Tools of the (old-school) trade: Kiwi shoe polish, an old T-shirt, a boot brush, panty
hose and a lot of elbow grease were all required to keep footwear up to scratch.


We’ve been everywhere together. We’ve trudged through fetid jungles, shivered in snow caves, crouched within powerful war machines, and even flung ourselves into the dark abyss underneath a parachute canopy. Through it all, we got over and around some of the roughest terrain on earth together.

It’s been said an army marches on its stomach. I disagree — an army marches on its boots. Of all the many-splendored cool-guy toys soldiers tote, pack, shoot, fly or drive, none are quite so important as boots. You may have the most lethal tricked-out rifle mankind can contrive, but if you’re scurrying about the Hindu Kush in dime store flip-flops, you aren’t going to be doing much with it.


Will’s new favorite, the Clash LT from Blauer. Lightweight, comfortable and rugged,
these high-tech wonders are light-years ahead of what they had “back in the day.”

Brogan History


My first set of LPCs (Leather Personnel Carriers) were the nondescript leather sort. Lacing was an arduous chore, they were hot in the summer and cold in the winter. However, the soles were grippy and they offered adequate protection against rocks, razor wire and similar pokey bits.

Jungle boots with speed laces represented a quantum improvement. They went on and off in a jiffy and the canvas uppers wore like sneakers. Vent holes in the bottom let air and water both in and out with comparable aplomb.

Holdovers from a previous age, jump boots were as heavy as Aunt Edna’s fruitcake. The slick leather soles didn’t offer much purchase and they took a lifetime to lace up, but I’m living proof you can use them to leap out of a perfectly good airplane and emerge with your ankles intact. The WWII versions were brown. Ours were black.

I have logged countless hours laboriously polishing with Kiwi and an old t-shirt. Squeeze the greasy stuff into all the crevices and then buff it out with a boot brush. The wooden-backed brush also makes a serviceable close-quarters weapon. One of my drunken soldiers earned an Article 15 for attacking some poor schmuck with his.

M-Nu paint blackened out the steel eyelets when they got shiny. A First Sergeant once told me it was so Soviet satellites couldn’t pick us out on the parade field. Sigh. When you’re all done, buff everything out with some of granny’s panty hose to really conjure a shine.

It’s tough to admit, but today’s versions are better. The uppers are rot-resistant nylon rather than canvas. The bodies are rough suede and won’t take polish if you rubbed them for a month. Today’s boys and girls in uniform don’t have to polish boots at all. I cannot imagine what they do with their time. Play video games, I suppose.

I’ve burned through a single pair of the new sorts, and they hold up nicely. The suede ages well and the soles grip like politicians grab other people’s money. The laces slide smoothly and let you get into them faster than you might a pair of cross trainers.


Why boots? These rancid feet actually belong to a friend of Will’s named Beth who
snapped this picture right after she finished a 100-mile road race.

This old jungle boot gave its life for Will when he wandered into some concertina
wire while answering nature’s call late one night in a moonless desert.

Top Of The Heap

I recently saw a scruffy-looking guy in my medical clinic and could not help but notice his high-mileage but well-maintained hard-use footwear. The kid was a former Marine who now worked an outside civilian job. Despite the grime his boots were meticulously maintained. It was my first hint he wasn’t your garden-variety thug.

I was so impressed with his boots I bought a pair myself. I’ve worn out at least half-a-dozen sets over the decades, and these are hands-down my favorites. They’re titled the “Clash LT” from Blauer, and they set me back a C-note.

These are tall ankle-supporting combat boots a full 6″ high. They wear like your favorite pair of running shoes and weigh a paltry 18 oz. The body of the boot is mixed suede and breathable mesh. There is also an integrated shank for stabilization should you need to fast rope into some evil despot’s lair. The psychedelic soles will have you climbing like a monkey on Adderall.

The coolest aspect of these uber-cool stompers is the integrated BOA lacing system. This inspired rig employs a braided stainless steel cable and a handy tightening wheel with a clutch of sorts making donning and doffing quick, easy and painless. With my nifty high-tech boots I’m through airport security faster than the nearby hippie in his Birkenstocks. If the unthinkable happens and my world is suddenly dark, jagged, upside down and on fire, I’m much better positioned to get out alive than my unwashed pal in sandals.

These boots felt broken-in out of the box and should last me the rest of my days. They’ll take me anywhere. Like my Army buddies, there’s really nothing we can’t do together.

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