Thursday, August 13, 2009

Using A Portyanki

Portyanki or footwrap was, up until recently, standard footwear for the Russian soldier.

The story is that the Portyanki was introduced to Russia by Peter The Great. If you're interested in reading more of the history of the Portyanki, please visit Foot Talk.

Why should you be interested in learning about the venerable Portyanki?


The Portyanki is a strip of cloth wound around each of one's feet taking the place of a sock. There may come a time when you may not have a pair of servicable socks, or even shoes and you will need something to protect your feet.

Strips of cloth can be found almost anywhere and can be easily obtained by sacrificing items of clothing. Make sure you evaluate your needs before cutting up clothing in the field. You might make things worse for yourself in the future if you sacrifice the wrong item.

If you find yourself without shoes, a sole can be added to the Portyanki by adding a layer (or several) of cardboard or folded paper (newspaper). This along with a good thickness of cloth will get you across gravel, broken glass and similar without damaging your feet. This is intended as a stop gap measure only, and not recommended for extended wear.

The Portyanki can be as long or as short as practical for you and the size of shoe or boot you are wearing. Adding layers can add insulation in the winter, and fewer layers will allow moisture to easily wick away in the summer.

If you are in a survival situation and only have access to a poorly fitting (not your size or heavily worn) boots or shoes, additional layers of material may help the shoes or boots fit better. Do not rely on this for a long term solution. Poorly fitting footwear can cause additional problems in the long run.

How to wrap your feet the Red Army Way
with drawings and text by Simon Vanlint
Other nonsense by Arkady Rodinko

ONLY the Russians would come up with the idea of footwraps rather than socks. It is just so....Russian.
Simon sends us these drawings taken from life, from modern Soviet Soldiers donning their wraps. The pictures speak for themselves...

1. 2. Fold Cloth corner over toes to tuck in.

3. Pull Coth right round over the top of the foot and pull tight. 4. Tuck Toe in
Smooth out edge.

5. Pull remainder up the side of the leg 6. Pull round the back of the ankle tight.

7. Tuck in low or high. 8. Pull breech leg down over foot clothand tie up over cloth to stop it slipping down.

The cloth is white and heavier than plain cotton. Sorry I don't know precisly what cloth should be used. ...The best material we have found is a white linen often used for dustsheets, the exact demensions are again a mistory, I personally cut mine 36cm by 118 cm. The initial trick is to get them around the feet nice and smooth, then wrap them around the back of the ankle and tuck them in, in theory they should be held up by the ties on the long-johns, or even the breeches. This is the basic meathod I have seen with my own eyes, no doubt there may be other ways to do it. If your boots are too big the foot cloths will slip down. They must be a snug fit within the boot to stay in place. If you find you are still loosing your portyanki during the day, try using a longer cloth and don't forget, don't use cloth that is too thin!

Simon Valint

A handy video to watch:


HermitJim said...

Now that's a pretty hndy thing to know...jut in case!

Thanks for the information, buddy!

Ken said...

...well,add this to the list of things 'i should've known'...yer good Bro!...yer good...

...i'm no tenderfoot,hell i'd work barefoot if i could...but could be very useful tip indeed,thanx Catman...

ErinAndBrad said...

Excellent idea!! Great post Cat!

Hey, did you catch this from

It talks about economy tanking and bankers holiday.:(