Best Survival Boots and Shoes for Preppers

by Tommy Grant

Whether you are bugging out or going about your normal day, survival boots can help it happen. Our feet are more fragile than we think, and there are many ways to injure them if they aren’t protected from the elements and properly supported when we put them to the test. There are endless shoes and boots to consider, and we just want to make sure what we’re wearing in an emergency will keep up.

This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best survival boots and shoes, tested them, and now the results are in: the overall best, a low-top shoe option, and a tactical pick. If you need some reliable shoes, one of our suggestions will have you covered.


Contents (Jump to a Section)


The Best Survival Boots

LOWA Renegade GTX

Weatherproof, Comfortable, and Rugged

The best boots are mid-boots from the hiking world that are German-engineered to perfection.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

In 1923, Lorenz Wagner (a cobbler, of course) started LOWA in a tiny village called Jetzendorf. Since then, the company has stuck to shoes evolving into a mountaineering and hiking boot powerhouse.

The Renegade GTX Mid was first designed in 1997 and is their best-selling model that gets updates regularly. They have the track record to prove their worth and provide exceptional comfort, traction, and protection for your feet.

Here is everything you get with these hiking boots:

  • Nubuck leather, nylon mesh
  • Waterproof, breathable (Gore-Tex)
  • Vibram Evo outsole
  • Platform height: 0.6″
  • Heel height: 1.2″
  • Boot shaft: 5″
  • 1 pound 6 ounces (each -size 10)
  • Made in Germany

With rugged durability and superb quality, it’s easy to see why the LOWA Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots top the rest.


Best Survival Shoes

Salewa Wildfire GTX

High Grip, Lightweight, and Durable

The classic first iteration of the Wildfire is still the best model of the bunch with great quality.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Cutting-edge technology combines with high-end materials to make the ideal shoe for survival. Salewa is a company that revolves around mountain climbing and is based in the Italian Dolomites. The shoes are German-engineered, Italian-designed, and American-made, so they can collaborate impressively to get things done!

The Wildfire GTX is their flagship shoe that uses Gore-Tex for waterproofing, an extremely tacky rubber sole, and a comfortable midsole. It excels at climbing, hiking, and mountaineering in a wide range of weather conditions.

Here is how these shoes measure up:

  • Injected 3D cage, nylon mesh
  • Waterproof, breathable (Gore-Tex)
  • POMOCA rubber sole
  • Platform height: 0.75″
  • Heel height: 1.2″
  • 13.4 ounces (each- size 10)
  • Made in the USA

If you are looking for a shoe versatile enough for any terrain, the Salewa Wildfire GTX Approach Shoes are your best option.


Best Tactical Boots

5.11 A/T 8″ Waterproof

Waterproof, Breathable, and Tactical

Lock your feet into these load-assisting tactical boots that excel in any terrain.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

5.11 makes solid technical gear specialing in tactical clothing and bags. Their A/T high boots give great performance and showed exceptional durability over years of use.

Here are the specs:

  • Suede leather, nylon mesh
  • Waterproof, breathable
  • ATLAS support plate
  • Platform height: 0.6″
  • Heel height: 1.2″
  • Boot shaft: 8″
  • 1 pound 6 ounces (each -size 10)

With a rugged design that helps you haul heavy loads long distances, the 5.11 A/T 8″ Waterproof Boots are a solid bug out boot choice.


Everything We Recommend

Salewa Wildfire GTX

The classic first iteration of the Wildfire is still the best model of the bunch with American quality.

Where to Buy

$114* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing


Our research narrowed the field down from a huge range of brands of shoes and boots to a few that we compared: Merrell, Salewa, 5.11, KEEN, LOWA, Salomon, Bates, Nike, Under Armour, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We considered a wide range of shoes, boots, and even mocassins, and have to say that there are a lot of great options out there for survival. Whenever comfort is involved in our reviews we find that people have different experiences because our feet are not all the same. If you’re looking for mocassins, we have a whole review on quiet shoes that includes them.

We’re always looking for new and better gear, so if you have a pair of boots you love, let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually so we can try to get it in the next roundup round and see if it will beat out our top picks.


What to Look For

The best survival boots have a few features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Power
  3. Durability
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find the perfect footwear for all survival situations. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the shoes that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like shoes shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. We’re not trying to be sneakerheads here, we’re just looking for quality, comfortable, and functional boots.

You never want to spend too much money on one type of gear, even when it comes to something you use every day. It’s better to diversify your spending to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.

Comfort

Your shoes need to fit well and be comfortable first and foremost. If you have a poor fit, it’s a recipe for blisters and other issues that you don’t want to deal with during emergencies.

If they are uncomfortable, you’ll find yourself in pain if you have to trek any amount of distance.

The military conducted studies on comfort for uniforms and gear and found that uncomfortable gear gets modified or not used at all, making it ineffective. Of course, all of us in the military already knew that but now they have scientific studies to back up the importance of comfort- even in tactical gear.

Durability

Boots and shoes are not the type of thing you want falling apart. While they are consumable and get worn out eventually- that eventuality should be miles into the future.

Material selection and manufacturing quality weigh heavily on how durable a shoe or boot will be. Those aren’t everything though, which is why it was helpful that we have tested a combined centuries’ worth of wear on classic tactical, hiking, and mountaineering shoes between our entire team.

Size & Weight

One downside with durable boots is the weight. Tactical boots can easily add over a pound to each leg, and weight is an enemy of endurance. We always harp on watching the weight and size of gear in our mobile kits- and what you wear on you is no exception.

If you get a heavy boot, you’ll want to break it in and get familiar with the limitations it may have. It’s not quite the same as wearing a pair of Air Maxes and going for a jog. Use your gear regularly and you’ll know what it can do.

Versatility

Some boots or shoes offer some versatility by giving you added grip on the sole so you can traverse varied terrain, waterproofing to protect your feet from moisture, and load plates to help you carry your bug out bag.

All of these make a shoe or boot more useful in more situations. All shoes and boots can use some quick and easy upgrades to become even more versatile.


How to Upgrade Shoes for Survival

There are a lot of ways to upgrade your shoes for survival, but one of the best is to get comfortable insoles. Some Superfeet support insoles can instantly upgrade whatever shoe or boot you go with.

Next up, you can treat almost any shoe with sprays like Permethrin insect repellent and Crep Protect shoe protector spray.

Then you can start replacing components, like laces for SurvivorCord or other versatile cordage.

Lastly, you can add features, like small ferro rods, handcuff keys, small knives, etc. With a little ingenuity, the possibilities are endless!


Who Needs Survival Boots?

Everybody wears shoes- heck people were slapping bark on their feet over 9000 years ago. Shoes protect your feet, give you traction, and keep you comfortably mobile.

Boots or shoes are something you wear each and every day, so they are essential for:

Having another pair is useful in these kits but not essential:

Boots geared towards survival are typically handy anywhere outdoors, so any hobby like hiking or backpacking is great for breaking them in.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best survival boots are useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical survival experience:

Jones, B., et al. (1984). The energy cost and heart-rate response of trained and untrained subjects walking and running in shoes and boots. Ergonomics. Volume 27. Issue 8. Pages 895 – 902. (Source)

Knapik, J., et al. (2015). Physical Training in Boots and Running Shoes: A Historical Comparison of Injury Incidence in Basic Combat Training. Military Medicine. Volume 180. Issue 3. Pages 321- 328. (Source)

Sinclair, J., et al. (2015). Influence of running shoes and cross-trainers on Achilles tendon forces during running compared with military boots. BMJ Military Health. Volume 161. Pages 140 – 143. (Source)


The Final Word

You need shoes for your feet, so why not make them the best for survival? Don’t stress about your footwear letting you down in any situation when you are equipped with the best gear.

Here are a few other gear reviews and guides our subscribers have found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our testing found the LOWA Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots to be the best option overall given their value, comfort, durability, size/weight, and versatility.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.


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