In 1988, the U.S. Army, in cooperation with the U.S. Marine Corps, began a program to develop a new 10-inch-high combat boot for dismounted soldiers operating in cold and wet environments where the mean monthly temperature ranges between +14° and +68° F (-10° and +20° C). The new Intermediate Cold Wet Boot (ICWB), first fielded in the early 1990s, was designed to fill the protective gap between the uninsulated U.S. Army Standard Leather Combat Boot that offers minimal performance in cold and damp conditions, and the highly-insulated U.S. Army Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boot that locks out the cold and wet with rubber-enclosed air chambers but does not breathe.
The development of the ICWB, also called the "Bosnia Boot" or "Ranger Boot", was managed under a unique U.S. Army continuous improvement program involving rapid integration of proven technological advances in design, fabrication, and materials. Since 1991, numerous changes have been made to the ICWB under this dynamic process. These include improvements to the boot's outer leather, insulation, waterproof/breathable membrane, insole, and midsole as well as other enhancements to the structure of the basic boot.
A report dated April 2002 praised the ICWB program, stating, "The continuous adaptation of improved features to the ICWB has resulted in a boot with a high degree of wearer acceptance within the U.S. military and could serve as a model for future protective clothing procurement by other NATO countries."
The Army program was shared with the USMC; the Marines began fielding the Intermediate Cold Wet Boots (ICWB) in 1994. In late November 1995, approximately 28,000 Intermediate Cold Wet Boots (ICWB) were shipped to USAREUR for use in Bosnia. The ICWB is typically worn with the Extended Cold-Weather Clothing System (ECWCS).
Boot, Intermediate Cold/Wet was originally described by specification A-A-52076, cancelled 16 Sep 1992 and superseded by MIL-B-44426 (12 July 1991 Base Document, Rev A, Rev B). The NSN series for these boots is NSN 8430-01-349-3687 to 8430-01-349-3782, including all sizes and widths. Manufacturers include Rocky Brands, Wellco Enterprises, Wolverine World Wide, and Brown HH Shoe Co.
In May 2001, a new version of the ICWB was released, with a removable insulation liner and softer, more flexible mid-sole. In the first versions of the ICWB, the insulation was built into the boot itself. The inside of the boot would get soaked if water went over the top of the boot or even from the user's sweat. The wet insulation was useless, requiring soldiers to depend on either extra pairs of boots for a dry change or the use of boot driers. Neither solution was effective in the field.
Intermediate Cold Wet Boots (ICWB) Model of 2001 (CRFD/PD 99-09) with removable liner.
The 2001 model ICWB still uses water-resistant and breathable military-specification leather bonded with a Gore-Tex lining as the boot's upper. The difference is that the 200-gram insulation liner can be pulled out and exchanged with a dry one if it gets wet, allowing soldiers to continue wearing the same boot. Instead of issuing two or three pairs of boots, each pair comes with two sets of liners and more are available separately if needed.
Other changes in the 2001 model ICWB include using more breathable leather for the boot tongue and a softer polyurethane mid-sole that does not stiffen as much in cold conditions. The benefit is easier walking, especially going uphill.
The new-pattern Intermediate Cold Wet Boots were tested at Fort Jackson, SC, in Alaska and at the Mountain Warfare School in Vermont. Troops found them highly acceptable, with the boot staying much drier and warmer. In Alaska, soldiers reported that the removable liner took six hours to dry. The tests showed that soldiers had a significant reduction in lower extremity injuries.
The black ICWB Model of 2001 is designated by part number CRFD/PD 99-09. The NSN series for these boots is NSN 8430-01-471-7473 to 8430-01-472-1655, including all sizes and widths. Manufacturers include Wolverine World Wide and Belleville.
Tan Intermediate Cold Wet Boots (ICWB)
The black ICWB was quite successful, but the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform (announced 14 June 2004) included the requirement to phase out the black ICWB and replace it with the tan ICWB. The boot construction was the same, but it was now entirely Tan (top photo on this page). In November 2006, the Army found it was short of Tan ICW boots for the coming winter. A six month extension through April 2007 was ordered so the black ICWB could continue to be worn in cold areas where the tan ICWB was not yet available in sufficient quantities.
The Tan ICWB is designated by part number PD-04-24. The NSN series for these boots is NSN 8430-01-527-8179 to 8430-01-527-8678, including all sizes and widths. Manufacturers include Wolverine Worldwide. The Tan ICW boot
can be purchased via Amazon.com at the linked page.
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