The tear in my hip waders looked small and insignificant. I told my father that I would use them anyway. It was opening day of trout season for God’s sake. It was something we never missed.
Opening day is usually the first week in April. The water is still very cold and temperatures in Pennsylvania are usually around 50, at best. We bundle up and we use hip waders to wade the small streams of southeastern, PA in hopes of netting some trout for a delicious lunch.
When I plunged my right leg into the water that tiny pinhole gave way to the icy water and it stung me like needles. Through most of the morning, we had success. I shivered through casts and stringing up of trout.
By midday, my whole right leg was soaked and the water was actually beginning to warm from the heat of my body. Of course, my foot was soaked.
We discount the importance of our water and rain gear. Lucky for me, I got to retire to a warm house and fill my stomach with fried trout and Mom’s potato salad.
If I was left to the 35-degree night that was coming, life would be much different. Without a fire, hypothermia may have claimed me.
Roughing It: A Prepper Myth
When I was growing up my mother often talked about Aunts that had a 6th sense. It was all very mystical and one Aunt even had a crystal ball. I never got to see it but the stories always stuck with me.
My family has some old Dutch roots so things like witchery were always bandied about.
It reminds me of when I hear preppers talk about “roughing it” in a survival situation.
The idea that there is some magical 6th gear that we can shift into when the chips are down is not only silly but dangerous. There is nothing deep down inside that will increase your skills, endurance or any other trait in a disaster.
When I was roughing it with a frozen leg in the cold waters of the Chester Creek, I didn’t feel emboldened or more prepared to handle the situation. I just got tired from my body trying to maintain core temperature all day.
It reinforced the fact that I was only as good as my training and my gear. There was no Super Saiyan upgrade that would come in my times of desperation.
Essentials of Foot Care
Our feet need relief from moisture over time. They cannot be soaked for days on end without repercussions. The funny thing is, dry friction can also create problems for us. Hot spots appear and those hiking boots become torture devices.
I like to draw the happy medium of having good wool socks. I have some from sheep and alpaca. I think I prefer the alpaca.
I also pack lightweight hip waders for wet environments. It’s worth it for me to pack boots in my bag and use waders. At the end of a long day, dry socks and warm feet mean good rest.
To mitigate issues from dry or wet feet I also carry a tube of beeswax that is mixed with mint and lavender essential oils. I rub this on hot spots or peeling skin.
There are also great foot care products you can buy like Bag Balm to care for your feet.
A good pair of water shoes depends on two things. The first is their ability to provide you with good support. A quality water shoe should support your arch and feet on multiple surfaces.
The second quality of a good water shoe is its ability to drain water from the shoe.
The selections we have made are water shoes that meet the above criteria. Aside from the SIMARI brand, which is such a good deal I couldn’t leave them out, all the water shoes are from top brands.
Built like a hiking shoe the Merrel Men’s All Out Blaze Sieve water shoe is designed for comfort and grip.
This lightweight water shoe uses two methods that make it a highly functional and efficient water shoe. The first is its ability to literally sieve water through tiny holes that cover most of the shoe.
The second is the use of its form-fitting technology and bellows style tongue that keeps debris away from the inside of the shoe. Nothing is worse than pebbles trapped under a toe.
The All Out Blaze is also designed to be incredibly lightweight which is an admirable feature in a hiking style water shoe. The lightweight foam footbed makes this water shoe light as air.
These minimalist water shoes are incredibly affordable and have a decent rubberized sole. The lightweight polyester SIMARI is going to dump water in a hurry and keep you going.
I wouldn’t hike a mountain with the SIMARI on because they don’t have a lot by way of support or protection for those conditions, however, they are a great water shoe. They remind me of something you might see at a beach.
After use, it is recommended that you rinse these shoes and place them in a well-ventilated area.
Salomon has long been a name associated with hiking shoes. They also make great ever day shoes for mobility and function.
It should come as no surprise that they offer a lightweight, athletic shoe from their Techamphibian series that has some great features.
The fine mesh design lets water out but also keeps debris out. A reinforced toe cap protects the feet during dry land hiking and the collapsible heal to really dry them out and remove any debris after a long day of hiking.
While the Kilchis are not the over the top hiking shoe design like the Salomons. This is a great little shoe for easy hikes and walking or water sports that don’t require climbing steep rocks.
When I see the Kilchis, I see the best pair of creek walking shoes on the market. A summer fisherman’s dreams could be made a reality with these shoes.
Under Armour does some great work with all of the shoes they create. They also have a great reputation for putting together these specialty shoes.
Whether you are slipping them on to take the road on a bugout or just wearing them for a daily muck out, a good pair of boots is essential. Preppers and homesteaders need a pair of truly water-resistant boots.
There are times when the water or sludge we have to work in is better off not touching our feet. Floodwaters are often a cocktail of chemical runoff, backed up sewage and whatever else was laying around.
These are your classic pull-on PVC boot. Servus has created a great product that not only protects the foot from water but also protects your toes with a powerful steel toe.
The practicality of these pull-on boots is something I love. You can throw them into the trunk and forget about them. They can fold down and even fit into a bag.
Servus’s boots are not hiking boots but they are great slip ons for dealing with tasks that could get your feet wet.
Columbia does cold pretty good. Not until the writing of this article did I know they did wet so good. Now, I am partial to the Bugaboot because it sounds like a bugout boot.
This is an insulated cold-weather boot and not something you want to put on during an August hike. However, you could be moving through slush and ice or even water in the cold weather and your feet will stay dry in these Bugaboots!
The Techlite lightweight midsole also makes these some of the more comfortable waterproof, cold weather, boots on the market.
You know the name. You should get to know the boots. While these boots are not designed to sieve water like the water shoes we reviewed above, these are heavy-duty waterproof boots.
For those living a self-sufficient lifestyle, it’s all about the mission. When you know you have a hard day’s work ahead of you, either on the homestead or at the job, the all-weather Hydroguard and EVA midsole is going to keep you dry and comfortable.
The leather nylon construction of the Breach makes it a highly durable boot. These are a little pricey so you’d want to have them stand up to some hard work.
Crossing creeks, staying dry in the cold and even just wade fishing for a meal are all reasons you should consider a reliable pair of waders. Waders can protect up to your hip or even up to your chest.
These are a favorite of fly fishermen but are a great piece of gear to have for yourself and those in your family. When you are dealing with high water, cold water or contaminated water, good waders are the best way to assure that you stay dry.
I have spent so many cold mornings in hip waders. They are a strange tool that is truly irreplaceable in the right conditions. Frog Toggs makes a great pair of hip waders that are simple and affordable.
Lightweight to the point where you might even worry about it! These Frog Toggs are very capable and as long as you don’t go trouncing through brambles all day they will hold up for you.
The PVC upper and 100% taped seams keep the water out. These are not an insulated boot so a good pair of socks wouldn’t be a bad idea if you are using them in cold weather conditions.
These were the dandies we spent our time in. These were basic, thick, heavy, run of the mill hip waders. We would usually get them on sale at a sports retailer for $20 and they would last us through a few seasons.
Thicker rubber than the more popular PVC based models of today, these boots can follow you through the woods a bit and not wind up punctured. These boots have hip straps for securing them to your pants but honestly, they stay up on their own if you are just walking with them on.
We would throw these in the trunk and leave them there through all four seasons. These waders are tough. If you can find them with the felt outsole they become nearly 100% slip-resistant on things like mossy rocks.
Chest waders are a commitment. We always despised them for fishing because after a morning of walking and coffee drinking we would have to pee and that meant the chest waders became one more article that had to be removed. Clips and buckles and straps can be a bit of a pain in that moment.
Of course, chest waders mean that you can go into deeper water and not have to worry about getting wet or cold. Now, in fast-moving floodwaters, this could be a death sentence so don’t go running into chest-deep waters during a flood just because you can.
You will be swept off your feet. Worst of all your waders will fill up with water and you will most likely drown.
These waders are designed for comfort with adjustable nylon straps, double layer knee pads and a chest pocket that can be used as a hand warmer. The Foxelli are stitched, glued and sealed tight at the seams. They are 4mm insulative neoprene that is also very durable.
Water is a very interesting part of disaster preparedness. On one hand, you can suffer and die if you go without it. If it’s not clean it can kill you, too! In a flood that same water can drown you or it can cause a number of issues like bacterial grown and infection on your feet.
Water shoes are a great tool to have around for water operations and, it can’t all be doom, some leisure time. Fishing is as much a survival skill as it is a good time!
In the cold weather, staying dry is going to be a priority, this will take some good waterproof boots or some water shoes that can be slipped on and off to dry your feet quickly.
Waders are another great tool for the prepper and homesteaders. Whether the task is wet or dirty, waders will provide separation between you and the outside world.
Ponchos find there way into most survival bags. It might be time to add a good pair of water shoes or waterproof boots to your loadout.