Stitch by Stich: The Process of Making Military Boots
Mar 02, 2022
There is a specific process that goes into making boots, but even more so with military boots. Because of their call to specific guidelines, military boots can do so much more than trek for miles, and they can take a real beating day after day.
It is because of the levels of dedication and specifics that these industries make some of the best boots in the world that can do just about anything you want them to. Without further exasperation, here is the process of making military boots stitch by stitch so you can get a better feel for just how well made these boots are.
This could possibly be the most important process in this whole make. The process of die-cutting can either be done by hand or by machine. Even when done by machine, it is still hand-pressed for precision.
So, what happens is a leather cutout goes over a leather sheet, and it is aimed under a die-cutting machine and pressed into the perfect shape where it is cut. The other method is for the individual to form the mold by hand and knife, cutting out around the edges of the leather mold for the exact shapes needed to form the boots.
Lasts are the upper parts of the boot that sit around the ankle and calves. They are typically shaped and made first as a guide for the rest of the boot. With the straight cuts made for the leg and the sole, it makes sense that this would be used to guide the heel and foot into placement.
The standard traditional method would be to start from the midsole and work to the front of the foot from the last while shaping. What is also worth noting is that this part of the boot must be stitched to perfection with both nylon and leather so that it breathes well.
The midsole and front hold the ankle in line with the boot and leg. So, the last is something like an anchor, but the more modern form that we are talking about has more give and flex to make it a more natural feeling when worn.
The uppers, or tops of the boot, are always stitched by hand. This has been done for centuries as a testament to the resilience and quality of the boot. You also must understand that the needle and thread of that needle are massive, as they have to pass through multiple layers of leather and rubber.
So, when the stitching is done this way, there is no way anything could penetrate these boots. It is so important that this stitching is done correctly the first time. One mistake could mean the difference between an entire sole having to be replaced. Those stitches are thick and hard, as they are made with nylon so that they will hold up for extended periods of time.
Just like the work done to the upper, so too does the same thing have to be done to the lower. The only difference here is that the bottom section is roughened and attached to the bottom of a rubber rand.
Gluing is another step that takes place in between stitching and hemming and that gives the boot another layer of protection and all-weather resilience. The glue helps to seal off any imperfections, as they could be the difference between a good boot and a military-grade boot that will last for years to come. This is one of the most crucial steps in bootmaking, as it binds everything together for strength and durability. You won’t find tougher and longer-lasting footwear than you will in cowboy boots if they are hand crafted for these reasons.
To get into detail a bit more about the sole of the boot, there is a special injection molding machine that presses a mold deep into the sole of the boot that is shaped like the inside of the boot. The material it is made with polyurethane, which is highly resistant to virtually everything and makes for the perfect injection molding.
This allows the bootmaker to quickly assess whether the upper and lower sole meet company standards. It also helps to decide if they should extend the outsole or the midsole while the injection molding is firmly in place to help them see if it needs any final adjustments. These adjustments can be minimal or huge, depending on how well everything went in the initial building of the boots.
Finally, these military combat boots are sent through all kinds of rigorous testing to see if they made the cut. They are inspected to see if the right parts are all in place. For instance, the uppers must contain both leather and nylon as the military standard. Then, the outsoles must include specific tread patterns, while the insoles must be pure polyurethane.
The idea is that the boot drains as soon as it makes contact with water. There are also inspections to ensure the use of puncture-resistant materials inside the insole in the event that the service member steps on anything that might potentially puncture the boot. There is also more non-traditional testing that takes place, such as mechanical, to see how well the boots operate; this testing includes tensile strength testing, hardness testing, and abrasion testing.
So, as you can tell, a lot of hard work goes into building US Army-approved boots to ensure they are up to code and suitable for military use. Most of the techniques come from old cobbler techniques, but they are as effective or even more effective than machined processed boots.
With the amount of effort and attention to detail that goes into the boots themselves, you can be sure that every pair is made with real craftsmanship and ready to take on any day, enemy, or foe. And this has been stitch by stitch, the process of making military boots if you were ever interested to know how they came to be.