The Single Most Forgotten Survival Item

The Single Most Forgotten Survival Item


making shoes

When stocking for an emergency or survival situation, people generally think to stock food, water, and building materials first. These are all good things to think about and could potentially save your life. However, what about having a stock of clothing? A lot of people forget that they’re going to need extra clothing during an emergency or survival situation, and not having the proper clothing could mean death. Every emergency shelter or store should be equipped with different outdoor clothing. This means wool pants, coats, and socks. Wool will keep you warm even when it gets wet, making it the perfect survival clothing. Have an extra stock of undergarments, sleeping wear, and even shoes. Shoes are actually one of the most important things to have in your survival clothing kit. Along with stocking extra shoes, it would be even more beneficial to know how to make your own shoes just in case you find yourself without a pair. Cold and wet feet can lead to hypothermia fast, even if you’re wearing wool everywhere else. Knowing how to make shoes isn’t just a fun hobby, it’s a valuable skill to have on the road to becoming self-sufficient.

Shoe Materials

Shoes can be made from several different types of materials, and every culture has a unique way to make shoes. Some cultures use similar material; others use material that might seem really odd. Some materials include:

  • Eel skins
  • Leather from all kind of animals like deer, elk, reindeer, and moose.
  • Wood
  •  Tires

As you can see, the supplies for making shoes can be found just about anywhere, even in urban settings. No matter where you get stranded, you have most of the materials you need to make some new footwear should the situation require it. These are the primary materials used to make the bulk of the shoes, but there is also some secondary materials and equipment that you need to stitch it all together. Some of the equipment will include:

  • Waxed thread for sewing
  • A leather needle
  • A sharp knife
  • Buckles
  • Nylon straps
  • Circular saw or a band saw

All of these materials and equipment will make shoes out of leather and old tires, which are probably the most common and easiest to make in a survival situation or for your survival stores. The benefit of making shoes with leather is that they’re fairly easy to put together. The downside is that you have to have leather to make them. This means either killing a deer, or using a lot of tanned squirrel hides. If you need shoes fast, moccasins may not be your best bet. However, if you have leather readily available, go ahead and make a few pairs. You never know when you might need them. Making sandals from old tires is a great recycling option. If you’re in a survival situation in the woods, you might not find any tires nearby, but having a few in your stock is pretty handy. They take forever to wear out, and they only require two materials to make.

tire sandals

Making The Shoes

If you want to make a few pairs of moccasins and tire sandals for your survival gear, gather the materials you need and get started. For leather moccasins, use any kind of soft leather you want. The lining of the moccasin should be even softer. If you have an old sweatshirt, you can use this material. The outside of the moccasin consists of two pieces of cut leather: the heel and the vamp. The lining is made of the sole, top, and another heel. The pieces of the lining are inserted last, so to begin, cut and sew the heel and vamp together to make the basic moccasin outline. Then insert the lining. You can either sew in the lining, or use shoe glue to hold it in place. There are a lot of different moccasin designs to work with, but they usually include these basic elements.

Shoes made out of old tires are even easier to make than moccasins. Most of the time, the only thing you need to buy is a package of buckles and nylon straps. Old tires are found everywhere. Many people have a few lying in their garages or in their yards. The point is, old tires aren’t hard to get a hold of, and they make great durable sandals. To begin, trace your foot on a piece of paper. Then draw two tabs on either side of your foot’s tracing right below where your toes start and right before your heel. Also draw a tab sticking out from your heel, this will connect the other tabs together and make the back of the sandal. These tabs are going to be where the buckles and nylon straps attach, so make sure they’re at least 3/4 of an inch wide. Make them narrower near the foot then flare out a little at the end because you will be cutting slits in the flared end.

Next, cut off sections of an old tire bigger than your foot tracing with all tabs included. Make sure that the tire you choose doesn’t have steel wires running through it; this won’t work to make your sandals. Cut the tire using a circular saw, or a band saw. After you have your sections of tire, lay them so that they curve upward and trace the pattern of your foot and the tabs on the inside. Cut the sandals out of the tire. In the front two tabs, cut a horizontal slit at the end of the tab wide enough for a nylon strap to fit through. On the back two tabs plus the heel tab, make two vertical slits at the end of the tabs that are also wide enough for a strap to fit through.

Thread a piece of nylon strap with a buckle between the front tabs, and then thread a piece of nylon strap with a buckle through the back three tabs. Your sandal is now complete. Trace your other foot and do the same thing for the second sandal to make a pair.


Making shoes is a craft that can take very little skill, or years of hard work. Simple shoes like moccasins and recycled tire shoes are easy to make and fairly durable. However, if you’re serious about making a full survival wardrobe that is professional and durable, then simply use these ideas as a starting point for crafting more advanced footwear. Another good skill to learn along with making homemade footgear is how to repair your own shoes when they get worn out. Not only is this a good skill for emergency and survival situations, but it’s also handy in hard economic times when buying new shoes whenever they get worn out isn’t always a financial possibility.

Becoming self sufficient isn’t just beneficial for emergencies and survival situations; it’s also beneficial for regular everyday hardships that disrupt life. Skills like shoemaking, preserving food, and setting traps used to be regular daily activities just a generation or so ago. Just because we have all kinds of amenities available today that weren’t available several decades ago, doesn’t mean that those skills should go to waste. One day, the amenities we take for granted could be gone, so don’t let yourself be caught unaware, unprepared, and without shoes.