Military Boots Glossary

Military Boots Glossary

Your boots are one of the most important pieces of equipment you wear on the field or on duty. Make sure you know what you are carrying underfoot. In order to keep you as informed as possible, we've pulled together a list of features and designations that you'll find sewn into the details. Use this glossary to make sure you're buying the right boots for your needs.

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alloy toe (AT):
A protective toe guard that is lighter than a steel toe but heavier than a composite toe. The toe box in an alloy toe boot is often larger than other safety toes because an alloy toe can be cut a little thinner.

An agent that kills or prevents odor-causing bacteria and fungi from infecting the boot. A style with an anti-microbial lining will stay fresh and odor-free longer.

AR 670-1 compliant:
A boot with this compliance follows the guidelines set in the AR-670-1, which outlines the wear and appearance of Army uniforms and insignia.

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Berry compliant:
A Berry-compliant boot must comply with the Berry Amendment, which refers to a federal regulation passed during World War II. It requires the Department of Defense to give procurement preference to goods that are made in the USA. When you buy a Berry-compliant boot, its materials are 100 percent American-made. Additionally, the boot must be manufactured on U.S. soil.

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composite toe (CT):
A nonmetallic, nonmagnetic protective toe-cap that is lighter than a steel toe and alloy toe. Because of the absence of metal, it's best for workers who have to walk through a metal detector.

A fabric known for its immense durability and abrasion-, tear- and scuff-resistant attributes.

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desert boots:
Combat boots used in hot, desert environments that keep the feet cool and comfortable. They are highly durable and keep sand out of the footbed. Desert boots have a suede upper and tan color and are categorized as either hot-weather desert boots or temperate-weather desert boots.

drain vents:
Air holes in the boot's arch that lets water and moisture out of the boot without letting sand, dirt or debris into the footbed. Look for them in hot-weather boots.

dual-density outsole:
An outsole that uses two densities of polyurethane. Working together, the different densities increase the shoe's durability and shock absorption properties while keeping the boot lightweight.

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The loops through which you thread the boot's shoelaces.

EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate):
A type of midsole foam that is soft, light and flexible.

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A fabric membrane that is breathable and waterproof.

GSA compliant:
A GSA-compliant boot is manufactured or substantially changed within a designated country. The compliance is an outcome of the Trade Agreement Act (TAA), which facilitated the growth of an open world trading system. A GSA-compliant boot may not necessarily be manufactured in the U.S. but instead within a TAA country. A GSA-compliant product falls under the GSA Schedule Contract, which helps federal employees in purchasing products and services that have pre-negotiated prices, delivery terms and warranties among other terms.

gusseted tongue:
A tongue that prevents debris from making its way into the footbed through the eyelets or the gap between the tongue and the upper. It is sewn to the upper so that there is no gap to allow pebbles or dirt in the boot. This sort of tongue is preferred when you want a waterproof boot.

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heel kicker:
Serrations on the boot's outsole that give you traction and help you brake while going downhill.

hot-weather boots:
A hot-weather boot will have air circulation and drain holes added to the arch. Additionally, it has a finer screen to keep sand out of the footbed. Personnel should not use a hot-weather boot if they will be in the cold for any period of time.

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iCS (Individual Comfort System):
A nitrogen-filled disk that uses compression technology to alter the level of firmness and stability in the heel. (Bates)

The part of the boot that your foot sits directly on top of. It will contour to fit the foot and is removable, so it's easy to switch if the material becomes too compressed or damaged.

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jungle boot:
A black, shined combat boot that was used during the Vietnam War. However, jungle boots were found to be an ill fit for the conditions at hand. The black color was not discreet enough, the steel toe trapped heat inside the footbed, and the leather construction did nothing for the boots' breathability. They were eventually phased out for the desert combat boot with the adoption of the ACU.

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kick plate:
A durable patch on the heel of the shoe (usually made of nylon) that allows you to step on your heel to slide the boot off without scuffing up the material.

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lace garage:
A pocket at the top of the tongue where you can tuck in your shoelaces.

The shape around which a boot is built.

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made in the USA:
A boot with this designation is produced in the USA though its materials might not be.

mesh lining:
A boot characteristic that improves breathability and comfort because of increased airflow through the footbed.

Beneath the insole lies the midsole, which is an extra layer of comfort between your foot and the ground. It helps to absorb shock upon impact so feet don't feel the effects of long-term boot use.

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The outsole is the portion of the boot located at the base that makes direct contact with the ground. It is durable and offers immense protection against anything you might come across in the field or in training.

Ortholite footbed:
A removable insole that amps up comfort underfoot along with supplying anti-microbial and moisture-wicking properties.

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padded collar:
Extra cushioning in the boot's collar improves your foot's comfort.

PU (polyurethane) midsole
A type of foam used in a boot's midsole. It is heavier than EVA but is not as susceptible to compression.

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rough-out boot:
Boots that are not meant to be polished or shined. The majority of the U.S. armed forces wear rough-out boots.

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safety toe:
A boot with a safety toe has a reinforcement in the toe-cap to keep feet protected from various hazards you might come across on the job. Alloy toes, composite toes and steel toes are all safety toes.

A metal or composite plate that is integrated into the sole of a boot. It gives you more stability underfoot.

side-zip boots (SZ):
Side-zip boots were originally designed for paratroopers as a safety feature. In case the ankle broke upon landing, the zipper made it so that the boot could be taken off more easily. Nowadays, it's a feature that helps you in and out of your boots as quickly as possible.

speed lace system:
A lacing system that doesn't require you to tie the boot's laces. Instead, pull, cinch and go.

soft-toe boots:
A boot that doesn't have a safety toe in the toe-cap.

standard issue boots:
Standard issue boots are the ones the military supplies you. The military uses many different suppliers, so there isn't a single standard issue boot.

steel toe (ST):
A boot with a steel toe has a protective reinforcement in the toe-cap to protect from falling hazards or compression. Note that if your job requires you to walk through a metal detector, this is not the safety toe option for you.

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temperate-weather boots:
Temperate-weather boots are used in weather that is not as arid as you would find when wearing hot-weather boots. They will have a waterproof membrane with a moisture-wicking lining. These boots are approved to wear until the temperature falls below 32 F.

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The part of the boot that wraps around the foot.

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Vibram outsole:
A rubber outsole that is sticky and grippy with lugs that hug the ground beneath it. These outsoles are known for the traction and durability they give a boot.

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waterproof (WP):
Waterproof boots can be submerged in water up to the gusset of the tongue. If the boot is put in any amount of water that surpasses the gusset of the tongue, it will likely take in water. They are less breathable than water-resistant boots. Because they keep water out of the footbed, moisture within the footbed cannot escape.

water resistant:
Water-resistant boots cannot be fully submerged in water without becoming ruined. However, they hold up in rain and wet weather because the water will bead off them.

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