

      Strike-Hold: That good enough?

  15. Felix says:

    Thank you for the article SSD, industry journalism at its best.

  16. andrew says:

    Pigskin or cowhide, will no one think of the poor vegans in uniform?

  17. Luke says:

    I’ve never heard a compelling argument for pigskin that wasn’t from someone trying to sell it. If it’s cheaper AND better why aren’t there more pigskin boots on the market? Totally agree on the supply chain argument though, mo’ choices mo’ better.

  18. Aaron says:

    I just want bates lites man…can’t I ever get that?

  19. Jian Hong says:

    Actually pigskin isn’t good enough for Marines like me. From personal experience, Bates are inferior to Bellevilles and Danners. Fortunately I only got issued one pair, everything else I got from deployments were Bellevilles or Danner RATs. That one pair fell apart in less than a year. Bates worn by others consistently looked like shit too so I swore that brand off. I got a pair of Bellevilles that survived three deployments, retired them after that nasty Afghan canal water I waded through plus the sun finally tore the outer leather open.

    It probably is a good idea the Army is staying away from pork boots lol

    • Jian Hong says:

      Forgot to add, that pair that survived 3 tours is still wearable but might give a SNCO an aneurism if I wore them in the rear.

      My Bellevilles look like new after a good cleaning, even after a deployment.

      A non mil friend of mine got a pair of black Bates from his former AF tenant that seperated apart from YARD WORK.