The Marine Corps is completing the final phase of testing designs for new standard-issue jungle boots.
This June, 400 to 500 Marines from 3rd Marines will help test the new boots in Hawaii while conducting jungle training, shooting and field exercises.
The training and testing will last four to five months. After that, the Corps "should be able to nail down the materials and style of boot," said Todd Towles, the program officer for the clothing team at Marine Corps Systems Command.
This year's testing will be the third and final phase of the selection process. Last summer, Marines tested new jungle boots out of Okinawa, Japan, at the Jungle Warfare Training Center.
Marine Corps Systems Command officials believe that by January 2018 the Corps will know what it wants in a jungle boot and by the end of next summer, an actual jungle boot will be identified for the Marine Corps.
The search for a new jungle boot started under former Commandant Gen. James Amos. But it stalled for several years because the Marine Corps simply didn't have an official requirement for new tropical boots at the time.
However, under the current commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, Marine Corps Systems Command is developing a formal requirement for new jungle boots and a tropical uniform as combat operations for Marines in the desert climates of the Middle East begin to roll back and Marines head back to the jungles of the Pacific theatre.
Four manufacturers — Danner, Bates, Altama, and Rocky — will undergo the rigorous field testing.
These companies are not necessarily "competing for the top prize," but they will help the Marine Corps "narrow down" how the Corps will want to construct this boot, Towles said.
During the last iteration of testing in Okinawa, Rocky boots came out as the top boot based on user evaluations completed by Marines. But Marine Corps officials say they are not necessarily looking for an off-the-shelf boot and may instead design their own version that combines the best qualities from all the boots tested.
The Army recently decided to buy jungle boots from both Belleville and Rocky, and though the Marine Corps and Army have been sharing information and testing data, the Marine Corps ultimately wants to design its own boot.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.