Camp Shoes

Cambridge District Scout Archive

When camping, boots or stout shoes were part of Scout uniform and a necessity for hiking and the more robust activities. See Hobnail boots.

In camp a light pair of shoes was all that could be carried to camp and what was required. Even today, long after the Chris Brasher revolution (see below) of very well fitted boots that require minimal ‘wearing in’, it is beneficial to have a change of shoes at camp to rest the feet. Much of a camp was on site with trips off the exception, although some early photos of chopping wood in these light shoes would be deplored today.

In the 1936 kit list (see General history/ Equipment/ Kit List) ‘slippers or sandals’ are required. The Scouts often arrived with canvas topped, rubber soled shoes called sand shoes or plimsolls or pumps. They were either lace up or slip on (hence slippers) with elasticated sides. The form has many different names around the world; in the UK the usage was often quite local or by school. Similarly the colour, either black or white, was possably a school requirement as they were used for sports.

The poor picture above carefully cuts off the naked feet on the left, shows a low cut light weight plimsoll form centre, strapped sandals and what looks like a laced canvas shoe right.

This ‘camp’ or non uniform state is seen in many photos of camp inspection and the 1951 Patrol Series ‘Scouts Book of Gilwell’ tells of ‘inspections from the knee up’. An example is recorded by the 7th Cambridge in 1942/43 when they prepared for inspection with ‘uniform above the knees’.

A Scout Shop receipt retained by the 11th/9th Cambridge from 1967 includes the item 1 pr. Moccasins at £1/19/11. Clearly associated with camp expenditure it suggests camp footwear.

Camp rules for the 27th Cambridge around 1980 specifically states camp shoes with no socks. Clothing absorbed the dew and bare legs were easier to dry and clean than socks and long trousers.

In 1973 the Adventure Camp of the 5th Cambridge (Perse) stated boots or strong shoes, something not stressed for Summer camps.

Brasher Boots Named after their founder Chris Brasher, a 1956 Olympic Gold Medallist of the 3000 metre steeple chase, it was only 20 years later while wrecking his feet in a pair of unforgiving outdoor shoes that he came up with the concept for Brasher boots.

After suffering from major blisters half way through a long trek, he threw away his painful boots and put on his New Balance trainers in order to complete the 180 mile journey. He arrived at his destination without a hitch.

Inspired by his experience of trekking in Wales, Chris asked why walking boots can’t be as comfortable as training shoes and was motivated to design the perfect walking boot. So he combined the looks of a traditional walking boot with a lightweight cushioned upper and last inspired by the most comfortable running shoes on the market.

JWR Archivist Jan 2020