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ARMY BOOTS OF THE WORLD. REVIEWS

Important notice: we do not sell any boots! The prices are given for information purposes only!

Poland

Military Boots of Poland ("Opinacze")

The armed forces of the Republic of Poland (Siły Zbrojne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) consists of four main components: the Army (Wojska Ląadowe or WL), Air Force (Wojska Lotnicze), Navy (Marynarka Wojenna) and Special Forces (Wojska Specjalne).

The common name for the Polish military boots is "Opinacze", this term was used from the times of the Polish People's Republic to the second half of the 1990s. Originally, the term referred exclusively to the army boots featuring leather cuffs (stitched to the top of the boots) with two buckles fasteners on each. These boots are usually from 10 to 12 centimetres in height, and they are very similar to the American M-43 boots and the French "Rangers".

The very name "opinacze" ("opinacz" in the singular) means a strip of leather (with two buckles) designed to give an extra height to the boots - in other words it can be translated as "leggings" or "gaiters". This name appeared in Poland in the period between the First and the Second World Wars, when the Polish infantry wore low boots with textile gaiters which were attached to the boots by means of belts and a fixed lower edges of pants, actually being the leggings.

As the Poles themselves used to tell about this design: "... wsuwało sie dól spodni i je nim na wystających z trzewików onucach... opinało". This is the origin of the term. In 1958, taking into account the American and French experience a more rational solution appeared - military boots with sewn-on leather cuffs.

For many years different types and colours of leather was used for these boots. The very first sample boots of the year 1958 featured reinforced toe caps (an additional layer of leather), and rubber tread pattern of the out-sole was similar to the French sample.

Further on, since the beginning of the 1960s, they began using the out-sole with tread pattern of the Polish design. At the same time they got rid of additional leather layer on the toe caps. The two main colours of the Polish military boots (black and brown) can vary in shades, in colour of the inner leather lining (more or less light or dark), and by the details of the manufacturer's marking on the out-soles.

The colour of the Polish military boots served as an additional identifier of a certain soldier belonging to a branch of the Polish Armed Forces: brown "opinacze" were issued to the army troops (ground troops and paratroopers, infantry and tank crews), while the black boots were provided to the Air Force and Air Defence Forces, to the Navy and the Marines.


Regardless of the colour of boots, they are distinguished by the carefully made leather with a hydrophobic impregnation, which was much more soft and comfortable compared with the French military boots "Rangers"; the lacing system consisted of five pairs of simple round eyelets, leather cuffs with two buckles on each were stitched to the top of the boots.

The boots design was reinforced by a pair of rivets at the bottom of the lacing system. These boots are glued and stitched by "Goodyear welt construction", solid rubber out-sole, often reinforced with boot nails.

The Polish army boots of "opinacze" type were produced both with the conventional rubber out-soles and with oil and gasoline-resistant out-soles (the last was intended specially for the personnel of tank and motorized troops). There was also a version of such specialized boots for special forces, they differed with the forms of buckles on boots, they also were characterized by an increased height and improved overall design.

However, there were no separate military boots for the officers and the soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces.

"Opinacze" of this types had no leather lining inside the boots, except for the lower part of the boot up to the level of the malleolus bones of the feet. These boots are quite comfortable in terms of wear, they also provide good fixation of the ankle and protection from potential injuries and sprains.

As it was mentioned earlier, the design of the leather cuffs and the buckles of the Polish military boots are very similar to the French BMJA Mle 52 boots (model of the 1952), but the leather of the boot's top is much more "friendly" to the soldiers' feet. The Poles used the out-soles tread pattern of their own design, in particular, one should mention "Salute"- type tread pattern.

Just as in the French boots the boots tongues of the Polish "opinacze" are sewn together from two parts, and the resulting seam is located the middle and along the height of the tongue.

In the very first models of "opinacze" the cuff was not leather, but made of canvas. Similarly to the USSR, the "socialist" Poland had the problems with the provision of a wide variety of goods, including specialized footwear. So the Polish military boots were very popular among the civilians as well and these boots were widely used for hiking, fishing, and as casual footwear, like hunting and winter boots. This popularity was caused by good workmanship and reliability of the "opinacze".

On the specialized Polish web-forums there are many opinions, that the brown and black "opinacze" were the best boots the Polish Armed Forces ever had, especially when compared with later version, the "landing" black boots without buckles (the so-called "skoczky" boots).

Similarly to the Hungarian army combat boots, the Polish boots were issued with removable white plastic mesh insoles, which provided air circulation inside the boots.

Today you can still find "opinacze" on sale, but they made no less than 20 years ago. By some opinions, the earlier versions of "opinacze" were the best by the quality of leather and overall workmanship (the robustness of the boots was enhanced with additional rivets). But the boots made since the late 1980s to the early 1990s are not as good in quality and they lack the metallic rivets due to economy reasons.

At first the production of brown "opinacze" was stopped, while black boots were still manufactured for some time. The highest in quality were those boots, the soles of which were marked as "OLEJOODPORNE, i.e. "oil-resistant".

In addition to the use of these boots by the Polish Armed Forces, as well as the footwear for hikers, hunters, and even builders, the "opinacze" were widely used in the environment of the youth subcultures (metal-heads, punks, goths, skinheads ...) before the "real" stylish boots like "Grinders" and "Dr.. Martens" became available in Poland.

The robustness and reliability of the old Polish military boots ("opinacze") was glorified even in the Polish sergeant's joke, with which they met every group of young recruits:

"...stara sier żancką podpuchę unitarkową:

- Zołnierze! Każdy, który w czasie treningów marszowych rozwali buty, dostanie nowe z magazynu i zostanie zwolniony z wszystkich dalszych treningów.

Naiwne młode wojsko tupie zawzięcie o beton do upadu, a buty to wytrzymują. Ja przynajmniej nie słyszałem, by udało się komuś przetrzeć szwy podeszwowe, czy jakoś inaczej rozwalić buty maszerowaniem. Nasze buty wojskowe niszczy się wyłącznie brakiem natłuszczania!"

("The new recruits were said, that the one who manage to break his "opinacze" when marching will be issued a new pair of combat boots immediately, and will be further released from the marching drill. The naive young soldiers stomped till they fell tired, knocking their feet down on the concrete parade ground, but the boots, of course, survived such treatment. Over the years there were no cases, when someone managed to grind the weld on the out-sole or "break" the boots while marching. So these "opinacze" combat boots can go through any hardships, except for the absence of regular lubrication").

One should also mention the boots for ceremonial battalion (parade battalion) of the Polish Armed Forces (Opinacze w Batalionie Reprezentacyjnym WP). Since 1989, the soldiers of this unit are provided with a new kind of boots - the black boots of model 925/MON (wz 925/MON) with the out-soles, padded with 36 steel nails and with steel tips on the toes and the heels.

These boots are also very sturdy and reliable, and the out-soles with metal nails and tips make a distinctive sound during the marching steps. These boots are manufactured by "Protektor SA" company from Lublin.

The sources of the photos and information:

http://www.systemplus.sklep.pl

http://www.pphu-kama.pl

http://skibicki.pl/forum

http://onlinemilitaria.com

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com

http://odkrywca.pl

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