Archive for the ‘Boots’ Category

The McRae Industries Story – Part 3, War In The Desert

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

> When war broke out in the Persian Gulf, McRae Footwear shored up its workforce to deliver a new product. The desert boot was designed to stand up to the arid climate and sandy terrain of the Middle East.

Keeping out the heat

BY JULY 1990, times were tough for McRae Industries. The Cold War was over, military spending was down, and Defense Department demand for combat boots had ground to a halt. To weather the financial storm, company founder and CEO Branson McRae laid off nearly half of the company’s 287-person workforce and began to pursue other lines of business. It was the first furlough since McRae Footwear began making military boots in 1967.

“Many in our workforce had been with us for more than two decades,” says Victor Karam, who at that time headed up McRae’s footwear division. “Sending them home was heartbreaking.”

“No one wanted to see the U.S. in another war. But we took great pride in knowing these boots would make life better for our troops.”

— Victor Karam, Director, McRae Industries

Responding to the surge

Just a month later, war broke out in the Persian Gulf.  In response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the U.S. joined 38 other countries in an allied coalition, and laid-off McRae Footwear employees returned to work. Their orders? To produce a new desert combat boot for American troops.

“The government called us up to Philly on a Saturday morning, ” Victor remembers. “We were given a contract to produce 250,000 pairs of boots. Desert Storm came so quickly that our country wasn’t prepared to supply boots suited for the desert sand.”

Desert combat: The Persian Gulf War called for new tactics-and new boots.

As troops were scuttled to the Gulf, McRae Footwear operated at peak capacity, churning out 200 cases of boots a day, 12 pairs a case, until the war ended in February 1991. To meet the demand, McRae Footwear also subcontracted with three other manufacturers and relied on its recently purchased western boot factory to help fill the government’s order.

Following Stormin’ Norman’s specs

The war required ground forces to operate in desert conditions – an environment not encountered by U.S. troops since the North African campaign of World War II. McRae Footwear was one of four companies the government selected to manufacture the new boot, again using vulcanization to attach the outsole to the upper and create a bond of invincible strength.

General Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. commander in the Persian Gulf region, served as a key advisor in developing boot specs. He found that the black, leather, and canvas boot originally crafted for the Vietnam War was not suited to desert conditions. For example, drainage vents designed to keep out jungle moisture were letting sand in, and steel plates in the soles that protected against booby traps were retaining heat.

Along with removal of the vents and steel plates, Schwarzkopf’s specifications for the desert combat boot were many: tan fabric, padded collar, leather ankle reinforcement,10 speed-lace eyelets for easy tying and untying, and a Panama-sole tread pattern on the bottom of the boot, designed to easily shed debris. Boots were also insulated to provide extra protection from ground temperatures that could reach as high as 130 degrees.

Strict specifications: General Schwarzkopf set a high bar for designing the new desert combat boot.

After the war, the government continued to procure desert combat boots from McRae Footwear for ongoing operations in the Persian Gulf, as well as for use in other hot-weather regions. The original boot formed the basis for the hot-weather Army and Marine Corps combat boots of the 2000s. Today, the boot is produced using a rubber Vibram Sierra outsole, providing exceptional shock absorption and durability.

Mutual appreciation: Branson McRae meets President George H.W. Bush, who led the nation through the Persian Gulf War.

Milipol 19 – New From AKU

Monday, November 25th, 2019

Italian shoe maker Aku showed a couple of new styles at Milipol 2019.

Up first are the Pilgrim TSC GTX and DS. The difference between the two versions is that one is lined with Gore-Tex Extended Comfort and the DS is not. Production versions have eyelets rather than D-ring lacing at the top.

Both feature waterproof suede and AIR8000 uppers along with the Vivram Curcuma anti-static nitrile outsole. UK size range is 3-14.

Next is the Climatica LE Mid which is a law enforcement version of the popular outdoor shoe, the Climatica.

These feature Gore-Tex Surround technology which offers breathability, even in the plantar area. The outsole incorporates a ventilation grid which allows sweat to escape.

FirstSpear Friday Focus – USA Merino Wool Socks

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

FirstSpear is at it again with all new additions to the USA Merino Wool line.

Like most FirstSpear products the all new Boot Super Sock and Every Day Sock are 100% American made with USA materials. Both the EDS and BSS are constructed from a tubular knit for enhanced support and all day comfort.

The all new EDS features a reinforced heel and toe box, support ribbing through the arch, as well as light and thin across the top to help dissipate heat.

Exceptional moisture wicking and antimicrobial properties will keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout the day.

EDS: 82% Merino Wool, 12% Nylon, 6% Lycra

BSS: 86% Merino Wool, 8% Nylon, 6% Spandex blend

Available and shipping now in sizes small through XL.



Milipol 19 – Crispi SWAT PRO GTX

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Italian boot maker Crispi is very popular with European LE. Their SWAT PRO GTX caught my eye as a possible solution for those looking for a GSG-9 replacement.

The full grain leather construction is paired with a Gore-Tex liner. Additionally, there is a hard ankle protective insert. Finally, the outsole is oil resistant, non-slip.

Milipol 19 – Lowa Task Force Zephyr Mid GTX in Ranger Green

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Lowa Task Force is exhibiting at Milipol in the Terrang MP-SEC booth and they showed us the new Ranger Green variant of the Zephyr Mid GTX which features a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort liner.

Sneak Peek – Altama Maritime Assault Shoe In Woodland Camo

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Made in U.S.A. Woodland Camouflage Maritime Assault Shoe are going on pre-order next Monday, 18 November. These are limited edition.

Ellsworth & Co – Tropical Mesh Sock

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

At Modern Day Marine I ran across something different, socks of a new construction to be exact. Since then, I’ve worn a pair of their new Tropical Socks on several occasions, and I really like them.

Ellsworth uses a V Channel construction in the sole of the sock which is a 3-Dimensional design of knit-in Vapor Channels, offering sweat a path of least resistance to escape from under the foot. This they say, will help resist the formation of blisters. They’ve combined this with a mesh upper and non-slip top so they won’t fall down.

You can see in the photo below how distinctive the V Channel is compared to standard nap.

Here’s a video of a dye test they use to show how the sock moves moisture.

Danner Light – 40th Anniversary Edition

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

Forty years ago, Danner introduced the first boot with a Gore-Tex liner, the Danner Light. This 6″ boot combines the latest Gore-Tex liner with a full grain leather and 1000D Cordura upper for durability in Black and Timber colors.

The classic Danner stitch down construction incorporates a Vibram Kletterlift outsole. Inside, there’s a removable Ortholite footbed for comfort.

Be prepared, these boots are bomber so the 61 oz per pair weight shouldn’t surprise you.

Made in USA.