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Archive for December, 2009

What are Mickey Mouse Boots?

First issued to U.S. soldiers during the Korean War, Mickey Mouse boots are designed for combat and protect against water and extreme cold. A wool lining and multiple layers of rubber serve as the insulation. Their most distinguishable visible features are their big size. Reminded of the well known cartoon character, G.I.s joked they were wearing Mickey Mouse’s shoes. The rubber was tinted white to camouflage with snow.

Mickey Mouse Boots

Mickey Mouse Boots

That incarnation of a cold weather boot came from the previous “shoepac” design of World War II. These were also white, but not as thick or durable – they were intended as an outer layer for shoes.  Shoepacs didn’t stand up to the extreme cold of the winter of 1951 in Korea, when temperatures plunged far below their average, and army tents offered insufficient protection. At a time when soldiers were wearing their sleeping bags during the daytime to keep from freezing, Mickey Mouse boots were highly valued as a major improvement over the protection offered by ordinary leather boots covered in shoepacs.

Since this 8 inch rubber boot isn’t ventilated at all, the wearer’s sweat collects quickly when they’re active. People wearing mickey mouse boots are advised to change their sweaty socks frequently to avoid the cold that can accompany wet socks. Back in the days before Thinsulate insulation, soldiers saw this as only a minor inconvenience considering how warm their feet remained. The boots prevented frostbite even at -20 or -40 degrees Fahrenheit; a layer of air trapped between two layers of rubber acts as a very efficient insulator. This is similar to the way that a double paned window works. In fact, you’ll notice that these boots have a valve on the side. The valve is used to prevent damage at higher altitude. Since mickey mouse boots are sealed rubber, the altitude would lead to air expansion between the layers of the boot and that could cause constriction on the feet as well as damage to the boot.

Many generations of military personnel have continued to wear Mickey Mouse extreme cold weather boots. Now they’re available in black as well as white. In recent years, many working people have used these boots as work boots because of the great value compared to other winter cold weather boots.  They’re also very popular amongst ice fishing aficionados for their ability to protect against heat loss from a day spent standing on ice.  Through Army Surplus stores like Harry’s Army Surplus the average outdoor adventurist, ice fishing enthusiast or working person can buy military issue Mickey Mouse boots.

Harrys Army Surplus