If you’re not a major boot enthusiast or even if you are, you might not be aware of why all the innovations first designed for tactical use would be useful in daily use for your boots. You might wonder why do I need something tactical for my daily use?
So we want you to think about the innovations in daily life that have come from military innovations and related things this includes space age innovations such as those from NASA. NASA was originally formed after the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) which was military related.
NASA Innovations As An Example
Let’s first talk about a few NASA innovations we use everyday such as LEDs and portable cordless vacuums. LEDs (especially for plant growth and healing) and cordless vacuums were first developed for government use and soon after came to civilians.
Now let’s think about LEDs and huge number of innovations they are in. LEDs first were indicators replacing incandescent bulbs that also gave off heat and could be difficult to replace, the same for neon bulbs which also have gas which can be a problem if they were released in a small confined space. As the technology evolved it went from indicators to being a source of light, as seen by many traffic signals and street lights, this then extended to small and extremely bright light found in everything from phones, to bulbs, and even light strips that are low power and can easily provide light in a variety of environments, but it didn’t end there.
NASA began using LEDs to look into plant growth which has started to change how farming can work in low soil environments, increasing food production which can and has already been a benefit as been seen in Japan with multiple soilless farms with LED lights.
There is research and small levels of home growth of plants in such a nature so that individual families can grow their own food in some of the smallest spaces using these methods, something that would have been inconceivable to most 100 or even 20 years ago.
In health using light to heal was in the realm of science fiction, seen in Star Trek, and some others but now thanks to innovation through NASA the WARP 10 and WARP 75 are helping heal multiple kinds of pain and these devices are now becoming more common and affordable to most consumers. LED lights have been shown to help in wound healing and skin rejuvenation.
Now cordless vacuums might not have as exciting a variety as LEDs and various boot technologies do, but like the side zipper it’s one of those innovations that while seemingly simple has had a big impact. Think about it. Portable cordless vacuums have changed the way we clean and think about cleaning. We don’t need to have big units or even be tethered to outlets anymore to clean cars, or small spaces in our homes. Portable vacuums have even made it so we do always need to move things to clean. These in turn can be thought to have led to the development of cleaning robots, such as Roombas and the ones from other brands.
Innovations have always been coming from things that have been originally designed for government and military use. Even Captain Jean-Luc Picard had said that developments in rocketry and fission from the Second World War resonated on into the 24th century. (From the episode Manhunt which is a charming episode about Lwaxana Troi hunting for a husband).
So with all this information let’s start into the boot innovations and everyday uses (which is probably what you came here for).
The name of something might be tactical this or tactical that, which it’s true they are designed for tactical (because do you need that) but the uses extend far beyond the tactical environment to all sorts of applications.
Let’s start with something we might consider the basics: lacing.
Boot laces have been around at least since the invention of laces but laces that have been making it easier to use boots are a constant source of innovation. Many companies work to have speed lacing systems or in the case of several removing laces from non-pull-on boot styles and replacing them with zippers.
HAIX for example has their HAIX® Smart Lacing System, McRae has developed Teraloc, Salomon has the Salomon Quicklace System, and there are all sorts of other lacing innovations from various other companies. This includes such as things has lace hooks.
Now side zip has made it even faster to put on and take off boots, which is an innovation that in its own subtle ways has changed things. It’s removed the need for laces in some boots making one less thing to worry about for maintenance and fit. Not needing to worry about the lacing has changed the ways first responders use their boots, and the same for general people. You can get up and go without having to spend the time lacing up.
Though the largest set of innovations have been in the toe and the soles. Think about it steel toe, composite toe, and now alloy toe.
Toe Protection, Steel Toe to Composite, to Alloy, and Maybe Meta?
Steel toe was the first innovation in toe protection in boots. It has protected workers for almost a century, at least since the 1930s when Red Wing Shoes first developed them for commercial use.
Steel toe has been extended to be a part of a complete protection system such as combining it with a midsole plate to protect from punctures from below.
However as environments started to need different kinds of protections such as those from electrical hazards but were still ones where something might crush toes by accident, composite toe shoes were developed (along with a few steel toes that are electrical hazard safe), followed by alloy toe which is lighter and gives more room in the toe box.
Composite toes themselves continue to be a wide set of innovation such as the use of various of materials to change the composite itself to be lighter or going to the nano level to work to create even lighter composites and metamaterials to add new few features.
This area especially with new developments in carbon nanotubes is particularly exciting. It may be that one day the composite boot toe is as hard a diamond on the outside but has extreme flexibility on the inside.
Onto the soles and the exterior. There have been all sorts of innovations in the exterior that have been revolutionary such as waterproofing, antimicrobial protection, internal moisture wicking, impact shock protection, and more.
Soles and Exteriors, and Environmental Innovations
Waterproofing has been one the biggest and most popular innovations. Waterproofing has been used to help keep feet dry, make it so that workers, military, police, first responders, and enthusiasts can use their boots for extended periods in wet environments.
Wanting to enhance the protections within the boots from anything that could be in the water, antimicrobial protections have been developed, pathogen resistance has been developed and integrated. Internal moisture wicking and release (of moisture). Non-water absorbing materials have been developed and incorporated, even more boots designed for use in maritime use such as the
Altama Maritime Assault line.
Innovations in waterproofing will be a future blog topic because there is so much to talk about just with waterproofing itself.
Related to waterproofing are boots innovations that has been designed and developed to deal with the various elements and environments you may find yourself in or want to travel to. There are boots specifically designed for cool weather, including extreme cold weather, hot and arid environments, extremely wet environments such as wetlands places you might go fishing and plenty of others.
Many of these started as developments for military but they have come to be used by adventurers the world over, as Salomon likes to say “#timetoplay.”
For hot and arid environments once thinks of the desert and hot places akin like Arizona and non-Las Vegas Nevada, the issues one faces there such as heavy sweat, the obviously hot temperatures (and feet can get very hot), and the potentially slick surfaces such as hot asphalt.
Innovations like ventilation zones and vents were first original developed for military to keep cool have become ideal for athletic training and intense physical activity in these hot environments. The same for breathable gussets for maximum cooling and materials such as lightweight nylon. For workers in these environments these are combined with steel toe and composite toes to keep them safe while working, and like I mentioned before with composite toe, it might be possible that they’ll eventually develop composites that keep you cool in the hot environments like a cooler and freezer packs do.
For the cold we already know that Thinsulate from 3M is the go to material for staying warm and dry in the cold. There are even kinds the incorporate flame resistance and water-resistance. The water-resistance usually is a part of a complete waterproofing system and they cold weather boots outsoles that help grip the environment.
In an upcoming blog posts we’ll also be talking about the various weather environments and the individual boot technologies and recommendations for each.
Another set of innovations which has just been mentioned above are the ones in traction increases. What was started as the tread has been expanded to be all sorts of technologies and designs to help in various environments. Some boots have threads that are optimized for running, oil and slip resistance, heavy work in different environments including farm, work, even ones that can help in dancing, all day walking, and impact shock absorption.
All of these have been a constant source of research, pattern design, tests in materials for the soles for each of the companies as they work to create and improve traction in various environments as well as what they can do to improve the soles.
There’s so much to cover you can probably offer an entire college course in soles. (We can do that our fans so ask, but till them we’ll be doing a few blog posts about the various aspects of soles.) Through now we want to finish with something that’s important to everyone the internal of the boot where you rest your feet and what you need to keep your feet comfortable.
Internal comfort has been a big source of innovation. Now while it always hasn’t been at the forefront in military boots, it has been something that has become important over time especially in the 2000s on onward, various technologies such as Gore-Tex were started to be used and were then continued into civilian use. Now internal comfort has been a mix of some of the elements above such as doing the waterproofing, hot and cold design elements and materials, because aspects of the inside like temperature and water-resistance proofing, cannot work without the exterior. Though let’s talk about the materials and systems used for the comfort within.
Many companies have developed various systems for a boot wearer’s internal comfort Georgia Boot for example has a series of comfort systems, all named Comfort Core.
Comfort Core® CC5 Comfort System An insole material of polyurethane from Georgia Boot that is designed to give your foot the comfort and stability it deserves. The ergonomic arch support found on the CC5 footbed ensures that your feet are comfortable on the job all day long. Extended perforations on the bottom of the insole promote airflow and cooling inside your boot.
Comfort Core® CC6 Comfort System From Georgia Boot Comfort Core® CC6 insoles feature an energy return plug that aborbs shock and stores energy when compressed, then releases energy as you lift your foot for comfort as you walk. The bottom of the insole also features vent perforations engineered to keep air circulating under the foot, helping keep your feet cool all day long.
Comfort Core® CC7 Comfort System From Georgia Boot Comfort Core® CC7 insoles consists of a three-layer comfort system. The first layer of polyurethane cushions and absorbs shock, while the second layer of polyurethane gives you heel and arch support. The triple-layer comfort is completed by a memory foam top layer ensures that each boot’s insole is custom fit to your own foot.
This is just a few examples just from Georgia itself of the various types of comfort systems. Contragrip from Salomon is another technology. LT Honeycomb is another, and so on. The internal comfort can also be part of a whole system such as 5.11 Tactical’s Shock Mitigation System.
Like we’ve said above we’ll be doing blog posts about internal comfort technologies as well.
This is just the beginning, we’ve started covering the various innovations, some history, and details of the vast universe that is boots. In upcoming posts we’ll be covering more on the individual topics that we’ve just briefly touched upon in each. Even from just these you can see that tactical innovations have turned into everyday use items in various boots.
If there is something specific would like us to make a priority to cover, or have ideas for let us know via email, social media (facebook, instagram), etc. Make Gear World Z more of your world.