Telling you what shoe to buy for your particular situation makes as much sense as telling you what car you should buy. There are too many variables — budget, environment, terrain, foot shape, etc. — to consider. But there are a few truths you should remember when choosing footwear for the survival scenario.
Shoes are vitally important because your feet may become your only mode of transportation if the grid or supply chain is taken down. If it happens, you’re going to spend a lot of time either working outdoors or hiking out of your area, and this is going to put a big strain on your shoes or boots.
First, consider what you’ll be doing in them. If you anticipate doing a lot of walking or hiking, choose a hiking boot. Hiking boots are preferable to hiking shoes because of the ankle support boots provide. If you anticipate staying put, a work boot might serve you better.
Second, choose quality. Cheap shoes or boots are cheap for a reason. They aren’t designed to endure harsh treatment. Cheap hiking shoes or boots will likely begin to fall apart pretty quickly when they are most needed. Walking all day on rugged, rock-strewn trails can result in serious injury pretty quickly if the shoes aren’t providing support to either the ankles or arches, or if the ill-made shoes are rubbing in ways they shouldn’t. Cheap soles will be shredded in no time, and they won’t turn back cactus needles or long spines from plants. Asolo, Timberland, Columbia, Lowa, Danner, Adidas and Red Wing make excellent products, but some are quite pricey.
Third, consider your environment. If your area is exceptionally dry, waterproof boots aren’t necessary. But in most environments, having a waterproof boot is essential. You should also keep a leather waterproofing oil or wax treatment handy and apply it to your boots often.
Fourth, break them in ahead of time. If you have to bug out on a new set of hiking boots you can expect to have blisters fairly quickly. Wear your boots often for short time periods to get them accustomed to your feet.
You also should wear two pairs of socks, which necessitates getting your boots fitted while wearing two pairs of socks for the proper fit. One pair of socks should be thin and made of a material that wicks moisture. The other pair should be wool. The two layers of socks will help prevent moisture buildup, reduce the chance of blisters and help regulate temperatures on the feet.
Finally, have two pairs of boots. In foul weather it’s very difficult to get your boots — and your feet — dry while wearing them. Having a second pair can save you a lot of discomfort.
If you’ve got experience with a boot that works for you, please share it in the comments section below.