Woes of the foot soldier: Sore feet spur Army to fight for new boots

Woes of the foot soldier: Sore feet spur Army to fight for new boots

An Army survey of sore-footed soldiers has led leaders to take on a new mission: finding the perfect boot that withstands the weather but properly cushions across long treks and rough terrains.

And the Army has put a team of specialists on the job — footwear project engineers at the branch’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts.

“The soldier lives in his boots,” said Bob Hall, one of the footwear engineers, in The Boston Globe. “If he’s having problems with his boots, he’s having problems with everything.”

Army researchers in Natick are winding down a two-year campaign — sparked by a survey that revealed soldiers’ core complaint, aching feet — to develop a boot for Middle East terrain. The military took prototype boot submissions in 2011, and now the field’s been narrowed to three potential companies with lengthy backgrounds making footwear for the military: Bates Footwear of Rockford, Mich.; Belleville Boot Co. in Belleville, Ill.; and Danner in Portland, Ore.

“We know who makes the best boots out there and we tap into the best technology the industry has,” said Sgt. Maj. Emmett Maunakea in The Globe article. “There’s so much science that goes into it.”