Historically, one of the biggest threats to an infantry soldier’s mobility and health has been foot hygiene.
There are countless stories of GI’s coming down with “Jungle Rot” or “Trench Foot”. These stories range from soldiers in the muddy trenches of WW1, to the steaming jungles of southeast Asia facing off with the Japanese in WW2. Basically what it comes down to is when your feet are subject to damp, unsanitary and cold conditions for an extended period of time, which can lead to a variety of illnesses and complications.
At the time, boots did not use to be waterproof – they were literally just leather husks stitched to a welt and if you were lucky – you carried extra socks with you to swap out and help keep your feet dry and comfortable. The waterproof barrier Gore-Tex was invented in 1969, purely by accident, but it has changed the world since then.
Gore-Tex is essentially Teflon that has been heated and stretched to form a microporous structure that is about 70% air. This allows air to pass through the barrier making it breathable, while blocking out moisture. Today, Gore-Tex is the leader in waterproof boots, helping ensure that feet stay dry inside, so that the only thing you need to worry about is frostbite.
Gore-Tex is a trademarked feature, so if you’re shopping for boots – make sure they say Gore-Tex somewhere on it before committing.