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Silly old socks may not seem like a versatile piece of survival gear, but it turns out that they can perform more tasks in the field than you might expect. All you need is a spare stocking or two, and the creative mind of a survivor. Here are ten survival uses for the humble sock.
1. Signal flag
Your hunting buddies had no end to the jokes they cracked about your blaze orange socks. But no one was laughing when you hung one on a long pole and used it to make a bee line back to your camp in the thick brush and undergrowth. A colorful sock in its entirety, or cut into strips, can be used to mark your camp, mark a trail, and even signal for help.
2. Field dressing
Without proper dressings, a heavily bleeding wound can be game over when you are far from medical care. Hopefully you have a clean sock to spare, but a dirty one is better than none. Grab a sock, fold it over several times, hold it in place over the wound, and apply pressure. You could even tie a second elastic sock around the improvised bandage as a compression dressing. Elevate the injury if possdible, and keep the dressing in place until the bleeding subsides.
3. Acorn sieve
At 2,000 calories to the pound, acorns are a survival food powerhouse. But the average human isn’t able to eat that many acorns a day without removing the irritating tannic acid the nuts contain. Oddly enough, a sock can help this situation. Crush the acorns to remove the shells and break them into small pieces. Fill a sock with the nut chunks, tie it off and tie it to a rock that you can submerge in a fast moving waterway. After a few days, enough of the tannins have been flushed away by the moving water to turn the acorns into a palatable food that causes no digestive distress.
4. Corporal punishment/self-defense
Fill the sock with rocks, coins, bars of soap, doorknobs, or whatever else suits your situation. Tie a knot in the end to create a handle and also to retain the weighty filling. Use as needed.
Poor little kittens, you’ve got no mittens? Shove each of your frosty paws down into a thick sock to help keep you warm in cold weather. If you have spares, you could even layer them.
What can’t you store in a sock? Early frontiersmen used a sock-like piece of cloth as an emergency food reserve. These socks were filled with parched corn or other trail friendly food that could be eaten out of hand. These long tubes were then bound around the waist by a leather strap or cordage, independent of any other gear. This way, if they had to ditch their pack or bedroll, they still had food.
If your med kit is lacking this item, then tie a sock around the dangerously bleeding extremity. Slide a strong stick under the bandage and then twist until the bleeding stops. Remember that tourniquets can save lives, but can also cost you the limb. Use only for severe and unstoppable blood loss. Do not remove until you reach a hospital.
8. Toilet paper
If you haven’t gone home missing one or both socks, then you haven’t been out in the woods enough. While there are multitudes of natural TP substitutes, nothing quite matches the comfort and familiarity of cloth. And if you find yourself out of Charmin on a hunt, your sock is going to start looking awful friendly. This is a terminal use of the sock, for most of us.
9. Water filter
Even if your socks are as dirty and smelly as some of mine, the fabric of most stockings can make a fine pre-filter to assist other disinfection methods. Whether you are straining out the chunks to run your water through a proper filter, or you’re just screening out some particles to make your disinfection tablets work better, socks can come to the rescue.
10. Fire Starter
You shouldn’t be wearing cotton socks in the great outdoors, but if you are, then you could use part of the fabric or just some of the lint for fire starting.
Leave us a comment to tell us what you can accomplish with a simple sock and some imagination.