Category Archives: Boots

Black Kestrel Patrol Boots

The Kestrel patrol boot was a medium weight set of boots issued to soldiers as a general purpose boot for short to medium patrols and exercises. It was not as good in cold weather as arctic boots, nor designed for use in extremely hot temperatures, but fitted into the mid-range where most exercises and indeed combat was expected to occur. These boots were designed to be lighter weight and more comfortable than earlier designs and incorporated fabric panels for breathability and robust soles for marching in. The boots were also produced in both brown and black, and it is the black pair we are looking at tonight:The boots were issued in a standard cardboard shoe box:On the outside a stores label has been attached with NSN number and sizing:Opening the box it can be seen that packaged in with the boots are a number of accessories:These include insoles and spare laces:A tube of boot polish:And an instruction leaflet:The boots themselves feature a deeply cleated rubber sole:And fabric panels let into the uppers to make the boots both softer and more comfortable and to aid the movement of air so the wearer’s feet don’t overheat:The boots fasten up the front with laces in a mixture of standard lace holes and quick lace hooks:A stores label is sewn into the tongue of each boot:One cadet user has given a detailed assessment of this pattern of boot that makes interesting reading, covering its use by cadets in detail:

Looking at them they looked a good pair of boots and felt very light when compared to the good old assault boots that were issued in the past – not a bad thing at all! 

Looking at MOD literature, the YDS Kestrel boots are a patrol boot which means they are suited to situations where the threat of combat is medium to low with a temperature range of -10º to +35º. Which makes them ideal for cadet use!  

It is also recommended that they are used with gaiters in wet weather which is something to keep in mind, although you don’t need to rush out a buy a pair.

First test was how they fit. After adjusting the laces, an easy job with the lacing loops on the upper part of the boot and the lace locks as well, I put them on had a quick walk around the house. No problems at all and no squeaking or creaking either!  

I decided to put them through a series of different environments to simulate the sort of things you’d come across in cadets: a two mile road walk, a two mile walk through muddy fields and woodland close to where I live, a two mile walk with a 10kg pack on and lastly a quick go on the outdoor ‘gym’ trail in the local park. 

On the first two mile walk I found the boots to be comfortable and I didn’t feel that my feet got ‘hot’ while walking. I stopped after about half a mile to adjust the laces – something I do with every pair of boots when heading out to ensure they fit snugly without rubbing.

At the end I had no rubbing or pinching on my feet and they still fitted nicely.  

Next up was a trek through a muddy field and through a local woodland. Now looking at the MOD advice I did this with gaiters on and again I found the boots comfortable to walk in. 

One thing I did note was that the soles held a lot of mud, but I purposely went through all the muddy patches to see how they did at the extreme end of muddy so it’s not a surprise they clogged up.

Now I didn’t go through any puddles deeper than about 50mm and in all honesty I avoided trying to wade through a stream as I know the fabric upper would get my feet wet and to be frank I don’t think doing that would be a true reflection of how they perform on cadet type activities.

After bit of a clean I headed out for a walk with a 10kg pack on to see how much support the boots offered and how comfortable they were walking in with a little weight on. 

Again I thought they were very comfortable and the high leg provided a good level of support for my ankle with no rubbing etc. and the boot flexed enough to allow my feet to spread slightly with weight as well.  

Lastly I headed out to the outdoor gym trail in the local park and went over the various obstacles to stretch and twist my feet to see how supportive these boots are over obstacles and the like.

As I expected having gone over the last few tests with them they were fine, comfortable and supportive with the fabric upper coming into its own moving and flexing with ease.  

So after putting the boots through a few tests and wearing them generally for a while I’d have to sum up by saying that I think these are a good cadet boot.

Yes they have a fabric upper which means wading through water may be an issue but in all honesty that’s not something that will happen a lot, if at all while on cadet activities. But that fabric upper also makes them comfy and easy to ‘break in’ as well – good news for cadet feet!

They are comfortable to walk and march in and clean up easily which is a big plus.

Air Ministry Boot Brush

Boot brushes have appeared many times over the years of this blog and the army marked examples are very common, regularly examples dating back as far as the First World War turn up for under £1 each. Those stamped up for naval or Air Force use are much scarcer, but I have managed to pick up a pair of Admiralty marked examples over the last few years. Until recently however a wartime dated RAF example eluded me. It was therefore fantastic to find this example a few weeks back for just 50p:imageThe brush is typical of all boot brushes, with a wooden back and bristles glued in small clumps into holes drilled into one side:imageThe bristles are made of hair, like nearly all brushes manufactured before the widespread use of nylon, and this is stamped into the wood along one side of the brush:imageThat this is an RAF brush is clearly indicated by an AM and crown mark indicating the Air Ministry and the date of 1941:image‘Kent’ is the name of the manufacturer and indicates that this brush was produced by GB Kent & Sons Ltd. This firm is still trading today and their website gives some history:

G B Kent & Sons Ltd, manufacturers of brushes since the eighteenth century, is one of the oldest established companies in Great Britain.

Kent Brushes was founded in 1777 by William Kent in the reign of George III. We hold a pre-eminent place in the history of brush making, with an unbroken record of excellence in the quality of our production, which has been recognised by the granting of Royal Warrants for nine reigns.

The Kent family continued to run the company for six generations until 1932 when the last of the three Kent brothers passed away. Then Mr Eric L.H Cosby, owner of Cosby Brushes Ltd, entered into an association with G.B Kent & Sons. This started a new chapter in Kent’s long history, and since then, Kent Brushes has been under the creative and dynamic direction of the Cosby family.

The only other marks on the brush is an RAF type stores code marked in minuscule type into the same side as the AM mark:imageAirmen were issued a pair of boot brushes on enlistment, just like their counterparts in the other services and were then responsible for the upkeep of their own footwear, polish being bought out of their own pay at the NAAFI.

Waterproofing Agent

Modern combat boots are far more sophisticated than in previous decades, often being made of different materials and having special waterproofing capabilities that allow sweat to escape, whilst preventing water to come in. As such tradition shoe polish is not always sufficient to treat these items of footwear with and many manufacturers also supply the military with specific waxes and treatments for these new boots, much like civilian purchasers of hiking boots are encouraged to also buy the correct feeds and treatments for their footwear.

Tonight we are looking at a small pot of boot waterproofing compound, here made by a company called Greygate:imageThe compound is supplied in a small glass jar and as it has been produced for a military contract, a stores barcode label with NSN number is attached to one side of the outside:imageThe rest of the label gives warnings about the potentially harmful nature of the compound which is both flammable and can cause skin irritation:imageThe base of the jar indicates that it was manufactured in November 2017 and has a expiry date in 2020:imageThis wax seems to have been specially created for the British military and according to Cadet Direct it is:

Genuine British Forces wax waterproofing compound issued for use with all MOD Brown combat footwear. Unlike some commercial shoe polishes this wax-based compound has been formulated to nourish and waterproof MOD brown footwear without altering the natural colour of the sole or upper. Application with cloth recommended. Size: 125g 4 fl oz e. Colour: neutral.

The company itself markets the wax as a:

Blend of waxes and silicone to protect and nourish walking boots against the elements, without altering the natural colour of the sole or upper.

Used by the British Forces, Wax Waterproofing Compound issued for use with all MOD Brown combat footwear.

British Army Wellco Jungle Boots

We seem to have covered a lot of different pairs of boots on the blog this year, we round out our selection though with a pair of American made Wellco jungle boots:imageThe British Army purchased these boots in quite large numbers form the US for issue to troops on jungle deployments and in training in jungle environments. The boots are lightweight, as is so often the case with jungle boots, and feature a two part construction with leather for the lower portions, and fabric for the area above the ankle:imageLeather reinforcing goes up the whole of the front of the boot in order to mount the eyeholes and clasps for the laces:imageAs befits boots that are likely to get very wet and then need to dry rapidly, two drainage holes are fitted to the lower portion of the boot:imageThe soles of the boots are made of heavy duty rubber and have a pattern known as a ‘Panama Sole’:imageThis design was invented by a US soldier called Raymond Dobie in World War II and uses a series of angled rubber lugs in the soles to push soft mud from the soles, clearing them and providing much better grip in greasy clay or mud. Each sole has the size (here 12) moulded into the rubber, indicating that these were manufactured for the British Army rather than for the US military as the sizes are those used in Britain, not America. The official stores catalogue describes the boots as:

Boots, Combat, Jungle. Hot weather. Calf length derby style boot with black leather uppers and nylon leg. Speed loop & eyelet lace closure. Rubber moulded sole. Drainage plugs inside arches.

The inside of the tongue has a white stamping indicating size, NSN number and date of manufacture. As this is an area of high wear, these can be hard to read sometimes:imageEach boot also has a maker’s tag with the US flag and the name Wellco embroidered on it:imageAs ever we can rely upon Arrsepedia to give a humorous and not necessarily accurate reason as to why the British Army adopted US produced boots:

Being British of course, we decided to make our own version of the US jungle boot and came out with something that looked like a DMS boot with the ankle bit removed and replaced with green canvas, thus looking like a slightly more ally NHS orthopaedic shoe.

Under rigorous jungle conditions, these lasted about 14.7 seconds and so combat arms personnel posted to Belize were finally, and very grudgingly, issued with US jungle boots which they actually got to keep. Woo hoo!

These boots were produced in sizes from 3 to 15, in half size increments and each size was offered in regular, wide and extra wide. This resulted in a bewildering 74 different size and width combinations for this design of boot!

Brown Karrimor SF Cold Wet Weather Boots

Continuing our look at some of the different combat boots of the British Army, tonight we are considering the Karrimor SF cold and wet weather boots:imageThis design was introduced into service with the British Army in 2012 and was one of a range of different boots introduced at this point to go with the new MTP uniforms. For the first time soldiers could try a range of boots to find the one that worked best for them.

The Karimoor combat boots are described as:

The latest issue army cold weather boots for British military personnel from world-renowned outdoor equipment specialist Karrimor. Designed using full grain waterproof leather, these…boots are extremely durable and ideal for use in cold and wet weather. With a Gore-Tex membrane to keep feet dry in the worst and wettest conditions, Karrimor SF boots also feature an innovative 3M Thinsulate lining to preserve warmth while allowing feet to breathe. With a strong rubber Vibram outsole, Karrimor military boots are second to none when it comes to comfort, grip and ruggedness. These waterproof army boots are the ultimate choice for cold weather combat and training exercises.

The soles of these boots are deep and rugged and manufactured in Italy by a specialist sole producer called ‘Vibram’:imageThe boots are of a hi-leg design with lacing up the front from the top of the foot right up to above the ankle:imageThe Union Flag logo of Karrimor SF, the manufacturer, is embossed into the tongue of the boots:imageAnd the manufacturer’s name is embossed into the outer side of each boot:imageA white label with sizing and a /|\ ownership mark is sewn to the underside of the tongue:imageThe boots seem to have been very popular with troops and one soldier gives his thoughts on the design:

Karrimor SF are hard wearing and good in freezing and wet conditions and generally stomping about shite ground and woodlands.

The only major criticism from soldiers is that the brown colour of the boots is very easy to turn into a horrible maroon shade if a dark tan polish is used on them rather than a light tan one! Apparently at this point there is nothing for it but to grovel to the QM and hope you get a replacement pair!

Altberg Defender Boots

A few weeks back the Lowa desert boots were covered on the blog, this was the first in a mini-series of posts over the coming months covering some of the different boots used in the last ten years by the British military. When the British Army adopted the new MTP uniform it looked to replace its boots to match. Initial trials boots were in a muddy green colour, but it was quickly decided that brown was the best colour to choose and soldiers would be offered a choice of makes and models so they could chose boots that best suited them. Tonight’s boots then are a pair of Altberg Defenders and are one of the most recent patterns of boots to be given to troops:imageThe boots are made of brown leather and are a high-leg style:imageThe boots come in a large cardboard box, wrapped in tissue paper to protect them:imageIncluded in the box are a range of care leaflets and information for the user:imageThe user’s guide has detailed information on how to look after the boots and size them:imageimageimageimageThe boots are made of an Anfibio leather which is water repellent and the high leg design features a heavy duty tongue and lacing up the front:imageThe sole is very heavy duty with a multi-terrain rubber tread:imageThe manufacturer’s name is embossed into the leather on the ankle:imageFurther details are printed inside the boot and a white label has the /|\ ownership mark and NSN details on:imageThe boots are available in both Male and Female versions and in both MOD brown and black. Sizing also comes in both medium and wide fitting so there are a dazzling array of different NSN numbers for all the variants:

NATO Stock Numbers

Defender – Boots Combat High Liability – Male, Brown

PLN: 771

Male 5 Med 8430-99-512-2157
Male 5 Wide 8430-99-512-2158
Male 6 Med 8430-99-216-0801
Male 6 Wide 8430-99-216-0802
Male 7 Med 8430-99-216-0803
Male 7 Wide 8430-99-216-0804
Male 8 Med 8430-99-216-0805
Male 8 Wide 8430-99-216-0806
Male 9 Med 8430-99-216-0807
Male 9 Wide 8430-99-216-0808
Male 10 Med 8430-99-216-0809
Male 10 Wide 8430-99-216-0810
Male 11 Med 8430-99-216-0811
Male 11 Wide 8430-99-216-0812
Male 12 Med 8430-99-216-0813
Male 12 Wide 8430-99-216-0814
Male 13 Med 8430-99-216-0815
Male 13 Wide 8430-99-216-0816
Male 14 Med 8430-99-216-0817
Male 14 Wide 8430-99-216-0818
Male 15 Med 8430-99-216-0819
Male 15 Wide 8430-99-216-0820

Defender – Boots Combat High Liability – Female, Brown

PLN: 772

Female 3 Med 8435-99-216-0821
Female 3 Wide 8435-99-216-0822
Female 4 Med 8435-99-216-0823
Female 4 Wide 8435-99-216-0824
Female 5 Med 8435-99-216-0825
Female 5 Wide 8435-99-216-0826
Female 6 Med 8435-99-216-0827
Female 6 Wide 8435-99-216-0828
Female 7 Med 8435-99-216-0829
Female 7 Wide 8435-99-216-0830
Female 8 Med 8435-99-216-0831
Female 8 Wide 8435-99-216-0832
Female 9 Med 8435-99-216-0833
Female 9 Wide 8435-99-216-0834


Defender – Boots Combat High Liability – Male, Black

PLN: 775

Male 5 Med 8430-99-512-2161
Male 5 Wide 8430-99-512-2162
Male 6 Med 8430-99-383-2463
Male 6 Wide 8430-99-383-2464
Male 7 Med 8430-99-383-2465
Male 7 Wide 8430-99-383-2466
Male 8 Med 8430-99-383-2467
Male 8 Wide 8430-99-383-2468
Male 9 Med 8430-99-383-2469
Male 9 Wide 8430-99-383-2470
Male 10 Med 8430-99-383-2471
Male 10 Wide 8430-99-383-2472
Male 11 Med 8430-99-383-2473
Male 11 Wide 8430-99-383-2474
Male 12 Med 8430-99-383-2475
Male 12 Wide 8430-99-383-2476
Male 13 Med 8430-99-383-2477
Male 13 Wide 8430-99-383-2478
Male 14 Med 8430-99-383-2479
Male 14 Wide 8430-99-383-2480
Male 15 Med 8430-99-383-2481
Male 15 Wide 8430-99-383-2482


Defender – Boots Combat High Liability – Female, Black

PLN: 776

Female 3 Med 8435-99-383-2483
Female 3 Wide 8435-99-383-2484
Female 4 Med 8435-99-383-2485
Female 4 Wide 8435-99-383-2486
Female 5 Med 8435-99-383-2487
Female 5 Wide 8435-99-383-2488
Female 6 Med 8435-99-383-2489
Female 6 Wide 8435-99-383-2490
Female 7 Med 8435-99-383-2491
Female 7 Wide 8435-99-383-2492
Female 8 Med 8435-99-383-2493
Female 8 Wide 8435-99-383-2494
Female 9 Med 8435-99-383-2495
Female 9 Wide 8435-99-383-2496


Lowa Desert Combat Boots

When the British Army started operation in Afghanistan there were constant complaints about the quality of the footwear issued and men routinely swapped, borrowed or bought non-issue boots to better deal with the rigours of operations. Commercial companies such as Lowa and Altberg quickly became firm favourites with troops and the MOD finally recognised this and started purchasing issue boots from these sources. Tonight we have a pair of desert Lowa combat boots to look at:imageThese boots entered official British Army service in 2007, as seen in this extract form the ‘Black Book’ of military kit issues by the army:CaptureThese boots are still manufactured by Lowa and officially have the title ‘Desert Elite Coyote’. Their website gives more details on the boots:Capture1These boots can be dated by the series of pin holes on the tongue which show the size (9) and the date of manufacture (December 2009):imageThe boots are made of suede type material with a high ankle design:imageThe maker’s name is embossed into the suede:imageVentilation panels are fitted to each side to allow air in to the boot:imageThese could become clogged with fine sand so brushes were used to clean them out periodically. The soles of the boots are thick and with well-defined grips to ensure good traction on rough terrain:imageA label is sewn into each tongue with details of sizing and indicating that the boots were made in Germany:imageA Lt Colonel Tredder said in 2010:

I’m personally really pleased that we are giving guys top-of-the-range equipment, things like Lowa boots – you just don’t get any better than that.

These boots were very popular, but the army quickly realised that men often had personal preferences and so eventually offered a small range of boots so men could find the ones that suited them best. These boots were used extensively on operations until the introduction of MTP uniforms saw them slowly replaced with brown boots that better matched the new camouflage.