Caligae: Roman military boots and other dress and armaments



Corey Doctorow posted at BoingBoing a link to this wonderful how to for making the standard issue footwear for the Roman legions. This is from a reenactment site for the 30th Legion in Indiana. Absolutely a killer use for the laser given the intricate cuts. I would do proper attribution but it’s kind of hard to figure out who is responsible. The illustration is copied from the book Stepping through Time


I have shoes forever now - hey, if they were good enough for the romans


Very cool! I was planning on making some ghillies and this will give another option.


Love it! Thanks for posting this!


Wow, super cool!! I can definitely see a pair of these in my future after the glowforge comes :wink: Thanks for sharing!


The most interesting thing for me is “why the complexity?”.

Because it’s all cut from a single piece of leather and the cut outs aren’t large enough of themselves to be useful, why go to all the trouble? All the gaps expose the feet to more potential harm than a fully enclosed upper. If it’s for heat relief a more open sandal would seem to be better.

What drove the design choices made here?

(It does suggest there’s a potential market for Forgers to make some period specific clothing & footwear for all the SCA types out there.)


Maybe to fit the foot better…more snuggly. Less chaffing and blisters that way…


Possibly. But leather soaked in water and then worn until dry will mold itself to the foot. That was how people in rural areas made shoes without the use of specialized (costly) lasts.


Quite possibly the answer may simply be “why not?” :upside_down:

They may have started as simple as possible until the shoe designer decided to add some flair haha


Government contract?


LOL. Never consider soldiers needing “flair” :grinning: Fashion has never been my strong suit.


The stereotypical Roman sandals (soleae) were generally only worn indoors. Other types of footwear were worn outdoors. Perones, calcei, carbatinae, et cetera. Some are more open (like caligae) whereas others were more closed. Some have hobnails, others don’t.

Caligae were supposed to reduce blisters and the airflow probably reduced the likelihood of fungal diseases. Romans had a wide variety of footwear options, so I can only assume that the army used these because they found them to be advantageous.


Thanks for the perspective. I wonder how much weight had to do with this. Less leather and less leather to get wet and weigh you down. It all adds up for those marches.


How about comfort from the heat? Why do people wear open sandals now? Ventilation. And kind of stylish, then and now. :sunglasses:


Also, what if they liked having the slivers of leftover leather for some other project?


Almost made me spit out my coffe from laughter says the guy with boxes over flowing with paper and vinyl scraps.


And, I forgot to add that I’ll soon have to find more boxes for Acrylic and Wood. Not quite to Hoarder status, but hate waste.


It’s not hoarding if you use the scraps.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.


Ok, hey. What if we go the OTHER direction?

Could your vinyl scraps be combined into sandals? Because being able to cut them from a single la-de-da is nice and all, but we’ve got scrap piles begging to be useful. And Etsy.