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What are Mickey Mouse Boots?

S. Mithra
S. Mithra

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.

Mickey Mouse boots are used by the US military and protect the soldiers' feet from water and extreme cold.
Mickey Mouse boots are used by the US military and protect the soldiers' feet from water and extreme cold.

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.

Discussion Comments


I work in construction, and have been wearing a black pair of these boots every winter for about 13 years. Because the the large and narrow size of my feet, I inserted "Spenco" inner soles into the boots to help with the width of the boot. The result is the most comfortable footwear I own.

I swear by these boots, they even get great traction on roofs, shingled or just decked. After 13 years, I bought a new white pair a month ago. The black boots started to fall apart on the inside -- not bad for 50 bucks. If you spend time out in the snow, you should own a pair. You will not regret it.


not all of the boots being sold are "army surplus." lots of them are imported knockoffs. be wary of what you buy at ebay in particular.


Do not blow air into your boots! They will accumulate moisture and mold, and there is no way to get the moisture out. It's a very quick way to ruin a pair of great boots.


if you mean the zero guard is your name for the M&M boots fitted with openable and closable valves, then you might simply open the valves of both for a few minutes and close the valves by hand to allow equal inflation levels associated with the air pressure at your altitude.

If you want an added layer of air in both boots, I have heard of people slightly blowing air into the open valve of each before closing that valve to retain the level of inflation. An added air layer could make for a warmer boot and foot.

Thanks for the tip on Armorall for care of the latex.


I have the Zero Guards and don't know how to use the valves. I opened one valve and that boot seems fatter. How do I deflate it? Thanks, Al


I have had my Mickeys for a couple years and put armor all on them, it keeps the rubber from cracking and snow and ice does not stick on them. I ice fish in all kind of weather and they have never failed me.


These boots are the official winter footwear of our Scout Troop in upstate NY. We have used these down to -37F. We would not camp with out them. We get ours from Sportsmans Guide


You are supposed to fold the top of your socks down around the outside of the boot to keep them from twisting. In addition you need to make sure that the tongue gathers on the outside, or pinky toe side of the boot.


Having a pair of the famed Mickey Mouse boots by Army Surplus purchases, I am now wondering what method and materials are used to preserve these extraordinary boots. Is there anything that preserves the integrity of the rubber? Thanks for any insight!


I wear my M&Ms for winter outdoor landscaping, but they tend to twist my socks around my legs in a short while. Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening? Al


I currently own 5 pairs of these boots. All black and several different sizes. I have one pair though that has a white rubber label on the back of the boot at the top of the heel that says ZERO GUARD. None of my other boots have this label. I purchased these boots new from cabelas years ago and to this day have not been able to find anymore boots with this label. I have talked with several dealers about this label and nobody has a clue...any help out there?????????????


Can anyone help me out with a PHOTOGRAPH of the white korea boots (e.g. used by mountaineers on Mt McKinley) described in the article? Would greatly appreciate it!

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    • Mickey Mouse boots are used by the US military and protect the soldiers' feet from water and extreme cold.
      By: Pavel Bernshtam
      Mickey Mouse boots are used by the US military and protect the soldiers' feet from water and extreme cold.