In a high percentage of survival situations; you might argue all of them, clothing is a major component. For your Bug Out Bag we generally see recommendations of a change of clothing, or clothing to protect you from the elements, should you be stranded. Clothing is a part of a larger area of concern and that is shelter because clothing can help protect you from the elements. It is not the same as having a building to go into, but the proper clothing can save your life. We talked about this in our article on controlling your core body temperature and I think most people understand that you need to have the right clothes for whatever you are doing.
For example, in the winter you may have shelter in the form of an abandoned building, but no heat. Perhaps you are under a tarp camping in the woods. The right clothes can keep you warm enough so you survive. If you are hiking, you would wear hiking shorts or pants, hiking boots or shoes and a comfortable shirt, possibly a hat to protect your face. All of this makes sense because we can see ourselves in situations where that fleece can keep us warm, or those hiking pants could dry quickly or that hat could protect us from the sun or rain.
Logic tells us what to pack in survival situations if we are getting a load of gear ready, but that same consideration isn’t given to everyday situations. We routinely leave our houses without any of the same thought about what we are wearing and how that may help or harm us in an emergency. The concepts of EDC are lost below the waist and it’s as though we forget that disasters don’t really call you up and let you know when they are coming. Why do we only think of survival if we are packing for it?
A pet peeve of mine is people who wear flip-flops during a normal day. I don’t mean at the beach or pool. I am talking about people, and you may be one of them, who wear these every single place they go. These days, there is no occasion sacred enough to shame people into not wearing this stupid footwear. It used to be for the overwhelming majority of Americans, that flip-flops were a great beach shoe or something you wore in the shower in the military so you didn’t get athletes foot. Now, flip-flops are everywhere. People wear them to weddings, work, semi-formal dances, airports, churches, funerals, concerts, the mall, at the gym, to their gynecologist, and on and on. Honestly, I think this is the dumbest form of protection for your feet that you can choose regardless of how cute they are ladies.
This probably lumps me into the “In my day…” territory of grumpy old curmudgeon’s throughout the eons and that’s fine. I have felt this way ever since the “Business Casual” trend brought about changes like this, but in the years since flip-flop use has become even more common. I’ll admit I am biased in my derision of this fashion trend because women do catch somewhat of a break. Men, in my opinion should never wear flip-flops unless you are near a visible body of water or you are a lifeguard. This includes boys too.
Now, I fully appreciate that sandals have been worn for thousands of years. Even the mighty Spartans and Gladiators fought in sandals and did just fine, right? The Viet-Cong wore flip-flops and did a pretty bang up job of dealing the United States a major thumping. However, I don’t think I would get too much push back on the statement that sandals aren’t the most ideal shoe if you are going to be in a fight or running. Do guerrillas in sub Saharan Africa wear flip-flops? Maybe, but still does that make them the best footwear?
I have to believe that if you are prepping for some type of emergency situation for your family, not having footwear that will be up to the task could be a big Achilles heel in your preparations. (pardon the pun) This got me to thinking about what the best footwear would be in a survival situation. To further clarify what I mean. What do you want to be wearing if you are faced with a survival situation? It isn’t enough in my opinion to have your spare pair of boots loaded into the trunk of your car. What if something happens while you are in the mall in your flip-flops?
In my day-to-day duties, I can easily wear my pick of lots of acceptable shoes. I can wear boots, dress shoes, sneakers, loafers, anything. With the outfit and occasion I wear something that is appropriate but it covers the following conditions.
Can you run in it?
My daughter and I like to talk about Zombies. They are simply the motivation in her mind for some of the things we do and I don’t think there is anything wrong using this as a device to get her to visualize things. One of the things we talk about is will her shoes be good for running from zombies. This started off as a joke I would use, but I think it has her thinking on a practical level now and she will routinely tell me about choices she made that will “be good for running away from the zombies”. She knows that zombies aren’t real, but she can appreciate the fact that if you have to run, you want something that can actually stay on your feet. Nothing like losing a shoe in the middle of fleeing from a herd of zombies and having to say time out, need to put my shoe back on.
This applies to a myriad of other scenarios too. What if you are in a mall and some lunatic goes on a rampage. Would you rather be running out of that store in a good pair of sneakers, or slipping around on the floor in your flip-flops? Making these choices when you leave the house can affect how you are able to respond in an emergency.
Does it protect your feet?
When I am flying I think about all of the people wearing flip-flops and sandals and think about what if we have to crash-land? Granted, having an airplane crash is pretty slim odds and they are even slimmer if you consider crashing and walking away from it, but anything is possible. Let’s say you crashed in the mountains and the pilot was able to bring it in so that most everyone survived. Would you want to be navigating panicked people, through the wreckage, possibly fire in flip-flops? Maybe the scenario is a hurricane and there is a lot of glass broken, sharp edges of sheet metal and exposed wires. Would you want to be in some cute little shoes to navigate that destruction?
Will it stand up to abuse?
Finally, will that shoe take a beating? I can appreciate a good-looking shoe on a woman, but they aren’t practical at all. What if the grid went down while you were on a business trip and for some reason you had to walk back home over a great distance. Would your shoes that you are wearing hold up? A lot of shoes today look nice, but the quality of construction is so cheap. They aren’t meant to be abused or last a long time. If you only had one pair of shoes to last you for years, would you want it to be the ones on your feet right now? Those nice canvas slip on shoes wouldn’t last against a sharp stick much less sharp metal. The high heels that you love to wear look great, but could you walk 500 miles in them?
So, what am I trying to say? Am I advocating the abolishing of all flip-flops and high-heel pumps? Absolutely not. I am not saying that everyone needs to be walking around in steel toed combat boots all of the time, but if you are routinely in shoes that you don’t think would be good in a survival situation, it may be worthwhile to consider different options for when you get dressed. At work, I would make sure I have comfortable shoes appropriate for the dress code that can get me back home safely and without injury. They might not be the toughest shoe, but they do offer protection from sharp objects like debris and are comfortable enough to walk a long distance.
When I travel, along with any dress shoes I pack hiking shoes or boots in the winter. These will be what I wear if I really have to hike back home. Regardless of the distance or disaster, I want something that will protect my feet and enable me to worry about other things. If I am on a plane, I don’t take my shoes off and get comfortable because something may happen that causes my shoes to get kicked away and then what would I do if I needed to evacuate quickly? Just think about the situation you may be in before you plan your wardrobe. You may be thankful you chose a different shoe one day.