The padded cold weather clothing liners have been covered on the blog before, with a range of trousers, parka liners and smock liners. Very similar in construction to these liners, tonight we are looking at a pair of quilted Arctic extreme cold weather bootees:These are commonly referred to as ‘duvet boots’ by troops and were issued for wear inside tents and shelters in extreme low temperatures as a form of slipper. They are made of green polyester with a padded lining, secured in with zig-zag quilting stitching:The top edge of each bootee is secured with green tape:Whilst stitched inside the top edge is a piece of elastic to help trap a pocket of air inside the bootee:This pocket of air is warmed up by the wearer’s feet and acts as a very effective layer of insulation and helps keep the feet warm.
An NSN number, date and inspector’s mark are stamped into the interior of the bootee:These seem to be dated 1990, but the stamp is so distorted that it is hard to be certain.
In this kit layout for a Royal Marine undergoing arctic training, the bootees can be seen circled:I have struggled to find much more information on these bootees, and I cannot say when they entered service, how effective they were nor even if they are still in service. If anyone can shed further light on them, please comment below.
I covered the MK 3 arctic inner mitten on the blog a few years ago here, and since then I have actually been using these mittens in very cold weather to keep my precious mitts warm- and a very good job of it they do. As the name of those mittens implies, there were earlier patterns of these gloves and tonight we are considering their predecessors, the MK 2 design. Again these are made in DPM fabric, but this time it is not a waterproof nylon but a simple cotton:The design has the same wide palm as the later design, but does not incorporate the non-slip bumps so grip would be necessarily poorer:The same separate thumb is featured in this design, as is the optional index finger section to allow a rifle to be fired:A piece of elastic sewn into the mitten helps draw it in at the wrist:Unusually the liner of these kittens are manufactured in blue faux-fur pile, rather than the expected green or brown:A label is sewn inside each mitten indicating the mark number, size, manufacturer and contract number:Whilst this design is clearly not as advanced as the MK 3, they remain a serviceable and war pair of mittens that would have worked well in extreme low temperatures and I am now intrigued to find a MK 1 to complete the evolution of this garment…
Skiing in the context of the British Army is rather different from skiing for leisure or sport. The British Army use a method of skiing known as ‘Telemark’ skiing. The encyclopaedia definition of Telemark Skiing is:
Telemark skiing is a skiing technique that combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing. Telemark skiing is named after the Telemark region of Norway, where the discipline originated. Sondre Norheim is often credited for first demonstrating the turn in ski races, which included cross country, slalom and jumping, in Norway around 1868. Sondre Norheim also experimented with ski and binding design, introducing side cuts to skis and heel bindings (like a cable).
Telemark skiing was reborn in 1971 in the United States. Doug Buzzell, Craig Hall, Greg Dalbey, Jack Marcial and Rick Borcovec are credited with reintroducing the style after reading the book Come Ski With Me by Stein Eriksen. Telemark skiing gained popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. The appeal of Telemark skiing lies in access: long pieces of synthetic fabric, known as skins, can be attached to the bottom of the skis to allow travel uphill.
Telemark skiing uses a specialized type of equipment. Generally, Telemark skiers use flexible Alpine skis with specially designed bindings that fix only the toe of the ski boot to the ski, thereby creating the “free heel”. Oftentimes the heel is attached to the front of the binding by a hinged cable, which holds the ski boot firmly in the binding. These bindings are often non-releasable.In a military context this method of skiing is hugely beneficial as troops are often carrying heavy loads and weapons and need to ski in mountainous areas. By having the heel easily removed from the ski it is possible to walk in the skis which makes it much easier to navigate Arctic terrain. In order to work with Telemark skis, a special type of boot is needed and it is a pair of these ski march boots we are looking at tonight:The most distinctive features of these boots are the square toes that slot into the front bindings of the ski:And a large groove around the heel that allows the spring rear clip on the ski to be easily attached or detached:The base of the soles of these boots are made of rubber with decent grips for use on the ice. Note the brand name for these boots, ‘Skeesol’:At the heel a leather loop is fitted to help when pulling on the boots:This design of boots was used for many years, but this example is dated 1986 and the details are stamped inside the boot along with an NSN number:This design of boot has now been replaced with more modern patterns from companies such as ALCO, but still remains popular amongst some cross country skiers due to how robust it is. This is another great addition to my little Arctic Warfare collection and I just need to get the skis to go with it…
Over the last couple of years we have covered a number of the padded liners issued to troops for service in extreme cold weather, including the parka liner here. This liner was designed to be fitted into the arctic parka used by British troops in extreme cold weather. Happily I have been able to add an example of one of these parkas to my collection and we are able to take a closer look at this garment tonight. The parka is a distinct garment, different from the more usual smocks. It is longer and baggier than the traditional windproof or parachutist’s smock and has a permanently attached hood:The hood itself is padded with a quilted liner and has wire around the front to allow it to be shaped to suit the wearer’s preferences:Large baggy patch pockets are sewn to the front of the parka, secured with green plastic buttons:A heavy duty zip with a Velcro fly is fitted to the front of the parka:And two buttons are sewn to the lower front skirt of the garment:These are to allow a tail flap to be passed between the legs, much like the parachutist’s smock and fastened to the front. However where the parachutists smock used press studs, this example uses large buttons. When the flap is not needed it buttons into the inside rear of the parka:The same buttons go through two button holes to also act as the fastening for the large soft kit pocket that runs all across the back of the parka:The parka is designed to be worn with a liner, so large patches of Velcro are sewn into the inside of the garment:These are the loop half and the corresponding hook part of the Velcro is on the outside of the liner to allow the two pieces to be attached together.
The sleeves of the parka are also distinctive with large double thickness elbow sections to add extra protection and comfort when shooting:The cuffs are unusual in having a tab with Velcro to secure them:This design allows the wearer to tighten the cuffs, even when wearing heavy arctic mittens.
It should be noted that there also exists an arctic windproof smock that was issued at the same time as this parka. It has been suggested that the smock was for infantrymen, whilst the parka was for more static troops such as those maintaining vehicles or in non-combat roles that required them to stand still in the cold for longer. I have been unable to confirm if this is indeed the case, but it seems a plausible theory. These parkas are extremely well made and I was lucky enough to find this one in a vintage clothes shop for a very reasonable price. Strangely this is only the second parka in my collection, the other being an earlier olive green example I picked up several years ago.