September 24, 2014 --
The Marine Corps is buying boots with up to twice the operational lifespan over the current option provided to new recruits.
The Rugged All-Terrain boot, RAT boot for short, will be the boot of choice in sea bags for incoming Marine Corps recruits starting December 1. Each sea bag will come with two pairs of boots, one for hot weather and one for temperate weather.
The boots weigh the same as their predecessor, the Marine Corps Combat Boots, but manage to last much longer.
“What we found was that these boots will usually last somewhere between eight to 18 months longer and about twice as long on average,” said Todd Towles, project officer for Infantry Combat Equipment within Infantry Weapons Systems at Marine Corps Systems Command. “What we’re seeing is that these boots will last 24 months instead of the 12 that the old boots would give you, on average.”
That gain in durability for the RAT boot comes from a stitched down toe-to-lace construction joining the leather on the boot using a sturdy thread. It replaces a direct attach construction that had evolved in recent years but was shown to have its own issues.
“Going back for years, all the boots were stitched down construction which made the boot durable,” Towles said. “Direct attach pushed out the stitched down construction but we saw issues with the direct attach where it was not as durable in a recruit environment and in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Towles and the rest of the clothing team did a survey to ask Marines what they’d rather have in their boots and the reply was clearly in favor of a stitched down construction.
This construction allows for a wider and more stable base eliminating durability issues and maintaining the same weight as its predecessor.
“There’s a common misconception that the new RAT boots are heavier than the Marine Corps Combat Boots and it’s something that Marines ask me about all the time,” Towles said. “People always just think that it feels heavier. That’s not the case. You might get a tenth of an ounce here or there based on the cut of leather but the actual difference is negligible.”
The temperate boots are still waterproof and the hot boots have had foam padding removed to improve drying time.
The new boots also offer greater traction with a redesigned sole that replaces an older treaded sole.
Towles said the Marine Corps is buying about 40,000 boots in all, half of the hot weather variant and the other half of the temperate weather variant. The contract for the boots, which started Sept. 22, runs for three years.