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ARMY BOOTS OF THE WORLD. REVIEWS

The photo below shows the box tag of the Swiss Army model 2006 desert boots (Wüsten - Kampfstiefel 06) manufactured by "ELGG" company, "Herrenstiefel / Wüstensohn".

The marking on the bottom of this tag shows the inscription "KS 90 W6," that perhaps could stand for "KampfStiefel 90 Wüsten 06", that is "KS90 military boots (model of the year 1990) - desert boots 06 (model of the year 2006)".

New socks of the Swiss Armed Forces

The consideration of the army footwear of Switzerland would not be complete without the review of military socks, because convenient and high-quality socks are not less important than the good quality boots. That's why the experts from the "Armasuisse" and "EMPA" has developed new advanced socks for the Swiss Armed Forces and performed the tests of them. This was done along with the works on the new Swiss Army boots prototypes, in the framework of the joint project "Neue Fussbekleidung" ("New boots"). The most important features of those new generation Swiss army socks were much improved moisture-wicking properties and reduced likelihood of the feet rubbing and blistering. In order to achieve this the developers have performed a series of experiments with different fabrics and synthetic fibers of various structures.

Brief information about the developers.

"Armasuisse" is a federal agency of the Swiss Confederation, affiliated with the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports, which is responsible for military logistic and the supply of arms. The S & T (Science and Technology) Division, which is based in the cities of Bern, Thun and Emmen was taking active part in the development of new army socks. In other words, "Armasuisse" is the competent authority responsible for the procurement of technologically complex systems and materials for the needs of the Swiss Armed Forces.

"EMPA" (an abbreviation of the German "Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt") is the Swiss Federal Research Institute, located in Dübendorf. This is the second largest competent body after the famous PSI (Paul Scherrer Institute), which is engaged in applied research and testing of materials.

"EMPA" is a part of the Swiss Institutes of Technology Domain, and its work focuses on the development of solutions and the creation of new materials for industry and the public. The sphere of its responsibility includes five areas: "nanostructured materials", "structurally stable materials", "materials for health and performance," "natural resources and contaminants" and "materials for energy technology".

The main developers of the research project (EMPA and Armasuisse) already had successful experience of cooperation. In 2002, within the framework of the "Sweat Management" research project and together with "Eschler" (textile manufacturer) they developed and implemented the multi-weather four-level clothes concept ("Vierschichtiges Bekleidungskonzept") for the Swiss Armed Forces. This kit, which provides optimal thermal regulation and protection of soldiers from cold, wind and weather, is used by the Swiss the military since 2005.

Traditionally, the recruits of all armies of the world are frightened most of all by painful blisters and bloody chafed places on their feet. These problems are the inevitable results of long foot marches, no matter how good in quality were the army boots. The traditional solutions to this problem were such conventional methods as sticker patches on the places of possible blisters, using of thin woolen socks in combination with thicker cotton or wool socks, etc...

Such traditional natural materials as wool and cotton are expected to be replaced by new high-tech fabrics, made from the fibers developed by the "Empa" textile laboratory. In such a way the laboratory of "Schutz und Physiologie" ("Protection and Physiology") department, together with "Armasuisse" and "Rohner" manufacturing company, have elaborated new advanced military socks, the most important properties of which are the ability to drain the sweat quickly from the soldier's feet and to accumulate it in the fibers tissue. This feature allows to prevent rubbing the skin, reduce the friction in the toe and heel areas, and provide more comfortable microclimate inside the soldier's boots.

By selecting the most suitable materials, the researchers have tried a variety of textiles and blends, conducting the tests of the obtained prototypes, and this process took quite a long time. As a result, a special fiber (speziellen Fasermaterial) was chosen for the reinforced sections of the socks (i.e. the heels and toes, the main trouble spots of the foot), while the rest of the garment is to be made of blended woolen mixture (Wollmischung), good enough to take up and store sweat particularly well.

Further on, the novel socks, developed in the laboratory, were tested for their wearing properties during the field trials. The previously developed groundworks of "EMPA" and "Armasuisse" in the field of thermodynamics, physiology and tribology (a field of science dedicated to the study of friction) appeared to be very useful. Not only were the innovative "Anti-Blasen-Socken" ("anti-blister socks") tested on a sweating dummy foot, but scientists also involved Swiss soldiers in battle dress marching on a treadmill in the climate chamber.

In order to learn as much as possible about how the textile materials behaved during the process of walking, the involved researchers from from the Technical University of Chemnitz analyzed the biomechanical properties of the Swiss combat boots. Actually, in the ideal case the boots exert the necessary pressure on the socks to allow optimal absorption of the feet perspiration by the textile fibers.

In such a way, boot and sock re create an optimal "sock-and-boot system" ("Socken- und Stiefel-System") to transport perspiration out of the feet, because the wetter the feet inside the boots, the higher the probability of blisters appearing.

At the beginning of May, 2010 sixty young Swiss soldiers, based in the Aarau canton barracks took part in the field tests, aimed at checking if the innovative socks would really prevent the feet from developing blisters under real field conditions, i.e during "sock blind-tests". Together with new military boots the recruits were given 10 single socks, which they were ordered to wear over the next five days exactly according to a given schedule, including daily 6-kilometer route marches. The aforementioned ten single socks were of three different types, and with the intention of obtaining the most objective comparison results possible the soldiers were had no information about the individual sock types and their peculiar features.

The soldiers wore different types of socks on each foot in order to evaluate different qualities of the socks and footwear, and so that the scientists could document this information. Every day after the daily 6 kilometer route march the physiologists checked the soldiers’ feet to see how wet the skin was, if it was irritated and if blisters were already appearing. At the same time the recruits described their opinions how the socks felt.

In the near future the results of the described field studies will allow to make a decision about the introduction of novel socks and new advanced boots in the Swiss Armed Forces

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