Special Forces teams earmarked for operations in mountainous
and cold weather environments were sometimes called "Winter
Warfare Teams". They trained in cold weather, learned to ski,
and used cold weather and winter equipment such as snow sleds,
snow mobiles, and specialized winter clothing. The 10th and 11th
Special Forces Group regularly conducted annual
Winter Warfare Training courses. One such winter clothing
item was the cold weather boot. One of the more experienced SF
groups in the winter warfare world was the 10th Special Forces
Group - at one time stationed in Germany and Fort Devens,
Massachusetts - and now based in Colorado and Germany.
"Mickey Mouse" Boots or VB Boots
"Mickey Mouse Boots". If you were in a Special Forces group
that did cold weather training you were likely issued a pair of
"Mickey Mouse" boots. They came in two colors - black and white.
The boot was good to -40 degrees Fahrenheit and featured a vapor
barrier (VB). The insulation consists of wool felt sealed with
an outer and inner layer of rubber. It had an air pressure
release valve to be opened during high-altitude flight or
climbing to allow air pressure release. Very heavy but extremely
warm! See a
picture of the boot on Amazon.com.
In the 1970s and 1980s some Special Forces Groups,
specifically the 10th SFGA and 1st Battalion of 11th SFGA were
issued the Chippewa Mountain Boot or "Chips". They had a sole
with a tongue and groove feature that allowed them to be worn
with issued cross-country skis. In the 1990s 10th SFGA and other
SF units adopted other mountain boots for wear with combination
cross-country and downhill skis.
In the 1990s the SF groups were able to buy specialized boots
that were suitable for their mission. This allowed the groups to
experiment with a number of brands of boots that were available
to include Danners, Chippewa, and many other makes.
Standard Army Cold Weather Boots. The Army became more adept
in developing and procuring various types of boots - which would
benefit the SF groups.
Intermediate Cold Wet Boot (ICWB)
ICWB Boots. This standard issue boot was known as the
Intermediate Cold Wet Boot (ICWB) or Boots, Extreme Cold Weather
type 1. It had waterproof, breathable leather with a Gore-Tex
liner and Thinsulate thermal insulation. It was designed to keep
water out, but would also keep dampness in. It was designed to
protect the wearer down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Makers of
this boot were Matterhorn and Rockies.
Papers & Reports about Cold Weather Boots
Endrusick, B.S., Improvement of the U.S. Army
Intermediate Cold Wet Boot, U.S. Army Research Institute of
Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts, 2001.
News Articles about Cold Weather Boots
January 19, 2016,
"The Evolution of the Combat Boot in the US Military", by
James Clark, Task & Purpose.
July 4, 2008.
"Mountain Boots", Soldier Systems - An Industry Daily.