SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 28 September 2020

Building a Better Jungle Combat Boot for Soldiers


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working with the U.S. Army to improve their purchase descriptions for soldier clothing and individual equipment by enhancing existing test methods, developing new test methods, and transitioning from detailed material and design requirements to performance requirements. The first item addressed was the jungle combat boot, and it is expected this work will permit innovation in next-generation boots. The Army and NIST collaborated with industry, standards development organizations, and academia to focus on four aspects of jungle combat boots: biomechanics and injury reduction, textiles and leather of the upper (foot covering portion of the boot), boot water and vapor management, and general design requirements. A research and development plan, written with input and support from all involved stakeholders, guided the effort. The plan addressed existing standards and test methods that could be modified and expanded to distinguish the performance of existing boots of varying designs. The plan also included a detailed approach for validating how current or new test methods evaluate each attribute in terms of repeatability, discrimination of product performance, and field (soldier) relevance. To inform the future research that is recommended in the plan, NIST conducted preliminary testing. The results are presented for Army-issued jungle combat boots compared with popular aftermarket combat boots and a running shoe on the following attributes: impact attenuation, puncture resistance, and water absorption and drainage. A specific area of focus was to examine the compromises between establishing boot design specifications based on known footwear materials and features and setting boot performance requirements applicable to any footwear materials and features. The outcomes from implementing this plan will allow the industry to develop innovative footwear that meets the operational requirements of the U.S. Army and the comfort needs of soldiers.

Author Information

Robinson, Casandra
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, US
Coursey, Bert
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, US
Forster, Amanda
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, US
Riley, Michael
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, US
Stull, Jeffrey
International Personnel Protection, Austin, TX, US
Ells, Bill
Vibram Corp., North Brookfield, MA, US
Adams, Albert
U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center, Natick, MA, US
Mensah, Martina
Montgomery College, Rockville, MD, US
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Pages: 264–286
DOI: 10.1520/STP162420190088
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7695-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7694-2