cold weather survival gear

Cold Weather Survival Gear & Tips For Battling The Snow

cold weather survival gear

Winter can be a beautiful and highly enjoyable season with lots of holiday celebrations and exciting sports; however, if you live in an area where snow is inevitable, winter presents some unique threats to your survival you need to be prepared for with appropriate cold weather survival gear.

The temperature drop itself can be a huge threat. In the cold, your body will need to work harder and require more calories and warmth to sustain itself. Additionally, basic survival activities such as harvesting water, gathering food, and lighting a fire become increasingly challenging when faced with snow-covered ground.

cold weather survival gear
Be prepared for winter survival scenarios that can leave you out in the cold.

However, the best reason to prepare yourself and your family with cold weather survival gear is that you need not only be prepared for bugging out, but also for the chance that a major blizzard could leave you stranded in your home without power, or worse, out in the elements. In this article, we will address the challenges and threats you could possibly face this winter and provide some key tips and recommendations on cold weather survival gear to help you be prepared.

Maintaining Core Body Temperature

For your body to function properly, it must maintain a temperature of 98.6℉. If your body deviates from this temperature, there are built-in mechanisms that kick in to help restore the core temperature and warm you up.

cold weather survival gear

Typical outward signs that your body is working harder to keep you warm include shivering, teeth chattering, and goosebumps. If your body goes through prolonged periods of exposure to cold temperatures, your heartbeat will decrease and blood pressure will slow, reducing the delivery of oxygen to your organs.

This will effectively cut off your extremities from heat sources as body warmth is focused on vital organs (at this point, your hands and feet will turn purple, becoming tingly and then numb; for more information, please click on this link). These changes can severely affect your ability to think and move, becoming life-threatening in the worst-case scenario.

cold weather survival gear
Hypothermia isn’t only a concern outdoors. Without electricity, your home can become dangerously cold.

The best way to protect yourself against the cold is to dress in layers. Three layers are best, beginning with a thermal layer, then an insulating layer, and finishing with a shell or outer layer.

What to Look For in Thermal Layers

cold weather survival gear

For the most effective thermal layer that will keep you warm and dry, look for the following fabrics:

  • Synthetic polyester blends. These fabrics will wick moisture away from the skin and are lightweight; they include rayon, nylon, polypropylene, and spandex. An added benefit is that they move well with you due to their stretchy nature and can fit tightly under other layers without restricting movement.
  • Merino wool. This fine-fibered wool will not cause itching as traditional wool does and evaporates moisture within the fabric to help keep you dry. It is naturally antibacterial, unlike synthetics, which makes a big difference when you will need to wear your thermal layers for an extended period of time.
  • Silk. Silk fabric can be treated to enhance wicking and is very soft, however it typically requires washing after each wear, making it an unfavorable choice for survival conditions.
  • Cotton. While cotton is a soft and comfortable fabric, it also retains moisture, which is not only uncomfortable but also works against keeping you warm as evaporating perspiration will actually cool your skin.

In terms of fit, look for a close-fitting thermal layer, as this lends itself well to adding on additional layers. Ensure that the arms and legs are long enough that they completely cover your wrists and ankles, and that the waist and shirt overlap in order to protect your back when squatting or bending.

Thermal Layers For Men And WomenKey Features
Carhartt Men's Base Force Performance Super Cold Weather Crew Neck Top
• Heavy knit Polyester-Spandex fights extreme cold
• Wicks moisture away from the skin and resists odors
• Crewneck and droptail back lock in body heat
Carhartt Men's Base Force Performance Super Cold Weather Bottom
• Heavy knit Polyester-Spandex fights extreme cold
• Wicks moisture away from the skin and resists odors
• Long, fitted rib-knit cuffs prevent riding up at the ankle
Rothco ECWCS Poly Crew Neck Top
• 100% Polyester with ultra-soft fleece lining
• Tiny air pockets trap heat close to the skin
• Same Extended Cold Weather Clothing System used by U.S. Armed Forces
Rothco Gen III Level II Underwear Bottoms
• Highly breathable Polyester-Spandex grid-fleece with moisture-wicking technology
• Microban fabric ideal for long-term use
• Level II of the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System used by U.S. Armed Forces
The First Outdoor Women's Thermal Underwear Set
• Polyester-Spandex fabric with suede lining for added comfort
• Fabric resists pilling in high friction areas
• Athletic seams on shirt and pants for ease of movement
Duofold Women's Heavy Weight Double Layer Thermal Shirt
• Double layer Polyester-Spandex blend designed for extreme cold
• 4-way stretch and princess seams provide a contoured fit that moves with you
• Anti-microbial fabric ideal for long wear
Duofold Women's Heavy Weight Double Layer Thermal Leggings
• Double layer Polyester-Spandex blend designed for extreme cold
• Flatlock seams prevent skin irritation
• Drawstring for an adjustable fit
Sportown®Women's Odor-resistant Merino Wool Base Layer Shirt
• 100% Merino wool is extra soft against the skin
• Moisture wicking technology keeps you dry
• Lightweight and designed for active use
Click on the images to view current pricing on Amazon.

What to Look For in Insulating Layers

Once you’ve established a solid thermal layer, your next layer should be made of insulating material such as wool, fleece, or down. Wool, and some types of fleece, will still insulate when wet, however down is best in dry conditions as it loses its insulative qualities when wet. In extreme conditions, there is always the option of adding additional insulating layers.

Insulative Layers For Men And WomenKey Features
Columbia Women's Fast Trek II Full-Zip Fleece Jacket
• 100% Polyester with four-way comfort stretch for mobility
• Full zip doubles as a jacket in warmer weather
• Zippered pockets on front and sleeve for keeping gear close at hand
The North Face Womens Glacier 1/4 Zip
• Polartec Micro fleece dries quickly to keep you warm
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation during rigorous activity
• Lightweight and great for layering
Minus33 Merino Wool Women's Sequoia Midweight 1/4 Zip
• 100% Merino wool with interlock knit construction to trap heat
• Flatlock seams make for a low profile when layering
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain Front-Zip Fleece Jacket
• 100% Polyester filament fleece is soft yet rugged
• Standing collar provides extra neck protection
• Zippered pockets ideal for hand warmers
The North Face Mens TKA 100 Glacier 1/4 Zip
• Ultra-soft TKA 100 fleece insulates against the cold
• Reverse-coil 1/4 zipper reduces bulk around the collar
• Thin and comfortable for layering
Minus33 Merino Wool Men's Isolation Midweight 1/4 Zip
• 100% Merino wool with interlock knit construction to trap heat
• Flatlock seams make for a low profile when layering
• 1/4 zip allows for ventilation
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

What to Look For in a Shell or Outer Layer

The ideal outer layer for cold weather survival is breathable, allows for movement, and protects against the elements such as wind, rain and snow. Breathability is key in order to allow perspiration to evaporate, otherwise, it will condense on the inside of your shell and cause you to feel colder. Good options for lining that allow for air circulation while keeping you warm include Gortex and eVent.

For outer fabric, look for something treated with weather proofing, such as teflon, as this will keep out wind, rain and snow to keep you dry and retain body heat. Also opt for a hood in your cold weather survival gear to provide protection for your neck and head – some hoods even have a built-in brim to keep rain and snow off your face, helping to prevent frostbite.

cold weather survival gear
Protect as much skin as possible from exposure to the cold air.

While heavy, bulky winter coats are a great source of warmth, they do little to allow for sufficient movement to perform survival tasks. Look for an ‘athletic fit,’ which will typically be trimmer and stitched to accommodate arm movement.

Finally, don’t neglect your legs, they need protection too! When looking for a cold weather survival snow pant, the same favorable qualities you would look for in an outer shell apply: breathability, mobility, and wind/water proof. Additionally, look for plenty of pockets so you’re able to keep cold weather survival gear close at hand.

Outer Shell Layers For Men And WomenKey Features
Arc'teryx Men's Theta AR Jacket

Arc'teryx Women's Theta AR Jacket
• 100% Polyester is rugged and durable
• Reinforced to add support to high wear areas
• Gore-Tex shell is light and breathable with side vents to cool off during exertion
• High collar keeps heat in and protects the neck
• Hood is roomy enough for a helmet but cinches for normal wear, with brim to shed rain
• Athletic fit eliminates bulk and longer length provides extra coverage from wind and snow
Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator Hooded Jacket Men's

Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator Hooded Jacket Women's
• 20D Ripstop Nylon shell is water repellant and designed to handle tough outdoor use
• Filled with Q.Shield Down treated to maintain insulating performance even when wet
• Compresses easily for packing due to stitch-through quilting
• Dual draw cords at the hem lock out cold air and adjust easily on the move
• Side zip pockets for warming hands or stashing gear
The North Face Apex Elevation Jacket Men's

The North Face Apex Elevation Jacket Women's
• Durable ripstop Polyester treated to be water resistant and block out wind
• Tight weave is abrasion resistant on the exterior and brushed on the interior for comfort
• Insulated body, hood, and sleeves provide superior warmth in harsh conditions
• Four zippered pockets with interior headphone slit perfect for listening to an emergency weather radio
Arctix Men's Mountain Snowboard Shell Cargo Pants

Arctix Women's Mountain Snowboard Shell Cargo Pants
• Waterproof, breathable nylon construction with reinforced seams and abrasion resistance
• Zippered hip pockets and velcro cargo pockets for holding tools
• Articulated knee for improved mobility especially when squatting by the fire
• Boot gaiters have grippers to keep them tucked into boots
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

Using Hand Warmers For Maximum Effectiveness

For those who participate in winter sports, hand and foot warmers are most likely a very familiar item. In everyday use, they make activities such as skiing or sitting in a football stadium much easier on your body, and in survival use, they prevent frostbite and lack of circulation to extremities. In terms of value, they are relatively inexpensive and can provide hours of heat without adding unnecessary bulk or weight.

Hand warmers work by using the exothermic reaction of oxidizing iron and forming rust. When sealed, the lack of air (oxygen) prevents the process from starting. After opening the package, shake it vigorously to allow air to enter the breathable cloth and mix with the iron, this activates the reaction and starts the production of heat. Once activated, place your warmers in an enclosed space, such as gloves, boots or pockets, trapping the heat and allowing it to build up continuously.

cold weather survival gear
Your hands are one of your most important survival tools! Keep them warm and protected.
Hand And Foot Warmers
HotHands Hand Warmers 15 Pair Value Pack
Heat Factory Premium Hand Warmer, 40 Pairs
Zippo Refillable Handwarmer
HotHands Adhesive Toe Warmer 6 pair Value Pack
Grabber Foot Warmer
Little Hotties Adhesive Toe Warmers, 30 Pairs
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

The Benefits of Wearing Snowshoes

cold weather survival gear

If you’ve ever had to trek through deep snow, you know how laborious it can be, but an additional concern in a survival situation is that it increases the risk of frostbite to your feet. With snowshoes, not only can you keep your boots above the snow, but also you conserve energy as it takes less effort to walk.

This can become of the highest importance in a situation where you find yourself stranded and need to walk to a nearby town or make your daily commute on foot due to a snowstorm.

cold weather survival gear
Stash a pair of snow shoes in your car in case you get stuck and need to continue on foot.
Snowshoes For Men, Women, And YouthKey Features
Chinook Trekker Snowshoes
• Aluminum frame is curved for ergonomic comfort
• Dual ratchet bindings adjust for a perfect fit and quick-release heel strap makes removal easy even with cold hands
• Heavy-duty crampons provide grip on slopes or icy areas
• Includes carry bag with mesh panels for ventilation
Alps Performance Light Weight Snowshoes
• Frame is designed for maximum floatation in heavy snow
• Aluminum tubing with TPU-85 plastic engineered for heavy use in cold temperatures
• Heel and toe crampons prevent slipping
• Bindings are situated to eliminate pressure points
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe
• Toothed frame with lateral crampons sustains 360 degree traction
• Ergo Televator heel lifts reduce calf fatigue when ascending and can be activated using a pole grip
• Modular tails (sold separately) can be added for deeper snow conditions
• PosiLock bindings contour to any boot for a secure fit every time
Click on the image to view current pricing on Amazon.

Cold Weather Survival Gear & Tools

There are two major obstacles you will come across in winter that will impede your survival activities: clearing snow and starting a fire.

Clearing Snow

cold weather survival gear

You can never truly understand the importance of having snow removal gear on-hand until you’ve been through a situation where you needed it and it wasn’t there. On a personal note, this author will never forget the time I landed at the airport at night only to discover an unexpected blizzard had completely covered my car in over a foot of snow.

It was early in the season for snow, so having not expected it, I was left without any scraper or brush and had to use my bare arms and hands to clear the snow from my car. Now, I travel with snow removal tools year-round!

For stocking your bug-out bag, a folding shovel works great. Not only is this a compact tool, it also has multiple uses including clearing a spot for a fire, digging a shelter, and collecting snow to melt for drinking, among many other essential tasks.

Starting a Fire in the Snow

cold weather survival gear

When it comes to fire starting implements, if you have one, you have none. Carrying multiple means of starting a fire and packing them separately is a measure of precaution that most preppers live by.

In terms of firestarting tools, lighter fluid is not ideal in extremely low temperatures and tools such as Ferro rods or flint will be much more reliable.

cold weather survival gear
In heavily packed snow, you can create a bed of bark for the fire to rest on.

For collecting firewood, start as early as possible, avoiding waiting until dusk if possible, as you will need a fair amount to keep the fire burning all night. Pine trees are good to scout for as they naturally shelter their undergrowth and there are typically plenty of dry dead branches beneath dense evergreen that can be collected for firewood with little effort.

cold weather survival gear
The denser the foliage, the more protected the base will be so look for evergreens that have thick lower branches.

However, obtaining larger dry logs can prove a bit more challenging, so it’s always prudent to carry a hatchet or tomahawk with you as these tools prove immensely helpful in cutting through thicker wood.

Even if the outside is damp, a fallen tree can provide enough fuel for one night if you can split the logs and cut away the damp portion to use the dry, inner part for firewood.

Once the fire is burning large and hot, you can add the occasional green log, which doesn’t produce as much heat as dead wood, but does burn much longer.

cold weather survival gear
Collect a pile of wood about six feet long by 3 feet high to ensure you have enough to last the night.

An excellent option for quickly and easily starting fires in windy, cold conditions is the Everstyke Survival Lighter. Click here to read more about this essential cold weather survival tool and how you can get your very own!

cold weather survival gear
The Everstryke Pro combines both a fuel-based system and flint and steel striker, so you can spark a fire under any conditions.

Harvest Water Safely in Cold Conditions

Yes, snow and ice are made of water, but there are still some unique obstacles to navigate through in obtaining life-saving, clean drinking water.

Harvesting Directly From Snow

Clean snow, such as fresh snow scooped directly off branches or brushes, is considered reasonably safe to consume. The part you’ll want to watch out for is that consuming snow (which is frozen) will result in lowering your core body temperature, making your hard work to preserve your body heat all for naught. If possible, boil the snow before drinking it and bring the water down to a consumable temperature by placing your drinking container in the snow.

Harvesting From Lakes, Rivers and Streams

The challenge with harvesting from an iced-over body of water is the danger that you may fall in and have hypothermia set in. Hypothermia is life-threatening and can be triggered by something as simple as submerging your feet in cold water, which can cause a significant drop in body temperature and increase your risk for frostbite.

When conducting survival activities around frozen or partially-frozen bodies of water, it’s always best to put safety first. One way to avoid coming too close to the edge is to carry cordage with you: throw a rock or log to make a hole in the ice within reach from shore, then tie your water bottle to a length of paracord (make sure it is secure so you don’t lose your water bottle!), then safely submerge the water bottle from solid ground and reel it in when it is full.

Before drinking, be sure to filter, boil, or treat your water as Giardia bacteria can survive in very cold temperatures, even ice!

cold weather survival gear
Keep a safe distance from icy rivers and always purify water – even ice contains harmful bacteria.

To be able to drink your harvested water safely without having to worry about bacteria or contamination, consider packing Lifestraws in your bug-out bag. These ingenious tools make it easy to turn harvested water into safe drinking water. Click here to learn more about Lifestraws and find out how to get your very own!

cold weather survival gear


Survival is challenging, but the additional threats posed by cold weather make survival activities extra challenging in winter, including maintaining your core body temperature, starting a fire, and harvesting water. However, with the proper knowledge and the right cold weather survival gear, you’ll be prepared to survive anything nature throws at you!

More Great Cold Weather Survival Gear

Your Thoughts

What is your most essential winter survival tool? What other winter survival gear do you pack? Tell us in the Comments section below, thanks!

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Gear Up: Top Rated Survival Boots For Men And Women

survival boots

In our last post, Alex Park from covered the key steps to choosing the best outdoor boot, discussed how to break them so you do not cause damage to your feet, and provided great care tips for making them last. We followed his advice and searched for survival boots that stood up to vigorous wear and tear in a variety of environments. In this article, we discuss which boot features are most essential to survival, define boot anatomy terms, and list our top picks for men’s and women’s survival boots.

Getting Started

When it comes to boots, there are loads of options. For survival, the weather resistance and durability will play a significant role. Also, you need to consider the long-term comfort, as you will be spending long days on your feet.

The upper can be made of leather or nylon blends. A combination of leather and synthetic mesh offers good structural support and is lighter than an all-leather upper. For keeping out rain and snow, make sure the boot is rated waterproof and has a gusseted tongue to prevent seepage through the lace holes.

Many boots offer some type of breathable liner that draws moisture away from your feet. This, in conjunction with a secure fit, will help prevent chaffing and blisters from forming.

The best fit will need to be supported by a strong lacing system. Check the way the eyelets, D-rings, or hooks are fastened to the boot, as they will need to withstand repeated stress. However, even the strongest hardware is nothing without a sturdy pair of laces, such as 550 paracord.

To choose the best type of sole, consider the terrain you will most likely be traversing. If you plan on a lot of up-and-down on steep trails, you may want to look for heel and toe brakes. Self-cleaning treads will prove helpful in muddy or rocky areas. Also, shock absorbency and flexibility for running and jumping may come in handy.

In order to properly compare different boot designs, it’s important to know the terminology. Here are the terms most commonly encountered when researching survival boots:

Key Terms To Know When Looking For Boots

survival boots
Image via Chris Greeveblester on flickr.

Collar – runs around the top of the shaft. The collar can have internal or external padding, both of which serve to protect the ankle from impact, keep debris from getting in, and provide comfort.

Carbon Rubber – a chemically altered form of rubber that is more durable, lightweight, and provides good shock resistance.

Crampon/Snowshoe Compatibility – some survival boots are specifically designed to integrate with crampons or snow shoes.

EVA  – ethylene-vinyl acetate, it is a high-density durable foam that absorbs shock.

Gore-Tex – a multi-layer lining material that is designed to create a dry environment inside by shedding internal moisture from perspiration and blocking external moisture from getting in. Can be used in warm-weather gear to shed heat or can be insulated for colder temperatures to trap heat.

survival boots
Image via Adam Kahtava on flickr.

Gusseted Tongue – a tongue that is sewn to the boot behind the lace eyelets to form a barrier to debris and water.

Heel Brake – a tread design that provides a better grip when descending steep areas.

Heel Cap/Heel Counter – cradles the heel and prevents the foot from slipping up and down when walking.

Insole – the layer in direct contact with the bottom of the foot. Often removable and can be specialized for antimicrobial, anti-shock, or pressure relief performance.

Midsole – the layer above the outsole that provides structural support to the bottom of the foot using shanks.

Neutral Foot Position – when the ankle and feet form a straight vertical line and weight is evenly distributed. This reduces strain on feet, as well as the joints of the knees, hips, and back.

Outsole – the bottom most part of the boot that touches the ground. It can be stitched, cemented, or stitched and cemented to the upper.

Rand – seen in waterproof and water resistant styles, the rand is the rubber strip that overlaps the seam between the boot upper and the sole. Most survival boots will have this feature.

Self-Cleaning Treads – a tread pattern that utilizes the natural flex of your step to open the space between the treads and shed debris, such as pebbles and caked mud.

survival boots
Image via Russ on flickr.

Shaft – the part of the boot that goes up the leg. Shaft height is measured from the point where the boot meets the sole to the maximum height up the leg. Occasionally, the circumference measurement will also be given, which is the distance around the widest part of the shaft.

Shank(s) – supportive metal or plastic strips that shape the arch of the boot. Can be a full shank, which runs the entire length, or a ¾ shank which ends at the ball of the foot.

Suede vs Nubuck vs Leather – Suede is the softest of the three, created by brushing the inside surface of leather. Nubuck is made by roughing the outside or grain surface of leather, making it stronger than suede and more resistant to abrasion and water. Full grain refers to leather that has not been brushed or roughed on either side, making it more stiff than nubuck or suede.

Toe Cap –an extra piece of material that protects the front of the boot from abrasion.

Torque/Torsion Control – how well the boot’s structure resists twisting at the ankle.

Vibram Outsole – refers to a patented diamond tread pattern, also known as a Lug Sole, that is recognized for providing excellent traction.

Vulcanized Rubber – natural rubber that has been chemically altered to resist deformation and loss of elasticity with change of temperature, making it harder, longer lasting, and more durable.

Survival Boots For Men

Mens Survival BootsKey Features
KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
• ESS shank provides ankle stability
• Dual-density EVA foam midsole is contoured for comfortable support
• Keen.Dry membrane lends a breathable barrier against rain
Danner Men's Radical 452 GTX Outdoor Boot
• Toe cap resists abrasion in rough terrain
• Ultra strong GORE-TEX insulates against snow
• Terra Force technology supports from all sides and prevents torsion
Salomon Men's Quest 4D GTX Backpacking Boot
• Keeps out debris with gusseted tongue
• Heel and toe reinforced with rubber to protect against wear
• Lace locking system allows for independent tightening of each section
Garmont Men's Zenith Mid GTX Trail Hiking Shoe
• Hardware is rust-resistant
• Excellent traction, even on wet rocks and mud
• Gore Tex lining provides breathability in heat and insulation in cold
Rocky Outdoor Boots Men S2V Substratum Direct Attach
• Waterproof nubuck and ripstop nylon exterior for flexible durability
• Tall 8" shaft for a higher fit
• Crampon and snowshoe compatible
• Laces are 550 military grade paracord
Rocky Men's S2v Jungle Boot
• Ideal for hot, humid climates
• Drainage holes allow water to shed quickly
• Ultra lightweight design offers support without excessive padding
McRae Footwear Men's Hot Weather Desert Boot
• Deep treads shed mud and debris
• Vulcanized rubber outsole is engineered for durability
• Fast drying Suede/Cordura upper is padded for comfort
Belleville TR960ZWP KHYBER Lightweight Waterproof Side-Zip Tactical Boot
• Discrete style tactical boot for urban bug-out
• Side zip closure allows for easy-on/off
• Lightweight athletic fit enables freedom of movement
Ariat Men's Terrain Hiking Boot
• Lower profile style includes Torque Stability composite shank
• EVA midsole absorbs shock on impact
• Removable gel orthotic for long-lasting comfort when on your feet all day
Click on the image to view current price on Amazon.

Survival Boots For Women

Womens Survival BootsKey Features
KEEN Women's Targhee II Waterproof Hiking Boot
• Toe cap protects against impact
• Keen.Dry membrane is waterproof yet breathable for comfort
• ESS shank prevents ankle rolls on rocky terrain
Ahnu Women's Montara Boot
• Neutral positioning of the foot encourages balance and reduces strain over long hikes
• Exterior padding on collar protects ankles from bumps
• Gusseted tongue locks out rain and snow
Ariat Women's Terrain Hiking Boot
• Lining keeps feet dry with moisture wicking
• Duratread outsole is self-cleaning for optimal traction
• Shock absorbing midsole reduces strain on joints
Lowa Women's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot
• Full-length nylon shank adds extra support on rough terrain
• Climate control lining draws moisture away to prevent blisters and chaffing
• Heavy duty Vibram outsole is also shock-absorbent
Salomon Women's Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boot
• Braking pattern in the rear outsole gives extra traction when descending
• Lightweight and flexible for trial running
• Cushioned gusseted tongue alleviates lace pressure
Belleville F390 Women's Hot Weather Combat Boot
• Lightweight and breathable for trekking through hotter climates
• Running shoe outsole provides ease of manuvering
• Deep treads power through mud
Danner Women's Danner Light II Outdoor Boot
• Patented Stitchdown construction provides a durable and sturdy fit
• Gore-Tex lining breathes well while locking out water
• Superior wet and dry traction with Vibram outsole
Hi-Tec Women's Ohio WP Hiking Boot
• Outsole is carbon rubber for lightweight durability and traction
• Collar and tongue are padded to provide comfort and support
• Cushioned EVA insole is also removable for a customized fit
Oboz Women's Sawtooth Mid BDRY Hiking Boot
• Natural roll of outsole propels each step
• Molded rubber heel and toe stand up to rocky terrain
• BDry membrane is both waterproof and breathable to keep feet dry and comfortable
Click the image to view current price on Amazon.


outdoor boot outdoor boots
Click the image above for great tips on choosing survival boots and how to take care of them to maximize their performance.

Your Thoughts

Do you look for boots for a specific climate or prefer all-weather survival boots? Are there any other key terms we should add as a reference? Let us know in the Comments section below, thanks!

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How To Choose The Right Outdoor Boot

outdoor boot outdoor boots

When it comes to choosing the right outdoor boot for your bug out or outdoor adventures, you should approach the decision-making process as just that, a process. Looking at just one factor like fit, price, or purpose nets limited results, meaning you might find a great shoe, but not the one for you and your purposes. As well, this process doesn’t end with the purchase of the boot. Rather, getting the best mileage out of your boots means that you break them in and learn to take care of them so that you get optimal use out of them.  This article will show you how to do all of this and by the end, you will be able to pick out the right footwear for your personal survival situation.

outdoor boot outdoor boots

The Fit Is King

A shoe that doesn’t fit and isn’t comfortable causes all kinds of problems that no amount of money can solve. For example, improperly-fitting shoes cause back problems and stress on the tendons and joints as well as the possibility of blisters and other foot maladies on the trail.  Imagine trying to carry your bug out bag over broken terrain with your feet in agony – not a recipe for survival.

The best way to ensure a proper fit is to buy boots in the afternoon; the feet swell during the day. Also buy the shoe that fits your larger foot — everyone has one foot that is slightly larger than the other. Also make sure that your ankles and arches get the support they need to rough it on the trail.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Ouch! Don’t let your boots rub you the wrong way.

Additionally, some problems, like blisters on the heels, which are caused by too much room in the heel area, need to be addressed by other means. Thicker socks usually solve this problem. When you’re buying your boots, make sure not to skip out on a few new pairs of socks.  It is smart as well to try your boots on with the type of socks you expect to be hiking in.  Don’t try them on with normal cotton socks (which are a terrible idea for hiking anyway) if you are going to be walking in thick hiking socks.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Avoid painful blisters by choosing an outdoor boot with the right fit.

What Terrain Are You Likely To Face?

Not all boots are created equal, and actually, that’s okay. The type of terrain you are going to be traversing when bugging out or hiking should determine what boot you buy (after you consider fit). In other words, if your whole goal is to take a bunch of day hikes on well-defined trails, then hiking shoes will do you just fine.  

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Hiking shoes are a lightweight option for day hikes.

Hiking and Backpacking boots, on the other hand, count as the big daddy (most of the time) of the boot world. Don these boots when your hiking goals include heavy packs and long treks through the woods or mountains over the course of several days.

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For longer treks into the wilderness with a heavy pack, you will appreciate the extra support and durability of hiking boots.

Special Boots, Material Types, And Other Considerations

Time to get more specific. You’ve taken the first steps you need to in order to find the right boot for you. The previous two steps in this guide outlined your initial goals and helped you narrow your focus. Additionally, some conditions, like extreme or alpine hiking, require an even heartier boot than a backpacking boot. The best boot for this occasion is usually a mountaineering boot.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Choose an outdoor boot suited to the terrain you are most likely to encounter.

You should also think about the materials that your boots are made from. Full-grain leather boots offer you the best protection in wet conditions and count as a must for extended trips. Other leathers like nubuck leather or split-grain leather offer benefits — in the latter case, a cost savings.

However, each has some drawbacks. Nubuck requires a good deal of breaking in time, whereas the split-grain leather will resist water to a point. As well, you need to make sure that any boot you buy, whether it’s synthetic or leather, allows for breathability.

Getting Laced Up

The laces of your boots are an important component that are often overlooked.  They are essential to keeping your boots on in rough or swampy terrain and help ensure a good fit.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Opt for strong durable laces that won’t fray, such as paracord.

If you end up with a pair of boots that have poor quality laces you will want to replace them ASAP.  Paracord can be a good option for this as it is inexpensive, strong, and rot-resistant.  

If you want an even better option you can upgrade your boot laces to Fire Laces. These are high quality laces that are made of 550-pound paracord and integrate hidden fire starting Ferro rods into the lace tips.  It is a smart way to eliminate the problem of leaving your fire starting kit at home when hiking, camping, or bugging out.  You can learn more about Fire Laces by clicking here now.

outdoor boot outdoor boots

Breaking Your Boots In

Even the best boots will tear up your feet if you don’t break them in properly. The best way to start breaking in your boots is by wearing them around the house for short periods of time. When you do this, act as if you’re getting ready to head outside, meaning wear the socks you’ll wear for your hikes, lace them up properly, and walk around. They’ll feel stiff in the beginning, but eventually, the materials will relax to the shape of your foot.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Don’t dive right into adventure with a new pair of boots! Be sure to break them in slowly.

That’s the time then to go out for shorter treks around town. If you need to stop for milk or go to the post office, put them on. These short distances give you the chance to notice any discomfort and spots that don’t fit right. And finally, don’t be duped into trying a quick fix. Heavier boots require a longer break-in time. You may be taking short walks for several weeks until your shoes and feet can handle the trail comfortably. Don’t skimp on this process.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Short excursions will help to shape new boots for the optimal fit.

Taking Care Of Your Outdoor Boots

Boot care is a constant process, meaning that starting from when your hike ends until you hit the road again, you should do something to care for your boots. Start with something simple. Read what the manufacturer has to say about the best way to care for your particular boot. That should act as your guide above all else.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Different materials require different care. Read up on the manufacturer’s guidelines to keep your outdoor boots in great shape.

That said, outdoor boots last longer with a bit of waterproofing. You can find this usually in the can and just spray it on before using your boots. After that, ensure that your boots stay snug; shoelaces should be intact and not frayed. Eyelets should still have their protectors if they came with them.

Basically, you need to check for anything that might fall apart on the trail. If you can fix it yourself, do so. Otherwise, a trip to the shoe-repair shop is in order before you head out on the terrain.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
A small problem can grow quickly so check your boots thoroughly before heading out.

Finally, make sure that you clean your outdoor boots after each trek outside. Get the grit and grime out of the soles. Remove inserts to allow for extra breathing and to aid in the drying-out process.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
Cleaning the soles after every use can help prevent cracking.

If your boots have gotten wet during your excursion put them someplace to dry for at least 24 hours. More is better. And remember that your boots don’t like extremes in heat or cold. No putting them outside in sub-zero temperatures or allowing them to dry in the sun. This eventually breaks them down.

outdoor boot outdoor boots
The sun’s UV rays deteriorate your outdoor boots so set them to dry in the shade.


Although all of these steps represent the best practices when it comes to buying your outdoor boot, the truth remains that there may not be a very best option, only the best option for you. Therefore, these guidelines are just that. Guidelines. That’s why boot-buying is a process. The best way to find the right outdoor boot for you is to take your time and shop around. Further, the best pair of boots quickly become a pain without the proper care and breaking-in period. In short, go through all the steps for the best chance of success with your new boots.

Your Thoughts

Do you have any boot care tips or buying advice? Have you owned a pair of awesome outdoor boots? Tell us about them in the Comments section below, thanks!

About the Author

Alex Park runs He and his team of writers offer unique perspectives from their experience in the wilderness. Alex appreciates quality brands of durable boots that are specialized for different objectives, and his goal is to help you quickly identify the differentiators of each boot. Alex’s mission is to express his passion for quality tactical gear in the form of tips, reviews, updates and news.

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best tactical pants

Gear Up: How To Choose the Best Tactical Pants

best tactical pants

Here at The Bug Out Bag Guide, we asked our readers what areas of survival preparedness they were most interested in learning more about and overwhelmingly the answer was tactical clothing for bug-out and get-home scenarios. To provide you with the most complete and comprehensive resource on tactical survival clothing, we’re writing a series of articles starting with this one on the best tactical pants to pack for your survival plans.

Believe it or not, the clothing you choose for your bug-out or get-home bag can have a substantial impact on your chances for survival. The right clothing can improve your performance, especially in harsh conditions, and provide an advantage that can greatly improve your odds for survival.

The whole point of having a bug-out or get-home bag prepared and ready to go is that you never know when you will need it. What if you find yourself bugging-out in a suit and tie, or in the middle of the night? Trekking through dangerous wilderness or navigating panic-stricken streets would be next to impossible without the right tactical gear to protect you from the elements.

In this article, you will learn the various advantages that tactical pants have over average streetwear and how to choose the best tactical pants for your situation, along with our top picks.

Tactical Pants For MenFeaturesIdeal ForRipstopWater ResistantWaist
5.11 Tactical #74273 Men's TacLite Pro Pant
Breathable fabric is teflon treated for spill resistance
D-ring for quick access to keys or tools
Bartacking protects high stress areas from tearing
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAction waistband
TRU-SPEC Men's Lightweight 24-7 Pant
Reinforced knee with built-in knee pad pocket
Magazine compartments in cargo pockets for extra ammo
An economical choice that performs well
Moderate to hot weather
Concealed carry
Propper Men's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Ripstop material is strong but flexible to allow for movement
Belt loops are positioned to allow for side holsters
Nine pockets for storing gear
Includes matching belt
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAdjustable
Blackhawk Men's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Elastic webbing in cargo pockets holds flashlights, knives, magazines upright for quick access
Silicon shirt keeper waist band keeps shirt tucked in while on the move
Added protection from double layering in seat and knees
Warmer climates
Concealed carry
Columbia Men's Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
Zip-off legs to quickly convert to shorts
Lightweight fabric with Omni-Wick evaporation to keep you dry
Zippered cargo pocket secures your gear
Hot, humid climatesYesNoAdjustable
5.11 Tactical #74290 Covert Cargo Pants
Low profile design for a more inconspicuous look
Comfortable peached cotton canvas moves silently
Double deep hip pockets with secondary storage for pistol magazines or gear
Cooler climates
Gray man
Blackhawk Men's I.T.S. HPFU Pants
Athletic cut for increased mobility
Knee patches protect against abrasion
Blousing ties on ankles to fit snuggly inside boots
Tournequets integrated into thighs for emergency first aid
Cooler climates
Under Armour Men's UA Storm Tactical Duty Pants
30+ UPF rating for protection from harmful UV rays
Large dual cargo pockets provide plenty of room for gear
Quick drying, breathable, and anti-microbe lining prevents odor and moisture build up
Hidden document pocket for personal ID
All weather, including snowYesYesAdjustable
Vertx Men's Original Tactical Pants
Zippered cargo pockets offer a low profile appearance
Articulated knee design prevents riding up when seated or crouching
Cotton/lycra stretch fabric provides a comfortable fit
Warm to cold climates
Gray Man
NoYesSide stretch
Click the images to view size and color options on Amazon.
Tactical Pants For WomenFeaturesIdeal ForRipstopWater ResistantWaist
5.11 Tactical Women's TacLite Pro Pant
Breathable fabric is teflon treated for spill resistance
D-ring for quick access to keys or tools
Bartacking protects high stress areas from tearing
Hot, humid climatesYesYesAction waistband
TRU-SPEC Women's Lightweight 24-7 Pant
Reinforced knee with built-in knee pad pocket
Magazine compartments in cargo pockets for extra ammo
An economical choice that performs well
Moderate to hot weather
Concealed carry
Propper Women's Tactical Pant
Durable canvas fabric is Teflon treated to repel liquids
Belt loops are positioned to allow for side holsters
Nine pockets for storing gear
Includes matching belt
Cooler climatesYesYesAction stretch
Blackhawk Women's Lightweight Tactical Pant
Elastic webbing in cargo pockets holds flashlights, knives, magazines upright for quick access
Added protection from double layering in seat and knees
Warmer climates
Concealed carry
Columbia Women's Silver Ridge Convertible Pant
Roll up legs to quickly convert to shorts
Lightweight fabric with Omni-Wick evaporation to keep you dry
Zippered cargo pocket secures your gear
Hot, humid climatesYesNoAdjustable
Vertx Women's Original Tactical Pants
Zippered cargo pockets offer a low profile appearance
Articulated knee design prevents riding up when seated or crouching
Cotton/lycra stretch fabric provides a comfortable fit
Warm to cold climates
Concealed carry
NoYesSide stretch
Under Armour Women's UA Tactical Patrol Pant
Ripstop polyester blend with wicking action keeps you dry
Comfortable low waist has hidden elastic to stay put even when pockets are loaded
May run small, consider ordering a size up
Warm to cold climatesYesYesSide stretch
Click the images to view color and size options on Amazon.

All About Tactical Pants – Why You Need Them, What To Look For

Tactical pants, or tactical trousers, were originally developed as practical work attire for woodsmen and were quickly adopted by both military and police forces as the clothing proved very useful in combat situations.

Tactical pants offer many advantages over jeans or typical street clothes including a better fit and easier movement. Well-made tactical pants will have plenty of easily-accessible storage areas, be made of high-performance fabric, and have reinforced seams.

Additionally, you can find some tactical pants that offer pockets for inserting knee pads as well as ankle drawstrings for cinching into your boots to keep out dust, water and insects.

best tactical pants
Tapered or cinched ankles make it easier to tuck into socks and boots for warmth or protection against insects.

For our pick of the best tactical pant with reinforced knee and built-in knee pocket pad, check out TRU-SPEC Men’s Lightweight 24-7 Pant, or Blackhawk Men’s I.T.S. HPFU Pants for excellent blousing ankle ties that fit snuggly inside boots.

The ‘must-have’ features for ideal tactical pants varies by person and situation and are highly dependent on the climate in which they will be used and your particular survival plan. No matter your individual needs, there are several areas in which you will need your tactical pants to perform: weather resistance and protection; durability; ease of movement; and strategic cargo storage and accessibility (layout of the pants).

Weather Resistance and Protection

For many people, protection from water or harsh storms is a major priority in choosing tactical pants; how your pants will perform in wet conditions is highly dependent on the type of fabric they are made from, how that fabric is treated, and how the seams come together.

For most scenarios, water resistance will suffice, but for more treacherous survival plans, consider fabric treated with Teflon, which seals out water and causes it to bead and roll off; however, Teflon does not necessarily provide protection against complete submersion. If your survival plan takes you through a body of water, your best bet is to choose a quick-drying material that won’t weigh you down. For our top Teflon choice, check out the Men’s TacLite Pro Pant.

When choosing the best tactical pants for your survival plan, keep in mind the types of activities you are most likely to be performing. Lightweight tactical pants are excellent for providing protection from scraping your skin while scrambling over rocks or through thorny bushes; they also act as a great defense against mosquitoes and ticks.

best tactical pants
Rugged terrain calls for durable clothing to protect against injuries.

For an excellent convertible tactical pant (zip-off legs quickly convert to shorts), check out Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pant. In terms of temperature control, those in high-temperature climates may be tempted to reach for a lighter-fabric tactical pant, but remember that even in warm areas, nights can reach uncomfortable levels of cold. For those in dual-temperature climates, layering may be the best option.

UnderArmour Men’s UA Storm Tactical Duty Pants offer protection from harmful UV rays as well as ample storage, quick-drying and breathable material, and hidden pockets for IDs and documents. For strictly colder climates, a heavier fabric, such as Gortex (less breathable but very insulating), is your best choice. Consider layering thermals underneath or wearing slim, tactical snow pants that will allow you sufficient movement.


There are a variety of options to choose from when selecting the most durable material for tactical pants, including cotton, canvas and synthetic fabrics.

Cotton is a great choice as it is comfortable and durable; however, it also retains moisture and is generally heavier than other options. There are cotton blends available that offer wicking and therefore decrease weight. Additionally, cotton materials take to weatherproofing through silicone treatments better than purely synthetic materials. To learn more about weatherproofing your bug-out gear, CLICK HERE.

If you foresee your gear getting a lot of wear, canvas is an excellent choice (canvas is the same material used for sails and firehoses, so it can withstand substantial wear). However, it is a heavier fabric and offers little in the way of freedom of movement.

Synthetic fabric, such as lycra or spandex, is typically lightweight, provides for excellent flexibility, and most blends wick moisture well.

Ease of Movement

To allow for more movement, look for flexible fabric with some stretch to it as well as features such as pleats and gusseting in the knees. For a strong tactical pant that also allows for flexible movement, check out Propper Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant.

best tactical pants
Street clothes can restrict motion and slow you down on your path to survival.

Strategic Cargo Storage and Accessibility

As any well-prepared survivalist knows, there are certain items that must be accessible quickly in a survival scenario such as a self-defense weapon, flashlight, knife, and multitool. To ensure the best access to your most-needed tools, look for tactical pants that have deep pockets and velcro or zipper closures.

survival weapons

Some will have inlaid pockets while others external cargo pockets; what’s most important is that there is room for all your most important gear and that it will be accessible on demand. Squared off pockets function well for clipping a knife, flashlight or pen; elastic webbing is great for holding gear in place; and sectioned off pockets will keep your gear nicely organized.

For our pick of the best tactical pants for elastic webbing cargo capacity, check out Blackhawk Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant, as well as Vertex Men’s Original Tactical Pants for zippered cargo pockets that also offer a low profile appearance.

Additional Considerations for the Best Tactical Pants

When deciding on the best tactical pants for your survival plans, three additional areas warrant consideration: durability; portability (weight/storing); and color (Gray Man friendly vs. camo).


The durability of your tactical pants is an especially important consideration when preparing for an INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) scenario. This particular scenario may require investment in higher quality tactical pants that are built to withstand longer wear. Conversely, when prepping for your get-home bag, tactical pants that will simply see you through the night are sufficient.


It is important to think about how portable your tactical pants are in terms of both their weight and storage capabilities. If your tactical pants will be stored in your car, weight and bulk are less of a factor, but in terms of your bug-out bag, a lightweight and compactable fabric is most desirable.


Generally, your choices will be between regular-colored clothing and camo. Each has its own advantages depending on the locale and situation in which they will be used.

If your survival plan requires navigating a populated area, digital camo is not the most ideal choice. The reasoning follows the Gray Man principle: in a disaster scenario, the last thing you want to do is stand out as the prepared person amongst throngs of unprepared and chaotic citizens; by carrying gear that doesn’t look like survival gear, you will camouflage the fact that you are equipped and greatly increase your chances of survival.

best tactical pants
Sometimes blending into the crowd is your best bet to get out safely.

For an inconspicuous look, check out 5.11 Tactical #74290 Covert Cargo Pants.

Conversely, a wilderness survival situation would benefit from camouflage patterns or subtle earth tones as you would be able to blend in with natural surroundings.

best tactical pants
In other situations, blending in to the landscape is extremely beneficial.


When choosing the best tactical pants, the most important consideration is how well the pants will function in relation to your survival plan. Always remember to keep in mind the various elements you will face and the protection your pants can provide (water resistant, heat resistant, etc.), how much and what type of activities they can withstand, how easy it is to maneuver in them, and how much easily-accessible storage space they offer.

Additional considerations include the storability of the pants (how easy are they to pack/carry), whether a Gray Man or camo look is preferred, and how long will you need the pants to perform for. If you follow these tips you’ll be sure to find the best tactical pants for your specific survival needs.

Your Thoughts

Do you own a pair of awesome tactical pants that we should have included? What are their best features? Are you interested in more articles about tactical clothing? Tell us in the Comments section below, thanks!

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