Gaiters are the cloth coverings that were worn above the army shoe, before boots were issued. US Army The US wore laced gaiters over their shoes until about 1943. Then a boot was issued that had a top that buckled around the leg. Italian Army had the leg wrappings that dates back to WW1. However, special troops like motorcycle riders had a hard, leather leg covering that buckled around their calf. And in WWII + present they had boot knives.