Dr. Sole is a rare triple threat in the shoe world. The Taiwanese outfit designs and manufactures outsoles, offers an extremely high-end resole and rebuild service, and most recently, have been creating their own in-house footwear line, Pioneer, which has allowed the brand to lean into its fascination and obsession with vintage footwear. (Read our two-part interview with Dr. Sole chief Chao-Yung Lin here and here.)
Dr. Sole’s second Pioneer entry, the OZ Trooper (pronounced ahz, short for “Australian”) closely follows the design of the Australian Army 10085 Ankle Boot, which is distinguishable for having a minimal stitching pattern as well as a faux cap toe.
When these boots released late last fall, I immediately decided to scoop up a pair. I already owned a few different shoes with Dr. Sole outsoles, but I’d never experienced the impressive cobbling work they perform through their Bench Re-Built service. Whether they’re completely overhauling a pair of Clark’s Desert Boots, or removing the toe structure from a pair of Red Wings (without performing a full resole!), Dr. Sole’s cobbling team demonstrates a high degree of skill. Other than sending in one of my other shoes to get resoled by them, I figured this might be the best way to experience their craftsmanship first-hand.
In a unique twist, Dr. Sole decided to build the OZ Trooper on a true Munson last—they actually made a run of lasts graded from an old wooden Munson last in their archives. This was another huge reason I wanted to try out the OZ Trooper—I’d never worn anything in the Munson last before, and was curious to try it out. While Dr. Sole’s vintage inspiration pair of these 10085 Ankle Boots doesn’t appear to be made on the historic military last, it features a similarly accommodating form, perhaps borrowing from the Munson shape.
Overall, I am quite happy that I picked these boots up, as my experience with both Dr. Sole’s work and the Munson last has been fantastic.
The Munson Last
The Munson last was devised in 1912 for the US Army by medical officer Edward Munson. After being tasked with developing a new standard-issue boot for the Army, Munson found that many soldiers not only misunderstood how their footwear should fit, but also that many of them had (or were at risk of) serious foot deformities.
In developing a new military shoe, Munson also created a new last to build it on, which came to be known as…the Munson last. The key features of the last included a modified toebox to accommodate the toes’ natural spread, a snug-fitting curve in the heel area, and a more naturally-shaped arch. (You can find more details about the origins of the Munson last here.)
Design and Construction
If you put a pair of well-worn OZ Troopers side-by-side with the original 10085 Ankle Boot it’s modeled after, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two. Dr. Sole’s version faithfully keeps all the design details intact, including that funny little curve of stitching on the facings that terminates below the collar. It’s an understated pattern—putting form way behind function—that makes something like the iconic US Navy N-1 Field Shoe (aka boondocker) feel like it has way too much going on. Think of it as being a minimalist’s boondocker: similar vintage military vibes, but with a restrained amount of eyelets and stitching.
The oil-tanned leather (tannery unknown) has a fairly soft temper, but the 6-7oz thickness means it can stand up to most of the environments you throw it towards. I’ve taken these boots through snow and rain, and the leather just seems to shrug off the elements. It’s not the world’s prettiest leather, but it performs incredibly well.
The sole is Dr. Sole’s Supergrip II, a low-profile rubber sole. It’s a long-lasting material, and in terms of traction, it feels like it lands somewhere around a Vibram 430 mini-lug sole. You wouldn’t want to climb mountains with these, but they’ll be suitable for any casual environment, and won’t let you down if you’re caught out in the rain.
I love the construction quality and finishing on the OZ Troopers more than anything. Notably, they’re not only made with a Goodyear welt, but Dr. Sole went through the trouble of McKay stitching the gemming into the sole of the boot, all but guaranteeing that it won’t come loose over time and deform the soles. You can definitely feel the McKay stitch, but I typically forget that it’s even there. There’s also something fun and a little cheeky about how Dr. Sole sanded the sole behind the ball of the boot into a soft point—it adds a bit of playfulness to what is otherwise a fairly serious, straightforward design. Admittedly, I wish the heel counters were made of hefty leather instead of the lighter-weight synthetics they used here, but all the other components seem pretty solid.
The OZ Trooper comes in two flavors: my smooth leather version with a green Supergrip sole, and the roughout version with a black Supergrip. I really favor the smooth variant because I’m not a huge fan of the white contrast stitching on the roughout. Plus, the green sole is sort of a fun little Easter egg—a big pop of color on an otherwise murdered-out boot that people won’t see until you lift your foot.
Sizing and Fit Impressions
Dr. Sole’s advice for sizing with their Munson last was to go a full size down from your Brannock measurements if you have an E- or D-width foot, or only half a size down for an EE-width foot. As an 11.5D on the Brannock, I took these in size 10.5, and damn if it doesn’t feel spot-on. (For our narrow-footed folks, this might not be the last for you.)
I purchased these boots when they released in late autumn last year, and I had worn them a bit here and there. But it wasn’t until this spring that I really put the OZ Troopers through some extended wear. I took them with me on a European vacation spanning three countries, and wore them in rotation with another pair of boots.
I found the OZ Troopers and the Munson last to be extremely comfortable. Of course, I wasn’t marching everywhere (or anywhere, for that matter), but I walked a great deal in them, sometimes averaging ten miles a day. My foot fatigue was quite minimal; most days, it was nonexistent. I found the boots pleasantly snug in all the right places (the heel and arch of the foot) while being comfortably roomy in others (the toebox). That feeling of being locked in to your boots, yet feeling like your foot is unconstrained—it’s difficult to describe, but that was exactly my experience.
The Final Take
All in all, the OZ Trooper is a terrific boot, and a great introduction to the Munson last. While they are currently sold out and Dr. Sole has yet to announce that there will be another batch of these boots, they haven’t officially closed the door on making more of them, either. Meanwhile, you can find the Munson last being used by a number of other brands—and if you’re someone who’s looking for an ultra-accommodating and supportive last, the Munson may be the way to go.