Medical preparedness and foot health: Here’s why you need extra socks when SHTF
02/08/2022 // Virgilio Marin // Views

Stockpiling socks may seem foolish but it can actually confer several advantages for preppers. Clean socks provide protection to your feet and keep them from smelling after wearing shoes for a long period. Whether clean or dirty, they also have a wide range of other uses, from cleaning surfaces to making a fire. Here's why you need extra socks when SHTF: (h/t to

Foot care matters, too

While most preppers plan to hunker down when SHTF, the truth is that moving around is part and parcel of survival. Because a survival stockpile can only last for so long, eventually you will need to forage, bug out, barter, tend to your garden, etc. To do any of these things, you have to keep your feet healthy by wearing socks.

Think of socks as personal protective gear: Depending on the kind of socks you're wearing, they can wick away sweat and prevent germs from building up in your feet. Without socks or if you're wearing a dirty pair, your feet will start to smell and become susceptible to infections like athlete's foot.

Also known as tinea pedi or ringworm of the foot, athlete's foot is a fungal infection caused by the fungus Trichophyton. Trichophyton exists harmlessly on human skin; its reproduction is limited as long as your skin is dry and clean. But under damp and warm conditions, it can multiply rapidly.

Skin becomes dry, flaky and inflamed in people with athlete's foot. It can also crack, crust, swell and ooze with small itchy blisters. When athlete's foot is severe and causes open sores on your skin, your feet can also get infected by bacteria, which can lead to more complications including blood poisoning and bone infection.


It can be uncomfortable to walk around with athlete's foot. Besides the foul smell, cracks and blisters on your skin can make it painful to get on your feet. To prevent athlete's foot, it is important to use a clean pair of socks that can draw moisture away from your skin. (Related: Foot care: An often forgotten practice when SHTF.)

Stock up on the following socks before SHTF:

  • Silver socks – These help keep your feet clean and smell pleasant, thanks to the silver particles woven into the fabric. Silver helps eliminate bacteria and prevent infections.
  • Classic white cotton socks – These are widely available and inexpensive.
  • Diabetic socks – These are specially designed for diabetics to keep their foot dry, decrease the risk of foot injury and enhance blood circulation. 
  • Wool socks – These keep your feet warm during winter months. 

Survival uses of socks

Besides providing cushion to your feet, socks can also be used for many other things. Here are some:

  • Make a weapon. In a pinch, you can fill a sock with rocks and other heavy objects for a makeshift weapon.
  • Filter sediment. A clean regular cotton sock can be used as a pre-filter.
  • Start a fire. Don't throw away dirty or old cotton socks. Even if they have holes in them, these can be used to make a fire.
  • Clean surfaces. As long as they are clean, old socks can be instantly turned into cleaning rags.
  • Protect against dust. You can use a clean sock as a dust mask by putting it over your nose and mouth.
  • Hold pots. Clean socks make terrific potholders. Just don't try this with synthetic fiber socks.

Socks are not the first things to come to mind when you think of essential survival items. But they are also important because they keep your feet dry and clean. In addition, old and dirty socks have a lot of survival uses, such as making a fire and cleaning surfaces. Stockpile new socks and keep your old ones with you in preparation for when SHTF.

Sources include:

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