Why don't marines boots get ruined by water?

I seen this video of marines training by swimming in a pool in their boots. (Here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs7J_E95oqQ towards the end of it) I have owned leather and also suede hiking boots and they would have got destroyed if I did that.

Most likely waterproofing. Also, the cost of boots is nothing compared to training someone to stay alive in water.

Are they leather? I see a lot of Air Force people (I know, could be different) and their boots aren’t leather.

Also, when I was reading up on how to soften some really stiff leather motorcycle boots that I have a lot of websites I read said to use water. Usually going as far as saying to soak them in a bathtub (with them on your feet) or wear them in the shower.

They are submerged in water so the water would get into the inside of it and bypass the waterproofing, also I have went out into the rain in leather gloves and it ruined the leather and made it stiff so it doesn’t soften them.

And that will shrink them and take the oils out, making them stiff and prone to cracking. Don’t do that!

If leather gets soaked it needs oil to soften up again. Work in either mink oil or neatsfoot oil.

And I second that training people to stay alive in water is more important than the cost of new boots.

I should take back what I said before. I googled USAF boots and came up with this. I see a handful of styles and they’re all basically variations on this basic style. Looking at it, it does appear to be leather, just dyed a dark color. Googling Marine Boots turns up something similar, just in a different color.
Maybe the waterproof both sides before they stitch the boot together and keep up with waterproofing/oiling them inside and outside (and the edge grain) as they wear them.

I have never been in the military, but my understanding is that marines (and soldiers) don’t spend all their time on parade grounds with boots polished so that their drill sergeant can see his face reflected in them. From time to time they are busy fighting the “bad guys”, and they might then have to put their boots in puddles (or lakes or rivers). So their boots, and the rest of their uniforms, need to be able to survive such rough treatment.

The so-called “jungle boots” that we had in Vietnam were more canvas webbing than leather, but had steel shanks in them. They dried very quickly. The boots we wore stateside were all leather.

Leather hiking boots get soaked multiple times through out their lives. By soaked, I mean completely saturated; sometimes by fording a creek often just by walking in the rain or through wet foliage. Usually the reality of outdoors activity means hours of use after they are wet. Good quality, thick leather hiking boots often do fit better after a good soaking. Military boots are basically the same thing, and I don’t see why they would be any different.

They are not dainty leather gloves. They do not shrink because they got wet :smack:, if anything it tends to loosen them up. Sure, continued soakings will eventually dry out the leather and generally degrade it. Regular treatments with waterproofing or conditioners is part of proper care of such footwear and helps mitigate the abuse they must take.

These aren’t dress shoes, they are rugged, heavy duty boots meant to take abuse. Days spent in rain, mud and wet foliage and maybe a creek or two are not unreasonable expectations. If one soaking would ruin them then they would not be suited for the purpose they are meant to serve.

There is nothing special about their boots. I think the real question here is why do your boots get destroyed when you get them wet? You should buy better quality boots.

That’s because wet leather conforms to whatever is under it.

Yes, they do. That does not mean they instantly shrivel up to half their initial size but yes, water does shrink leather unless it’s under tension until dry. A properly tanned, heavy duty, properly oiled leather doesn’t shrink much but water still isn’t good for it in the long term.

Yes, that’s all true.

I’ve a pair of hiking/work boots that are 35 years old and still intact and very useful. Yes, they’ve been soaked through dozens of times, but I oiled them after they dried out. Love the things, and I doubt I’ll live long enough to break in another pair of boots that thoroughly ever again.

I also spend part of every work week rebuilding piece of shit boots made six months or a year ago. A lot of boots look good but they’re complete crap. I would hope the US military supplies good quality footwear to our troops but I absolutely know for sure that a LOT of “motorcycle boots”, “workboots”, “hiking boots” and the like sold these days won’t stand up to even moderate abuse.

Anyone who recommends soaking in water to “loosen up” leather boots is nuts. As I said, if leather is stiff it needs oiling, and probably some working. If you need to stretch them then put them on and spray 91% or better isopropyl alcohol on them until saturated, then walk around in them until dry (won’t take long since alcohol evaporates pretty quick) (And needless to say, ignore ignition sources like campfires while they’re drying, because alcohol burns nicely. Yes, there are people out there dumb enough to need that warning.) If bits are teeny bit loose, yes, THEN you can use water.

Of course, NONE of these are going to have huge effects with just one application if you have any sort of decent quality heavy boot leather.

One soaking isn’t going to ruin good boots (although I’ve had to put new soles on a lot of boots subjected to just one soaking, but lets agree they’re crap quality). It’s still not good for them. Yes, they’re intended to take abuse but there’s no point to unnecessary abuse.

I have the sudden urge to watch Platoon or at least Stripes again after reading this.

It is true though. I love hard-working boots and I have some leather ones with steel toes that I got about 2 months ago for work. The soles are attached to the rest of the boots with actual screws. They still aren’t broken it but they probably will be in another year or two. I could go swimming with them now and they would just laugh about it if they didn’t drown me first. A little mink oil is all it takes to keep boots like that in good condition. I have bought used all-leather Army boots on E-Bay that were 30 years old and gone through tons of abuse and they were fine after a little polishing and oil.

In 1969 we still wore the all leather boots, at least through infantry training. There was a “Drown Proofing” training which resulted in us being in the water for several hours over the course of a day with our boots on. Took a day or so for them to dry out, but they did. Certainly, a steady diet of this would have shortened their life.

Chrome tanned boots will not shrink all that much after being in water. Modern military boots like these are a combination of synthetic fabric and leather. They will dry much more quickly than all leather boots and the leather sections are designed to take getting wet…

So did you throw them away after that exercise or were they okay?

Getting soaked doesn’t ruin any good quality leather boots. Why do you think it would?

They were fine after a day or two. Certainly, the jungle boots issued later would have dried out much sooner.

Agreed. None of the leather boots I have had have a problem with getting wet, including walking in rivers.

A couple weeks ago this issue came up when we were at drill and sitting around telling stories. One former Marine talked about drown proofing and mentioned there was a big pile of boots that they were made to use during the exercise. They didn’t use their own. I’m guessing it is because in Boot Camp you don’t have the extra time or spare equipment to take care of the wet boots. And they don’t want to march the recruits around in wet boots and get blisters. Its not because the boots can’t take it. I have never been a Marine so I only have his word for what happened on Parris Island. We never did drown proofing in Basic Training. Maybe it was a Fort Knox thing. Maybe it was because I was stupid enough to pick Basic Training in Kentucky during winter.

If I was a boot, I’d just hope my parents didn’t send me to Boot Camp, it doesn’t sound fun at all.