I remember growing up as a kid. My friends and I had crazy ideas about the military. We were proud to have the best military forces in the world.
Steel toes were one of the many ideas we had about military boots. You can’t blame us for thinking that the best military in the world ought to have the safest boot.
“What if a bullet hit their toes?” Our go-to, foolproof question if anyone dared to tell us otherwise. Like us, you’re probably wondering about it silently. Well, silent no more. Do military boots have steel toes?
No. Standard-issue military boots do not have steel toe caps. Similar to other workplaces, military personnel are only issued steel-toe boots if they are likely to crush their toes with heavy machinery or objects while on duty.
Disappointing, right? My disappointment withered away when I learned why this was the case. It all made sense, and somehow it did not taint my childhood view of ‘the best military’.
Quite the contrary. Please stick with me to explore why the military does not issue everyone with steel-toe boots.
What if a Bullet Hit Their Toes?
As expected of any military organization, they curate everything for the best performance in whatever field you’re deployed.
It’s all about having an edge against your enemies. With the advancements in military technology, any advantage you can get is good enough against the best in battle.
So, why don’t they issue the safest boots in the game?
Steel Caps and Crushed bones
Before we answer the above question, we must first understand what steel-toe boots are meant to do.
Steel toes are anything but a bulletproof defense against, well, bullets. They were not made to protect your feet from ammunition.
If it does, then it is an indirect benefit. That is the first negative in my friends and I’s thinking in our childhood.
Steel caps were made to prevent tiny toe bones from crushing when working with heavy machinery. This objective is achieved by cutting off toes completely. Cut toes are, apparently, easier to fix than crushed bones!
Yeah, you can make of that what you will. Ha ha!
Fun FactWe can thank the Germans for this thoughtful endeavor. Steel caps were first invented to prevent injuries among workers – after it became too costly to replace them towards the end of World War (II).
Still, why not wear the safest boots around?
Despite the safety that comes with steel-toe boots, military personnel do not wear them unless it is unavoidable.
If it is avoidable and where they have a choice, most prefer hanging steel toes in favor of other boots. Why? A couple of reasons!
- Steel-toe boots are bulky and heavy on foot. Even on a regular hike, one would prefer lightweight boots. Boots that will spur will spur them forward’ not drag them down.
- They restrict toe movement. It is uncomfortable to perform tactically, be it long-distance trek, running, etc., with restricted toes.
- They are expensive to replace. In the US Army, you only get free boots once. You have to reach into your pockets to replace them. Unless your pockets are deep, $200+ is not a price you want to see.
Military personnel wear gear that eases their burden while performing their duty. For the best military in the world, it’s safe to say they thought this through.
What Kind of Boots does the Military Use?
Soldiers are typically issued three pairs of boots when they report for training—two pairs of temperate weather boots and one pair of winter boots.
Depending on which unit you are assigned, you will be issued special boots like extreme temperature or steel toe boots.
Whether or not you are issued with specialized boots depends on the type of mission or duty on the unit’s plate.
After the initial issue, how often you replace the boots is up to you. No one will lift a finger if the boots are in good working condition.
You can replace worn-out boots with standard military boots or buy your preferred choice if they meet the requirements in AR 670-1.
Who Supplies Boots to the Military?
While at it, who supplies boots to the military?
A short google search will show Belleville as the largest supplier of military footwear to all military branches and law enforcement agencies(Police, county sheriff, correctional officers, etc.).
Belleville Boots was founded in 1904 at the heart of Belleville, Illinois. They claim to be the largest manufacturer of military boots and the most trusted brand in the defense department.
Do Military Boots hurt?
Like any other new boots, military boots will hurt – a lot – if you wear them for an extended period without breaking them in first.
Your Feet will be very sore, and blisters will form everywhere. It is not something I would wish on anyone.
Moreover, military boots have also been known to cause chronic injuries. Military recruits go through rigorous training with painful knee injuries.
What can you do if military boots hurt?
Military boots are not supposed to hurt you. You shouldn’t have to endure pain, especially if you can avoid it.
Here is a list of things you can do to prevent painful sores and injuries when/after wearing military boots:
- Break in new boots – every person who wears boots know they have to break them in. If they don’t, they usually learn the hard way.
Check out my article on effectively breaking in boots in the shortest time possible.
- Use specialized boots – the best you can do to mitigate boot-related injuries is to use special boots for a specific task like running or hiking.
Specialized boots have features necessary to keep you very comfortable while performing defined tasks.
- Use high-quality socks – special boots require special socks. High-quality padded socks will cushion feet while also wicking moisture and absorbing friction.
Such functions significantly reduce the probability of injuries, soreness, and blisters.
- Wear fitting boots – if it was not obvious enough, boots should fit you properly. How fit?
Boots should feel snug around your feet while leaving enough space for your toes to move freely.
- Wear boots in good condition – you should replace worn-out boots quickly. Always check to see whether your boots can handle your scheduled activities.
As we have seen, steel toes are not a requirement unless you’re performing a toe-threatening assignment.
Military personnel prefer lighter and cooler combat boots for training or other tactical activities.
Jesse is the main author of Tactical Angle. He’s also an avid survivalist, backpacker, and fishkeeper. He spends time setting up/maintaining my fish tanks, hiking, hunting, and climbing mountains.