Boots, Socks and Feet

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by USMCGrunt, May 18, 2015.

  1. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

    Dec 13, 2010
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    Every year there is a flurry of posts and inquiries regarding boots and socks. This year is no exception. The choices of manufacturer, style, material, and performance level are overwhelming. I have no doubt that the boot and sock choices are an improvement and we should all embrace the technology. I encourage everyone to make sure that they consult the “official” boot and sock lists and stick within the range provided. The same goes for running shoes as well. Every style of boot or shoe is going to fit slightly differently – make sure to measure well and get the proper fit. There are dozens of reviews and opinions offered on this Forum that address this subject well.

    I just want to take a moment to caution people about assuming technology is going to be the solution to all foot problems. Lightweight boots are going to feel heavy if you are not conditioned and used to wearing them. You will get blisters wearing “No blister” socks if you don’t follow proper foot conditioning and care procedures. Failure to break in boots is going to cause foot pain or blisters. Shin splints can occur even if you buy the “best” insert.

    It’s hard for me to get my head around the wide range of footwear. I grew up wearing Sears work boots all through my Scouting years and backpacked through several states on the Appalachian trail wearing those same boots. I played for a very competitive basketball team all through high school wearing “Chuck Taylor” high top sneakers. The only socks our coaches would let us wear were white cotton ones. So, these were what I wore backpacking also. When I went into the Marines, everyone wore the exact same black leather boots issued by Uncle Sam. No deviation. We were issued olive green cushioned sole socks (cushioned heel and sole) and I thought they were awesome. But I grew up with feet toughened by a lifetime of “stone age” shoe and sock technology. Perhaps an unintended consequence of today’s footwear options are feet that are not as conditioned?

    I never had any real foot issues while in the service but I was an expert on foot care. As a Marine Grunt you have to be. I encourage all of you who will be in the field or wearing boots for the first time: Learn about proper foot care.

    There is a ton of good stuff on the internet about proper foot care. I encourage you to seek it out and start practicing it. Wear your boots – break them in. If you don’t have access to your military boots yet, consider getting some civilian ones for the summer. Condition your feet by carrying a backpack and hiking up and down hills (down is always worse in my opinion). Use foot powder or Easi-Glide. Consider wearing two pair of socks – one thin (boot socks are popular now) and one thick/ padded. Cut nails appropriately. Change socks often – dry socks are key! Practice using moleskin on “hot spots.” Learn first aid for blisters. Experiment and learn how to tie your boots so that they are snug but not tight.

    The proper foot conditioning coupled with good socks and well -fitted boots and the appropriate attention to foot care should make this subject a non-issue in your training.

    Good luck!
  2. AF6872

    AF6872 10-Year Member

    Mar 4, 2007
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    Once worked with a guy who walked out of Chosin. Kept two pair of socks under his arm pits to keep them warm and changed them twice a day. A++++ personality but saved his feet. As UMC Grunt says take care of your feet. An army may travel on its stomach but it still has to walk a long way.
  3. Cav

    Cav 5-Year Member

    Apr 30, 2011
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    I don't know about the other services, but many of the lightweight Army boots are not authorized. Installations have been cracking down on Soldiers wearing AR 670-1 noncompliant boots. Buying some of these hi tech boots may be a waste of money.
  4. Day-Tripper

    Day-Tripper Member

    May 16, 2014
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    In Charles Whiting's (a US Army junior officer in 1944-1945) "The Battle of The Hurtgen Forest" he described how Americans, used to fast-moving, mobile warfare up to end of 1944, ignored the foot care issue of their troops. Their British allies, by contrast, were appalled. After the trench experience of 1914-1918 the average British lieutenant was trained to inspect his men's feet regularly. The Americans considered this practically effeminate. Until the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge, that is, when trenchfoot and frostbite claimed as many US troops as German bullets and shells.

    In Korea and Vietnam the US had a better record in this area.
    kinnem likes this.

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