Developed during the Korean War of the early 1950’s, Mickey Mouse boots have become a vital part of the military’s extreme cold weather clothing system and a popular footwear option in the military surplus world. These thermal boots replaced the shoepacs of WWII and were first issued to the Marine Corps and then the Army to combat the cold and wet weather conditions in Korea.
Made of two layers of seamless rubber with wool insulation between, Mickey Mouse boots prevent heat from escaping the boot while also preventing cold air and moisture from penetrating the exterior rubber layer. One of the most significant aspects of the Mickey Mouse boot is its ability to be effective in weather conditions down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, even in cold and wet climates. While shoepacs had been effective in cold weather conditions during WWII, their leather and rubber design was not enough to prevent frostbite and other cold ailments Marines faced in Korea. They were also difficult to keep dry and required the constant changing of socks, which was a laborious task to do in cold conditions.
Evolution of the Mickey Mouse Boot
Since their development in the 1950’s, the boots have undergone some changes and revisions in their design to accommodate different conditions and scenarios. One of the biggest adaptation to the original design was the inclusion of an air valve in the 1960’s. By opening this valve, soldiers could prevent their boot from rupturing in unpressurized aircraft or high altitudes. Another development from the original design was a thicker, heavier version of the boot meant for cold weather protection in weather below -20 degrees. Aside from weather rating and weight, the other biggest difference between the two versions of the boot is their coloring – the first version features black, oil resistant rubber and the second version is made of white rubber.
Why Are They Called Mickey Mouse Boots?
While they are not officially called “Mickey Mouse” boots by the military, these boots became known by the moniker for the way their appearance resembled that of the famous Disney character. The white version of these thermal boots became widely known as “Bunny Boots” although there are conflicting stories about whether this is because their coloring resembles a snowshoe hare or because wearing them makes the foot look large like Bugs Bunny. In their official specification, both boots fall under MIL-B-41816 with the black
boots labeled as Type I and the white boots labeled as Type II under the same specification.
Both Mickey Mouse boots and Bunny Boots have become a popular military surplus item for hiking, hunting and other recreational activities because of how effective they are in keeping the foot warm and dry in cold, wet conditions. They are also fantastic boots for snowshoeing due to their rubber wedges on the heel and toe of the boots meant to lock in military snowshoes and ski bindings.
Mickey Mouse Boots Tips and Tricks
Change socks daily – Due to the dual layer of insulation and moisture’s inability to escape the inner shell of the boot, sweat can present a threat to comfort. It is recommended that wool socks are worn with these boots and changed at least daily.
Take care of rubber layers – What makes the Mickey Mouse boots effective at keeping your feet warm is its rubber layers and wool insulation. Damage or penetration to the outer rubber layer can compromise this insulation. It is important that Mickey Mouse boots are repaired in the occurrence of a tear in the rubber and that shoe polish is not used as it can deteriorate the rubber.
Do not play with the air valve – If your Mickey Mouse boots have the air valve, do not open this valve unless airborne and do not blow into this valve. Getting any type of moisture in the insulation layer can cause it to be ineffective in keeping your feet warm and dry.
Adhere to temperate ratings and limitations – Lastly, it is imperative that the temperature rating is adhered to. Typically, these boots are ideal when the average temperature ranges from 14 degrees to 68 degrees and can effectively keep feet warm in temperatures down to -20 degrees. However, in extreme sub-zero temperatures, it is recommended that the body is kept exercised and moving. In temperatures below -20, white Bunny Boots are recommended as they can be rated for temperatures down to -60 degrees.