The U.S. Army’s first cold weather boot were called “Mickey Mouse boots” for their oversize appearance. Officially designated the “Type I” & “Type II” footwear model, it was first worn by soldiers and Marines during the Korean War in the 1950s as standard issue footwear.
However, the Battle of Chosin in November and December 1950 revealed how the boot’s rubber insole design allowed sweat to freeze inside the boot, contributing to many cases of frostbite suffered by those engaged in the field.
Today, these “bunny boots” are still being put to good use. The 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, is known as the Spartan Brigade. Of the U.S. Army’s five airborne infantry brigade combat teams, it is the only one that is active in both the Arctic and Pacific theaters, and the only airborne unit to be created since the end of World War II.
The unit is stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. Among the cold weather clothing and gear worn by the soldiers are skis, balaclavas, snow goggles, snowshoes, and the distinctive white Type II combat boots. Since the brigade was created in 2004, the group has regularly conducted “tailgate jumps” into the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle as part of their readiness training, either out the back or side doors of C-5 Galaxy aircraft. The boots are designed with rubber wedges on the toe and heel, allowing either skis or snowshoes to be locked easily into place once the soldiers hit the ground.