Eagle Industries

MarCorSysCom Fielding New Cold Weather Boot in 2021

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.—This fiscal year, Marine Corps Systems Command plans to begin fielding a new boot that protects Marines in cold-weather climates.

The Marine Corps Intense Cold Weather Boot is a full-grain, leather boot designed foruse in temperatures as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The ICWB allows Marines to complete various missions that might involve hiking or skiing in arduous, cold weather environments without having to change boots.

“In order to effectively conduct your mission in a cold weather environment, you need to be warm,” said Todd Towles, project officer of Cold Weather Gear with the Program Manager for Infantry Combat Equipment at MCSC. “This boot helps to accomplish this goal.”

The Marine Corps currently employs a temperate and an extreme cold weather boot. The Temperate Weather Marine Corps Combat Boot is designed for employment in conditions between 20 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, while the Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boot is intended for use in environments between -65 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, Marines have said the TWMCCB does not provide enough warmth in sub-zero temperatures because the boot is not designed for such environments. They often have to switch to the Vapor Barrier boot, which can cause excessive sweating if worn extensively in environments above -20 degrees Fahrenheit, said Towles.

The ICWB fills a capability gap left by these two boots. The ICWB will be used in temperatures ranging from -20 degrees to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Towles said the boot can last up to 18 months or longer if cared and maintained correctly.

“The Intense Cold Weather Boot is not going to have the same insulation capabilities that the Extreme Cold Weather Boot provides, so the foot shouldn’t sweat as much,” said Towles. “It’s also less bulky than the Extreme Cold Weather Boot.”

From 2018 to 2020, MCSC held several user evaluations involving an early version of the ICWB, made of suede, in Iceland, Norway, Alaska and Montana, as well as at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. Curtis Johnson, a logistics management specialist with MCSC, said Marines felt that the suede boot was well-constructed and durable but also thought it was bulky and did not dry well once wet.

Leveraging this feedback, MCSC then acquired a full-grain boot in 2020. Marines indicated the full-grain boot dried well but didn’t provide enough warmth in below-zero temperatures. CWO2 Christopher Latham, an infantry weapons officer for 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, assessed the updated boot at Bridgeport earlier this year.

“When the temperature dipped into the negative-degree range, your feet became very cold,” said Latham. “I believe that we need more insulation in the boot to get down into the negative temperatures.”

The program office then added an additional 200 grams of insulation to the boot. If a Marine is wearing the boot for extended periods of time in sub-zero temperatures, MCSC provides a protective overboot for additional warmth if needed. The improved ICWB is also less bulky than the earlier prototype and comprises a black, leather boot to repel moisture.

“The first prototype ICWB we tested received mixed reviews, but the second prototype with the added insulation has been well-received by Marines thus far,” said Johnson. “The boot is similar to the boots they wear every day.”

The program office expects the ICWB to begin fielding in the second quarter of fiscal year 2021. Towles believes the ICWB will serve the warfighter well in the coming years.

“The ICWB lightens the load for the Marines by their needing only one boot for fighting and ski missions, as opposed to in the past when Marines had to maintain two boots,” said Towles. “I believe these boots will further support Marines in cold weather environments and help them achieve mission success.”

Photo by Matt Gonzales, Marine Corps Systems Command

Story by Marine Corps Systems Command

19 Responses to “MarCorSysCom Fielding New Cold Weather Boot in 2021”

  1. Bill says:

    HQ USMC: “We’re going to do what we did our first year in Korea forgetting the reasons why we do things the way we do them now. But this time the results will be different because reasons and stuff.”

  2. roy says:

    The manufacturer of the boot is not identified. Any idea?

    Also, the insulation is not identified. Any idea?

    No indication whether or not Gore-Tex is part of the boot. Notwithstanding the lies of the Gore family, a Gore membrane would certainly account for cold/wet feet.

  3. Ahisa says:

    Smooth out Leathers….time to bust out that Kiwi again!

    • James says:

      That’s worth pointing out! It’s a good thing for snow, could have gone with Navy style browns, but probably much less expensive in the established color.

      • Mike says:

        The smooth brown leather flight boots worn by Navy and some Marine aviators are the Belleville 330ST. They’re not insulated, but are much better than the rough out boots in wet and snowy conditions. However at altitude the steel toe can really transfer the cold. The other widely worn, though unauthorized boot, is the Red Wing 2233.

        Those Danners look nice. As to the Kiwi, I always preferred Lincoln Stain Wax.

        • James says:

          Exactly the ones I was thinking of, would have to be reworked into a new model. Danner has a brown in it’s hunting line that’s less rough and absorbent, but the fabric they use is very IR reflective. Either way nothing in the lines that fit the specs in brown.

  4. Iggy says:

    Having spent a lot of time in the cold I’m holding judgement on these. A boot for -25 for anything beyond guarding a gate doesn’t look like the one in the photo. 400g of insulation in the upper maybe is enough, but unless its something unseen that boot doesn’t have it, 400g is what a high altitude boot has. Also half your heat is lost thru the sole, maybe some of the insu has gone there but unless it’s something like aerogel it’s questionable it’ll be enough.
    And skiing, really? Unless they’re for telemarking in the 50’s those boots ain’t going on skis.
    Good boots truly designed for -25 let alone -65 (wherever thats meant to be) exist but these are not what anyone seriously working in such an environment would choose.

    • checque says:

      +1
      Hard to envision how these will be good for much more than daily, lower 48 fall/winter admin wear in garrison and the occasional boy scout overnight. Single boots are day-trippers in cold weather, not multi-day. The toe box is too small and the shape makes little sense ergonomically when you consider how the toes, in oarticular the great (aka big) toe moves and works to keep circulation moving for all the toes.. The boot lacks a removable liner. 400 grams of thinsulate looks good on paper but even if it is a consistent 400 grams all around/underneath the foot, not just draped over the upper. And once it wets out, from precip and sweat, what do you do, have a spare pair of boots on hand? Please tell me MCSC is not working on a man-portable boot dryer. Removable liner/inner boot is the only logical way to do multi-day boots in the cold unless you are planning on VB socks (no training issues with that one right? until the first few hundred cases of trenchfoot) or better still, drying fires and other cutting edge procedures which would seem to run counter to the desires of leadership who believe their forces have such magnificent and modern lethality and mobility they no longer need tanks and artillery. Skiing in this boot will be miserably cold and unnecessarily difficult even for the 0-several dozen trained basic competent skiers (aka Mtn Leaders) MWTC produces every year depending on the whim and fancy of TECOM. The vast majority of USMC will never see snow in training and if they do, they will be better off in VB’s and snowshoes unless somebody decides to make skiing an essential task and mandating units get adequate annual winter ski training (you will see Trump and Pelosi out on a date before this happens). Does the Serket Patrol binding work well with this boot plus overboots? If so, you might overcome some of the cold but again, within a day or so of constant use, these boots will be soaked and little more than a cold wx injury waiting to happen, unless there is a nifty way to dry them out on the move/in the field. Pro Patria makes some good comments below and Serket has been attacking the ski challenges for a while. The VB boot has a place for static admin tasks but it is high time they field a legit cold weather boot that is suitable and designed for combat, has a removable inner liner/boot, etc. It’s not a full shank technical mountaineering boot, it’s not a mukluk either. If you want it to ski, you should consider tech inserts or stick with tele binding (they both have their pros/cons) and a square toe but no one outside the schoolhouse is doing much skiing and snowshoes will suffice given the lack of regular training, not to mention the lack of an adequate military cold weather boot and ski tied to a training rqmt: Serket’s chicken and egg conundrum. Danner makes very durable high quality boots but theyve never been particularly good in the cold. Hats off to the folks working hard to solve the problems of cw boots but this boot is going to take a lot of effort to reach even a moderate degree of effectiveness in snow and cold winter conditions. Why bother? With so few MAGTF’s being trained, maybe just make a better VB boot and snowshoes(next to no training required and lower risk for cold weather injuries).
      For ski/march, why reinvent the wheel? Alico (Italy) makes a good double leather boot that climbs and hikes pretty well and skis decently if you can get a few weeks of dedicated ski training in every year. Scarpa T4 is a proven plastic double boot (also tele). Crispi makes nice tele boots as well. There are dozens+ of different AT boots to choose from if you’re aiming to operate in steep mountainous terrain and the click/clack of your tech bindings and super stiff sorta-walk-don’t-run works for your mission. As far as a military “combat” boot that is good between -20-20F, I think you will have to invent something new and it will benefit from having a gaiter and/or an overboot in addition to a removable inner boot.

    • James says:

      Don’t have any time in the dead cold like that, but the -10 to20 degree range is something I do have a good deal of experience with foot patrol and hunting- these are for that kind of in-between weather. It’s really a hard temperature zone to do right, and people come up with all kinds of methods that fit them from vapor barrier socks , loose top lacing, different ways of sock layering, wool felt insoles,plain leather, goretex, pac boots with removable liners- for day to day wear though almost everyone winds up with something pretty similar ( goretex and 200-600 grams of insulation) loose lacing for venting. The top end of the temp range is going to be wet almost everywhere, it’s damned if you do damned if you don’t on the goretex. Again, not for -65 just something a little warmer than the Temperates.

  5. Pro Patria says:

    Iggy,

    The Serket Patrol Binding addresses the binding issue. When we were developing the requirements behind the larger effort the boot binding interface was a huge point of concern, along with there was no domestic boot in this space. We coined the verbiage for the requirements leading to this boot.

    For the Patrol binding we pointed to the example of split board bindings and discussed with multiple manufacture’s such as Voile. It was actually the Voile Speed Rail melded to their Vector BC that we used as an concept sketch. Serket’s original prototypes looked much more like a split board binding than the final product.

    As for the boots in this article…….. I still feel that we are largely trapped in the moold of what we know, and industry not innovating. We pointed to boots like the ACRUX AR MOUNTAINEERING BOOT and the discontinued Arcteryx Bora boots as concepts with insulated liners like the Intuition DENALI liners has a better direction. But with no domestic production options and not being in a position to write the requirement and leverage industry it never moved forward. I even demoed the now discontinued Nike SFB Mountain Boots with the Intuition liners. The boot itself was wrong, but the concept seemed dead on.

    Having used a similar boot to this new Marine boot it’s fine until you stop movement. At that point the trapped moisture becomes and issue, and you are seldom if ever able to truly dry out the interior of the boot. In the Nike/Intuition Concept you had two sets of liners and could dry one out, while you wore the other.

    • redbeard says:

      Vapor Barrier Liner is the answer to that puzzle.

      • Pro Patria says:

        RedBeard,

        The Intuition liners are/were essentially insulated VB liners. In the concept we demoed the Nike liners even made them a two season boot, with a lighter more breathable inner boot you could swap out for the cold weather liner. The MWTC was already using Intuition liners in the hard shell telemark boots that they where using with the Voile tele bindings at the tome.

        That was the inspiration actually for the concept we came up with. That and it’s a common method for mountaineering boots already.

  6. Pro Patria says:

    Intuition did provide a place with the ablaty to produce their liners domestically, but I no longer have that information.

  7. Junior says:

    Good grief….

    How many times are we going to re-invent the wheel?

    I remember when I got a set of Danner Ft Lewis boots back in the 1980s how people looked at me like I had a dick growing out of my forehead. Until they walked across a dew covered grassy area at Camp Pendleton in February and their feet were soaked and cold.

    10 years later we were getting issued the non-insulated Infantry Combat Boots.

    Took them 30 years. Nice going.

    • Papa6 says:

      That is the same boot I wore in the late ’80s through the ’90s too. Wore in some serious training in both Colorado and Utah.

      Again, “what old is new again”.