While the maxim about an army marching on its stomach may well be true, when deploying operationally on frontline duties for months at a time it is also essential to have well-fitting and sturdy boots if you are going to perform to the maximum, writes Bob Morrison.
In January 2012 I penned the following short piece, for the currently out-of-print COMBAT & SURVIVAL Magazine, at a time when major changes were afoot, no pun intended, in the supply of combat footwear to UK Forces who at that time were changing camouflage uniforms from DPM to MTP. The camouflage story is too much off on a tangent for this footwear article, save to say that a major change in combat boot colour away from Black (or Sand for desert use) saw Brown being reintroduced to better compliment the new uniform.
Back to the 2012 article: Over the last few years the standard of boot issued to UK forces has risen markedly, particularly in the desert boot category, but many switched-on troops, especially those whose feet don’t fit the standard lasts, opt to privately purchase their own.
Alt-Berg, the Yorkshire bootmakers, are a company that many turn to as their reputation for producing high quality combat boots is second to none. Our gear tester Mike Gormley, who has test driven British-manufactured frontline vehicles around the globe in all environments, first used Alt-Berg hot weather boots by choice in Africa close on fifteen years ago, and I have worn their boots for just about as long on my trips to deserts on three continents, including the Sahara and the Empty Quarter, so it is safe to say we have a soft spot for the brand.Although still relatively small [as of 2012] in the world of international bootmakers, and in some ways very traditional in their manufacturing processes, putting quality ahead of bulk production, Alt-Berg are still quite innovative in many things they do; something you will hear more about in a couple of months. It was therefore no surprise to us when Mike S. and his team started producing four of their proven combat boot range in brown to be ahead of the UK MoD issue of the new boot colour and to ensure that their major retailers like John Bull and Silvermans had stocks on the shelves to meet anticipated sudden demand. The four models in the range [at time of writing in 2012] include: the top of the range Bergen, which is a cold wet weather boot with waterproof membrane; the all-leather Sneeker, which is a lightweight non-membrane tabbing boot; the Cambrelle-lined all-leather Warrior, which is a lightweight combat boot; and the leather and Cordura Jungle Microlite, which is recommended for those operating in Helmand’s Green Zone who require a fast-draining boot. Footnote: Since penning this article Alt-Berg have become a major player internationally with their combat boots having been issued in bulk by both the UK and Danish Ministries of Defence as well as being procured for specialist troops in several other countries. To see the current range go to the Military page on AltBerg.co.uk