Combat Boots

There were 5 types of combat boot used in Vietnam

1st Type

The first type deployed were the standard all leather combat boots. Although used everywhere else these proved to be totally useless in the jungle environment. It should be noted that air crew and chopper pilots tended to wear them throughout the war because of fears about the nylon boot melting in a fire, also the lack of heavy lugs on the boot soles prevented aircrew from getting hung up on things such as rudder pedals.

2nd Type

The second type that was worn was an early attempt at a leather and canvas jungle boot which was introduced in the 50’s, it looked like the WW2 M43 combat boot and was used by some early advisors.

3rd Type (AKA – 1st Pattern Jungle Boot)

This pattern had the black leather toe and heal box and green nylon duck upper sides. It had two drainage eyelets in the side of the boot to allow the foot to breathe and allow water to escape after immersions. It looked almost identical to today’s boot, accept that it had the Vibram sole with no angled ankle support panel and no ‘spike protection’ plate in the sole.

4th Type (AKA – 2nd Pattern Jungle Boot)

The ‘2nd pattern’ boot was identical to the 1st Pattern, but introduced the angled ankle support panel and the spike protection plate. This pattern still retained the Vibram sole.

5th Type (AKA – 3rd Pattern Jungle Boot)

This pattern is identical to the 2nd Pattern and introduced the anti-mud traction Panama sole. This replaced the earlier Vibram sole although 3rd pattern were produced with both soles. An easy way to distinguish wartime boots is to look at the heel. The original boots have a vertical stitch up the heel. This stitching seems to have disappeared sometime in the mid 1970’s, thus later made boots don’t have this feature. It would be OK to use either for reenactment since its sometimes hard to find the original boots in you size.

First Pattern 1962 or earlier. Black leather, green canvas, leather band at top, leather strap from heel to top. Vibram sole.
Second Pattern 1965 or earlier. Black leather, green canvas, nylon band at top, nylon strap from heel to top. Vibram sole.
Third Pattern Vibram Sole 1965-1968. Similar to second pattern but with addition of nylon ankle reinforcement band. Vibram sole.
Third Pattern Panama Sole 1967 and later. The Pamama sole had a thin steel spike protection plate embedded to block Punji Sticks. Otherwise, same as Third Pattern Vibram Sole.

All Jungle Boots came with an “information tag” attached that provided instructions for use. The key points on the tag were:

  • Wear with one pair “socks, wool, cushion sole”. Carry extra socks and change often.
  • How to choose your size.
  • How to pull the boots on. Check for snakes and insects.
  • Wear trousers on outside of boot.
  • How to keep boots clean.

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15 responses to “Combat Boots

  1. Ed Kennedy

    There are also variations of the “1st Type” boots which I was issued. My issue boots are identical to the ones shown here. However, subsequently, I was issued capped-toed combat boots. Some sergeants thought they were Corcoran jump boots but they were not. They had the same type soles as the standard combat boots shown here (1st Pattern) and were issued, not purchased as jump boots were. My jungle boots that I used in Ranger School have the Vibram style soles. We had to slop motor oil on them for waterproofing which made the leather extremely dull but water resistant for a short time.

  2. Paul Mc

    Are the original type 1-5 boot sizes equivalent to today’s boot sizes – e.g. is a 1963 Type 1 in size 10 equivalent to size 10 in a modern combat boot?

    When choosing vintage boots, are there any guidelines for correct sizing?

    • m151dave

      Sizes are the same. When looking for Vietnam era boots, a good indicator is the seam on the heal of the leather. Look for that to help you know it is the right era. All the repro boots, most of which are cheap crap do not have these.

      I use the same size for the old boot that I do for my more modern ones, no problem.

      • Shaun

        If I’m a measured 10.5D on the Brannock, and usually a 10.5 in other shoes and a 10 in some boots like Red Wings, should I get a size 10 in the Type 1s? Thanks!

      • m151dave

        Note real sure. If the boot is a reproduction I have always felt they ran a tad small

      • Shaun

        Thanks for responding! I would be looking for an original pair of the Type 1 McNamaras and not a repro. You mentioned the old originals fit like modern combat boots, which I think all run large?

      • m151dave

        yes but not much. Good luck with your boots!!

  3. kelly payne

    OK great now where can I get a pair of the frist style size 5.5

  4. tony

    You can also find them at Military Surplus of Dallas, they have an eBay store. A little more pricey than Moore’s Militaria but a good range of sizes.

  5. Dave

    I found a pair of apparently 1st type boots on Ebay for a relatively good price. They appear to be authentic (stamped XW FS 10-66, B.F. Goodrich, and Armor Tred), and are visibly identical to the ones shown above, however they have 9 eyelits instead of 8, and they don’t have the small stitch above the heel. How can I tell fake from real boots?

  6. Thank you, I’ve just been looking for info about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve found out till now. But, what about the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the supply?|What i don’t realize is actually how you’re now not really much more neatly-preferred than you may be right now. You’re so intelligent.

  7. Kelly

    I have found a pair of jungle boot dated 1968, it does not have the seam at back. Can anyone help with this? If the seam as indicated were war time what about these 1968 without the seam?

    • Burt gummer

      Assuming theyre identical to the ones in the picture, yes they were made during the time period the troops got them, but were bought off the shelf, from a civilian factory that was either making boots for the troops, or making knockoffs. If you look in front of the heel area on the sole, there is probably a tapering bump or “shaft” in the sole.

    • Burt gummer

      Assuming theyre identical to the ones in the picture, yes they were made during the time period the troops got them, but were bought off the shelf, from a civilian factory that was either making boots for the troops, or making knockoffs. If you look in front of the heel area on the sole, there is probably a tapering bump or “shaft” in the sole.
      Another good way to know if theyre legit is if you still have them today. Modern knock-offs(like rothco) generally last for about 3 months of use. Let me know if this helps.

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