We may think of military footwear as a relatively modern invention, but military boots date all the way back to the Roman Empire. From the first century BC to the second century AD, Roman soldiers wore Caligae, marching boots constructed with straps of leather and iron nails (known as “hobnails”) that protruded through the soles, which were used for traction and as weapons. Romans thought of Caligae as boots, and they functioned as such, but they resemble what we might think of as strap-heavy leather sandals. Near the end of the first century AD, Romans developed Calcei, boots that covered the whole foot and featured distinct inner and outer soles, attributes that would qualify them as boots even today.

Although there are numerous other examples of military footwear throughout the ages, from the Persian riding boots of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (that are a predecessor to high heels) to the knee-high, short-heeled German Hessian boots that British soldiers wore during the American Revolution to the Wellington style M1851 Artillery Driver’s Boots worn during the Civil War, modern military footwear did not begin to take shape until WWI. Since The Great War, major conflicts and rapid developments in military technology have ushered in a vast array of military footwear styles to suit a wide range of climates, terrains, tactics and even uniforms. Over the past fifty-plus years, many of these styles have made their way into civilian life through surplus stores, then into subcultures and, eventually, into mainstream fashion. The following list takes a look at some (of the many) styles that have made a major impact on the footwear industry.

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Tags: adidas, germany, military-fashion