In survival situation, you are likely to be on your feet a lot. It is also likely that you will have some distance to travel on foot. In this situation your feet will be one of your main survival tools. Keeping them in good shape will have an impact on whether you make it out alive or not.
When heading into a location that could put you in danger, your choice of footwear is important. Here are some tips from The Real Survivalists:
Trainers or other sports shoes are light and flexible. They are usually very comfortable, assuming that they fit correctly. These could be a good choice if you have to cover a small distance at speed in an urban environment.
Any journey that will involve multiple terrain types will require boots of some description. There are many different types of boots and consideration needs to be given to ensure you have the correct ones.
Season Rated Boots
Some boots will have a season rating. The ratings range from 1 – 4. Basically if we assume all boots are suitable for dry summer conditions then the higher the rating the more adverse weather the boots can perform in.
If you will be traveling through a mountainous area then a 3 season boot will usually be sufficient. If you will be traveling through any form of ice or snow then a 4 season boot will be required. Some 4 season boots will be ‘crampon compatible’ meaning tough treks through snow with crampons will be possible.
Low Cut Hiking Boots
Low cut hiking boots tend to be a great choice for an ‘all-rounder’ type of boot. They provide good ankle support while still being lightweight and flexible.
The boots you choose should have a strong tread pattern. The grooves should be deep and form mostly side to side patterns. This not only increases grip but it will allow the sole of the boot to bend in sync with your feet as you walk over rocks etc.
Boots will provide various levels of ankle support. The 4 season boots will be pretty inflexible so will provide solid support. A desert patrol boot will be extremely flexible as they are designed for long term wear. Identify your terrain and select your boots accordingly.
You must wear socks to ensure the health of your feet. Socks act as a permeable layer on your feet which helps evaporate moisture. Not only that but they help cushion your feet against the impact felt when walking over a hard terrain.
Hiking socks come in a variety of materials. Cotton provides the most comfort but it will absorb moisture and dry slowly. It lacks the vital insulation your feet need if they are wet. 100% cotton socks are not recommended but a blend could be a suitable compromise.
Some hiking socks will be made from wool. It provides great insulation and helps keep your feet dry.
Generally, a good hiking sock is a combination of natural and synthetic materials.
Merino wool is wool from a breed of sheep in New Zealand. It has the same properties as normal wool but it is softer meaning you get the added benefit of comfort while trekking.
Coolmax and polypropylene increase the moisture evaporating properties of cotton and wool socks.
Socks with nylon and/or spandex added to the mix mean a tighter fit which reduces movement of the socks over your feet meaning blisters are less likely.
You should carry multiple pairs of socks and change out of wet pairs when you can. A long trek will need several pairs being rotated to ensure feet stay dry.
No matter how much consideration you put into your footwear, long treks will likely cause a blister or two. Carrying moleskin or second skin in your bag will help prevent a blister from becoming a big problem. Moleskin acts as a barrier between a blister and your socks and shoes. If you do not have this with you, duct tape can be used.
If you are using moleskin, use a piece slightly bigger than the blister, cut a hole in the centre and place over the blister so it is seen through the cut hole.
Walking poles provide added support and stability to any journey by foot. They reduce impact on your legs and they also reduce the level of exertion required to keep moving.
Generally, your elbows should be bent at around 90 degrees when you are holding the pole handle and the tip of the pole is on the ground. However, alter the height of your poles until the most comfortable position is found. Efficient pole use involves placing the poles on the ground at an angle pointing behind you to drive you forward.
Keeping your feet in good condition will help your situation greatly. Take some time researching and trying a few different boots, socks etc to find the ones best suited to you.