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Warm Your Hands
You’d be hard-pressed to make a life-saving fire with numb fingers. Wear socks like mittens to prevent frostbite and restore critical dexterity.
Can’t find anything to drink? Fill a sock with mud or wet clay, or sop up dew, then wring out every drop of moisture into a cup or your mouth. You can also filter dirty water, removing sediment. (This makes the water more palatable, but doesn’t remove bacteria and other microorganisms).
Make a Deadman Anchor
In winter, it may be hard to secure a shelter against dangerously strong winds. Fill a sock with snow, tie your guyline to it, and bury it about a foot deep. Pack snow on top to create an anchor. This technique works well with sand, too.
Dress a Wound
Hopefully you have a spare clean sock for this. But if you need to control severe bleeding, you use what you have.
To prevent slipping on slick ice, pull a sock over the toe of your boot. The sock fibers adhere to ice, improving traction. (Wool is stickier than nylon and polyester materials.)
It’s a poor substitute for a backpack, true, but if you need to transport food or other essentials, a sock will do in a pinch. Tie it to your belt.
Make a Hunting Weapon
Starving? Stuff a sock with stones to create a “nunchuk” for clubbing small game.
These wild nuts can be an easy source of calories in a survival situation, but they contain tannic acid, which tastes terrible and will make you sick to your stomach. Fill a sock with crushed acorn nuts (remove shells), tie it off, and secure it in a creek. The flowing water will remove the acid in a few days. If you have a pot and plenty of fuel or firewood, you can speed this process by soaking the nuts in hot water (change the water several times).