As with many things in the United States Army, there are regulations on which boots can be worn and how they are supposed to be designed. Ar 670-1, a series of revised rules that dictate how uniforms can be worn, specifically address the types of army boots that can be used and the specific specifications that they need to meet. If a member of the military isn’t happy with the army boots given to them as standard, they are free to buy their own instead – but they have to be AR 670-1 compliant. What does this mean, and why is it so important?
The Reason for AR 670-1
While the military uniform as a whole obviously needs to be recognizable and identifiable, it can seem odd for army boots to be such a controlled piece of clothing. However, it is all about safety and performance: the last thing a member of the military needs is to be tripped up by their own boots, especially if the footwear they own came from a low-quality source. Being able to include their own footwear in their uniform always comes with some added risk, and the requirement of having AR 670-1 compliant boots are meant to prevent problems that could cost a soldier their life.
AR 670-1 Compliance Requirements
To make sure that you own AR 670-1 compliant boots, you can check them against the main requirements of the document. While there is some slight room for variation, all of the details defined in the form are supposed to be the ideal choices for people who have a chance of entering open combat. These requirements include:
Cattle hide leather is the primary material that needs to be used for military boots, owing to how durable and reliable it can be. A combination of excellent performance and high protection ensures that a solider or military member can be properly covered when in action without impacting their ability to move quickly and fluidly, which can be just as useful for combat as it can be for escaping a threat. This added durability also means that the boots won’t wear down quickly, providing longer-lasting resistance from bad weather and other forms of irritation that can become a distraction during important tasks.
The exterior doesn’t have to be completely made from cattle hide since some non-mesh fabric options and other leathers can be included. However, the majority has to be cattle hide or an equivalent combination of leathers.
Military boots must be between eight and ten inches in height, with the two-inch difference allowing for differences in the heights of the soldier swearing them. This is meant to offer proper protection during dangerous situations without sacrificing any flexibility, meaning that the solider can handle most terrain types and still remain protected from debris, small pieces of shrapnel, and other minor foot hazards.
All military boots need to have a plain toe. There can’t be any designs or unnecessary layers unless they are specifically meant for protection, and the materials all have to be a similar color that matches the rest of the uniform (for camouflage purposes). This plain toe means that certain designs simply won’t be allowed, even if they meet all of the other criteria on the document.
Alongside the toe section, the soles also have to match the colors of the uniform and are forbidden from extending all the way up the toe or heel of the shoe. This set of restrictions also limits the height of the sole, preventing any army personnel from having soles that are over two inches in height.
Outsole materials are also heavily restricted. Rubber (of various types) and polyether polyurethane are the only two material types allowed on army footwear due to their durability. These materials are also very good at providing traction and have a good level of all-weather resistance, making them suitable for boots that need to be worn across multiple climates or areas of the world at a moment’s notice.
While you are free to buy your own boots, you shouldn’t dispose of your initial pair. Clothing Initial Issue boots are still a vital part of army service, and each soldier is required to own at least one pair of hot weather boots and temperature weather boots. Buying your own pair doesn’t remove this requirement, even if you end up rarely using them.
While the boots need to be compliant with these rules, there is still quite a lot of choice available to members of the US Army. Many companies have produced boots that are specifically designed to follow these regulations. These companies recognize that the customer is under very limited footwear restrictions and won’t deviate from the limits that have been placed on them: for example, while they might include some unique, all rights reserved features exclusive to their company, they will keep it within the ranges set by AR 670-1.
If you find a new pair of boots that might be suitable for AR 670-1 compliance, you should ask customer service about any specific details you need to know. Email is often the easiest way to ask questions like this, and you will usually get a response email detailing the exact information you need. If they don’t have an accessible email address, contacting them directly with a phone call may also work.
Is It Important?
AR 670-1 might seem unnecessary to some people, but restrictions like this are a vital part of any army. Buying your own footwear is encouraged, but any new shoes need to fall within the standard of the US Army – not just for appearance’s sake, but for the greater performance of the entire Army. One soldier making a mistake or slipping over thanks to their new boots could easily lead to the deaths of dozens of others, and the heat of combat has very little room for error. What might seem like random restrictions are actually an attempt to protect as many soldiers as possible, and even a small detail like boots can make a massive difference.