Going Commando – The History of Alden’s Commando Sole
When I think of Alden Boots, my mind naturally drifts towards the Commando Sole.The Commando sole is a great option for those who want comfort, but also need superior performance in inclement weather. This sole is based upon Alden’s fantastic leather sole, but adds a rubber lug sole onto the front half of the shoe and to the heel of the shoe. I really love having the Commando Sole on my Boots. It gives them that rugged “Booty” feel that makes me feel like I am wearing a solid boot. Obviously, as just an outsole, the Commando sole is also available on shoes as well.
Since, I have only been aware of Alden since around 2010, I always find the historical elements of Alden that I missed out on to be very interesting. I reached out to Mr. Adam Knott of Alden of Carmel to help me fill in some of the details on this sole as I know that Alden of Carmel played a role in the development of the Commando sole.
Alden is actually on their third version of the Commando sole. The breakdown of their Commando sole versioning is basically as follows. Version 1 was used 1996 to 2000, Version 2 was used 2001 to 2004, and Version 3 has been in use since 2005. The differences between the versions are pictured below.
The Commando Sole versions illustrated, courtesy of Alden of Carmel.
Version 1 Commando (1996 – 2000)
The first version of the sole featured a thin commando sole overlay on top of the leather sole and a hard rubber heel. The leather sole ran all of the way to the toe. Also, as shown below, in the picture of the AF20, the Tan Suede Dessert “Chukka” Boot, the first commando sole came in “Amber”, “Smoke” , and “Black” colors.
The AF20 with a Version 1 “Tan” Commando Sole, courtesy of Alden of Carmel.
The AF28 with a Version 1 “Smoke” Commando Sole, courtesy of Alden of Carmel. Note the leather front tip on the shoe.
Version 2 Commando (2001 – 2004)
In order to increase the durability of the Commando Sole in the toe, Alden switched the toe portion to be made of rubber and attached it to the leather sole with a “vertical joint”, in which the Leather and Rubber have no overlap. Alden also maintained the hard rubber heel on second version.
The AF43 with a Version 2 “Black” Commando Sole, courtesy of Alden of Carmel. Note the vertical joint between the leather sole and rubber toe.
The AF50 with a Version 2 “Smoke” Commando Sole, courtesy of Alden of Carmel. Note the vertical joint between the leather sole and rubber toe.
Version 3 Commando (2005 – Present)
For the third (and current) version of the Commando, Alden switched from a “vertical joint” to an “overlap joint”, in which the leather and rubber sole overlap similar to a puzzle piece. Also, Alden switched the heel to a thicker, but softer piece of rubber. The Version 3 Commando Sole can be made in either “Smoke” or “Black”. Most Commando Soles today are actually “Smoke”, but “Black” is still an available option for Black Shoes.
The AF11 with a Version 3 Commando Sole, courtesy of Alden of Carmel. This was the first model from Alden of Carmel to feature the Commando Sole and has been made with the Commando Sole since 1997.
The modern, Version 3 Commando sole with the Overlap Joint and thick rubber heel on the Alden x CitiShoes NST Tanker in Alpine Grain.
Alden today continues to utilize the Version 3 Commando Sole in order to provide a comfortable experience and support the need to wear fine dress shoes in boots in inclement weather conditions.
How can I the commando sole installed on my boots?
I sent you an E-mail. Best of luck! 🙂
Same question. Can you email me as well? TIA!
I have brand new Alden Indy 403 boots and I would also like to know where I can get commando soles installed on them. Hope to hear from you. Thanks
Unfortunately, Alden will only resole a shoe at this point with the same sole that it came with. However, many good cobblers could put a similar sole onto them for you.
Is the result the same as a double-sole in terms of thickness? Do you know the thickness of the heel and sole in inches?
Those are both very good questions. The Commando Sole and the Double Leather Sole seem to me to be about the same thickness.
The measurements are as follows:
Commando at Heel: 31mm
Commando at Side: 10mm
Double Leather at Heel: 26mm
Double Leather at Side: 10mm
Hope that this helps!
Where in Southern Calif. can I get a commando sole put on my cordovan Alden wingtips? Or will I need to send them to an experienced Alden store like the one in SF?
do you or Alden recommend/approve of a rubber sole being put on over an original leather sole. I read somewhere that a manufacturer advised buyers not to do so due to the negative impact on the static on the shoe
with best regards
PS do you post to Europe
I personally like putting on sole guards on my shoes to protect the sole and have done so on several pairs of mine. I actually wrote an article about it a while back…
Hope that this helps!