View Full Version : Sweat and Feet?

03-29-2004, 16:48
I have some smartwool socks that do dry pretty quickly after I remove my boots, but while in my boots, my feet tend to sweat. Are sock liners supposed to wick sweat away from your feet? Does this really work?

03-29-2004, 17:20
In my experience the degree to which liner socks handle moisture wicking varies quite a bit from person to person. I have worn liner socks for several decades and still do. They do work for me ...most of the time. Years ago I wore the "ploypro" (olefin) style of liners. They were pretty warm and in my opinion, used to add to the amount of perspiration generated inside my footwear. I now use liners made of another synthetic called "coolmax", which seem work better, at least for me.

03-29-2004, 18:12
Wicking is only going to work if the water has somewhere to go (evaporate). In boots, especially leather, there isn't. The pumping action of your foot moving around in your boot with each step will move the sweat all over. No sock can stop that.

Go with mesh boots or better yet, trail runners. This will solve the sweaty foot problem...

Gravity Man

03-29-2004, 18:58
Have you tried using an antiperspirant on the bottoms of your feet? Try applying your choice to your feet every day for a week or so before setting out. If you don't carry it with you on the trail, try using a little cornstarch in your socks while on the trail. I know this sounds crazy, but I have done it with success.Have a good one.:jump

03-29-2004, 19:52
The whole "where does the sweat go" question was actually the primary thing that confused me. It seems that the liners might actually work by keeping the feet dry, and making the outer sock wet? This sounds like a better solution than just plain wet socks.

But the antiperspirant on the feet sounds like an interesting solution (cornstarch too, but I just keep picturing a sweat-muddy gravy simmering in my brickoven boots...).

Thanks for your thoughts, all.

03-30-2004, 09:25
A hearty second to the comment about the water in the sweat needing to go somewhere.

I have mostly worn sandals on the AT thus far. In the cold or wet, I add Sealskinz for warmth and dryness. I usually wear a pair of socks inside them as well.

The Sealskinz work about as well to let sweat out as any other GorTex like membrane. That is to say that they work better than a plastic bag, but do allow some water to collect.

I find the Sealskinz solution allows me to take the thing off from time to time and turn it inside out to dry, especially at the end of a day of hiking. I've never found a way to do that with any shoe.

This helps the skin on my feet to stay healthier than with any other shoe I have tried.

03-30-2004, 09:34
I have some smartwool socks that do dry pretty quickly after I remove my boots, but while in my boots, my feet tend to sweat. Are sock liners supposed to wick sweat away from your feet? Does this really work?

In theory, synthetic material such as poly pro wicks moisture away from your skin. This is why it is preferred as a base layer on your body, instead of something made out of cotton that holds moisture. It must work, because everyone who is active outside in the winter seems to use a synthetic base layer. So, if your sock liners are made out of a synthetic, such as nylon, then it should wick moisture away from your skin.

In theory, the reason for sock liners is that as your foot flexes, the sock liner rubs against the outer sock layer, rather than having the sock rub against your foot. So, in theory, it reduces blisters. Now, there is some debate among the experts about the benefits of liner socks. Many say that with modern hiking socks, such as the smart wool you have, that liners are unnecessary.

Myself, I don't know if they work as planned or not. But, I do know that they can't hurt. So, I usually use them until I am certain that my feet are well conditioned and I'm not going to get blisters.

03-30-2004, 10:20
I have been hiking regularly for more than 25 years and started with leather boots and cotton socks which were about all I could find at that time (wool socks were pretty itchy and hot back then) I switched to thin sock liners and smart wool type socks about 10 years ago and my feet “felt” much dryer and more comfortable and the combination was good for year round use. However, at the end of the day it was pretty obvious that my feet were more than damp; they were wrinkly from being wet even though they felt dry:-? . I guess I have pretty sweaty feet so a lot of foot care was important. For me it was fresh socks every day, sandals at camp and lots of foot powder. For three season hiking, (including almost 500 miles on the AT) for the last few years I have used running shoes, my current pair of Adidas Climacool Trail are the coolest driest shoe I have ever put on. I wear a double nylon sock liner (helps reduce friction) and use foot powder and at the end of the day my feet are dry. The trade off is a little less support and in extended wet weather I still get the “wrinklys”. The advantages are lighter happier feet that require less maintenance and shoes, if they do get wet are dry the next morning. If you can’t part with your boots, the nylon liners are great with the wool socks, and with care I’m sure you can have many blister free extended hikes.:)

03-30-2004, 13:35
Deerleg: My feet sweat profusely, to the point that, on a moderately warm day after a few hours of hiking I can wring a good cup of sweat out of my SmartWools :( . I've tried everything it seems: anti-perspirant, footpowder, frequent sock changes, etc. I've hit on the following approach. I bring only two pairs of SmartWools but 4 pairs of liner socks (the Fox River brand). The SmartWools rarely dry out, but the liners have a good chance of drying out by the time they're rotated back to my feet. I try to soak my feet in a cold stream on hot days, and then I'll put on a dry pair of liners and the "wrung out" pair of SmartWools. My feet feel a lot better with this arrangement.