4 Ways to Waterproof Your Survival Gear

One of the biggest fights you will have in a survival situation is staying dry. Wet feet are a recipe for disaster. Walking long distances with wet feet will result in raw skin that could become extremely dangerous. Back in the first world war, soldiers suffered from something referred to as trench foot.

It resulted in tissue death on the foot, which quickly became a serious, life-threatening issue. You could end up losing a leg caused by an infection from trench foot. A minor blister in a survival situation can quickly become very serious and make it very difficult for you to walk.

Investing in waterproof gear can be very expensive and often times, it needs an extra layer of protection to really keep you dry. Just because it is expensive, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer and do without weatherproofing. You can waterproof your gear without spending much money at all.

It is quick, easy and very effective. Learning how to take care of your gear is a skill that will help prepare you for an uncertain future as well as help you when things have collapsed and you need the extra protection from the weather.

While there are a lot of do-it-yourself options, they tend to include flammable chemicals. This could be a dangerous scenario when you are hanging out by the campfire. It would be tragic for a stray spark to land on your boot and ignite.

Things like old motor oil and turpentine are methods that have been used in the past, but again, wearing something that flammable is never a good idea when you will need fire to stay alive.

These are some other options that are inexpensive and a little safer.



Beeswax is an excellent way to waterproof your boots, coats, gloves, tents and tarps. You want to buy the kind that is not food grade. You may be able to find it at your local hardware store or online. It is a lot cheaper to buy the non food grade than the kind you would eat. You will also need linseed oil to mix with the wax.

Mix 1 pound of beeswax and 2 quarts of linseed oil in a large pot. Heat the pot on medium heat until the wax melts. Mix the wax and oil together until they’re blended completely. If the wax is in a big chunk, use a knife to make shavings so it will melt easier.

You can use a paintbrush to smooth the mixture over your shoes or clothing. Allow the mixture to cool a bit before you apply it to your clothing so it doesn’t cause it to shrink. Wool clothing or canvas-type material is best for waterproofing. Once you have spread the wax over the material, use a hairdryer to heat the wax and smooth out any bubbles or bits that haven’t melted completely.

This is an excellent solution to apply to canvas tents and tarps. It will repel the water and keep you dry underneath. It also reduces the risk of the material molding from being damp. Allow your newly treated clothing and other items to dry a few days before stashing them away or testing them with water.

You can use just beeswax if you want and rub it onto the shoes without going through the melting process. You will need to use a hairdryer to heat the wax so it will absorb into the material. Use a piece of cloth to rub the wax into the material.

Bear Grease


This is a traditional waterproofing method that has been passed down from the Native Americans. Bear grease is basically what it sounds like. It is the rendered fat from a bear. Bears have a great deal of fat on their bodies and that fat can be used to waterproof your gear and even to cook with.

If you don’t hunt bear, you may be able to talk with a meat processor who takes care of bear meat for hunters who do. Not everybody uses the bear fat and it is often put into the recycling bin. You can render the fat yourself or buy it already rendered. Rub the fat into the material you want to waterproof.

Duct Tape


Duct tape is a quick and easy method to seal up your shoes, tents or tarps. You can find duct tape just about anywhere. This is something you can stockpile in your emergency pantry. All you need to do is cover the top of your shoes or use strips to cover a tarp or tent. The duct tape will allow the material to maintain flexibility while keeping it dry. It is best if you stick with the name brand tape that is more durable.

Shoe Polish


There are plenty of brands of shoe polish that you can buy that boast the ability to protect your shoes with a layer of polish. These shoe polishes will work for a time. The cost is equivalent to the other mentioned methods.

Waterproof compounds are your best option. The polishes tend to be more of a way to keep the shoes looking nice. Many of the brands are very effective and will keep your feet dry. You will need to reapply the compound every month or so.

It is important to understand that waterproofing claims are really referring to being water resistant. If you stand in a lake with your waterproofed shoes, your feet are still going to get wet. Waterproofing is more of a way to keep your feet and clothes dry when it is raining or snowing. If you waterproof your tent or tarp, the rain will bubble up and roll off before it has time to soak through.

Although waterproofing is really a loose term, it is still worth doing. Keep the items you need to waterproof in your emergency supply stash. You will need to reapply the compounds or tape. If your shoes or tent are destroyed or lost, you will have to waterproof your new gear. Be ready for anything.

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave

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