Hitting the rucking trails again lately and figured that it was a good time to revisit the proper boot fit and foot care that we’ve harped on incessantly in our Selection PT posts. And for those heading to or thinking about volunteering for Selection, having the proper boots and taking care of your feet should be two of your primary considerations.

Your feet along with your brain are the two most indispensable parts of your body in Special Operations Forces. Your feet are your lifeline in Special Operations. We all love seeing those cool pics of guys fast-roping from Chinooks or tooling around in Little Birds but the bottom line is once you get off the birds, you’re going to be on your feet until exfil. That is why Selection courses in all of the services revolve around rucking. You can have biceps the size of Texas and be able to do 100 pull-ups but if you can’t ruck to the standard and better than that in reality, then you’ll make the duffel bag drag down the road.

Take care of your feet and they’ll take care of you. Having spent many years in the Special Forces Regiment, care for your feet became second nature and will be a very necessary function. For those young guys who are attempting Selection, seek out the NCOs or officers that have been either in a light infantry/airborne/Ranger units. They can help with tips of the trade and be good sounding boards for your preparation.

BootsBootsBootsThat just gave me a SERE flashback….ah I digress. The Army is a bit more permissive in terms of boots than the other services so this may change due to which Selection course you attend. So all of the high-speed boots will be a no-no in Selection, and you’ll have to wait until you graduate and go operational to wear those.The Army says boots approved according to AR 670-1, there are many to choose from, and it depends on what works for you. But some of the boots that have been popular and work for many candidates are the Garmont NFS, the Nike boot, and the SOPC Special, which will work only if you are in the Ft. Bragg area or will visit it before you attend the Selection course. I also own a pair of the Belleville’s and they are comfortable and have a good sole for that type of walking.

The key for proper fitting boots is ensuring that the boot’s heel sits tightly to the rear of the foot while giving the toes some wiggle room up front. If your foot is sliding around too much, either front to back or side to side, you’ll have friction, which leads to blisters. If your boots are too tight, your toes will be curled up inside and that is a blister waiting to happen.

Some people advise buying boots a half-size too large because your feet will swell on a long-range ruck march. I wouldn’t recommend that but if your feet swell that much it may be an option. It all comes down to knowing your own body and being prepared. Right? Practice, practice and practice some more until you know exactly how your body will react to the heavy workload.

Have two pairs of boots ready for your Selection class and break both in just like you would a baseball glove. Walk everywhere in them until they feel like an extension of your leg. It is a good idea to get boots that have good ventilation and water drainage as they’ll allow your feet to breathe and dry out when wet which will cut down on blisters. For those heading to Camp Mackall for SFAS, you’ll be walking in a lot of soft sand during the dry times and the kind of boot and sole you choose should have that as a consideration.

I know I harp on this constantly in our PT Preparation articles but having a second pair of broken in boots is essential. Without that, you are setting yourself up for failure. In SFAS you are going to walk a lot of distance and you’ll do it with your ruck just about everywhere you go. You are going to hit the soft sand and you are most definitely going to get wet at times during Selection. It isn’t a question of if, only when.  During the events of that particular day, you just drive on and do what you must.