Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Footwear Recommendations for Survivalists

Any advice on a quality everyday shoe to consider is ideal…Thanks for all the information you share.
Hi! Like with any other piece of gear and clothing the survival minded person should analyze the issue beyond the basics ordinary needs.
Its not just about having comfortable shoes so as to walk without trouble during normal daily requiements. How will it perform if circumstances I dont control demand more of it? Can I walk greater distances with it without my fancy looking shoes falling appart? Can I walk through unneven terrain? Even in the city, think of what happens during disasters. After 9/11, NY was just littered with rubble and debris. You may need to scramble across rubble and collapsed buildings to save your life. Maybe there’s live wires and shock risks you dont even see as you walk. Think Japan’s recent earthquake, the place littered for miles with the scattered remians of the tsunamis destruction. Circumstances may deamand that you evacuate on foot with only what you’re wearing. A video posted in the forum thread I mentioned before of Japan over at the Modern Survivalist website shows precisely this, a person that runs away from his home as the wave approaches and hasn’t got a second to spare. After barely surviving those clothes you have are all you have, and that pair of shoes will be the only ones you have for only God knows how long, for walking, evacuating, etc.

Far less dramatic but still interesting is what happens during troubled economic times. No funds to spare means poor city maintenance. Those pool table sidewalks suddely start showing need of repair that doesn’t come. Even in Buenos Aires capital district sidewalks are far from perfectly even and it gets worse the further away you get. Sometimes after repairs they just fill it up with dirt (if they even bother doing that), leaving actual craters for pedestrians and drivers to deal with. Accidents of people tripping and getting hurt are common, and for the senior citizens this can mean a broken bone. Just twisting an ankle isn’t fun either. If you use a baby stroller you soon feel frustuated, getting it unstuck from holes or broken tiles several times per block.
There’s also the issue of actual foot protection. How well does your footwear protect your feet from falling objects or crowd stomping? Will a sharp object go right through your sole into your foot? May its rush hour in a ridiculously packed public transportation or an evacuation vehilce people will be stepping all over your feet.

Falling objects are also a possiblity and that’s why shoes with toe protection are mandatory in work sites and industrial plants. The survivalist or prepper should keep in mind these rules, and how many limbs they have saved. Why not apply this to your daily life? These things happen in nature too, watch Aaron Ralston’s movie of how a boulder caught his arm, forcing him to amputate it to survive with a dull cheapo multitool (oh! the importance of a quality knife) Today you have extremly comfortable safety shoe choices that are perfect for daily use, both light and sturdy. Some people like sinthetic toe caps instead of steel becuase they are lighter and dont feel as cold in cold weather. Unless dealing with extreme cold climate, steel toes are good to go. Not bad when kicking someone in a fight either!
Work shoes sometimes have purposely designed Electric Shock Resistant (ESR) soles to protect you from open circuits. That’s why electricians sometimes touch cables that would otherwise shock you. (DONT TOUCH OPEN CIRCUITS, NO MATTER WHAT SHOE YOU WEAR!) Its not smart to do it counting on the protection provided by the footwear since its not 100% safe and may be affected by factors such as humidity (wet shoes), but its still nice to know that your shoes are capable of it. (Check these websites for the different ISO and ANSI standards and other technical abreviations.
How this applies to you? Again, general lack of proper mainteinance gets people killed. It happens often here, people getting electrocuted by poor electrical grid repairs. Not long ago a kid just died electrocuted while resting against a fence during a soccer game, a cable was left in contact. Sometimes you have to self evacuate yourself through less than ideal ground. It can be something as simple as walking along the side of a highway that is full of litter or after a train or subwaytrain technical problem.


I currently use Ombu brand mostly which is a localy produced work shoe. They have cheaper ones but I go for their high end mid-cut Neon model which offers the protections of work shoes but is also light and confortable, with a modern looking desing. When the weather is hot I go for lighter Timberland trail boots. Both are very comfortable, made of breathable material.
People in America and other 1st world countries have a lot more options. Just make sure to check the specifications and make sure its ANSI or ISO approved. That’s the difference between marketing blabla and actual capability of your footwear.
I used to wear Caterpillers but they are harder to find in Argentina these days, specially now with the importations being more restricted.
Caterpillar Men's Hydraulic Mid Cut Steel Toe Boot,Black,9.5 M US
Caterpillar Men’s Hydraulic Mid Cut Steel Toe Boot,Black,9.5 M US
Timberland PRO Men's Pitboss 6" Steel-Toe Boot,Black,12 M
Timberland PRO Men’s Pitboss 6″ Steel-Toe Boot,Black,12 M
I like mid-cuts becuase they offer better footing in my opinion and a bit more ankle protection. Notice how during accidents people seem to lose their shoes so easily, they just fly away. Car accident footage general shows barefoot victims. I find mid cuts to still be comfortable like ordinary shoes but they cover more and are less likely to fly away during an accident or disaster.
Caterpillers and Timberlands, those are the brands I like and recommend but of course there are others that are excellent too.
So that’s basically my recommendation. As always its just food for thought and maybe a couple ideas to keep in mind next time you go shopping for shoes.
Take care!
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David said...

Most shoes (including boots) now have crappy vinyl or fabric padding & linings that wear out in months.

A pair of Lehigh work boots I got 25 years ago are 100% leather around your foot. They have lasted and lasted, but it looks like Lehigh's current offering is not the same.

If anyone has recommendations of what boots have NO lining (just leather, please) and no crappy vinyl padding at the top, please provide a link. That's what I want to buy.

Anonymous said...


I have been very pleased with my Red Wing boots (made in the USA too!). I wear them nearly every day from late fall to early spring (mostly in the rain and snow) and have done so for the past 6 years or so. They still look almost like new, with the exception of a few scuff marks on the toes. Mine have a Gore-Tex lining for extra water resistance, but I believe you can get a version for less money without the Gore-Tex (they still have a lining, though). Mine also have a cushion at the top of the leather upper, but I believe they also sell versions without this. Red Wing has a very extensive selection of both shoes and boots (steel-toed Oxfords, anyone?). They also operate retail stores in most cities, making it easy to see what they have to offer. I liked my pair so much I bought two more pairs to put in the closet for the future.


Anonymous said...

I bought a pair of HAIX brand boots at the Orlando Shot Show in 2009. They were not cheap. BUT I have worn them every day since then. The soles and heels are finally showing enough wear to need resoling.
So I will send them back to the factory in Kentucky and the factory will completely refurb them for $70.00.
I would strongly recommend this brand to anyone needing a high-quality, tough boot.