Proper Foot Care Can Win or Lose Wars

Everyone is familiar with the term “an army travels on its stomach,” meaning food and supplies are at the center of any military advance. However, if you were ever an infantryman you know the real truth – an army travels on its feet! Because of this, proper foot care has always been of the utmost importance and a soldier who does not take care of his/her feet will soon be out of commission as sure as if they were hit in combat.

A soldier’s feet can fall victim to almost as many ailments as can be imagined during a long, seemingly endless march. But one of the most common is the simple blister. While blisters are not unique to soldiers, the consequences can be – when a jock gets a blister it might mean a game on the bench; when a soldier does so, it can mean falling behind and leaving his squad short a vital man. Luckily, blisters are easily avoided or treated if you follow a few simple, commonsense steps.


police-bootThe first aspect of keeping your feet healthy, whether protecting from blisters or other injuries, is using quality footwear. A cheap pair of boots may get you to the bar on an off payday week, but are unlikely to get you to the finish line during a long hump. If you doubt me, just look and see how many high end boots have been approved for official wear. I thought it was important enough to have my own top-of-the-line boots that it was the first thing I ever bought on credit – might have meant a few less trips to town but also a few less trips to sick bay as well.

When considering your footwear, do not forget this includes socks as well. Thin cotton socks, such as those often issued, are far from comfortable and terrible when it comes to protecting your feet. They fail to protect from dangerous friction and, once wet, stay that way – two of the worst things for healthy feet. A lot of old timers swear by two pairs of socks and this still holds true, but if you use thicker quality socks you can get away with one pair. Wool has long been a favorite but can be more expensive than necessary and today’s wool blends can provide the same protection at a fraction of the cost.

Foot Care

Many foot injuries and ailments can be avoided by ensuring one thing – that your feet stay dry. Depending on your mission and the weather, this may be next to impossible but it should not keep you from trying – dry most of the time is better than always wet. At the end of each day, you should follow these easy to do steps: wash and dry your feet, apply foot powder to prevent friction and replace socks with a clean dry pair. Letting your boots air out and dry is nice if possible, but is of course mission dependent. Taking care of your feet is more than simply a matter of comfort – it is mission critical.

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.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

3 thoughts on “Proper Foot Care Can Win or Lose Wars

  1. Tom,

    You are spot on in your article and assessment. This is something that I learned a long time ago and revisited this sage wisdom four years ago when my wife got on a hiking kick. Moreover, as you stated here a good high quality boot is imperative not only for comfort and fit, but for good solid foot support. Your feet are the foundation of your body’s posture. If your feet are not supported correctly, especially when rucking any load over 40 pounds in mountainous terrain your back will suffer too!

    Thank you for your presentation. Well done.

  2. There are socks, such as made by Lorpen North America, which have the fastest drying time of any synthetic/wool combo boot sock. I recently wore a pair for 7 consecutive days in the Boundary Waters, where the socks were wet/soaked constantly each day from numerous portages. These socks were worn with a pair of Oakley LSA water boots. I took two pair of Lorpens on the trip. Each afternoon arriving at camp I took off boots and socks and utilized rubbing alcohol to facilitate drying, then powder and a dry camp shoe was put on. The wet/damp socks were always dry the next morning, and I mean fully dry, as were the boots. Amazing. Never had a boot/sock combination perform that well before in wet/submerged field conditions, and to give you an idea how dry the socks were each morning, I never had to use my dry back up pair of socks. TIP: Placing the damp socks in the sleeping bag at night along your torso/next to your body can help dry them thoroughly.

    1. Uncon,
      I have not heard of the brand of socks that you mention here, but from your personal review due to your field experience these socks sound like they are well worth the money and time to investigate.

      Great intel. Thank you!

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