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US "Jungle" Boots with "Panama"-type out-soles

Despite the transition to the "Panama:-type out-sole in the end of the 1960s, the majority of "jungle" boots in Vietnam had "Vibram®"-type out-soles and now they can be much more commonly found than the "Panama"-sole boots. The Third Pattern "jungle" boots with "Vibram®"-type sole were produced from about 1965 to circa 1968.

There were different contract manufacturers of the U.S. "jungle" boots and/or soles, among which one should mention

The Third Pattern "jungle" boots with "Panama"-type sole were produced en-masse from 1967 and later, when the "jungle" boots were given OG107 nylon-webbing canvas tops in place of cotton duck. Besides more thick nylon webbing reinforcement stripes on the sides of the uppers, this model boots featured Spike Protective "Panama" mud-clearing out-sole.

Though the "Panama" Sole with spike protection was approved in 1966 along with the new spike plate being added to the "Vibram®" sole, the production of such boots started only from circa mid 1967, perhaps due to the extensive process required to make new molds and because the manufacturers of the U.S. "jungle" boots still had existing contracts for the boots with old-type sole. From 1969 the manufacturing of boots uses "Panama" out-soles exclusively. Despite these production dates, the number of "Panama" sole boots never reached the issue numbers of the "Vibram®" sole boots during the Vietnam War.

The name "Panama"-soles came from the "U.S. Army Tropic Test Center in the Panama Canal Zone" and "Panama Experimental Platoon" located in this Central American country and responsible for field tests of new experimental types of footwear, uniforms and equipment in tropical or jungle environments. The famous "Panama" sole tread pattern with sharp outer edges and smoother center portion was invented by U.S. Army Sergeant Raymond Dobie back in 1944. His concept of "self-cleaning tread" out-sole consisted in the using of a series of angled rubber lugs in the black synthetic rubber soles, the form of which allowed to push soft mud out from the soles, clear them and provide much better grip in mud, greasy clay, wet grass and other surfaces.

However, the approbation and tests took too much time, the WW2 was almost over, so both M-42 "jungle" boots and M-45 "Combat Boot, Tropical" used "Vibram®" soles with different tread patterns.

With the beginning of the Vietnam war, the official interest in "jungle" boots and other equipment grew up considerably. The first batch of 85 experimental pairs of the Third Pattern "Boots, Combat, Tropical, Direct Molded Sole with Spike Resistant Sole Shield Panama Soles" were tested by the "U.S. Army Tropic Test Center in the Panama Canal Zone" in the period from February 21 to June 21, 1966. These boots were tested during field exercises and local unit training by different troops, from special forces and airborne units to regular infantry and mechanized battalions and even the U.S.A.F. Tropic Survival School. An interesting fact - the tests of the spike protection feature weren't a part of this Panama field tests, and were conducted at other facilities of the U.S. Armed Forces. The tests brought to light some minor problems, and the "jungle" boots were found to be functionally suitable for both field and garrison wear in the hot, wet and humid climate. The shortcomings were corrected, and an improved "jungle" boots with the new "Panama"-type out-sole went in massive production from circa 1967.

What about the spike protective stainless steel plates, they were added to any further "jungle" boots production, including the newly produced models with "Vibram®"-type soles, as the "jungle" boots of previous patterns with "Vibram®"-type soles continued to be issued to the U.S. troops until circa 1969.

All the U.S. military footwear, including the "jungle" boots ("Boot, Combat, Tropical, Mildew Resistant, Spike Protective", "Boot, Combat, Tropical, Spike Resistant", "Boots, Hot Weather" - after May 1972), come with an "Instruction Tag" attached that provided instructions for use and care. If the boots were equipped with built-in stainless steel plates, it was indicated: "This boot is spike protective".

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