My question is inspired by 'Naked and Afraid' where the participants have made their shoes from the bison fur they've received (and their toes were numb up to that point).

Assuming I get in the stupid situation where my shoes are lost, and I don't have a TV team with a bison fur, and I'm in the coniferous forest somewhere in northern Eurasia or America, what material would be the best choice to improvise some shoes?

I was thinking of bark, but it's not very durable, and you need to bind it together somehow.

The assumption is, I don't have any tools, but have some crafting skills.

  • If the conferous forest is in northern Europe, I'd suggest birch bark (and birch tar) -- although any kind of shoe will be somewhat crafty and difficult without tools. Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 12:34
  • 1
    Collecting the bark is already difficult without tools/good knife.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 20:12
  • you may be able to weave pine branches together into some sort of mocassin to put your feet in?
    – njzk2
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


Leather, skin or fur are really the best “raw” natural materials for shoes.

You might be able to weave something out of twigs and grass or (if you have the tools) make clogs out of a solid piece of wood but it will be more time consuming, will make walking awkward and won’t have good insulation.

As someone who regularly goes barefoot around 0°C and below (including snow): Feet can take quite some cold as long as your body and legs overall are warm and you are moving. If you don’t have to walk (e.g. while sitting in a camp) you have more possibilities like simply shoving your whole legs into a pile of leaves or warming them close to a fire.

  • Well made clogs (all wood) are comfy warm in winter. But making them requires specialist tools and a lot of knowledge. Tools may be improvised, knowledge is essential.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 20:20

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