Prepping Your Feet for SHTF

Hiking Boots

Preppers: Are Your Shoes Made For Walking: It Matters To Your Feet

Knowing What Shoes To Wear and Knowing How to Care for Your Feet Is an Important Part of Prepping

Wait, are we talking about shoes and foot care here. Really, that is so, so not fun at all. Fun is new gadgets, a new laser sight for the rifle, that fancy new sling, that box of MRE’s that just arrived, not that you are going to eat them right away but still it’s more fun than feet. Playing with that new Swedish camp stove imaging, a beef stroganoff simmering away under a makeshift shelter is much better than talking about feet.

You have work shoes and so-called dress shoes for those nights on the town, and you have shoes for basketball, football, and just plain fooling around shoes but do you have shoes that will get you from here to there if the SHTF. If you do not, then you may experience problems with your feet that can put you on your backside in a hurry.

For want of a good pair of shoes, you are left stranded alongside the trail. The most expensive gear in your pack will not put wings on your feet if they are covered with blisters or if your ankle is sprained.

Walking shoes are not necessarily hiking shoes or boots. Walking on level ground is not the same as hiking over uneven terrain. Once out in the backcountry a turned ankle can put your life at risk and in some cases, you may be just miles from civilization and yet you cannot walk the few miles for help.

Cheap shoes will likely produce poor results so spend the money on quality footwear. Know before you need to know that the hiking shoes/boots you have are right for your feet. A two-day hiking adventure is not the time to break in new shoes. Blisters, poor ankle and arch support can make any two-day adventure a nightmare of torture and pain and in some cases, put your life in jeopardy.


You have to assume the worst-case scenario. This means you will be carrying weight, so your shoes must be able to support your feet and ankles with the added weight. Ideally, you will have built up strength in your legs, calves and ankles but then again conditions are rarely ideal. The terrain will be rocky and uneven and you can expect wet and cold conditions. Plan for the worst and pick out your hiking boots accordingly. You will be relying on your shoes to provide you with support regardless of how well conditioned you are.

Ankles can roll easily and this affects the knees when walking on uneven terrain so make sure your hiking boots are high enough to provide ankle support. There are boots available called backpacking boots that are designed for hiking over rough terrain when carrying a heavy backpack. You have to assume your backpack will be heavy.

Fit the boot before buying. The fit should be snug once laced, but not so much that it cuts off circulation. When walking your foot should not slip forward to where your toes pinch at the toe of the boot and this is especially important when moving up and down hills. If your foot slides forward when you walk, blisters will soon follow.
Does your heel lift or slip as you walk. Your heel will develop blisters if it lifts or slips with every step, and this can cause a turned ankle on rough terrain. Make sure you know what size shoe you actually wear by having the length of your foot measured, and measure the width as well. Most shoe stores or shoe departments will have an accurate measuring device that you can use.

When fitting your new hiking boots have any inserts you plan to use with you as well as the socks you would expect to wear, so the fit is more accurate. Actual sizes regardless of the label can vary depending on the manufacturer.

Leather is the preferred choice and it still is by most measures the best material for footwear but it can be expensive. However, many quality-hiking boots today have a mixture of materials that combine leather and synthetics that hold up well and allow the material to breathe.

Foot Care

Trench foot or sometimes-called emersion foot is a medical condition brought on by prolonged exposure to damp/wet conditions and cold temperatures will increase the chances of developing trench foot. However, the temperature does not have to be below freezing. You can develop trench foot at temperatures between 50 and 60 ᵒF.

In the early stages, the foot may begin to have a decaying odor that may be from necrosis, which is actual dead tissue. Left untreated trench foot will result in gangrene, which will require amputation of the foot to prevent the spread to other tissue. Failure to treat gangrene will result in death. Others signs of trench foot include numbness, redness, or the feet can even turn blue due to poor vascular supply.

The name trench foot is from World War I, from soldiers fighting in trenches. Soldiers spent days in trenches with their feet immersed in water. Soon the military developed the buddy system to help prevent this condition. Soldiers were tasked with checking each other’s feet for signs of trench foot. This tradition has been carried forward.

Soldiers in the Second World War as well as the Korean and Vietnam conflict developed serious foot problems from damp conditions as well. The conditions often times led to soldiers being put on stretchers because walking was impossible.

Keep your feet warm and dry. Having extra socks and even an extra pair of shoes in your pack is critical or otherwise you will have to stop and dry your socks and feet, as well as your shoes. You simply cannot walk for a prolonged period with wet feet.

Blisters must be treated immediately to prevent infection, so make sure your first aid kit has the needed items.

Injured or simply sore feet can slow you down and in some cases, stop you dead in your tracks once the SHTF.