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Bunny Boots: What Are They and Where Can I Find Them?

Jon has a passion for all things retro, especially if it’s themed around the 80s or has a classic western look. He spends his time writing about 80s culture, history, technology, and western boots. His lifelong ambition is to bring back the 80s, he also lives for the day when cowboy boots become compulsory. You can reach him at copywriterchap@copywriterchap.com. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Mar 15, 2024
9 min read
Key Takeaways

Bunny boots are footwear designed solely for use in extreme weather conditions. The first of two designs (the type I) was the Mickey Mouse boot, which was used during the Korean war and is rated at down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.


Designed for the U.S. Armed Forces during the Korean War, Mickey Mouse boots were a response to the urgent need for effective cold weather gear as soldiers faced temperatures as low as -54 °F.

Developed by the Navy Clothing and Textile Research Center, inspired by the extreme conditions at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, these boots protected soldiers in temperatures as low as -20 °F, preventing frostbite.

They would later evolve into what we know today as the Bunny Boot, though their primary goal remained unchanged: safeguarding soldiers from the cold.

Today, we’ll delve into the fascinating history and clever design of the Bunny boot, hailed as the ultimate cold-weather footwear.

The History of Bunny Boots

What are Bunny Boots?

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If you’re wondering why the military call their Extreme Cold Vapor Barrier boots names like Bunny boots and Mickey Mouse boots, you’ve obviously never seen a pair.

The designers of these superb boots needed functionality and durability, looking good was never on the agenda. 

In fairness, black or white boots makes sense from a camouflage perspective, it’s just a shame the U.S Army had to make them so big.

Mickey Mouse boots are enormous, black, and make you look like you’ve got Mickey Mouse feet.

Conversely, Bunny boots are equally massive, white, and make you look like you have the feet of a giant white rabbit.

You don’t look cool, you look warm.

Looks aside, though, if you’re ever in need of boots to wear in a blizzard, or you’re the adventuring type whose idea of a vacation is to trek across Antarctica, Bunny boots are the best heat retaining footwear on the planet. 

Bata Military Bunny Boots

White bunny boots are perfect in extremely cold temperatures. They keep your feet warm down to −60° F. in cold, dry weather in snow or ice conditions. These white boots blend with the snow and are heavily insulated.

Check Price

The Boots Were Designed to Be Warm, Not Grippy

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Designed at the Navy Clothing and Textiles Research Center in Massachusetts, the type I Mickey Mouse boot was made of oil and diesel-resistant rubber and could keep a soldier’s feet protected at temperatures of -20 °F. 

While the weather could, and sometimes did, drop below this during the Korean War, having a boot that could keep soldiers moving in such weather was vital.

The problem with the Mickey Mouse boot was that it had terrible grip, which isn’t great when you’re wearing boots designed for the ice and snow. 

The Upgraded Bunny Boot Was Easier to Work In

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The hard leather soles on the Mickey boot made them difficult to work in; soldiers lost their footing on ice and snow, making them warm, but very inefficient to wear in battle.

The upgrade to the Mickey Mouse boot, the Bunny boot, offered a better grip and meant a soldier could wear the boot in temperatures reaching a bone-chilling -65 °F.

Not only that, but the feedback from the Mickey boot meant that the new Bunny Boot had a much better grip, allowing soldiers to more much more freely on the ice and snow.

The military considered this a “worst case scenario” kind of temperature that any soldier should have to suffer in the line of duty. And I agree wholeheartedly; if I’m in weather that’s -65 °F, I’m having the worst day of my life.

U.S. Military Contractors Mickey Mouse Boots

These are GENUINE Military Issue (BATA) "Mickey" boots. The multiple layers of wool felt provide insulation to protect your feet in subzero temperatures, and the waterproof rubber exterior keeps your feet dry and warm.

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How Are Bunny Boots Made?  

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Bunny boots insulate and retain heat incredibly well; they’re basically designed like flasks for your feet. In much the same way a flask will keep your tea, coffee, or soup warm for hours, Bunny boots have two vacuum-tight layers of rubber inside them. 

Between the two layers of rubber is an inch of wool and felt, and the vacuum retains the heat, stopping even the most frostbite-inducing cold from penetrating the boots. At both the toe and heel, there is an extra layer of wool to further increase heat retention, making the Bunny boot one of the best cold-weather boots ever created.

The rubber outer boot is big, really big. But sometimes bigger is better, and because your feet have multiple layers between the outside cold and your toes, the heat loss is almost non-existent. 

Who Wears Bunny Boots?

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Thanks to the huge footprint that a Bunny boot leaves, especially in the snow, the most common use for them is for leaving fake Yeti footprints for tourists. 

Only joking, but it’s got you thinking, hasn’t it?

The large surface area on the sole of a Bunny boot is perfect for moving through snow, ideal if you’re moving through deep snow while hunting or trekking.

The bunny boot is actually still very widely used in areas where the temperature can get a bit frosty, and it’s not just the military that uses them. Everything that you’ll ever need from a cold weather boot is provided by the Bunny boot.

And word of mouth is the best advertisement around. Returning soldiers knew exactly which boots they wanted to wear to keep warm.

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Thanks to their being available in Army Surplus stores and online, anyone can wear a pair of Bunny Boots, or even the older Mickey Mouse, if you prefer.

If you work in Alaska or even Antarctica, these boots are incredibly useful, but they can be just as handy if you’re in your local National Park in October.

Both the Mickey and the Bunny have a rubber wedge at the toe and heel, which allows you to wear skis (I’m only able to confirm military-grade skis) or snowshoes with them. 

If you operate machinery outside in winter, especially in states where winter really means winter, where it’s often snow-covered and cold, it’s time to Bunny up.

What is the Air Valve for on Mickey Mouse Boots?

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The Mickey Mouse boot and the Bunny boot have a peculiar valve on the side, and contrary to belief, it’s not to pump up the boot to make it even bigger.

The valve is a throwback to the boots’ primary user, the soldier. 

Because of the vacuum-tight layers of rubber inside the boots, if a soldier were to take them onto an unpressurized transport plane, the pressurized rubber would burst like a balloon.

This would not only completely ruin the heat-retaining properties of the boots, but probably ruin the pants of the soldier wearing the boots that just made the gunshot-like popping noises.

The valve on the side of the boots needs to be set to the open position to allow the air pressure inside the boots to balance with that outside (pro tip: open the valve on both boots). 

Where Can I Find Bunny Boots?

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You can check your local Army Surplus, or you could pick up either of these:

Just remember that Bunny boots are big and quite heavy, so if you’re checking Army surplus stores for a pair, don’t be tempted to take the first pair you try on. 

Ensure there’s enough space in the toe box for you to wiggle your toes freely; it’s an odd fact that the more space you have in your boots, the better they are at retaining heat. The trick is to have enough space to breathe, but not have the boot so big it’s falling off your feet.

Bata Military Bunny Boots

White bunny boots are perfect in extremely cold temperatures. They keep your feet warm down to −60° F. in cold, dry weather in snow or ice conditions. These white boots blend with the snow and are heavily insulated.

Check Price

What Size Bunny Boots Should I Get?

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Unfortunately, Bunny boots don’t come in half sizes, and as you’ll wear thick socks anyway, they tend to run a little larger than their size. Many of the reviews I read and much of the information from other sites, such as Army surplus sites, advise going down at least one size. 

You can even go down two sizes, but for the best heat retention, you do need some room inside the boots, so don’t buy Bunny boots that are too tight for your feet to breathe. 

I suggest going down one size. If need be, you can always wear thicker socks.

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Bunny boots don’t come in women’s sizes, though the boots are essentially as unisex a product as you can get. I spent some time researching whether women found sizing Bunny boots difficult or not and found that most women were able to buy two sizes down and still be able to find a good fit.

If you wear a women’s size 6, for example, a size 4R Bunny boot with a pair of thick socks should be more than adequate.

You should be able to get away with the 3R or 4R size if you’re usually a size 5, but I suggest finding a physical surplus store to visit to try the boots first.

Conclusion

Confusing tourists with Yeti footprints aside, Bunny boots and their predecessor, the Mickey mouse boot, are phenomenal cold-weather boots. Any boot that stands the test of time like the Bunny and the Mickey boot has to be world-class at what it does. The design hasn’t changed for decades, and with good reason, they’re awesome. 

Ugly, but awesome.

Bata Military Bunny Boots

White bunny boots are perfect in extremely cold temperatures. They keep your feet warm down to −60° F. in cold, dry weather in snow or ice conditions. These white boots blend with the snow and are heavily insulated.

Check Price

I’ve not come across another boot where the sole purpose of its creation has been executed so perfectly. You always get positive and negative reviews with most boots; not so with the Bunny boot. If you have the right size, your feet will withstand temperatures that would have a Polar bear scurrying for cover.

U.S. Military Contractors Mickey Mouse Boots

These are GENUINE Military Issue (BATA) "Mickey" boots. The multiple layers of wool felt provide insulation to protect your feet in subzero temperatures, and the waterproof rubber exterior keeps your feet dry and warm.

Check Price

If you work outdoors in a cold climate, or even if your recreation activities such as hunting or mountaineering mean you’re out in the freezing weather, investing in a pair of bunny boots could be perfect for you. 


FAQs

What boots do they wear in the Arctic?

Both Bunny boots and Mukluks are commonly worn in the Arctic, thanks to their excellent heat retention. Boots worn in such harsh conditions need to be able to retain heat both from beneath and above. A sole that allows heat to escape, especially when standing on ice or snow, will soon cause serious issues.

What are the warmest boots in the world?

The Hammacher Schlemmer boot, the “World’s Warmest Boot ” is rated to temperatures as low as -148°F, which is a great deal more than the Bunny boot at a mere -65°F. Unfortunately, while your feet will remain warm at that temperature, the rest of you will likely freeze to death before you have time to finish this sentence.

Are Bunny boots still made?

The original Bunny boot is no longer made, although with some searching online you can find pairs of Bunny boots for sale. The bunny boots available online arn’t actually new, they’re unused. That means they could be many years old, still in perfect order, but not brand new.

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