Soldiers looking to buy Jungle Combat Boots with features evaluated by Army field testing have two styles to choose from at military exchange stores.
Army and Air Force Exchange Service military clothing sales stores are selling two models labeled Jungle Combat Boots (JCB): the 901 V2 made by Belleville Boot Company and the RKC 071 made by Rocky Boots, according to AAFES spokeswoman Julie Mitchell.
Both models are the result of a July decision by Army senior leaders to make the JCB an optional clothing bag item for soldiers.
Army uniform officials from Program Executive Office Soldier conducted field tests of JCB prototypes with the help of 25th Infantry Division soldiers in Hawaii in 2017 and 2018 in an effort to find an improved version of the Vietnam War-style jungle boots soldiers and Marines wore up until the mid-2000s.
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But rather than select a JCB for fielding to Pacific-based units, the Army Uniform Board recommended in September 2017 to make the JCB an optional clothing bag item that soldiers could purchase at AAFES stores, officials said.
The Marine Corps conducted similar evaluations to identify a better jungle boot but decided on a different path. The Corps plans to purchase 70,000 pairs of tropical boots that will go into the Consolidated Storage Program for issue on an as-needed basis, according to Maj. Ken Kunze, spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command.
Army uniform officials came up with a list of performance-based specifications from the boots that performed well in the field tests. AAFES officials used that list to choose JCBs to put on military clothing sales store shelves.
"Belleville model 901 V2 and Rocky model RKC 071 meet the Jungle Combat Boot specifications," said Mitchell, adding that all of the commercial combat boots sold at AAFES stores comply with Army uniform regulations.
The JCB models range in price from $180 to $210, she added.
Known as the Burma jungle boot on Belleville's website, the 901 V2 "retains the best features of the Vietnam-era Jungle boot" but features "several new performance features such as improved drainage, reduced water pick-up, and increased traction and grip in wet, muddy environments," according to the site.
The 901 V2 also features puncture-resistant insoles with drainage channels and a Vibram Panama II outsole.
The RKC 071 JCB model is known as the Rocky S2V Enhanced Jungle Boot on Rocky Boots' website and looks radically different from traditional jungle boots.
They feature proprietary high-walled Vibram soles that are stitched and cemented to the boot's upper. The RKC 071 JCB is also puncture-resistant and features an air-port cushion footbed that "circulates air with every step," according to the site.
Both the Belleville and Rocky JCB models are equipped with drainage vents.
Dry time was one of the high-level requirements for the JCB effort, according to Jay McNamara, an extremity protection project engineer at the Army's Natick Soldier Systems Center.
"We tried to minimize water absorption," McNamara said, adding that the JCB was designed to "dry as fast as possible and to have drainage vents to try and move the water away from the foot."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.