Footwear for Survival

Your footwear (even daily footwear) should always be high quality, durable, proper fitting, and versatile. In an emergency situation your choice of footwear can either aid or hinder your survival efforts. Check out this article to learn about the best footwear for survival.

For footwear to survive the end days – or anything life can hurl at you – then there is one type of shoe that will outperform any other.

The Tactical Boot

The US Army’s opinion is the tactical boot is the best all-around footwear for any situation you find yourself in.

And they’re not wrong!

The tactical boot is likely the best option for any hard-core survivalist or prepper.

Practically every big shoe brand makes a line of tactical boots. However, boots from well-known TACTICAL AND DUTY BOOT makers are still the best. Tactical boots are more accessible than ever since companies like Nike, Reebok, Under-Armor, and even Converse are making tactical boots so there are a lot of choices available. Let’s make sure you’re making the right choice. For instance the reviews for Nike’s tactical boot showed the boot to have thin soles you could feel rocks through and that they were really just a military looking high-top sneaker …

For my personal tactical boots I’ve chosen a reliable pair of Bates Men’s 8″ Annobon Work Boot. This wasn’t a choice taken lightly. I tried on at least a dozen different brands and styles before settling on these.

Personal preference is also a big factor. They have to fit your foot just right … comfortable while providing the support you need.

Bates boots had extra ankle support compared to others I tried on – which due to a past injury and a couple minor surgical repairs is extra-important to me. Note: Everyone should strive for adequate ankle support in their boots! Bates is also the preferred supplier for our men and women in uniform … that should say plenty itself.

My Bates Tactical Boots (well used)

My Bates Tactical Boots (well used)

What to look for when buying tactical boots:

Waterproof – You don’t want your feet wet in a survival situation. It’s really, really important to keep your feet dry when there is little to no access to medical care. However Some climates (such as desert survival) non-waterproof, breathable boots will have an advantage by allowing your feet to remain dry and not hold in perspiration.

If you’re not sure if you should go waterproof or not just give us some details in the comments on your situation and region or ask on our Facebook page.

Soles – I prefer a sole with plenty of grip. This shouldn’t be an issue when purchasing modern tactical boots. However if you’re a fan of vintage military boots please be aware that the soles can become old and brittle with age. This greatly affects their ability to grip terrain and hold up under heavy use. Also be aware that some budget boots only use glue to adhere the soles to their shoes. Always look for soles that are stitched and glued.

Side Zip or Lace up – When it comes to whether you want a side zipper or just laces there are two things to consider … would your rather have convenience or long-term wearability?

Side zips have extra padding and flaps to protect your legs from the zipper. This padding also creates an extra pressure zone that can lead to a very uncomfortable situation where you may be begging for any opportunity to take your boots off. It may not bother you … but sacrificing the potential convenience in the name of survival and comfort is ill-advised. Be forewarned.

Arch Support If you’re flat footed then you’ll want a pair of boots with ample arch support. If you can’t find boots with enough support then make sure you get your boots big enough to fit arch supports. When you go to try on your boots take your arch support inserts!!!

Picking Your Everyday Footwear

Unless you’re extremely devoted to your tactical boots it’s doubtful you’ll wear them every day.

They may not be your style, or may not be comfortable enough for daily wear. It’s hard to beat the convenience and comfort of a good pair of sneakers. But gym shoes may not be the best choice for a survivalist …

Luckily there is an entire footwear industry that specializes in outdoor sport shoes.

There are many high-end brands of hiking / outdoor sports shoes – although higher-priced – tend to provide more quality and longer use than lower priced budget brands. Don’t be afraid to spend money on your feet! They take you where you need to go.

After going through many pair of outdoor hiking shoes I’ve settled on my favorite brand so far being Patagonia. The last pair of Patagonia Men’s Drifter A/C Hiking Shoe have lasted over two years and they’ve put up with some serious, serious abuse. Through mud, snow, ice, ocean, rivers, mountains, rocks … you name it!

Durable but well worn Patagonia hiking shoes

Durable but well worn Patagonia hiking shoes

How do you pick which outdoor adventure shoes are right for you?

A $100 plus pair of shoes is an investment into your comfort, health, and potential survival so you probably want to get it right the first time around.

The easiest way is to wear and test the shoe. I’m not one for ordering shoes online.

Large outdoor stores usually carry the biggest variety of outdoor shoes. They may not have the best prices but you can still go there to find and choose which shoe you want. Then if you’re a comparison shopper you can look for the best deal on the shoe of your choice.

Don’t just slip them on – say they feel nice – yank them off and take them to the cash register. Put on both shoes and go for a walk around the store. Pay attention for any weird pressure points on your feet. You don’t want a pair of shoes that don’t fit your feet almost perfect and pressure points are a good indicator that a shoe just isn’t for you.

Addressing Feet That Must “Dress Up” Daily

Not all preppers can get away with wearing whatever shoes / boots they want on a daily basis. If you work in a professional industry and the shoes you wear 99% of the time have to be dress or casual then you’re options are somewhat limited.

So what can you do to ensure when SHTF you’re wearing shoes that won’t fail you?

The first step is to see if you can obtain an exception for your workplace’s dress code. The best way to do this is to claim an ‘orthopedic’ need for specific footwear. But I wouldn’t recommend taking advantage of a gifted exception and going with the flashiest shoes you can. Remember you will still have co-workers adhering to the dress code … you don’t want to rub it in their faces. Dealing with envious co-workers sucks.

Born Allen Lace-up dress boot

Born Allen Lace-up dress boot


If you can’t obtain an exception the next tactic is to find the most rugged, durable, and comfortable shoes that you can get away with. Lace up boots will provide more support and protection in a SHTF scenario. The Born Allen Boots by Born shoe company would hide perfectly under a pair of slacks. They appear to have ample cushion and tread. I don’t personally endorse these shoes for your situation. They’re just an example as what to look for.

Don’t Neglect Your Socks

Your feet may be the only reliable transportation in a SHTF scenario and taking care that they’re prepared includes proper socks. Durable high-quality cotton socks can make all the difference in all-day comfort … or pure bipedal misery.

When it comes to socks … Duluth Trading socks are my only recommendation. They’re truly amazing.

Carry extra socks in your vehicle, bug out bags, get home bag, or even your office bag! If you’re feet get too wet you’re going to need those spare socks.

Foot and Shoe Maintenance

Keeping your feet and shoes healthy is important. Keep your shoes clean and free from infection and fungus like athlete’s foot and ingrown tonails. Athlete’s foot can be easily prevented with anti-fungal powders applied to your shoes and feet. If it gets out of hand a doctor can prescribe oral anti-fungal treatments. Keeping your feet dry is also important to preventing athlete’s foot. See your doctor for ingrown toenails or other foot issues.

Your feet are important to your survivability and therefore your shoes are crucial survival tools. Don’t skimp on your footwear!

If you’ve found the ultimate survival shoes please share!!!

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