Extra Socks should be in your bug out bag your hunting pack and any other pack or bag you store outdoor gear or survival gear. Now let me explain. Your feet are super important to your safety and well-being. You’re healthy and fit. You take good care of yourself for Survival reasons. But are you prepared to lose the ability to walk, run or move quickly without responding to pain caused by infection. Soldiers in all recent recorded conflicts complained about their feet. Cold and fungus cripple them. OK, so you have a great pair of boots. I get it that your chance of frostbite and trench foot are less likely and packing along some extra weight or bulk may seem unnecessary. I have great boots. My feet sweat. My feet are cold when they sweat. My socks are wet and if I am out for more than a day my socks will stay wet until I can get them to dry. If you haven’t noticed, drying clothing in the outdoors is not all that easy except in some very dry climates. Now if the insides of my boots are wet. My feet will be cold tonight. I will not rest and I will not be ready for the day in the morning. The temperature does not need to be close to freezing for your feet to be cold.
A dry pair of socks feels really good at the end of the day. I dry my feet with a towel and use some foot care lotion and put on those warm dry socks before I go to sleep. Never go to sleep with wet feet in cold weather. Don’t jump up in the middle of the night and go traipsing into the bushes for a potty moment without putting on something to keep your feet and socks dry. Protect your socks from any moisture like you would protect your fire arm. I have some army surplus boot liners that are not the bulky felt liners but thin material. I don’t wear these all the time with my boots but If I had to wade a stream or jump up in the night these I will take the time to use.
Let me talk about some other benefits of carrying those extra socks:
It’s like having and extra pair of gloves when the temperature drops. I might slip one on my left hand for holding my gun while wearing the light weight glove on my trigger finger hand. Just keep the trigger finger hand in the coat to keep it warm and ready.
Socks are a great bottled water cover when the temperature drops to keep your water from freezing.
Two extra small bags for foraging can come in handy. I am not suggesting you put berries in the socks but use them for acorns and other nuts or roots.
A sopping wet sock on a forehead to help cool you down in hot weather. One on your forehead and one on your neck to beat heat related illness.
Clean socks make extra bulk dressings for major wounds. You might feel better about this is they are clean and white, but if you apply them correctly the color won’t matter in an emergency.
For some wounds you can cut out the toe of the sock and slip the tube over your wrist, forearm or lower leg to hold a dressing in place and to keep the wound and dressings clean.
Are you trying to be extra quiet in those dry woods? Slip a pair of heavy socks over your boots. You’ll notice the difference in how much noise you don’t make. I was surprised how little wear occurred to the socks used in this manner [over short distances]. When sitting in a blind, the socks over the boots will help to keep your feet warmer.
Use one as a Purse. Keep your keys and other small items in a sock and tie the top. It makes them less likely to be lost and less likely to make noise. The sock in your cargo pants pocket it a good way to find what you are looking for much quicker. For smaller items I am always spending more time than I want to trying to find that one thing in that pocket. Its like you just keep chasing in around in that cargo pocket but just can’t seem to grasp it. If I can pull out the sock and open it at chest level I can find what I needed in a hurry by touch with one hand and retrieve with the other.
I found that I could put my Turkey Box call in a sock to keep it dry in the rain and use it to call while it is in the sock. Turkey Hunting in the rain is not the best time to hunt those smart birds, but if you are in the woods when it stops raining it can be the best time.
Dish cloth, hand towel, pot holder, and a towel just to wipe your sweaty brow. Cut into pieces they are gun cleaning clothes, eye glass and other optic lens cleaners. A strip of cotton cloth can be a wick for an emergency oil lamp. Note I said emergency Oil Lamp. Charred cotton cloth is needed for a flint and steel fire starter kit. Granted, for most of these things you could cut off a piece of your shirt tail, but I am just trying to pile on the reasons extra socks are a good idea.
Ever wish you had a hand warmer or a foot warmer for the sleeping bag or blanket bed? Some hot rocks from the campfire in a wool sock will keep your feet toasty well into the night.
Warm up some round river rocks that are as big as you can fit into a wool sock. When they are too hot to touch with your fingers put them in the wool sock and use them like you would a hot water bottle. Speaking of that I have put boiling water in a plastic water bottle and then put the bottle in a sock to warm my feet or relax a cramping muscle. But, back to the rock warming. Never heat up flat rocks like shale. These can explode sending little chunks of rock flying your way. It’s where the water can be in the layers of rock and it turns to steam and the pressure between the layers causes the rock to explode. Large Potato sized round rocks is best. Put some extra rocks in the fire or in the coals and bury them under a layer of coals or dirt. When the rocks in your sleeping bag cool, you can replace them with some that are still warm from the fire. They may not be as hot as the ones you first used from the fire, but you will notice the difference.
In my bug out bag I use socks as mini stuff sacks for other items. Keeps things organized, quiet and gives me extra socks to keep my feet warm if I need them. Use different weight of socks. Sometimes you need thinner cooler socks and at other times you want heavy warm socks.
What kind of socks do I use? Well I use what I would wear everyday plus some extra warm wool socks big enough to wear over my every day wear socks. What color? I like gray. Wool does make me itch if it gets too warm. Men’s dress socks are a thin layer that you can put under or over your hunting socks. Wool socks in the winter will be warmer if you put that thin layer of tightly woven cloth over top.
If you are older and need some extra support for your ankles or to keep swelling down, use men’s support stockings. After a surgery I had to wear these for a few weeks for swollen ankles. I now keep them with my hunting gear. I liked the knee length and the support to my ankles. Just don’t get them too small. I wear them under my regular hunting socks and don’t notice any fit problems with my hunting boots. They have a better heal and toe fit so they don’t slide down into the boot.
If I had a pair of Blaze Orange socks I would put them in my gear. If I needed a way to signal by hand they would certainly be a good replacement for Orange Gloves.
That hot spot or blister on your foot may not be your boots at all. It may be the sock you have on that foot. A wrinkle or fold in the sock may be what is causing that pain in the foot. Having a fresh back up pair of socks may be all that is needed to add comfort to your walking.
From your first aid kit you may add a bandage or moleskin to your blister to help, but when you do this, you often add more pressure to the spot because now you have extra thickness between your foot and the boot at exactly the spot you need less pressure. Cut a hole in the sock where it will fit over the bandage or moleskin or use a thinner sock on that foot.
Not long ago I tried something that afterward I regretted not doing sooner and more often. I stopped in at a Nails Salon and got a foot massage, toenails trimmed with oil and foot lotion treatment. "Wow" is the only way to describe it. As we get older it’s a little harder to bend over at the waist to see and get a good angle for trimming those thick toenails. We and I use that term because We know who we are, don’t get it right. We create sharp little cutting edges on our toes that rip our socks to shreds. I mentioned this outing to the Nail Salon to some friends for their reaction and I got a real surprise. Most of them have this done often.
Healthy feet are important to our survival in an emergency.
JWR Adds: Money spent on good quality socks in money well spent. Avalanche Lily particularly likes Wigwam brand socks. For boot socks, I like Kodiak brand, but there are others that are even better, and more expensive.