It is vital to keep your feet healthy at all times when outdoors. Survival, bushcraft, and outdoor activities require healthy feet. The U. S. Army gives important instruction to soldiers on the proper care of feet. The U. S. Army field manual, FM 21-18 Foot Marches, offers excellent advice on taking care of your feet. There are three basic principles to remember to keep your feet healthy at all times.

1. Properly Fitting Footwear

Your footwear must fit properly if you wish to keep your feet healthy. It goes without saying that poorly fitting footwear is a menace to healthy feet. Footwear that is too tight or too loose will deteriorate foot health very quickly. Outdoorsmen with the most significant experience are prone to blisters, corns, stress fractures, and hammer toes from wrong footwear in the field. Many extreme athletes become sidelined very quickly by significant foot injuries due to wrong shoes or boots. There are some simple tips to remember about getting the correct footwear for your feet.

Proper Size and Breaking In

Before purchasing footwear, get your feet measured by a professional while wearing your outdoor socks. It will ensure purchasing boots or shoes that are the proper size. Commercial footwear that is available for outdoors is heavily cushioned and lined with Gore-Tex membranes. Thus, outdoor boots or shoes feel snug when you first put them on. However, after wearing those expensive boots or shoes in the field, they lose their snug fit. Your foot will begin to slide inside causing blisters and sore toes. Break in any footwear before wearing it in the field. You might have to purchase footwear ½ size smaller or larger than your standard size to achieve properly fitting footwear after breaking them in.

The Right Footwear from Reputable Manufacturers

Additionally, purchase the right boot or shoe that is suited to your purposes. For example, a pair of running shoes may not be suitable for an extended trek into the wilderness to hunt game. If you are going on a survival adventure in the wilderness for an extended period of time, purchase footwear designed to be outdoors for long periods of time. Furthermore, it is crucial to buy footwear from reputable manufacturers. Many companies are selling military-type footwear that is both low quality and dangerous to wear in the field. Berry Compliant (USA made) military footwear is available directly from the manufacturers like Altama, Belleville, or Danner. Some other great companies to buy footwear are Salomon, Merrill, Lowa, and La Sportiva. Therefore, spend a little more money and get the right footwear. Your feet will thank you for it.

2. Dry Feet and Dry Socks

A second principle about foot health in the wilderness is to keep your feet clean and dry and to also keep your socks clean, dry and changed regularly. Feet will get wet inside footwear from perspiration. Waterproof boots will accentuate the sweating of feet if you are hiking through the outdoors for long periods of time. Remember that having wet feet is a fact of life in the wilderness. Thus, it is critical to dry your feet regularly along with changing your socks. It is recommended that you carry at least two extra pairs of socks in your backpack at all times. One pair you will wear. The second will stay dry in your pack. Your last ones should be cleaned and drying out. Wet socks can hang on the outside of your backpack while trekking if the weather is allowing it. Otherwise, they might have to dry next to your fire in your bivouac site.

Furthermore, the best socks to wear in the wilderness are merino wool or military wool blend boot socks. Socks made of wool give two critical benefits: quick drying and the promotion of foot respiration. Wool fibers will pull the moisture away from your feet. Moreover, it will help keep your feet warm even if your feet are wet inside your boots. These two qualities of wool allow your feet to breathe inside your footwear. This promotes the circulation of blood to your toes. Thus, keeping your feet and socks dry will help your feet stay healthy in the field.

3. Foot Hygiene

The final principle about caring for your feet in the wilderness is to conduct foot hygiene often. Dirty and unattended feet will fester problems that may hinder your movement in the wilderness or bugging out in an emergency. It is dangerous enough just trekking through the bush while tracking down that big buck. If you add a foot injury into the equation, then life becomes complicated very quickly. Furthermore, if there arises a foot ailment or infection caused by lack of foot cleanliness, then a disaster and medevac situation ensues. Therefore, it is needless to say that those clean feet are critical to a successful experience in the wilderness. You can keep your feet clean by remembering to take care of them when resting during a movement. Here is a simple checklist to help you keep your feet fresh while at rest during movement in the outdoors:

  1. Pull off your footwear and socks. 
  2. Elevate your feet for 10-20 minutes to help reduce swelling from trekking.
  3. Wiggle and spread your toes to let the air blow through them while they are elevated.
  4. Inspect your feet after you have rested them.
  5. Clean your feet with a wet wipe
  6. Apply antifungal foot powder on your feet (top, bottom, and between toes) before putting on your socks and footwear
  7. Put a clean, dry pair of socks on after powdering your feet.

These simple steps for conducting foot hygiene will go a long way to keep your feet healthy while outdoors or bugging out during an emergency.

Conclusion

Your feet are your best friend, or they can be your worst enemy in a critical moment of survival. You do not want your mortality to rise or fall on the condition of your feet. If you take care of your feet in the wilderness, you will enhance your chances of survival in a critical situation. Remember these three simple principles of foot care, and you will have a more enjoyable experience outdoors.

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Let me introduce myself, my name is Tom, I’m an EMT who just graduated from the 40 day course at Sigma 3 Survival School Survival Instructor Program. I’ve practiced emergency medicine in a variety of areas, and these tips I have listed have helped me greatly in my travels in Central America and Mexico. Prior to graduating the instructor program I lived in Central America for 6 years doing various security jobs and working in remote spots in the jungle.

Recently I took a trip down to Cananea Mexico to do some work with the Cruz Roja Mexicana or Red Cross of Mexico. While I was there in addition to my work, I wanted to pick up some Lidocaine for suturing and some antibiotics and bring that back to the states for personal use.

Now jumping across the border to get supplies isn’t something you want to do without prior preparation. Proper planning prevents piss poor performance! A couple of things that you definitely want to remember when traveling to any foreign country is to make absolutely sure that your paperwork is in order. If all your documents are squared away, it will make the wait time a little less difficult. Second to that is making sure that your story coincides with what your doing there. You don’t want to be heading to Mexico or leaving and tell them your just there visiting, you will have a mile long list of questions to answer. If you were just visiting then have a good answer prepared, an example would be, just coming back from Cancun were I was on vacation for x amount of days. Leave it very simple and basic. Most of the time all of your questions are going to be when you are coming back into the U.S. But don’t say you’re going on vacation to border guards and not have the proper items in your vehicle to substantiate your travel. If you say something, they are trained to look for items in your vehicle to back up your claims, so make sure your story is well thought out beforehand.

 

Now a couple of little tricks that really help out your situation is speaking the language, if your somewhat fluent you will be able to navigate the situation a whole lot smoother than someone who is not. Know who you are going with, if your headed into a hostile environment then you need to know who is watching your back.

CLEAN your car! Your car should be sanitized before you leave the house! What do I mean by that? Also you want to ask yourself what is in your car right now that may have some shady questionability? Not necessarily to you but to the other person, to the trained professional that is paid to look for something, anything he may be able to use against you. Documents in the glove box that pertain to an old ticket perhaps or that ATM stub. Now they have reasonable suspicion to see if you paid that ticket or if you have any FTA’s. All of this will delay the process of you having a speedy exit. That is your goal, a speedy exit without divulging a whole lot of info about yourself or where you were or what you were doing.


So guys here’s a small list of thing’s that you can do before you head out
1) Sanitize your vehicle, Clean out the trunk and glove box except for necessity items
2) Make sure your passport or travel card is up to date and everything is squared away
3) Check your bags to make sure there is nothing of a suspicion nature.
4) Always bring a small medical kit with you this is a real good kit that is just the essentials http://www.amazon.com/Adventue-Medical-Travel-Medic-Kit/dp/B001RN35GU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401997020&sr=8-1&keywords=adventure+medical+kits+travel
5) If traveling to a Spanish speaking country and you don’t speak the language then get an app for you phone that helps translate or a small translation dictionary.
6) Get maps of the area if possible, even in Mexico they have car rental places, they always hand out free maps of the area.
7) Make sure you have means to charge your phone if for some reason you cannot plug it in. The Goal Zero’s are great and have been tested in the field at Sigma 3 extensively.
8) If your there to procure medical supplies then you need to get a script, most Pharmacia’s will write you one for a small fee. Buy in bulk and keep your doctors “note” while coming back over the border.
9) Make sure you have some sort of personal protection on you and the proper training on how to use it. I would always recommend a quality neck knife that’s easily deployable. Coldsteel has some great one’s for a very reasonable price, if nothing else Kubotans are useful as well.
10) Have an Exit Plan put in place, have money put aside in your shoes or bra or somewhere out of site that if thing’s go wrong or your robbed you have something to fall back on. Keep some kind of escape and evasion kit on you for potential SERE situations. Hidden handcuff keys, etc.
Next time I will cover how to move about in hostile environments and what you need to do to not arouse suspicion. Thanks guys stay safe and stay ready! Semper Paratus “Always Prepared”

 

This was submitted by Josh, one of the many students that has learned just how effective paracord is for stopping blood. We always get at least one student per class that usually cut themselves, usually about 30 minutes after I tell them to not cut a certain way, LOL! Like I always say you got to cut yourself one time real good before you truly learn! Here is Josh’s Story!

 

Paracord Bandage…It works!

Author: Josh McKay (Sigma 3 Student)

 

Robert Allen has recently been put out some informative videos on the paracord bandage. In a nutshell, if you don’t have a first aid kit available and someone in your group slices themselves open pretty good with a knife or other sharp object, ordinary paracord can be used as an effective means of stopping bleeding and holding the wound together. Such was the case when I sliced my finger open at a Sigma 3 survival class several months back. I wanted to take the time to testify as to my personal experience with this method and how successful it was.

 

Robert once told me that everybody will slice themselves open really good at least once before they really learn how to handle their knife and to respect its edge. After he told me that, he followed it up with his own story of slicing himself. Yet as I stood there only an hour after hearing that story with blood rolling off my hand, it still didn’t quite mend the wound to my pride. I was de-limbing branches off of a stalk that I was about to break down to use for cordage. One limb in particular was somewhat growing the wrong way and giving me a hassle. Keep in mind that I am not a knife expert by any means, but I do know the basics of knife safety. So pretty much out of pure laziness, instead of turning the long stalk the other way so that I could get a better angle at the limb and still keep my knife moving away from my other hand and my body…I turned the knife blade towards myself and brought it down. Now to gain a better insight into what was going through my thick skull when I decided to do this…I will fill you in on my thought process. The knife was in my right hand. My other hand was gripping the stalk between where I was working on de-limbing and my body. When I flipped the blade around to bring it in towards my body, I scooted my left hand down the stalk a little more thinking that there was no way the knife would come down that far when it penetrated through the limb. Wrong. I proceeded with my plan and brought the knife down into the limb. It worked, the limb came off like butter. But with that came the knife through the limb (like butter), and bouncing off of my left birdie business finger straight to the bone.

 

Me- “ah, I think I cut myself.” (Finger begins gushing) Me- “Oh yeah…hey, uh…guys? Anybody bring a first aid kit along?” (Finger gushing even more) Guys- “Um…actually I left the first aid kit back at the camp since we weren’t going to be down here very long.” Me- “ohhhh….so….what now?”

 

At first, a student who happened to be an EMT tore up his undershirt and formed a bandage to help stop the bleeding. Robert also added some crushed yarrow as a primitive antiseptic. This bandage worked for a while, but as far as I can remember, I believe the problem was that the bleeding was just a little too much. We weren’t able to get enough pressure with the shirt and it was quickly filling up with blood. (the excessive bleeding was most likely due to the fact that I penetrated a vein in my finger) Luckily, being that I was in a survival school class…you usually have somebody hauling around paracord in their pocket. Such was the case with Luis (one of Sigma’s un-named in house instructors), a military veteran with multiple tours to most recently Afghanistan and God knows where else. Every time I see Luis, he has paracord in his hands tying some obscure knot that nobody knows about. Luis whips some paracord out of his pocket and says “give me your finger”. Now if you know Luis, he often says things like this when he has a remedy to your problem. I had a headache once and Louis said “come over here, I’ll take care of it”. I thought he was joking about bashing me upside the head to take care of the headache…but he was dead serious… he proceeded using pressure points on my skull and 5 minutes later I didn’t have a headache. The dude knows his stuff. So I bring my finger up and he starts wrapping it up with this paracord. Very tightly. Yes it hurt. But it worked, and that’s the important thing. Immediately the bleeding stopped, and as you can see from the videos Robert has posted, this method also holds the wound together. A couple applications of your typical super glue and several days later…my finger is good as new and the scar is minimal at best. (but still serves as a reminder of why you always take the time to consider safety when handling a knife for ANY purpose)

 

It would have been nice to have had a video camera to capture all this, but unfortunately we did not. This was a valuable teaching moment for the entire class. Unfortunately this teaching moment was at my expense, but I don’t regret it. I learned a hard lesson about knife safety,  (Hopefully the LAST lesson I have to learn about knife safety) and all of us learned a very valuable lesson on how to bandage a small wound of this nature with nothing but paracord. This method could also be used with primitive cordage in a pinch with no gear, although may not be as effective as the paracord. Here is a video on the exact bandage used in this blog. Check it out!

 

The Perfect Wilderness Salve

Last year I made an all natural product for medicinal uses that surpasses my expectations all the time and I just had to share it with everyone! If you don’t know what salve is then you are in for a real medicinal treat. Salve can be used for an amazing amount of external ailments. I have personally used it on boils, bites, blemishes (pimples), deep cuts, infections, and rashes! Its made of a medicinal concoction that relieves all types of symptoms. This salve is the single best thing I have ever used for treating poison ivy. Its really amazing at how well it works. The yarrow numbs the skins and eliminates the itch and the anti-inflammatory plants dry the wound up! Try it for yourself!

 

Salve is made as follows:

Items Needed: olive oil (or rendered fat for primitive applications), bees wax, medicinal herb concoction of your choice, boiling pot, mason jar, cook top or fire

Favorite Personal Herb Blend: When you combine all these plant medicinal properties together this recipe creates one of the most potent external creams that one could have. Better than anything I have tried store bought.

Yarrow- coagulant, pain reliever, astringent, disinfectant, anti-bacterial (extremely powerful herb)

Willow- anti-inflammatory, contains same properties as active ingredient in aspirin, chewing bark relieves headaches

Plantain- great for all kinds of external wounds, anti-bacterial, and many wonderful properties that have been used as a medicinal for thousands of years

Garlic- known for its abilities to kill hundreds of different micro-organisms, anti-viral, bug repellent, etc.

 

Fill a pan with small amount of water about an inch or two deep. Bring it to a slow rolling boil on low heat. Next fill your mason jar with your custom herb concoction and then cover the herbs with olive oil. The more herbs the more potent its medicinal properties. Set the jar in the water and let them simmer for 20-30 minutes. Make sure to not let mixture get to hot or it will hurt the medicinal potency of the herbs. After the mixture has had plenty of time to simmer then remove the mason jar and pour the contents through a piece of cheese cloth to filter all the particles out. Keep filtering until cleared of leftover herb particles. When you have properly strained everything, then set the mason jar with the olive oil back in the water on low heat. Then begin adding your bees wax. Amounts vary depending on how much you plan to make, but just add enough to give the mixture the consistency of Neosporin after it has cooled. Set it out in a cool dry spot to setup and come back a few hours later and it is ready to go. This salve will last for years and is guaranteed to produce awesome results. Try this recipe out sometime and make comments about your results in the forum.

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