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Special Forces Berlin
by James Stejskal



Cold Weather Boots

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.

US Army Mickey Mouse Winter Cold Weather Boots
"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.

ICWB Boots Cold Weather
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.




Books about Special Forces

Books about Special Forces


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