View Full Version : Waterproof Boots or Not? NOBO starting May 1st

04-20-2017, 17:12
I usually only wear my waterproof boots (Danner Mountain Light) if I think it's going to be really wet or cold. I can stand in a puddle of water and nothing gets in. I love them. I liken hiking in them to driving a monster truck. I just plow through anything. They're pretty comfy too. But in the summer months they can be overkill.

For summer hiking, I prefer the ventilation of my non-waterproof boots (Merrell Moab Ventilator). Super lightweight, comfy, robust and lots of ventilation.

Any thoughts on which will be good for a NOBO starting from Spring on May 1st?

Is the trail really that wet and muddy? Are my feet going to be constantly soaked if I go with the Merrells?

04-20-2017, 20:06
Not just no but he'll no. Just one opinion.

04-20-2017, 20:11
Non waterproof trail runners are my go to for everything except snow.

I want a shoe that is light, breathable, and dries fast.

04-20-2017, 20:19
+1 to both above

04-20-2017, 22:45
Everybody above is correct. Take the Danners for now, switch to the Moabs later. You'll appreciate the plow-through now as well as the resistance to dew. Everyone is right, though, you'll eventually want the Moabs, I just see no reason to wear them out now when the Danners can be of some use.

04-20-2017, 22:51
synthetic tennis shoes.

04-20-2017, 23:14
No to waterproof.

04-20-2017, 23:15
Waterproof would be useful in the snowy Smokies in March. Other than that, stick to non-waterproof boots, something that supports your feet the way they need support. If the Moabs work for you with a full pack, go for it. But skip the Goretex, just make sure you have a pair of socks you can keep dry to change/swap as you go.

04-20-2017, 23:38
+1 to both above

#2 to both...

If you choose the waterproof ones, you might ask your loved ones to pray for your feet... (JK)... You need breathable shoes that can easily dry after getting wet. (Yes, you will get wet. Put your shoe in a bucket of water and then wear it for a hike. That would be what the waterproof shoe is like.)

As another poster advised, keep an extra pair of socks to change into to help the drying. (Personally, I have three pairs of socks on a distance hike: one on and two in my bag).

04-21-2017, 01:25
The advantage waterproof shoes have is that you can stride right through puddles on an otherwise dry day, and keep your feet dry. So many wet & muddy areas are completely blown out because weekenders dont want their clean shoes dirty, or by more serious hikers who've just dried their trailrunners, so they tiptoe around the mud, which just makes it all worse. Waterproof shoes are as much for the trail as they are for you.

04-21-2017, 06:45
I just splash through water in my trail runners. My feet get wet. No big deal. They dry in a few minutes, unless I'm constantly in mud puddles. Hiked up Rumford Whitecap last weekend. The trail is pretty much a stream bed and this time of year is all snow melt. Still no big deal. Feet got cold. They warmed up once we got out into the sun. I.Did.Not.Die

04-21-2017, 06:53
Wear what you wany
It wont make much difference

Not everyone is capable of learning thru others experiences
Some have to learn to things for themselves

Plenty of places to buy new shoes along way

04-21-2017, 07:22
Have you tried waterproof shoes before? I tried a pair once - couldn't get rid of them fast enough. It was like walking around with my foot in an oven. Having them full of water would be even better. They'd never dry.

04-21-2017, 08:10
I prefer a pair of well oiled, leather boots with a gusseted tongue. You can still stand in ankle deep water but don't get sweat trapped in them like gore-tex. Keeping them clean and oiled on a thru hike could be a pain though.

04-21-2017, 09:16
steer clear of waterproof boots. after a few hours walking around in them, your feet will be soaked with sweat. And don't buy into the goretex hype about breathability. It doesn't work. Period. Anything that's waterproof will keep you sweaty on the inside. That's why a lot of raingear has venting and pit zips. Because in spite of being touted as breathable because they're made of goretex or eVent or whatever flavor of the month, they trap moisture and heat.

04-21-2017, 11:41
I've been struggling for a long time trying to avoid the discomfort of wet feet. I've used everything from bread bags, waterproof socks, and was about to try waterproof shoes. I bought a pair last fall, but they are way to heavy.

Then I ran across Andrew Skurka's blog about keeping feet dry. Basically, it's impossible. He did however recommend protecting the skin against water with Bonnie's Balm, a waxy paste that prevents water from penetrating into the skin. I decided to give it a try.

I coated my feet for a couple days, then put on my Moab Ventilators and went to the state park nearby after a heavy rain. I intentionally walked through ankle deep puddles.

I'm convinced this is the answer. Feet got wet, yes, but no discomfort. Forget the waterproof shoes and socks.

04-21-2017, 12:11
Mesh trail runners, merino wool socks = happy feet, wet or dry. Your feet and boots will get wet, period. No matter how waterproof they are. (Note that every pair of boots and trail runners sold comes from the factory with a big hole in it, which allows water inside the shoe when it rains hard enough for long enough. Which it will on the AT.) Mesh trail runner dry quickly and wool socks keep the feetsies warm when they get wet.

04-21-2017, 13:09
I found the thought of wet feet is much worse than the reality of wet feet.

04-21-2017, 13:47
I always wear waterproof boots. But that is because I do the bulk of my hiking in GSMNP. While the AT is a ridge trail, the bulk of GSMNP trails cross numerous streams and feeder creeks. Then there is the humidity which can make plants along side the trail wet even when it hasn't rained in a week.

I wear thin nylon liner socks with thick wool socks with waterproof boots, and even when hiking in the middle of summer, I don't have a problem with "wet" feet.

04-21-2017, 16:15
Well ventilated trail runners. Even those Moabs are overkill, IMO.

If it's wet enough for long enough your feet are going to get wet anyway. Better to have shoes that dry out quickly while walking.... think about how long it takes leather to dry!

Not to mention the constant weight penalty every single step from wearing unnecessarily heavy footwear.

04-21-2017, 20:54

This thread is hilarious. It just goes to show: people are different. Sounds like a lot of folks here suffer from sweaty feet, and don't generally take well to the heat... I'm not one of them.

I mean, yeah, my feet sweat a little bit, but never to the point of being uncomfortable or causing blisters like many of the above posters mentioned.

I wear my Gortex lined, leather outer Danner's all the time. I never have problems. My original question was concerning whether or not there would be lots of puddles and heavy rains so that my feet would be constantly soaked. I don't like wet feet. Danner's are basically 100% waterproof. I've had mine for 4 years and have never felt water penetrate them, even while standing in creeks.

I'm the type of person who doesn't really suffer in the heat, like many others I come across. The hottest days don't really phase me. But when it comes to the cold, I'm like a baby. I can't handle it. I have to add 30degrees to the EN rating of every sleeping bag I use because they just can't keep me warm. So for me, I'll be bring a 0 degree bag with me next month because I expect temperatures to be in the 30's and 40's.

04-21-2017, 22:47
I've been struggling for a long time trying to avoid the discomfort of wet feet.

Only times my wet feet are uncomfortable, is when toes are numb due to being cold and wet, or also have sand in shoe frim creek crossing

04-23-2017, 10:55
Your feet sound like mine. It would have to be real hot for my feet to get sweaty. Again, sounds like the Danners are the way to go at first, then switch to the Moab's later on.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

04-23-2017, 11:13
I highly suggest Gortex boots for the Smokies. It's a massive mud hole right now and getting worse. Dodging puddles and mud hopping rocks sucks, you're feet will get soaked, so might as well walk right through it and not erode the trail. Also, bring some camp shoes. At the end of a long day you're not going to want deal with mud covered shoes and your soggy feet will thank you.

Old Hiker
04-23-2017, 13:10
I always wore water-proof Timberlands with Darn Tough wool socks. Only a few times in NY, NY were my feet wet from internal sweat, NOT from external moisture. The only times water would infiltrate is when the toe bumpers were pulled back from the leather. 2 part epoxy fixed that problem.

The Darn Tough socks would dry overnight pretty well, usually.

04-23-2017, 14:25
The longest hikes I've been on have been around 60 miles. I prefer Gore-Tex boot and rainwear. I wear merino wool socks year round and my feet are always comfortable. I remember on those long hikes the people without the Gore-Tex wish they had it and I way glad I did. On that trip it rained at least once a day and there were spells where it rained all day. In addition with the raingear those that had waterproof/breathable stayed dry while those that didn't were soaked with sweat. I also prefer having full size hiking boots I like having ankle support.

04-26-2017, 11:16
You people just can't make up your minds!


Thank you for complicating things even more for me.

04-26-2017, 12:21
You people just can't make up your minds!


Thank you for complicating things even more for me.

Actually, it's been pretty consistent against WP. I would also look at the experience levels of who is making those comments. I suspect that many of original started out thinking WP was a good idea only to see the light. I know I went that exact route. Want to try it, try it. You can also change, most people go through multiple pairs of shoes on a thru hike.

04-26-2017, 13:14
You people just can't make up your minds!


Thank you for complicating things even more for me.

It isn't complicated. It is as simple as doing some quick overnighters and trying one type of footwear on one trip and another on the next trip. I have found Harriman State Park an excellent testing venue, and it is pretty handy since you live in NYC. If you have a car—or even if you don't—you could take both types and test them on the same trip. Just make sure you've got a sufficiently crappy weather forecast.:)

Recently on the Black Forest Trail in PA we got some really nasty weather—rain, then freezing sleet and snow, with numerous stream crossings—and I did fine with Brooks Cascadias. My feet were wet practically all the time for a couple of days (dry socks to camp, however!) and when the sun finally came out the Cascadias were dry in no time flat. GTX leather boots would have taken MUCH longer to dry.

And if you think boots are going to help you with multiple stream crossings, think again.... streams are waaayy deeper than your boot tops, and you've got something like 25 crossings and after about the 4th or 5th one you'll see the futility of changing into Crocs or going barefoot!

04-26-2017, 14:28
I did a NOBO 532 mile section hike last year wearing Columbia Newton Ridge boots. They're waterproof and weigh about 17 oz each. They were great. The only time the inside got wet was during a daylong rain. I put my rain jacket on but inexplicably decided not to put on the pants. Dumb. The rain went right into the boot opening. It took overnight at Mountain Harbour Hostel for the shoes to dry - with a fan blowing on them! There was a whole line of boots and shoes in front of the fan as a matter of fact - not just mine.

I'm going back May 4 to continue another section from Marion, VA, and the Columbia boots will be with me. I can say if I run into more problems drying my wet boots, they will be replaced.