Mud, water, sweat, dirt, heat, cold, blisters, and just plain ol’ aches and pains. Our feet are asked to endure a lot while they propel us through the world. When you can come home at night and rest the old dogs, clean them up, and bandage them, it is not too big of a deal beyond a rough day. In the field, however, this can get you killed.
Protecting the feet is one of the most important things that can be done when in the field for a prolonged time. The veterans of WWII and Vietnam taught us that even the best trooper can be brought down quickly by foot injuries.
What to pack for your feet:
Bring enough socks to change at least twice a day. Three times a day is ideal, but that may take up more room than you have. Ensure that clean socks are kept dry and free of dirt.
Powder to keep feet dry is very important. Whether it is a foot-specific powder or just good old baby powder (anything that has a strong smell should be avoided in combat environments), this will keep boots, socks, and feet dry, as well as reduce friction that leads to blisters.
Foot wipes are needed to keep feet clean. You may not be able to shower every day for several reasons, but your feet must be cleaned at least once a day. By bringing some cleaning wipes, you can keep from using much needed water on your feet while keeping them free from dirt and other irritants.
Treating your feet:
Just before bed, you should take care of your feet. This will make sure you have good socks on and are ready for whatever tomorrow brings, should it show up too quickly to do the “foot routine.” So what is the foot routine?
- Take off your foot gear and dump out anything that may have gotten in before putting a light layer of powder inside your boots to dry up the insoles.
- Take off your dirty socks and clean your feet. When cleaning, use massaging motions to help restore circulation and soothe irritated skin and muscles.
- If you have any abrasions, clean them well and place a bandage or mole skin on them to avoid further irritation and infection. If you have blisters, avoid popping them as this leads to infection. Instead, after you clean your feet, clean blisters with rubbing alcohol to dry them up and make them go down faster. Add some padding over the blister to avoid further irritation.
- Put a small amount of powder inside a clean pair of socks to help keep feet dry and reduce friction. You can now put your clean socks and dried boots on.
If time and resources are available, this is a good time to clean all of your dirty socks before you lay down to sleep. Make sure you get all of the powder out of the socks to make then last longer. In a dry environment, you can hang socks on your bag to dry so that if you have to get up in a rush and can only grab your bag, your socks are not left behind.
If any socks have not dried, you can dry one pair at a time with body heat. To do this, run a sock halfway through the sleeve of your outer shirt so that part of the sock is in the sleeve and part of the sock is in the body of the shirt. The heat from your body will dry things up a bit. This is best done with two shirts on with the socks in between them to keep sweat off.
By taking care of your feet, there will be one less thing slowing you down in the field… and the rest of your body will thank you.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.