First issued to U.S. GIs during the Korean War, Mickey Mouse boots are designed for combat and shielded against water and extreme cold. A wool-lined interior and several layers of rubber serve as insulation. Their most distinguishable features are their giant size and pure white color. Reminded of the iconic cartoon character, soldiers joked they were in Mickey Mouse's shoes. The rubber was tinted white to camouflage with snow.
That incarnation of a cold weather boot was derived from the earlier "shoepac" of WWII. These were also white, but not as thick or durable - they were intended as an outer layer for shoes. Shoepacs did not stand up to the bitter cold snap of the winter of 1951 in Korea, when temperatures plunged far below their average, and army tents were scant protection. At a time when men were wearing their sleeping bags during the day to keep from freezing, Mickey Mouse boots were highly valued as a vast improvement over the protection of ordinary leather boots covered in shoepacs.
Since the rubber boot, which reached halfway up the calf, wasn't ventilated in any way, the wearer's sweat collected quickly. Men were constantly changing their socks, and drying wet socks between layers of their clothing. This was hardly an inconvenience considering how warm their feet remained. The boots prevented frostbite even at -20 or —30 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 to -34 Celsius); a thin layer of air trapped between two layers of rubber acts as a powerful insulator. A greater problem was that the weight and bulk of Mickey Mouse boots adversely affected a person's mobility, and weren't comfortable for long treks.
Many generations of the military have continued to wear Mickey Mouse boots boots, also called "M&M's". Now they're available in black, with pressure valves, special moisture-wicking liners, and ratings down to an amazing —60 degrees Fahrenheit (-51 Celsius). Through Army Surplus sources the average outdoor adventurer can buy authentic GI Issue Mickey Mouse boots. Backpackers, fishers, or campers exposed to ice, snow, and water can enjoy their sport without fear of frozen toes.