Some guys in my prep team say I have a boot fetish. I say I am on a lifelong pilgrimage or conquest to find for once and for all the best boots for a variety of SHTF outdoors jobs. And I think I may have finally just stepped into the right pair after all. But I digress. As you prep for other gear purchases, be sure to settle in on some boots to keep your feet warm, dry, and comfortable. This footwear crusade of mine has taken me far and wide. I have gone from starting out squirrel and rabbit hunting as a kid in high top Converse All Stars to dove hunting in pull on Wellingtons to deer hunting in leather construction boots. None of those choices worked well for the intended task.
Dr. John J. Woods, a Contributing Author
It’s All About Sole Searching
Either the “tennis” shoes offered no support for long range walking, or the “Roper” types were too hot, or the construction boots with no insulation were like walking in blocks of ice. In those early days of my outdoors career that was about all that was available. For preppers now the boot choices can be overwhelming.
When I moved to the south, I encountered a whole new set of terrain challenges. The next item on the barrier list was mud. Yeah, quicksand type stuff. It’s dark, deep, stinking, foot sucking mud. It will hang you up and jerk that boot right off the foot. In fact, the Bug Out Plan B property I have I jokingly (but not really) call “the muddiest place on earth.” Make sure you assess the terrain where you intend to Bug Out.
You have to have a good boot to stand up to a steady diet of outdoors environment. And oddly enough after a season of trudging through this junk, your boot leather takes on a sort of iridescent blue color that does not polish out.
Furthermore, I have now had two pairs of a top nationally known outdoors boot brand to have the soles actually rot off and disintegrate into clumps of fake rubber tarballs after two seasons in the goo. I have no idea what that is all about?
The Right Fit Comes First
As you get older a lot of things change in the physical make up. Some things sag, others fall out altogether, and some parts just sort of spread out. My feet have spread out. All that gravity I guess and the weight pushing down on them. The odd part is that one foot is now at least a half size wider than the other so I have had to go up a full size to a 12 to get a good fit and wear thicker socks. If you don’t know your boot size, then get help to determine the correct and comfortable fit.
Also Read: Footwear When the SHTF
These points are to the fact of how critical proper boot fit has to be no matter the style or type you buy. A too tight boot will constrict the blood vessels and likely result in even colder feet. Toes have to have ample wiggle room to be comfortable and “breathe”. If not, they sweat, and again get colder.
Boots fitting too loose can quickly cause rubbing movements and blisters. You have not lived until you have a goose egg sized blister on the ball or heel of your foot. I have had both while on western hunts and they can quickly ruin a good time. Preppers should pack along a foot care and blister kit.
So, when buying boots, get as perfect a fit as possible. A little bigger is better than too small. Boots that are a little big can be fixed to some degree with socks, which I will cover in another treatise as a critical foundation element to proper foot gear wear.
For Muddy Bug Outs
I am not much on plugging brands, but sometimes they deserve it. I have used the generic term “muck” boots for forty years to describe any footwear subjected to extreme muddy conditions. It was always said let’s “muck our way across this field” or whatever.
My first “mucking” boots were rubber type LaCrosse pull on boots. I use the term “pull on” with tongue in cheek. Mine are the tight ankle fitting boots that do give good ankle support, but nearly give me cardiac arrest every time I try to get them on. However, this brand has joined the competition to produce easier fitting footwear.
They are good mud mucking boots. They are not warm enough for me in the winter, mainly because I cannot get on thick socks with them. With the rubber bob soles they are great for mud and knee deep water. They are super for woodland hikes to hunt, survey property security and to do outdoor tasks like gather firewood.
I have other boots, too for special purposes. My super cold weather boots even here in the south are wool insert pack boots made by Schnee’s in Bozeman, Montana. My second cold boots are leather LaCrosse lace ups with 1000 gram insulation. I have a pair of mid-weight Browning boots for warmer days afield. I recommend all of them especially the Schnee boots if you are prone to having cold feet. And yes, these boots stay at my primary Bug Out camp so I don’t have to pack them back and forth.
Another really good mud boot is the Muck Boots from the Original Muck Boot Company started in Texas in 1999. Where have I been all this time? Sure I had seen the ads, but glossed over the product. They slip on and off with no angina and one size larger is perfect with some thick wool socks. I’m so sold on them I just got a second pair with super insulation for high humidity, cold temperatures.
Often overlooked or dismissed with too little attention, a pair of boots can make or break a successful extended Bug Out in the wilds. They have to fit right, repel moisture and leaks, and wear well month after month. Shop long and hard for good boots, and don’t buy the cheap ones. Be sure to pack a boot care kit, too just like you would a maintenance kit for a survival rifle, optics, or other important gear.
All Photos By Dr. John J. Woods