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HAIX French Army Boots

Time to bang up my thoughts on the second pair of boots I managed to proff on my Germany trip a few months back

These are the new French Army issue Chaussers de Combat Centre Europe, or CdCCEs for short. You’ll notice these are brown, which means that you could potentially start seeing a few brits and others wearing them too. The frogs have ordered an initial 180,000 pairs, plus a further 50,000 to be delivered later on.

I had a look around the HAIX factory on my Germany visit and even spoke to the Chairman of the company. The approach they’ve gone for here is a multi purpose boot that will suit most people’s needs. Save for the most extreme winter conditions or blistering deserts, these should see you right in most conditions.

Looks wise I think they’re tidier than any of the UK issue boots on offer. Flashes of carbon fibre, chunky rubber padding on the ankles and an interesting, but well thought out lacing system, all add to the feeling that these are a bit more than your average run of the mill Army boot.

In an earlier thread some people criticised the carbon look and lacing, but these are an attempt to make the boots more appealing to the younger generation of soldiers. They look ally so people will be happy wearing them.

Personally, I like them a lot.

Of course Gore Tex features heavily and these are completely waterproof as well as breathable. Just the right amount of insulation means they’re OK in proper winter stuff or European summer. Of course you can just wear thicker socks if you need more warmth. Indeed that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this past week in the snow and they’ve been spot on. One side of the boots is a canvas/mesh type material for additional breathability.

Comfort wise they’re very good, the lacing system has been designed so that you can tailor the fit nicely, with lock offs halfway up. You tighten them up with a toggle and tuck the excess into a little pocket on the side of the ankle. It’s different but it works. You’ll never have loose laces flapping around and crucially they won’t provide wicking for water to get inside the boot, a problem with standard lacing where everyone tucks the excess inside the boot. There is a bit of a knack to undo the lock offs when you’re taking them off, but once you’ve worked this out getting them on and off is a breeze and considerably quicker than traditional lacing systems.

If I must find a criticism in terms of the comfort, it’s that they feel a little heavy, but by no means mountain boot heavy. Just a bit more than the old patrol boots for example. No biggy though, the weight makes them feel supportive and gives a feeling that your feet and ankles are well protected. Driving is a little bit more of a chore than usual but is still doable. Running isn’t too bad once they’re worn in a bit.

On the subject of protection, you’ll notice rubber pads on the ankles (as seen on the HAIX desert boots I reviewed a month or two back: ) and reinforcements around the toes and heels. The instep has the carbon bit which adds enough protection for fast roping or just kicking stuff. To save weight (and presumably manufacturing costs) protection on the outsides is only provided by leather, where you are less likely to need it.

Again the reiterates that a lot of thought and design has gone into these.

Soles are good thick Vibram affairs with plenty of grip. Like I said, I’ve been wearing these in the snow for the past week and they’re sound, no slipping or sliding about. When I took them on the hills they were the same.

The leather itself is a bit ‘suedy’ for want of a better word. i.e. it’s not completely smooth and flat. I’m yet to attempt to polish them and I’ll keep you updated on how these take to being smothered in Kiwi. In the meantime, soapy water has kept them looking tip top. I wore them very briefly on the motorbike a few weeks back and the toe on the left boot has a slight scuff from changing gear. This was through my own stupidity though. Still, don’t use them on the bike!

So all in, a cracking pair of boots. If you can get hold of some, they’d be a great alternative to any of the UK issue brown boots.

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