Wellco Military Boots, by Pat Cascio

One of the absolute best pieces of kit you can purchase is quality footwear that you can afford to buy. If you’re seriously into preparedness, and have any plans on bugging out – especially on-foot, then you need some really outstanding boots. I’m very particular when it comes to my footwear. I have been for most of life. I refuse to buy cheap Chinese-made knock-off boots. I don’t buy at the ten buck shoe store, nor any of the big or small box stores. While mainland China boots and shoes might look good, you’ll find out in very short order that they are junk – so you are wasting your money.

When our youngest daughter decided to join the US Army, out of college, we flat out told her that, it wasn’t “right” for her, but she joined just the same, and we were proud of her. She became a Combat Medic after basic training. When she first went into the military, they issued her everything she needed, including combat boots. Sadly, as in often the case, they didn’t take care when fitting her for boots. One pair was about half a size too small, and the other pair were literally two sizes too big – all the complaining in the world didn’t change anything. After completing Basic Combat Training (BCT), she went to her Advanced Individual Training (AIT) school ro become a Combat Medic, There, they had a lot of latitude on footwear. We mailed her a pair of Blackhawk desert tan combat boots and she loved them to death.

Sadly, here in the USA, you don’t usually find Blackhawk combat boots in smaller women’s sizes. And when we attempted to get her a second pair, they replied that they were out of stock for 6-12 weeks. We sent her a similar pair of boots, but they were not nearly as well-made as the Blackhawk boots were. She “made do”!

As regular readers will know, I’m a bargain shopper – whenever possible. My wife and I live on a monthly fixed income and believe me, as many retirees will attest, it is quite the task to make ends meet – rarely do we have any “extra” month, so we spend our money carefully. As a rule, if something isn’t a bargain, I pass on it, unless it is something we have to have.

We have a discount grocery store in our town, and they don’t just have discounted groceries, they also have what we used to call a “sundries” section, where you can find all manner of bargains. And, you never know what they might have, so we walk those aisles carefully, checking out everything. I happened to run across some Wellco combat boots, and they were priced at $11 for two pairs. I knew that was a huge bargain, and I grabbed a couple of pairs for myself. I had to wait until my wife and oldest daughter came home to get their sizes and I got each of them a pair of Wellco combat boots. How can you go wrong for $5.50 per pair? My oldest daughter has a pair of bluish Air Force boots, and my wife has a pair of Army desert tan boots, similar to mine.

Wellco is a well-known supplier of boots to our military. It is hard to figure out just who is “Wellco” these days.  However, near as I can tell, Altama boots are having military boots produced to their specifications, by various footwear manufacturers. in several factories. In another life, I used to believe that anything that was made to military-spec was sloppy, but that’s not the case. Mil-spec products are held to some of the highest standards there are – simple as that.

After basic training, the military is quite a bit more lax about what kind of footwear you can have, so long as they are well-made. Some of the footwear is above mil-spec, if you ask me. The military also gives each person a clothing allowance each year, for them to purchase their own replacement clothing, so long as it “looks” military in color and design. I have several US military camouflage uniforms – I’m not looking to join up again – I just recently turned 70-years old – so I’m too old to be a grunt once again. However, we have chosen military uniforms because they are tough – we just don’t know what the future holds, and if we ever had to bug out from our digs, we don’t know what kind of climate or terrain we might find ourselves subjected to. Several of my uniforms are not US-made – they are made in Vietnam, however, when compared to my genuine US-made, mil-spec uniforms they are identical in every way – very well made, and about half the price, too. Like I said, I’m a bargain hunter.

Many in our military also buy non-spec military uniforms with their yearly clothing allowance, because you know the military doesn’t pay our personnel nearly enough for uniforms every year – they aren’t paid enough for the work they do, either. So, they hunt around and find the best uniforms and deals they can.

Back to boots! Needless to say, the boots we all have are extremely well-made, and they are not factory seconds – they were probably from an overrun, or perhaps a design change. You can find dozens of different styles of Wellco boots on the ‘net – and many just have a slightly different pattern to them. The ones my wife and I have are temperate weather combat boots, and the pair my wife has are also flame-resistant as well. The pair I have are US Amry flight and combat boots, for vehicle crewmen. At first glance they look the same as the ones my wife has – but they are different.

One thing all of our military combat boots have in common is the fact that they are all very heavy – meant to last through whatever you throw at them. These boots were bought to be “extra” footwear if we need them – we have other boots that would be our first choice for an end-of-the-world situation. As I said, I’m now 70-years old, I don’t want to wear heavy boots if I can avoid it, so these boots wouldn’t be my first choice. However, for $5.50 I couldn’t pass up the bargain.

You’ll notice the soles of these two different boots – they appear the same, but upon closer examination, you will see they are quite a bit different. I don’t know the logic in this, but I’m sure someone in the military could explain it. I don’t see these boots failing, unless you are stuck wearing them in extreme cold weather – they are designed for warmer temps. However, you will be shocked at how much warmer you feet can be, with a pair of wool socks. Makes a huge difference!

My wife’s boots have 6 speed lace loops – I like it. Mine only have 4 speed lace loops – still much better than what I had when I was in the military – no speed lace-up – ugh! The one thing I liked about the old-style Corcoran combat boots was that, they were made to be re-sold. And, you know once you got your boots broken-in just how comfortable they were, so you didn’t really want a new pair of boots – you could get them re-soled – however, its difficult to find a show repair shop these days – everything is a throwaway society – when something starts to show some wear, we toss it in the trash. Too bad!

My boots have a pull-on tab in the back, the wife’s boots don’t. I like a pull-on tab myself. Mine also appear to have a little bit larger Achilles tendon support, too. In any event, whenever I wear footwear, I use my prescription insoles because I have high arches – something most folks don’t have – if anything, they might have fallen arches. It makes all the difference in the world, when I wear any footwear with my insoles inserted into them. Both of our boots have a padded collar, however, the wife’s has a lot more padding than mine does. Not a deal-breaker, in any event. The side panels on both boots are made out of ballistic Nylon, that will last a lifetime, and still give you a little lateral movement on rough terrain.

Some years ago, I had a pair of low-cut desert tan hikers – military in all respects – and they were waterproof as well. I “only” had these hikers for 20-years and they finally fell apart on me – grrrrr! And, sad to say, I learned that Blackhawk Products has discontinued making them.

The Vibram lug soles on both pairs of boots are similar in some respects, but quite a big difference in other areas. I don’t know if one pattern is better than the other. However, they have really thick soles, that should last many years.

I don’t travel as much as I used to, but when I did, I would haunt any military surplus stores I ran across – never knowing what kind of deals I might find. And as I stated, these boots were found, brand-new in the box, at a discount grocery store — the last place I expected to get such a deal. They often have some jackets and coats, there too.

So, if you happen to run across some military – US military that is – boots, at a great price, snap them up, before someone else realizes they are a bargain.