When the Department of the Army published the AR670-1 uniform guidelines back in March, most of the hubbub was over grooming and appearance issues. Everybody was talking about leadership breaking out rulers and cameras to document tattoos. Little mention seemed to be made over the actual uniform regs. However, a single powerpoint slide has recently made the rounds on the web. This slide has made senior NCOs smile and the rest of us roll our eyes. Unfortunately it's all true.

You probably just bought boots that aren't authorized. Click to enlarge.

These Boots are Not in Order

So what gives? Why are these boots unauthorized? See page 122 of AR670-1:

As an option, Soldiers may wear commercial boots of a design similar to that of the Army combat boot (tan), as authorized by the commander. The boots must be between 8 to 10 inches in height and made of tan flesh-side out cattlehide leather, with a plain toe and a soling system matching the color of the tan upper materials. Rubber and polyether polyurethane are the only outsole materials that are authorized. The soling materials will not exceed 2 inches in height, when measured from the bottom of the outsole, and will not extend up the back of the heel or boot or over the top of the toe. The exterior of the boot upper will not contain mesh but will be constructed of either all leather or a combination of leather and nonmesh fabric. Soldiers may wear optional boots in lieu of the Army combat boot (tan), as authorized by the commander; however, they do not replace issue boots as a mandatory possession item. 

Give up? Manufacturers have been advancing footwear technology by producing lighter and more breathable boots, but in order to maximize those traits they have often used more synthetic materials. Most of the boots on the slide above commit the sin of using synthetic leather, not the rough-out cattle hide of the issue boots. Some also use mesh instead of nylon. Those materials are not seen as durable by the Big Army. So that means the extremely popular Nike SFB and Rocky C4 Trainers are out.

The last big gotcha is the sole itself. It has to be rubber or PPU (polyether polyurethane) and can't be over 2 inches in height. It must now also match the color of the upper and not extend up over the heel or the toe. That means your Lowa Zephyr boots are out.

AR670-1 Footwear Guidelines

So to recap. Here is what you need to look for in your next Army boot purchase:
  • Beef - It's not just what's for dinner, it has to be on your feet. Specifically, it must be tan rough-out or suede style leather. No synthetics.
  • Mesh - the boot upper must be a leather or leather/nylon material, like Cordura. No mesh.
  • Sole - Rubber or PPU only. Must match color of the boot upper.
  • Heel/Toe Bumpers - Sole cannot extend over the heel or toe.
  • Boot Height - 8-10 inches tall, but you already knew this didn't you?

Final Notes & Where to Find Authorized Footwear

U.S. Cavalry will continue to monitor this situation and provide an up-to-date list of authorized footwear that meets the criteria set forth in AR670-1. You can browse that list here.

Keep in mind that according to the regs, any commercial, off the shelf purchase is considered an option, not in lieu of the mandatory issue boots you are supposed to possess. Lastly, please check with your command to be absolutely sure you are spending your hard earned money on something this will NOT sit in the closet.