View Full Version : Tips for drying footwear on the AT?

02-27-2016, 21:33
Can you please provide me some tips you have learned over the years for drying out your footwear?

I have read some of these forums and found a few tips from others such as:
-Removing boots every time you stop for lunch or camp.
-Putting them in direct sunlight during breaks.
-Putting rocks under them overnight.
-Putting boots on their side.
-Removing the laces.
-Putting sticks inside the shoes to spread them out.
-Keep them close to campfire but not too close.
-Keep them inside the tent at night.

I was hoping some of you can provide me with a few more tips. I appreciate your help!

02-27-2016, 21:42
What ever you do DO NOT dry them by the campfire. Keeping them "close but not too close" is easier said then done and often ends in a smoldering shoe. If there is any leather on the shoe uppers, that can shrink with rapid drying.

The best way is just to wear them until they dry. If you have non-water proof shoes and the trail is always wet or raining a lot, you will simply have wet feet for the duration. It doesn't matter if you can dry the shoes over night or not, they will be soaked through 5 minutes later in the morning anyway.

02-27-2016, 22:07
I wear mesh running shoes in all seasons - after wet foot water crossings most of the water pumps out in a 100 ft - even in the winter, 2 hours of dry trail will have shoes + socks fully dry

- mostly plan on having cold wet feet while walking and you will not be disappointed

02-27-2016, 22:56
In freezing conditions, I put footwear in a plastic bag under my knees outside my sleeping bag, so I can get them back on in the morning. Sometimes, if I leave the bag open, they actually dry a little from body heat. But like Slo-go'en says, if you go to bed with wet feet, everything's probably going to be soaking wet in the morning anyway. It's amazing how wet you can get from a little dew. So I don't bother other than to keep the shoes from freezing.

Ditto keeping shoes away from a campfire. My father taught me you can tell an experienced camper from a tenderfoot by looking at the shoes. The tenderfoot will have burnt shoes. (He was actually scolding me for burning my shoes on my first winter campout.)

Auto Draft
02-28-2016, 11:28
Bring safety pins. If your feet get wet, get all the water out, switch to a dry pair of socks, and pin your wet socks to your pack so you can keep moving. Although on a humid/overcast day, they'll never really dry out completely. Safety pins are light and have many purposes though, I'd recommend bringing a few.

02-28-2016, 11:39
Boil water, put it in your water bottle and put your hot water bottle in your shoes. The heat from the water bottle will dry our your shoes, eventually. Usually, its easier to minimize or reduce the damage done to your feet while hiking in wet shoes. Keep your feet from drying out by rubbing vaseline into them at night, before bed. Put on a clean pair of socks. Your feet should be fine by morning.

02-28-2016, 11:54
Put them inside a bread bag, sticking them inside your sleeping bag at the foot end. During the day have them hanging outside your pack getting dry.

02-28-2016, 11:57
Only thing that works is wearing them dry
And that dont work for some footwear

02-28-2016, 12:13
If the hike entails high risks of getting wet long term as a matter of regularity I will factor that into what goes on my feet including choice of shoe which is typically a low cut trail runner. Adding to what already has been stated I might 1) choose a shoe that in itself by way of design, construction, and materials doesn't absorb much water or drys rather quickly compared to some of my other shoe choices. I avoid hiking in HEAVY totally soaked shoes/socks because of the wt on my feet alone. Keeping shoes/SOCKS reasonably free of debris such as mud and unnecessary filth(again wt!) helps my shoe choices dry faster too. Many forget the extra unnecessary wt of dirty wet socks on their feet. Solomon makes a trail runner that is only partially WP;these dry faster than my fully WP trail runners. 2) spray a WPing on the sides of my non WP shoes. It doesn't last forever but makes the shoe less prone to absorbing water/mud/filth everywhere. I usually leave the tongue unsprayed on thicker material shoes to not unduly destroy breathability 3) remove footbeds/orthotics 4) dry at a campfire when the fire has died down to hot coals. Many of my low cut hiking shoes are made largely/entirely from synthetic materials ie: no/little leather. Still have to be conscientious not to "cook" shoes dry 5) carry two pr socks, one a WP ankle or calf height sock with ankle merino socks to change as conditions dictate and swap out to dry socks for cold weather sleeping. 6) Stay vigilant to drying socks and footwear by removing shoes at stops and drying socks on back of pack.

02-28-2016, 13:56
If you have swap or leather bots, then shake the water out of your boots when they get submerged in water, and then wipe out the inside with a pack towel.

Now they are just damp :)

Wear thick wool socks with a liner sock, and change into a dry pair when they start feeling wet on your skin.

The wool will absorb the dampness from the boot, and perspiration from your feet. They will dry while you walk in dry climates pinned to the outside of your pack. In damp climates, put them in the mesh pockets of your windshirt, against your body, and your body heat will dry them 85% of the way. They last 15% will dry over night in your sleeping bag :)

I bring 3 pairs, and never have foot problems.

The sock tricks above work just fine with trail runners too. The only downside of trail runners is that walking in dew covered grass will soak your socks in 10 minutes, and even shallow streams soak your socks.

The downside of WP or leather boots is that they are HEAVY and only keep your feet dry in very shallow streams. In the east, I can usually find a spot to cross streams that has rocks with 3" of water - so WP boots work OK. If you have to wade across a knee deep stream, then leather boots will be damp for days...

Don't ever dry leather boots with a fire though. Even small amounts of heat causes the leather to harden so that creases become blister causing. Medium amounts of heat cause them to shrink a size... Large amounts of heat cause visible problems (like melted soles or scorched leather), but even small amounts of heat cause invisible damage that may ruin their suitability for hiking.

evyck da fleet
02-28-2016, 15:23
When I stop to dry my feet I'll ring out my socks and clean any debris off them. I'll put GoldBond on my feet, then on the bottom of my socks and finally the insoles of my shoes before putting them back on. If the sun pops out I'll stop for lunch and leave them out. Helps of its windy. I think all these things help but ultimately I have to wear them dry.

02-28-2016, 16:42
Wet shoes will b nothing compared to all the challenges.


02-29-2016, 11:54
I use regular Trail Runners, Dexshell waterproof socks with Injinji sock Liners and I have no issues with wet feet.

Zach ADK
02-29-2016, 14:07
I wear sandals anytime the temps will not be getting below the 40s at night. They are light and dry fast, and they have good tread. Some people wear socks in their sandals in colder weather but I do most of my overnights in the summer months so I haven't had to resort to that. I wear Teva sandals because they are available in my size (16) but for those with normal foot sizes there are many other options.

High Mileage
02-29-2016, 21:03
I did my best to take breaks with my shoes and socks in the sun and me in the shade except my feet.
I would flip my socks inside out and puff them out as if my feet were inside them.
I didn't have any particular methods on drying them out though as you are at the mercy of the A.T.
The sun crushes bacteria though so air out and catch some rays on those particular spots.

02-29-2016, 22:15
The best way to dry footwear on the AT is to wear footwear that dries quickly. This would be trail runners. If you are going to wear trail runners, however, you need to make sure your load is routinely below 35-40 pounds, based on my experience. I am over 215 pounds and found my trail runners were at their max protection at a 38 pound pack weight. I like taking them off for breaks, and airing them out at night, but honestly, if they are wet and the day is dry, you will walk them dry within an hour or so. I also wear my camp shoes on water crossings. This keeps them dry as well.

03-01-2016, 15:48
take the inserts out and don't go with a boot so with a trail shoe or trail running shoe

03-03-2016, 23:43
An old trick we used back in the day to dry out wet leather boots was to heat some stones next to the fire. You don't want them too hot to handle, but warm enough that you need a bandana to pick them up. Make sure you pull out the insoles before placing the hot rocks in your boots. It's not a long term solution as it wears on the leather if you do it every night for weeks on end.

We used do also put hot rocks in socks inside our cheap, heavy Walmart sleeping bags. That worked amazing well at warming up cold, wet feet.

Like has been mentioned, keep a clean, dry pair of socks strictly for sleeping. Really, don't hike in them. Clean is part of the magic - body oils and moisture buildup in the socks. Your feet need a dry break. Clean feet with something to remove body oils (water and soap, alcohol, cleaning wipes) are dry feet. Your feet want to breathe when they're not in hiking shoes. Clean feet can breathe freely!

Drala Hiker

03-10-2016, 13:54
this is an older trick I've seen military veterans on the trail do that works every dang time and the shoes come out dusty - stop in town at a laundromat, put shoes in a bag, and give them 20 min in a big gas dryer!

Leo L.
03-10-2016, 16:05
I've seen spin dryers in use on some Alpine huts here. You wouldn't believe how much water they can extract from leather boots soaked after an early summer (read: soft wet snow) glacier hike.

04-01-2016, 14:40
I like the NOT waterproof boots better, I think they dry out faster. To keep my feet dry I use Rocky's waterproof socks (expensive at $65) on snow or rain days. I carry an extra pair of liner and thick hiking socks and stop mid day to air out and change to dry socks. I use safety pins to hang the mornings socks on my pack so they can dry in the air while hiking. If anything is still a bit wet I put it in my sleeping bag at night.

Hope this helps!