Boot Spikes

Throughout the 1970s the British Army slowly improved the equipment offered to troops undergoing mountain and arctic warfare training. In the mid-1970s boot spikes first appear as trials items in the ‘Clothing and Equipment for Mountain and Arctic Warfare’ manual, by the 1980s they had become issue items. Getting your grip on snow and ice is always a problem, more so when you are trying to fight in such conditions, crampons or more accurately boot spikes were issued to the British Army in an attempt to help with this. The boot spikes consist of a metal plate that fits over the sole of a boot at the toe, leather straps wrap around the boot to secure it:imageAs can be seen these spikes do not fit very well on this boot, I am informed they were designed for use with much larger ski march boots and other extreme cold weather footwear. The metal plate has spikes on the front and sides for gripping snow and ice:imageThese particular boot spikes are dated 1979, with details stamped into the metal:imageThe spikes are attached to the securing straps with a large leather flap, riveted to the metal to which the front straps attach:imageThe rear straps attach to a metal plate riveted to the back of the main spike plate:imageThe straps themselves are secured by chromed roller buckles:imageBy all accounts these spikes were not a perfect solution- ice and snow rapidly froze around the metal negating their effectiveness and liberal coats of ski wax had to be added to try and get them to work. They were also difficult to carry and store when not on the foot as the sharp spikes damaged bergens and anything carried in them. These boot spikes are still in use, as noted by a journalist for the Guardian reporting on Royal marine Reservists training in the mountains:

At 7.30am, they are in the car park doing 50 burpees in full uniform because they didn’t tidy up properly after breakfast; by 12.30pm, they are climbing a kilometre-high ice ridge in a raging blizzard wearing crampons and Arctic face masks.

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