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Footwear is a critical part of prepping. Without the right shoes, bugging out is not going to be possible. You have to be able to cover some ground and be comfortable while you do it. However, even before SHTF, good footwear can make a huge difference in your prepping efforts.
During the good times, you’ll need footwear that is going to help you get through those times when you got a lot of heavy work to do. Activities like hiking out on the trail, planting crops, or hunting are always easier when you’ve got a good pair of boots on your feet. All of these are reasons why boots should be a part of any prepper’s bug-out bag.
Before we talk about some of the boots to consider, let’s go over a few things you should keep in mind when deciding which one is right for you. It is also a good idea to have several pairs of boots since footwear can become hard to find during a SHTF scenario.
It may seem like there are shoes everywhere you look, but a lot of them are worthless for anything but the most casual use. During a major emergency finding a size that even comes close to working for you may be close to impossible.
Best Boots for Preppers
Georgia Boot Men's Loggers
Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus II
Skechers Men's Pilot Utility Boot
Why Wear Boots
Wearing good boots in crowded situations helps increase your chances of getting away without injuries if you have to move fast or there is unrest.
Call me paranoid or whatever you want but being raised by a Vietnam vet with PTSD has resulted in my being a little funny about crowded spaces and escape routes. On the rare occasion, I go to a music event or anything crowded you can bet that if I can at all possible get away with it I will have on boots or footwear that I can trust in case SHTF.
I also try to pay attention to exits. Also if you are at an event it is not worth getting your feet stomped just to wear fun and attractive shoes.
Finding the Right Boot
Obviously, there are a ton of great boots and companies that I did not include here. Custom-made boots like those made by White are great and they can be refurbished for extremely long wear but they are outside of a lot of people’s budget.
In the long term, you may be better off buying a more expensive boot that lasts longer but you also cannot wait around and not have what you need.
Hiking Boots Versus Work Boots
Some people really prefer hiking boots for hitting the trail but I am so used to logging boots that I use them for hiking. It seems to me that hiking boots are not made to be as thick or tough as work boots so if you are going for major durability and foot protection then go with a heavy leather work boot.
This is a generalization of course. There probably are some hiking boots that are better than some cheaper work boots.
Work boots or logging boots weigh more but you will get used to it in little time. Heavier boots can help with physical fitness goals as well. Slogging along in boots that weigh 5-7 lbs makes a difference.
Hiking boots are better at allowing your feet to have good ventilation. Under a lot of circumstances, they are no doubt a lot more comfortable. Some boots fall a little in between a hiking boot and a work boot in how they are made, which might be a good compromise for those who want a little bit of both.
The choice is ultimately yours of course. The main things you need to consider include will you be comfortable walking for long distances in them and will they protect your feet and keep them dry.
Taller boots are more supportive. While low-top shoes may be your go-to, when it comes to boots, those that are in the 8-inch height range are a good bet. If you are shorter then a 6-inch boot may be alright too. Some prefer the extra support of a 10-12 inch boot but they usually cost more and are harder to find. 6 and 8-inch boots are the most common.
If you have a hard time finding the right size, make sure to order from a retailer that offers easy no hassle returns.
Plenty of other major online retailers learned quickly that when it comes to offering shoes for sale, you better have a good return policy. Try to order shoes soon enough that you allow yourself time to get a replacement before you really need them.
American Versus Foreign Made
There is something to be said for American-made boots if you can find them for a reasonable cost. Sometimes the foreign-made version of the exact same boot and brand is so much less that it is hard to turn down.
Horizon Leathers, for example, has a great range of boots that are made from all around the world. Some are very affordable, while their range also includes very durable, high end boots.
I like to buy American-made Carolina boots when I find a factory sale and they are almost the same price as the foreign-made version.
As far as I can tell with this brand, the domestic boots are made with a higher level of durability. Is it worth almost twice as much? I am not so sure about that but keeping an eye out for a bargain when it comes along is not a bad idea.
The right boots for me living on a mountain in the South are uninsulated. If it gets cold, some thick socks are all that is needed. Sometimes I will bring out the snow boots for sledding but generally an uninsulated boot is the way to go in a warmer climate year-round.
If you live in a place where there are major temperature swings between Summer and Winter then you are going to need several pairs of boots, one insulated and one that is not. Having the wrong level of insulation can make it miserable or impossible to wear your boots.
The terrain where you live is an important consideration when choosing boots. I live on a mountain and all around me are mountains. My chosen boot needs to be able to handle a lot of uneven terrain, rocks, etc. If you live where it is flat and not a lot of rocks then you might want something that is lighter weight or not made of thick leather.
Some preppers may also have concerns about snakes when bugging out so snake-proof boots could be the boot of choice.
Add a half size for thick socks and maybe even a full size if you have heavy-duty thick insoles you want to use.
This may be something you are used to doing anyway but you really need to account for some extra needed space. Remember that some boots do stretch out considerably over time. A pair of thick leather boots after being oiled and worn for a week feels a lot different than when you first put them on.
Find a Brand and Stick With It
There is something to be said for having an old reliable brand. This allows you to be able to keep an eye out for major markdowns on the brand you like. Sometimes you can find your size at a remarkable discount.
When you have a brand you are comfortable with it takes the hassle out of future boot buying. I am not saying you should not be on the lookout for a bargain in another brand at times, because you should. There are some great bargains out there.
However, sometimes even a trusted brand can let you down.
Realize That Sometimes Companies Change Over the Years
I have noticed it myself and also had the fact pointed out to me by readers that some companies are not what they once were. This often has to do with where goods are manufactured or if the company was bought out by another.
Sometimes to cut costs and keep prices the same, the quality can go down. If you bought a brand 20 years ago and were happy with it then be aware that it might not be what you get in today’s world.
Consider Hunting Boots
When it comes to comfort and covering ground, a lot of people are happy with hunting boots. When you are looking for a quality boot for working around your place, hiking, or bugging out, there is a good chance you will be happy with the durability and support of a hunting boot.
Ladies, Buy Men’s Boots
If you are a woman you can sometimes do well by getting the men’s version on sale but they do tend to be a bit wider than a woman’s boot so that is something to be aware of. An insole can take care of most size issues.
Sometimes men’s boots are available as small as a size 4 so even women with small to average feet are not always left out when it comes to finding men’s boots on sale. Usually, men’s boots sizing is 2 sizes larger than women’s so if you wear a size 10 women’s you would get a size 8 men’s.
Best Survival Boots for Preppers
Now that you know how to pick a boot that’s right for you, let’s take a look at our top picks for survival boots.
Carolina Women’s Logger
These have become our go-to boots for the past 14 years. For starters, they are low to moderately priced for a quality boot and made of real leather that is thick enough to withstand a lot of damage.
We do a lot of outside work here and basically live in our boots so we get 6 months to 1 year out of a pair and always use gel work insoles in them for extra support.
The time frame I am giving is dependent on what projects we have going and how much walking we have to do. My husband Matt and I are very hard on shoes and basically never wear anything but boots.
Carolina also makes Logger boots in women’s sizes which can be a challenge to find at a reasonable cost. I stock up on these boots anytime there is a sale. Usually, I can get them for $75-$110 per pair. I would say their sizing runs about average.
This is another company that has both foreign and domestically made boots. All of the Georgia boots my husband and I have owned over the years have been of good quality.
This company has been around for 50 years and during that time they have established quite a following of loyal customers. Prices are in the moderate range at $75-$220 depending on the exact style you want.
They are sold in a lot of places so sales are not uncommon. People are picky with their footwear, especially if they do a lot on their feet.
Boots are warrantied for a year after you purchase so if the sole pulls apart two months in, you won’t have any problems exchanging. That shouldn’t happen though, it is honestly pretty rare for someone to be completely dissatisfied with this brand.
This brand is popular with hunters, laborers, and hikers alike but a lot of people know them for their hunting boots. They have a good warranty and are moderately priced. The range of styles and sizes is large so preppers have a lot to choose from.
I have bought Danner’s before and have been quite happy with them. In my opinion, these are some of the best bug-out boots, they are durable, true to size, and they have a very loyal following of customers with some refusing to wear anything but Danner when it comes to work or hunting boots.
They are still mostly made in Portland, Oregon and you get an outstanding warranty and customer service. There may be a few designs that are made overseas.
Some Columbia boots are better than others. Their rubber rain boots we were not impressed with. Hiking boots still seem to be of higher quality and they are readily available from a lot of online stores and local outfitters.
LL Bean Trail Model Hikers
I usually cannot keep a pair of hiking boots for a year because I wind up doing a lot of digging or kicking at things around the farm and vineyard and that destroys them. I bought a pair of these on clearance for $60 2 years ago and they are still going strong even though I have abused them quite badly.
There are a few loose stitches but I still have the original boot laces in them even which is amazing because with my logging boots I go through several pairs of laces in a year. The loose stitch is from digging of course and I can repair it. If you are not picky about colors, you can get some fabulous deals shopping LL Bean Clearance and out of season.
If you are ever unhappy with your boots, LL Bean has a return or replacement policy that is second to none. For cold weather boots, they are a great choice as well, with some of their boots still being made in Maine and at a lower price than you would expect.
If you’re working with a smaller budget, worry not! There are some bargain boots that can still get the job done!
I bought 4 pairs of these for very little money per pair. While they are not as good as the Carolina’s they were excellent backup boots and good for lighter tasks.
I like Sketcher shoes but a lot of them are made for a more casual shoe wearer than I am. For the money and as a backup boot they are worth keeping a watch out for.
Hot Climate Boots
As I mentioned above, if you wear winter boots in places with warm climates, you’re in for a bad time, so these are some warm weather boots you won’t burn up in.
Vietnam Jungle Boots
The Vietnam-era jungle boot is a popular choice for hot climates. These boots are very affordable and make a great backup boot even if they are not your main one. If you need an inexpensive summer boot then this is a reasonable choice.
Desert Storm Era Boots
These are made of lighter-colored materials so if you don’t care for the black and green Vietnam jungle boots then these are an excellent alternative. I have found these for $15-$20 a pair at flea markets in the past.
What boots do you keep on hand? Are there any brands that you have had a bad experience with? How about letting us know what your favorite go-to boot is and why?
8 Responses to “Top 10 Best Survival Boots for Preppers”
I was a paramedic in South Florida for almost 12 years, and I have definite opinions about footware for survival and prepping, as I worked in scuzzy nursing homes, beach terrain, industrial accidents, car accidents, chemical spills, crack houses, and so on.
I’m very prejudiced in favor of Corcoran 975 and Corcoran 1500 boots.
The steel shank–originally designed to protect against punjii sticks in jungle booby traps–does a great job protecting a paramedic’s feet from a junkie’s dirty needle.
The ankle support is excellent for carrying heavy loads over rough, uneven terrain….and, incidentally, provides some protection from venomous snakes.
If you buy these boots, keep in mind that they need to be broken in, and the only way to do this is by wearing them in a gentle environment like the office and at home.
Breaking them in takes time and patience. Don’t go for “shortcuts” like putting them in the freezer with bags of ice, or standing in water. These techniques don’t work, and most will ruin your boots very quickly.
Target and Walmart carry “boot socks” for construction workers, and these are an excellent choice for survival boots.
Keep the boots shined up with Kiwi shoe polish, applied with water and cotton balls (cloth diapers that have been washed a few times also work very well), and use a soft bristle toothbrush to get polish into the seams and crevices, then finish by buffing with panty hose.
Don’t use silicones or other exotic leather products unless you work in an extreme environment like an oil rig, a chemical plant, or around salt water.
When your boots get wet, let them dry gradual overnight. Don’t put them in the oven, use a blow dryer, or leave them in the hot sun.
Carry extra socks in your bug out bag (along with unwaxed dental floss to sew up holes in your socks), and keep several pairs of no-run panty hose. Wearing panty hose while wading through water will protect you from leeches. Try not to use DEET and/or permethrin on the boots, as these chemicals may mess up the leather and finish.
The panty hose will also protect you from ticks and biting ants when you’re out of the water, so please–no crass coments about cross-dressing.
If you follow these instructions, a pair of Corcorans should last several years, and they can be resoled at a reasonable cost.
Everything that I’ve said goes out the window if you have diabetes. If you’re a diabetic, consult a podiatrist, follow his or her reccomendations, and get boots custom made by a qualified expert who understands diabetes. To do otherwise risks gangrene and amputation. I know what I’m talking about here, so don’t test this.
I hope that what I had to say was helpful.
I’m an irrigator and use a shovel every day, plus I’m always in the mud and wet. I have for the past few years been buying the cheap little Magellan waterproof hiking boots. 40.00 a pair, I buy two pair at a time and use one for work and one for play, they last about 4 months at work, then the play boots go to work and I buy some more. I’ve had Georgia, Carolina, Wolverine, Red Wing work boots that don’t last as long and are not as comfortable (look good, though). Have to say, it broke my heart years ago when Hi-Tec moved all their factories to Asia and turned into garbage for your feet.
Voice of experience here, Vietnam era combat boots were designed to hurt your feet, rot when they got wet, and dump you on your keister if you were running on wet concrete or tile.
My son recently bought Magellan Boots and they’re surviving Boy Scouts. If they survive Boy Scouts……they’re pretty tough.
I really like my 6″ SuperFabric ALTAI hiking boots (Korean comp.with an office in MN). They have an anti-debri/mud clogging Vibram outsole that works very well in keeping the tread clear and good non-skid results on flat surfaces. Comfortable out of the box and they don’t require break in period due to the unique waterproof Fabric they are made of. They also have 8″ hunting boots as well as tactical styles.I never thought I be wearing boots that were not leather but these intrigued me enough to take a chance on them and I’m glad I did.
Cotton-blend Socks are Verboten in a survival environment the problems are too numerous to mention.
They just do not work.
Learn about and practice proper foot care.. This includes changing your socks when ever they get wet or every few hours..Keep your feet dry.. Silk liners and Wool Socks are best if your at higher risk of burning.. however you can sub Poly or Goretex Liners and Wool Blend .. but you will need to work out what is best for you in advance based upon the threat.
Keep a cheap pair of VC sneakers.. (Pair of breathable Water-shoes work pretty good but they do lose their elasticity in time) Wear them around the camp .. when ever you get a chance to safely get your boots off and drying out as well as your feet;
3-4 pairs of pairs of socks.
One is none two is one applies to boots and sneakers here.
Break everything in completely Boots, Socks, Sneakers.. .. including spares. No surprises wanted.
Consider Corcoran Field Boots (not their Jump Boots), they have a vibram sole and are 10” tall. If you live in a colder climate like I do (Wisconsin) do not get steel toe boots, the steel will make your feet much colder and may lead to frostbite or frozen toes. A good Winter boot is the US “Mickey Mouse” boots, they come in black (for cold Wet weather) or white (for Cold Dry weather)…they use a vapor barrier so your feet and sock will become wet, however they will NOT get cold !
Georgia is one of the very few from which EEEE (4 E width) boots can be gotten. Danner furnishes to the military, but they lie to you and tell you they don’t make 4E boots. To fulfill a government contract like this, you know damned well they have to have ALL sizes, not just the most common ones, but ALL OF THEM. Georgia’s Logger boot with the kiltie is an outstanding boot, and gives foot and ankle support that is superlative. Now retired, I spent 20 some years in the construction industry, was a welder at the company that made the St. Louis Arch, and before I became disabled, was a truck driver. The construction was mostly Heavy and Highway, laboring of roadways and high rise buildings, from 20 stories to the top of the Hancock in Chicago. The welding was in a plant now owned by Chicago Bridge and Iron, where the floors are mostly 1″ thick steel plates, and the steel ranged upwards of 6″ awaiting welding. The trucking was local delivery and dump truck, then OTR straight truck delivery of flower cases (Borgen & or Ultracool brands) all over the country, and finished delivering semi-tractors and straight trucks from one place to another nationwide. You can find boots that are more expensive, and more likely than not worth it but do you want to spend over $300 per pair. My Georgia Logger’s have carried this old carcass over some very rough terrain, and never failed me. For $175 I don’t think you can go wrong with them.