Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stars & Stripes | Can Nylon Stockings Prevent Blisters on Marches? - Military Use for Pantyhose

Soldier being treated by medic for blisters
In the past, we've reported here at The Nylon Gene on the not-so-well-kept military secret that our soldiers overseas have made use of pantyhose for more than just filters to keep desert sand out of engine intakes. Now we read it directly from Stars & Stripes--the primary news outlet of the Defense Department. Jeff Schogol takes a look at this in his Feb. 24th column, exploring the question of whether nylon stockings or pantyhose are effective at preventing blisters on those long marches.

The article's author readily admits his days of long marches are well past, so he can't speak with firsthand authority on this. So he consulted Army Lt. Colonel Christopher Garver, among others, to see how widespread wearing of nylon hosiery is in the military, and whether it works.

Col. Garver, a 10-year infantry veteran, reported “There were guys I know who wore nylons because it worked for their feet.” Currently serving as a spokesman for the Army, he notes that some wear pantyhose and others wear specialized socks that also wick away sweat. The choice depends primarily on individual preference.

Dr. Stephen Pribut, a podiatrist in Washington DC, recommends the socks over pantyhose because the Coolmax socks can keep the moisture away from the feet--which can also contribute to blisters. Of course, in hot climates, pantyhose are going to be cooler than socks.

Pribut stressed that servicemembers should use whatever solution works best for them. “If someone has successfully used pantyhose, it's OK with me. The main thing is it's really important to go with what’s worked well in the past.”

The takeaway from the article is that if wearing pantyhose under socks keeps soldier's blister free, the author says to 'go for it.' He suggests we call them "Freedom Stockings."

Of course, they may not be aware there are options available that are more specifically designed for men than off-the-shelf pantyhose. ActivSkin has long been a supporter of the military, and tries to offer discounts to servicemen and their families sending care packages to them. If you have a male member of the military stationed overseas, consider sending them a pair of ActivSkin to try out. When a father living in my neighborhood shipped out to Iraq last year, I donated two pair of A677s and they seemed to be well received.

An additional item of note: the value of nylon legwear to soldiers on long marches is directly transferable to outdoorsmen as well. A hunter or camper hiking over rough terrain into a distant campsite or deer stand can benefit in the same way. Not only will pantyhose protect from blisters while hiking, they are also effective at keeping ticks off the lower body, and horseback riders report beneficial effects at avoiding or minimizing saddle sores, as well.

So, the rumors are true. Some of our military men have been wearing pantyhose, and they're seeing benefits from it. If you are one who thinks pantyhose equals feminine, I wouldn't recommend saying it out loud to the next Marine you meet... at least until you make sure his M16 is unloaded.


  1. Had to pass this on to my neighbor, a former Marine. The reaction should be interesting.

  2. Good work with the blog! Keep it up!

  3. Thanks for passing it along. Please do share links to this story everywhere you can. I posted a link to it on Twitter, and linked to it on my Facebook page. If you want to share it on Twitter, or elsewhere, use the following shortened URL:

    PS, You can also use the 'Share With Sidebar' right below the article.

  4. We used pantyhose in the military service on long marches, but not mainly because of blisters but something we called "the wolf", a rash on the upper thigh. I think 3 or 4 guys out of 25 guys from our room did it.

    Definitely a no go is pantyhose without socks because of the heat like mentioned in the article. You can't wear military boots without socks in my opinion.

  5. Thanks for the added info, Mike.

    I would expect that you wouldn't want to wear military boots with only nylons on your feet/legs, as you said. I've done enough hiking to know that they're probably not durable enough. Once, I was hiking with pantyhose on under my jeans and unfortunately chose 'low-rise' socks (an oversight in my packing). It was not good. Firstly, since they wouldn't come up far enough to reach the top of the boots, they rubbed my legs above the ankle a lot. Although I didn't get blisters, it sure wasn't comfortable.

    Another issue, not related to blistering, was that the low-rise socks kept sliding down under my heels. So, every half mile or so I had to stop and pull my foot out of my boots and readjust my socks--while those with me waited. NOT a good situation. It may not have been as bad had I had tighter boots that I could lace up snug against my feet/legs. But, these were zippered winter boots that slid around alot. I learned my lesson about not double-checking my packing on that trip.

  6. I have no idea about it but I will ask the opinion of my brother ,I just here that they are wearing pantyhose in the military service on long marches with a socks to protect from heat.

  7. I do agree with this article. Since I'm used to wear support tights under my running socks, no more issue with blisters.

  8. Hello, Steve. Thank you for your nice blog. I mentioned your product on my blog, please have a look. I am open to any comments.

    In terms of blisters, yes, pantyhose helps a little bit. It needs to be some kind of opaque and silky hose, like Neon 40 Wolford for example that I am wearing right now.

    However, it doesn't completely prevent the problem. I got blisters even when I was wearing pantyhose. The best thing to do is to apply a bandaid on the spot where the blister happens BEFORE you even go out. It's like insurance. I do that sometimes with new shoes.


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