Pants, Socks, Boots: Does the Order you Dress in Really Matter? - ITS Tactical

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Pants, Socks, Boots: Does the Order you Dress in Really Matter?

By Bryan Black

Pants Socks Boots

I would argue yes, the order does matter. Something that’s been ingrained in me since my days in BUD/s is the order in which I dress.

As I was getting dressed this morning, putting my pants on first, I thought I’d write about why we were taught back in the day to dress in a certain order.

Pants, Socks, Boots

The reasoning is this; if you’re suddenly awoken in the middle of the night and have to move out, that muscle memory of putting your pants on first means that you’re somewhat protected from the elements if that’s all you have time to put on. Especially if you’re going commando.

Next is socks, which I feel don’t necessarily stand on their own. If you have to move out and you’ve got pants on socks on, yes there’s some protection on your feet, but it can be easier to move barefoot than it can be with socks in certain situations.

With boots being the last thing on the list, you’ve got enough to be able to run, move efficiently and evade if necessary. Of course the elements have a lot to do with this methodology, as keeping your core warm is more important than your legs.

David Guttenfelder / Associated Press

I’ve always been able to see the reasoning behind why we were taught this though and granted it had a lot to do with the time constraints we were under at BUD/s to get our gear on and move out to the next evolution. That’s not to discredit this information though and hopefully you can see the value in it too.

This doesn’t necessarily have to apply to a soldier either, which is why I still do this. If something awakens me in the middle of the night, I’ve always got a pair of pants next to me just in case. More than likely though I’d just grab my gun and negotiate the threat, but at least my pants are there if I need them.

I also wanted to bring up this information to get you thinking about situations that might come up while you’re sleeping. Apart from a break-in, there’s also fires to consider and whether your evacuation plan requires clothing. If it doesn’t, it should. Especially with the winter upon us, having to climb out of a window on short notice without clothing to protect you from the elements isn’t ideal.

Following this will also ensure you don’t stumble out of a bunker with pink boxers on like the soldier above, despite how awesome that is!

What do you think, does the order you dress in really matter?

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  • Jeff House

    I responded to my dog’s insistance that something was awry. Long story short, I ended up chatting with responding officers barefoot, in my boxer briefs wearing a tshirt and an 870 slung around my neck in the rain. I now keep a set of thin nylon hiking pants at the ready along with slippers.

    thanks for the articles guys…love the practicality of them.

    • Thanks for the kind words Jeff! I’m sure that was a sight for sure and a perfect reason to keep a pair of pants at the ready!

    • caribou

      I’ve got to see people roaming around in whatever they were (or weren’t) sleeping in too many times. One favor though, when the police show up, set the gun down. I’m happier than hell it worked out for you and you were able to defend yourself and your family but its always hard to figure out who is who and it causes way too much stress for everyone invovled if your standing on the porch pointing the gun in the direction the guy ran off…..

  • bill

    As a fire fighter on of the things that I have learned is to get dressed very quickly. On of the things I always do now out of habit is to set my pants and boots up at the bed side. What I do is when I go to bed at night I put my pants all the way down on my boots. Now I normally wear danner side zip boots. So when you get up you step into the boots zip them and pull up your pants. Done.

    • Adragan

      I do the same.. but i’m just a student who wants to sleep that “five minutes more”.. So, when i realize that i’m late, thats the best and quick way to go..

    • colin

      It takes a bit of preparation the night before to have this set up in the event that you could be late. Are you late often?

    • That’s pretty efficient Bill! Might have to try the pants already on the boots like that and sleep in socks! LOL

  • Kim

    The first thing I grab is my Desert Warrior with light, and if I have time for pants, great. If you are a home invader, you will have your man card taken from you by a woman wearing a Kimber and tattoo.

    • Kim, I think this wins for the comment of the month! LOL!

    • Apex-Mike

      Agreed, but I would still be interested in what the tattoo look like…. Some can scary you more than a Kimber 😉

    • Jonathan

      Marry me? It’ll be a match made in heaven since I have the standard Kimber Warrior hahaha. Have to agree with Bryan, comment of the month right there.

    • Kenny

      Gigity, gigity. Sorry, did I say that out loud?

    • Reddog

      Might even be worth having a corner taken from the Man Card just to see that. 🙂

    • JS

      Fact: a woman carrying a 45 is a badass.

      People ask me why I prefer a 45 over 9mm, and I say, ‘Which would you rather be shot by?’

    • Jonathan

      Neither one. I’ve still yet to find someone who wants to get shot by a .22, much less a 9mm. .45 is great, 10mm is better, 20mm is even better, you can pretty much keep going with the “This round is better than this round”. A .45 at home with no ammo b/c its expensive or you don’t likw shooting it, does you no good. Use what you can handle and practice with most, so you become more proficient. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my 1911, there are several others I would like to buy and any woman who uses a 1911 or any .45 is badass. However there is absolutely nothing wrong with my 9mms, both Sigs. My nightstand gun is a Sig p226 Enhanced Elite with a Streamlight TLR-2 with 18+1 of Winchester Ranger Talons. I for one would not want to be shot with one.

  • Mustang

    My brother-in-law spent the night, and was warned (again) not to open the door (to go get his AM nicotine fix) until my wife or I cleared the alarm system. 0530..alarm blares..extremely large naked man with a .45 and a tac light confronts forgetful inlaw in laundry room..bad juju. He might remember the sight of an armed naked gorilla, and regale his pals over how damn funny I looked, but he to this day has no idea how close he came to never having to remember about the alarm again.

    I usually have sweats next to the bed, to pull on in a quick moment, but that time it was as Kim put it ” a Glock and smile” for my brother-in-law. Personally I can go in the buff if I have to, but I want shoes of some kind on my feet. Naked and armed is manageable, but broken glass on your feet hurts.

    • Hah! Great story brother! I like that he was warned (again) LOL!

    • Kenny

      I hit dislike by mistake. Stupid fat fingers on tiny Android screen.

    • Cpt.HardDerps

      +1 for gettin’ it dun

    • Jeff

      Now if that isn’t a good enough motivator to stop smoking…

  • Kake

    Having been a soldier in the norwegian army, I would actually disagree with your order when it comes to winter warfare. During the winter when it’s cold you will usually wear thick, long socks and pants that makes it slightly difficult to get your socks on after you have put your pants on. Also, socks are very important for winter warfare as your boots wont help isolate very much without them. So while I do agree with your order for summer and fall, I would recommend against it for winter. You need those socks if you want to keep your toes intact.

  • Brandon

    Y father spent 2 tours of duty in Vietnam, he can sense/feel the air moving in a quiet house. My step sister snuck in one night after 1200 HRS, and was supprised to see him standing behind her when she turned around from shutting and locking the door, he was in his tighty whiteys, and Barreta 9mm. When she turned around, she screamed, pissed down both legs, & started crying… I’m pretty sure she never came in late again, or snuck around the house tiptoeing.

  • Reddog

    Wait, we’re NOT supposed to fight in pink boxers? No wonder I used to catch so much crap!

    For almost 25 years, my wife has given me a hard time about having my pants hanging next to the bed and my shoes out as we turn in. I usually explain I’ve always done it and always will. Now I can show her this article to let her know I’m not the only one.

  • siegrisj

    Something I have been wanting to do is stash a small duffel bag with a change of clothes for the family outside in the shed or something in case we have to evac the house in short notice due to a fire or whatever.

  • Kenny

    I used to always keep a pair of shoes next to the bed. I’m a little accident prone and have broken toes while heading to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I can’t remember when I stopped doing that – leaving shoes beside the bed – but after reading this article I’ll definitely be starting that habit again. I normally sleep in sleep shorts and either a tank top or a t-shirt – 16 year old step-daughter doesn’t always knock before entering our bedroom – so jumping out of bed, into a pair of shoes and out the door isn’t a problem.

  • Jason Dellinger

    Great article! It’s one of those things that we don’t think about but just as relevant as any other topic.

    One of the things that has stuck in my mind is the scene from Die Hard where McClane has to walk across broken glass barefoot. Although it is Hollywood, it’s still a very graphic reminder of the necessity of shoes.

    In the case of a home invasion or break in, you have only seconds to make ready to defend yourself and ensure that others are in process of getting to designated areas. In this case I can fight with nothing more than a shotgun and boxers with a bandoleer over the shoulder. I don’t worry about shoes, pants, or eyeglasses. There’s time for these later. With women, there is a distinct tactical advantage if you must fight in your PJ’s (or less) as it will certainly cause a life saving pause or distraction in your aggressor.

    In the case of fire or natural disaster, we still may only have a few moments to do the same but the criteria is different. With fire, things like linoleum and carpet burn and melt making some kind of footwear essential to escape uninjured. I prefer the slippers with boot tread bottoms available at outdoor retailers. For sudden natural disasters such as tornadoes and earthquakes, there will be property damage and you will be forced outside at some point with sharp objects littering the ground. Furthermore, some type of protection from the elements is required.

    My suggestion for emergency clothing is a pair of surplus Nomex flight coveralls. They are very quick to don, flame retardant, offer excellent protection and warmth and have plenty of pockets for any items that you may need. You can even pre-position items in the pockets and not worry about loosing them because of the zippered pockets.

  • Doc Soto

    Some habits are hard to break. My wife asks me all the time why I have shoes and pants at the foot of the bed. I always tell her it is for the same reason she has that cute little subcompact 9mm springfield XD next to her side of the bed. I work nights and she spends more time on the range than I do, so intruder beware of the cute little blonde with the tac light and 9mm.

  • Steve

    Do you advise sock and sock, or sock and shoe? Some people have strong opinions.

  • Great suggestions here. I keep a kevlar vest between my mattress and box spring, so I can crouch behind the bed, pull it out and strap it on before grabbing my weapon.

  • Any man OR woman who breaks into my comfort zone is met by a naked man wielding a Roman Gladius and Scutum. F_ck shoes!!! ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

  • JLS

    I’ve had this thought a lot. First off, I’m like most on here that keep a pair of tennis shoes and some pants of some kind by my bed when I get ready for the night. That beings said… I’ve definitely jumped up in the middle of the night with just a Glock and a smile looking for an intruder when a cat knocked over something in my place. I figure time is of the essence in those moments.

    But to leave an idea for those of you that do sleep in the nude… I keep my EDC bag next to the door with my keys in it. If I can… I’ll grab that and go…yes Buck Naked if I must. I keep a trunk bag with boots, spare set of clothes, down to thermal undies in my car.

  • wayne

    Good article and comments. I have no problem here—I sleep fully dressed. OK, it’s a joke, I remove my shoes. Really, this is like backing your vehicle all the time. Rarely matters but if/when it does, it’s easier to pull forward than try backing.

  • TOR

    I am also a blogger so I know every post can’t be a home run and some aren’t even a base hit but I don’t see much discussion here. If you are wearing everything it’s pretty much got to be pants, socks, boots. Why? Show me how to put on your boots, then socks then pants, next question.

    Short notice crash at 3 am or just getting out of the shower may have more than one plausible answer. Personally if it is in the house I would just arm myself and get there, sleeping in shorts, naked and covered in soap from the shower, whatever. If it was outside I would put on some sort of footwear and then go.

    • You may be a blogger, but I don’t see how your lack of understanding the point of this article is contributing to the discussion that IS going on.

    • TOR

      Every once in awhile you leave a comment or write something and then come back later and wonder “WTF was I thinking.” This was one of those times for me.

      A pair of boots and pants by the side of the bed might not be a bad idea. I always have pants there because that is where I take them off, wouldn’t be hard to set some old boots there.

  • Jeff

    I don’t think i’ve ever gotten dressed in a different order…

    I try to sleep in pajama pants for such reasons, winter is not your friend.

    I also have one of two options i keep beside the bed for footwear, having had times almost immediate go is needed. One is an old pair of HH Tank boots, straps are faster than laces for me… and a pair of fully toed fixed in the back sandals. I can run and turn just like in normal shoes wearing these, and they are extremely fast to put on.

  • John C.

    I always tell my wife that anyone that comes in the house with intent to harm me or my mine will be facing a naked man with a hatchet and a shotgun. I figure it would really get in a bad guy’s OODA loop being assaulted by a crazy nude man…or he will so busy laughing it will give me the edge.

  • BlackhawkCY

    My way is:
    Pants, Socks and/or Boots
    i.e. once i wear the pants if time allows, i will wear the socks and the boots otherwise jump into the boots and grab the socks for later. Socks provide little traction and not enough insulation thus are pretty much useless without the boots.

    I also have the boot laces in a single knot so that they are easy enough to wear without having to undo them and so they do not hang on the ground for me to trip on.

    As said before if time allows I will remove them later for me to wear the socks or tie them up properly later. Another reason for this is to make sure you do not need to pass the laces through the holes all over again.

    Lastly before I wear any shoes/boots I flip them upside down. It takes less than a second to do so but that way you make sure you do not find any nasty surprises in them.

    In the choice of shoes I try to make sure the shoes I will wear will not make squeaky noises even when wet.
    That way if I am to go outside and then return back in to continue with the rest of the house I can keep a low sound signature.

  • gaston

    In the Navy (Argentina at least) we are taught 1) socks n´boots 2) pants. In an emergency you can skip the socks anyway. There´s the experience aboard the cruiser ARA Belgrano, sunk by an english sub in 1982 during the Malvinas/Falklands war. When it was hit by a torpedo, the engine room caught fire. The decks got so hot that hands that were sleeping and scrambled for upper decks barefoot never made it. So you are trained boots first for emergency “abandon ship” calls. I´ve heard sailors at HMS Sheffield had a similar experience. Even when wearing their shoes, the rubber sole couldn´t protect their feet from the deck´s heat.

    Something to have on your mind if you work amphibious.

  • lester

    pants are always a plus if u ever have to get out but in the case of the firs or smoke alarm going off i would hit the floor first before trying to jump up and get dressed depending on the height of the bed a person is sleeping or if they just stand up it does not take a lot of smoke to kill ya just food for thought

  • clarktyler

    Rock Out With Your Glock Out!

  • JuliettWhiskeyNiner

    For me, Always got a pair of jeans and usual some zip up side boots by me. on the window side (less than an arms reach) I have a Fenix LD20 ready to rock with my phone that’s charging up. By the bed is a Maglite 3C with LED drop-in. Hung up up on the outside of the wardrobe is a flak vest next to a chest rig carrying two sets of cuffs (one chain, one rigid) as well as some other goodies in it’s many pockets. So before I’ve even opened the door of the bedroom I’m clothed, wearing the vest, lighting it up, and rocking something big/heavy that I happen to find along the way (UK/EUR based so nothing overkill or premeditated is really allowed).

    Si vis pacem, para bellum. (“If you wish for peace, prepare for war”).


    • sambo


  • Bill

    As for me, I keep a pair of Merrell slides right by the bed. Granted they won’t necessarily keep my feet completely warm and toasty if I need to get outside in the cold, but, they are quick and easy to get on, provide a modicum of foot and toe protection, and they are “Quiet”. I too, grew up in the Viet Nam era and am a very light sleeper and I have a keen sense of smell. I remember scaring the beejezus out of our son one night when he came sneaking into our house. We had fire escapes on the upstairs bedrooms and I heard something squeak and smelled something odd. Needless to say, he learned it was better to call home, even if it was late, than to try to sneak in.

  • LCZ


    Pants are great for you guys, but a BRA is #1 on my list of things to put on before wandering around in the dark with a gun.

  • Threadbndr

    Slip on shoes with rubber soles and pjs. (S&W not optional.)

    Funny story (well, it is now.) Son comes home for predeployment leave. Goes out with buddies and comes in late – no problem, he’s a big boy now and his friend is the DD. BUT he managed to loose his house key somewhere in the evening’s rake’s progress. So he crawls in the window. Not the first time one of us has had to do that.

    What he didn’t realize is that in the two years since he’d last lived at home, I’d stopped being used to the noise of someone else in the house. He was laughing to his buddy right up until there was a tac light and a lazer sight dot on the pair of them. Thank GOD I was awake enough to aquire target properly.

    I shook for about a hour afterwards and he sobered up pretty damn quick, too. I think he didn’t worry so much about me when he was in Iraq after that……..

  • Winterhart

    A trick for your boots is to tie off the ends of the laces at just the right length where you can still *just* slip your foot into the boot. This way, you minimize spare lace and also give yourself a reasonable chance of the boot staying secure-ish on your foot if you don’t have time to tie the laces.

    This doesn’t work if the top eyelets are speedlace hooks of course!

  • Good article, but I would like to add… it’s not only important what you put on first, but just how quick and unhampered can you access your pants, socks and boots? We live in a cartel/crime ridden area of Mexico. Kidnappings are common here in our neighborhood and we stay on a yellow or orange level of alert most of the time during daylight hours, and especially at night. I have more than once found intruders in my gardens and elsewhere on my property. They were all armed. So was I.

    I’ve taught my son, now 25-years-old, that he should always place his clothing in the same location and even facing the same direction, when laying it out before going to bed. He was for years notorious for peeling off a shirt and his pants and tossing them in the corner on the floor or throwing them carelessly over a chair, sometimes with the pants having one leg turned inside out. His boots were wherever he had left them the previous evening. This finally changed a year ago when he awoke to an armed intruder in his home while his wife and 2-year-old daughter slept next to him. He could not find his pants and could not find his weapon due to his having carelessly placed it in different locations most every time he put it away.

    I keep my personal protection weapon in the drawer next to my bed; it also is always in the same position, barrel forward facing away from me, lying on its left side with the hammer to the left. The gun is always kept in the same unblocked access, back right corner of the drawer, where I can place my hand on it in a ready mode in the dark, even while I’m still half asleep. Intruders have awakened me before, usually the dogs had them down, and that gave me a few seconds to pull on my pants. At night I place my pants on the foot-board of the bed, always facing in the same direction, with the drawstring facing down and the legs hanging down the outside of the bed foot-board. I can reach and grab the pants on either outside corner and put them on in 3 seconds. I’ve timed it. T-shirt is an option if I have time, depending on the threat level. I don’t want my white skin glowing in the dark while searching out the problem, so I wear a black t-shirt along with my black nylon warm-up pants. No, I’m not into the Ninja, all black clothing look, but it helps to not pull on bright clothing that will give away your location at night. Socks and boots are a secondary option. Brum

  • Koopa

    As a fire/rescue technician, we keep our turnout gear ready to go, so that we can stumble out of bed at any time of night. Our pants are lowered around our boots and placed right outside our door on the truck. I can step into my boots, pull up my pants, and jump onto the truck in a matter of seconds.

    It took me quite a long time to figure out that maybe I could do that with my personal clothing as well. At night, I now keep my jeans neatly lowered around a pair of boots. I either wear socks to bed, or have a sock neatly hanging over the cuff of each boot.  I can swing my feet over the edge of the bed, place my feet into my boots, pull up my pants and be ready in a matter of seconds.

    Theoretically you could use any type of pants with this application (jeans, sweatpants, pajamas, etc.). I prefer jeans or something with a belt and pockets. The reason is that I can keep keys, knife, flashlight, wallet, etc. in my pockets and ready to roll. Also, I can keep my weapon holstered on my belt.

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