During the the first half of the 1940’s our factory was busy doing what many factories in the U.S. were doing – supplying goods and materials for use by our troops.  For us, that quite obviously meant leather.  We supplied two main leather types during this time; Mechanical leather and Chromexcel.

Mechanical leather is a specialized, dense, and extremely durable tannage utilized to make hydraulic and pneumatic seals and packings.  C.W. Marsh is one of our oldest customers, and we supplied them (and other manufacturers) with leather that was used for many applications, including vehicles.  While “leather is better,” this industry has largely moved into the realm of synthetics.

Photo by Ralph Morse – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

During this time we also made a ton of Chromexcel.  Specifically, it was a version called Marine Field Shoe.  This version of the leather is a designed to be used suede side out, and the back side of the leather is treated to give it a nice, level knap.  By constructing the boots this way the boots could be left unlined while still having a finished, comfortable medium to contact the foot.  This was particularly advantageous in North Africa, where the troops could up-end their boots to easily empty them of sand, thus greatly reducing blisters and increasing comfort.

Type III Service Shoe Replica, by Viberg Boot

The boots that were worn were typically dressed and polished with “dubbin,” which makes them much darker and helps to make them more water resistant.


Filed under History, Leathers

9 responses to “Boondockers

  1. Ethan

    I really like Viberg boots and those look fantastic. I hope they’re going to be producing them, they look great for Fall in the city and that trip to North Africa I’ve been meaning to take.

  2. Pingback: Horween ‘Boondocker’ leather « Viberg Boot Blog

  3. Pingback: Viberg Boot Type III Service Boot Replica

  4. When/where will these be available?

    • Jay

      These look awesome. I am very interested in either a) picking up a pair of these boots, or b) at least of pair of boots in this leather. Any idea if the Vibergs are available for order, or if other makers will be using this leather?

  5. These are great! Please start selling these again 🙂

  6. Mike

    Being a fellow Chicagoan, I think you will appreciate this question. Which of your leathers will give me the best defense against our over-salted sidewalks. Looking to order a pair of rancourt boots for fall and winter wear and hoping to avoid that pretty white “ring around the welting.” Shell is out of my budget for this purpose (and I own a pair of AE color 8 ‘swith a nice white ring from salt), but rancourt is doing shoes in bulldog, chromexcel, and some of your suedes which might work. Any suggestions? I know the right answer is to try to clean the salt off as soon as possible, but the window to do so seems very short (a 20 minute walk from the train might be enough to kill them) and wearing rubbers over my shoes is just too damn fussy!

    • Of those options, I’d suggest Chromexcel. And, yes, try to clean that salt off as soon as you can – a damp cloth will be fine.

      Keep cleaning those color 8’s, the salt stain should come off with some water and a good brushing.

      • mike

        great thanks. the natural chromexcels from rancourt should be at my door any day now! and you were right, just a little brushing and my color 8’s are as good as new. in fact, this is definitely one color that geta better with age!

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