Mister Freedom® “TROOPER BOOTS”, Made in USA, 2014.
The moment I laid my eyes on that old pair of beat-up military boots at the 2012 Inspiration Show in Long Beach, I had a feeling they were trouble. I knew these beauties would lead to Mister Freedom® second endeavor of footwear manufacturing, in the USA… Not your average relaxing walk in the park.
The original culprit vintage shoe was a US military Government issued boot, dated 13 June 1955, double buckle type, first pattern jungle boot. That pair had seen the bush, crossed the tree line a few times in its days.
I wasn’t familiar with that model, so had to do a bit of research when I got back. The story goes that these early jungle boots were nicknamed ‘Okinawa boots‘, as they often shod US advisors flying out of Okinawa en route to mingle with in-Country barefoot montagnards, during the early days(post Geneva) of the US field involvement in Vietnam.
The flat toe box of these Okinawa boots was very similar to that of the old faithful Road Champs I was wearing that day, and I thought of combining a few things for a new shoe to add to the Mister Freedom® “The Sportsman” catalog.
The plan was easy: ruthlessly lift time tested military designs, SOP in the fashion world, and add some MF® jungle juice.
We would use the Champs’ lasts and leather, some olive drab NOS military surplus heavy canvas bags, some NOS “Nitrene” rubber soles, give the shoe a ‘service boot’ type profile, and call them ‘Trooper’, cause Crocs® was taken.
Bam. There it is.
Well, after a year of R&D, we are excited to officially release the FIRST batch, a small run of hand-cut, bench-made, bushwhacking-ready “TROOPER BOOTS”!
The trooper is not for ballet dancing, but will do the bop and behave better in the field than on the runways.
After road testing three protos in 2012, figuring out sole combos, I’ll attest that they are comfortable. Although some adults have used that excuse for wearing velour sweatpants, comfort, when applied to footwear is not a bad idea.
As the designated test dummy I even took a dip in the Pacific Ocean wearing an early pair. The boots reacted well, and the sight of a grown-up advancing in the water fully clothed really amused the children.
Surprisingly, the canvas really stiffened while wet, shrinking and compressing the ankle, softening up and loosening up later when fully dried. This kinda shows that the fiber content of the canvas has some linen or hemp mixed with the cotton.
Our Trooper is an un-lined shoe combining leather and a single layer of sturdy mil-specs NOS canvas fabric. One of the challenge resided in keeping the junctions clean, in and out. A complicated origami game of folding and overlapping ensued.
Note that the MF® Trooper Boot will not come customized with someone’s ID painted on the inside. I sometimes mark my own footwear on the inside, probably because I have too much time on my hands. I use regular latex paint, and do a sloppy job not unlike what is often seen on old ID’d military boots.
While on R&R in the cold Country over Christmas, I attempted to water-proof my Troopers (along with my Pensacola Jacket) with some Otter Wax heat-activated fabric dressing. A bit involved of a process, but I am quite happy with the result. The waxed canvas ages very nicely, but so will it when left untreated.
For additional photos of the Trooper, check out USMC MSgt John “VEB” Vintage Engineer Boots blog.
Please note that the MF® Trooper Boot is in no way intended as a replica of an original US Army “Okinawa” jungle boot. Nor are we claiming they are appropriate on SOG ops.
There it is.
* An original MF® pattern, inspired by 1950’s US military jungle boots and service boots.
* MF® old school flat toe box.
* Shoe Vamp/Heel: Vegetable tanned cow hide, USA origin. Same leather we are using for the MF® Road Champ engineer boots. Rich dark brown color that will age nicely, according to specific wear and your conditioning preferences.
* Shoe Quarter/Tongue: Single layer heavy canvas from a limited stock of 60’s era NOS duffle bags, EU military surplus origin. Strong cotton-linen blend.
* Ankle Band/Eyelet Facing: Genuine Kangaroo leather, origin Australia. Besides being our choice for the MF® scutler cap head bands, Kangaroo hide was used to make soccer shoes, sometime around 6500 BC. Its qualities include non-stretch.
* Limited supply of USA made NOS ‘NITRENE’ rubber half sole and heel combo, “Non Marking, Oil Resistant, Long Wearing” they say, so that must be true…
* 1950’s NOS cotton laces, French military. Admittedly, these laces are not the perfect length for the Trooper, and need to be wrapped around the ankle, where they won’t necessarily stay in place… We’re working on sourcing the perfect laces, which should happen sometime around 6500 AD.
* Bias taped tongue. I’m only mentioning this because 1) it sounds intriguing 2) sourcing the right vintage HBT tape was unexpectedly complicated…
* Woven MF® “The Sportsman” label on reverse of said tongue.
* Made in USA
The Trooper lasts are those of our Road Champ. If you are familiar with our engineer boot, the fit is the same, if only more ‘flexible’ around the arch/ankle due to lacing.
There is no real magic formula to advise on sizing, as everyone’s foot proportions/sock preferences vary.
However, according to feedback, sizing down HALF your sneaker size seems to work. If you are a 10 in New Balance sneakers, you are probably a 9½ in the Trooper.
And like they say, it always works, sometimes.
The Trooper Boots are low maintenance, easy to break-in. I recommend just wearing them as-is and let your feet do the work. They age very nicely, faster if you chose hiking over playing Angry Birds at home. For those worrying about scuffs, mud, stains and nicks, there might be other more appropriate footwear choices out there.
If needed, leather conditioners such as Pecard can be applied to keep the leather healthy. As mentioned, the canvas can be treated with Otter Wax products, or left as-is and brushed clean when needed.
Available Sizes: 7, 7½, 8, 8½, 9, 9½, 10, 10½, 11, 11½, 12, 13
(Limited availability at the moment, not all listed sizes)
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details not mentioned above, like… “do they come in black?” or “what’s with the banana bunch?”
Available at our brick & mortar and from www.misterfreedom.com
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