Did you know that a pair of hiking socks save your life? It can! You won’t look at your gear closet in quite the same way again once you know how to use your socks during a survival situation in the backcountry, or even when your hiking on your favorite local trail.
Sure, hiking socks can protect your feet from blisters and help you avoid frostbite or hypothermia on a winter hike. But sock usefulness doesn’t begin and end with your feet, however.
A single pair of socks can be used in a variety of ways to help you survive emergency situations no matter what season it is. And the best thing is, unless you’re hiking in sandals, you’ll always have at least one pair with you on your outdoor adventure.
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Collect Moisture from Morning Dew or Mud
In a wilderness survival situation where you’re unable to find a substantial source of water, a sock can help you soak up enough water to survive.
Remove your boots and walk around wearing just your socks. Your socks can skim the morning dew from the vegetation allowing you to soak up precious dew drops for survival. Wring the dew into a bowl or container from time to time and repeat collecting the dew. While this method of water collection is certainly not a speedy approach, it could save your life if a safe supply of water is unavailable.
If you desperately need water and morning dew is not available, get the water from a mud puddle! A hiking sock can be used like a sponge to collect mud, or even clay, then wring it out over a container to get every drop of collected moisture.
Sock Filter Water for Survival
If you have a questionable water source, you can use a sock to remove sediment from water to make it more appealing. It won’t help you avoid bacteria or other microorganisms, but it can help. To filter into drinkable water, fill your sock with small pebbles, charcoal from the campfire, or grass to grab the bigger particles, and pour water through. It may taste terrible, but it’s safer than not drinking any water at all.
Warm Your Hands in Socks
If you’re stuck in extreme cold weather without gloves, you can warm your hands using that second pair of socks you were wearing on your feet or had stashed in your backpack. Wearing socks on your hands could prevent frostbite and restore dexterity so you can make it out alive.
Dress A Wound
A sock makes a great improvised bandage. As a field dressing, a sock may be just what you need if you have to apply pressure to a wound and stop it from bleeding. Fold the sock over several times to make it more absorbent.
If the wound is located on your arm or leg, cut the toe off the sock and slide it over the affected limb to help hold the field dressing in place. Hopefully you have a spare clean pair of socks for use as a bandage but in cases of severe bleeding, you use what you have.
Container for Foraging
A sock can be used like a mini bag. Use it to carry items in an emergency situation where you have no other bag. For example, use a sock to:
Stow fuel for a fire. If you must spend an unexpected night in the backcountry, staying warm is required for survival. Use a sock to collect tinder to get help get a fire started. Look for items that burn easily such as a bird nest, which makes excellent tinder, or dry leaves, bark, and grass, or even cat tails if you are in a swampy area. Pine needles also make great tinder for getting a fire started.
Collect wild edibles. In an emergency situation, finding food can be a lifesaver. Use a sock to collect edibles such as berries or other plant parts as you gather them. Make sure you collect as much as you can carry since you don’t know when, or if, you will find more.
Create the scary sounding deadman anchor by using your socks to help secure your shelter. This is especially useful when the terrain is sandy or when you’re in snowy conditions. It’s also good to use when trees or rocks are not readily available.
To make a deadman anchor, fill a sock with sand, dirt, or snow, tie your shelter guy lines to the sock, and then bury the sock. The method makes your shelter more secure in less than ideal conditions. In an emergency situation, you can use a deadman anchor to secure a tarp and create an instant shelter.
If you are able to build a fire, you can use your sock and warm rock to create an impromptu heat pack. Gather several rocks of similar size so you can switch them out as the rock you are using cools. Look for the largest rocks that will fit inside your sock, as they will have the largest thermal mass and longest warmth. River rock works well as they tend to be smooth and flat.
A heated stone works great in a sleeping bag to help retain warmth longer in extremely cold weather.
In wilderness survival situations, use a sock as a hunting weapon. Fill the sock with small rocks, tie it closed, then swing or throw it at small game.
Who knew there would be so many ways to use a sock for emergencies in the wilderness? Stay safe out there everyone, but if you find yourself in trouble when in the backcountry, look no further than your feet for a useful piece of survival gear. Happy Trails!
Have you ever been in a survival situation? Do you have more tips for using socks in situations like this? Let me know in a comment below!
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