View Full Version : Waterproof boots or not? What say ye?

The Counselor
12-26-2010, 12:55
I am likely to be hiking in wet conditions - rain and fording streams. Would like to find some light, flexible mid height boots in the hundred dollar range. Is it better to get waterproof or not? I've read where some say, they will get wet regardless and if they are waterproof, they simply stay that wet and wont dry out. Others say, get waterproof and stay dry.

So I am a little confused. What's my best bet? Also accepting brand and model suggestions!


12-26-2010, 13:02
I just ordered these MERRELL Moab Mid Gore-Tex XCR they are kind of the best of both worlds. I read mixed reviews on them . If they leaj they leak if they don't great. I am bringing a pair of croc knock offs to ford streams.

The Counselor
12-26-2010, 13:08
Do you switch to the crocs for fording even in cold conditions? As you can see, I am a newbie. We are about to do our first overnight this week and my understanding is the trail crosses a number of streams that could be flowing pretty well. So do you shed the boots for this even in temps near freezing? If so, I'm guessing you shove your wet feet back into your socks and boots asap?

12-26-2010, 13:09
I have found that the only truly waterproof boots are made from rubber. I do not recommend these for hiking.

Alot of the boots that call themselves waterproof and attribute that to a Gortex liner really are not waterproof as much as water resistant. And that is a good thing.

All hiking boots will fill with water when the water goes over the top of them, which is an occurance at least a couple of times a week when hiking on the AT. The gortex lined boots will dry out once they are removed from the wet environment. So will purely leather, unlined boots. Either of these I recommend, and that narrows down the search to just about any boot that is not made from rubber or has some sort of rubber liner.

The absolute best hiking boot on the market today, for hiking on the A.T., is made by Danner and is issued to the US military. They are also made in America as opposed to oriental sweat shops. Please see the link below:


12-26-2010, 14:38
...The absolute best hiking boot on the market today, for hiking on the A.T., is made by Danner and is issued to the US military.
IMO, they are really nice boots, but very heavy (58 oz stated) compared to many other options. And like any medium weight boot, overkill in most hiker's opinion for much of the AT. Most 6" high lightweight boots like Asolo or Vasque or others are close to a full pound lighter per pair. Low rise hiking shoes are lighter yet, and the trail runners now worn by many are half that weight and less. That's adds up to lot more effort than necessary moving a medium weight boot along the trail with you. And while leather is wonderfully water repellent, I also seem to remember that once they do get wet (and they will), leather boots dry very slowly, which isn't always a good thing on the AT.
The goretex thing is highly debated. I like goretex for daily wear when boots are only exposed to external moisture and can dry overnight. I wouldn't want to be fording streams in them while hiking and having to wear them day after day if they couldn't dry out, which is the most common complaint regarding goretex for thru-hiking.

They are also made in America as opposed to oriental sweat shops. Please see the link below:

Not every factory in China, Vietnam, etc. is a sweatshop, nor are we without sweatshops right here in the US. And many of the foreign manufacturing plants have US ownership and/or investment, which supports jobs here. There are also big legal and cultural differences that affect how we perceive much of what is reported. And what is reported is often the worst which is then further sensationalized - just like our own domestic news. The issues just aren't as black and white as "American made vs Chinese sweatshop".

12-26-2010, 14:48
waterproof below freezing. not waterproof above freezing. gortex above freezing cannot breath when wet on the outside. non gortex boots cannot keep the boots insulation dry from foot sweat below freezing.all this must be figured with the amount of below freezing days and the wide range of peoples feet sweat. and the skill involved in keeping boots dry.keen makes the best summer boots. asolo the best winter.

12-26-2010, 14:54
The absolute best hiking boot on the market today, for hiking on the A.T., is made by Danner and is issued to the US military.

This is a silly statement. Feet can be dramatically different on different people. What fits me and works for might give someone else colossal blisters and foot pain.

To the original poster it seems like you've broken it down. Everyone has an opinion. I swear by having no Gore-Tex. Between sweat on the GT and wear and tear the liner stops working quickly. Non-GTX shoes dry quicker than shoes with GTX. The concept being you get wet but you dry faster.

Others swear by GTX. Might as well have it. You can apply DWR to it if it wears off, etc. etc.

The right answer is there is no right answer. Boots are expensive. I doubt many people have done substantial hiking in both kinds. I've only hiked in a mesh Merrell shoe and a whole lot in Vasque Breeze non-GTX. My experience says I'm "right". Other hikers with the same Breeze's with GTX got just as wet as I did in the Smokies during rain/snow. At the shelter my boots dried before I was in bed. Their boots weren't dry the next morning. HYOH. etc. etc.

12-26-2010, 14:55
And what Matty said makes a boat load of sense.

Fog Horn
12-26-2010, 15:12

A) are not issued to the military but they are authorized. We still have to buy them.

B) are very comfortable, and I've never had to break them in. They can go from the box to a ruck march with no blisters, but I think they are overkill for the trail

C)take forever to dry out. They take slightly longer to soak through, but kid yourself not they WILL soak through, and when they do you'll be wearing them wet or damp for three or four days.

D) when your feet sweat in Danners, it will stay with your feet. In Iraq I found that if I kept my boots on all day on a hot day without taking them off and changing my socks then I would have pruny feet like when you get out of the bath tub

I've worn the winter issued boots with Gore-Tex lining a lot in my time and the same goes with them. Takes longer to soak through but they will soak through and they don't wick moisture. I haven't thru hiked the AT before (still planning now) but I've worn Danners and Gore-Tex lined boots for five years now in a variety of weather and environments, and I wouldn't take them on the trail with me at all. Even when we ruck in the military, we usually take a second pair of boots in case the first gets wet. I don't want that extra weight on the trail.

Just my two cents. LOVE my Danners, but I wouldn't take them on the trail

Also, I know this is less important in regards to the trail, but Danners have ZERO odor control. Sometimes if I don't have a week to air them out and spray the insides down they smell like something crawled in there and died.

12-26-2010, 17:57
It's very simple, yes in winter, no in summer.

12-26-2010, 17:59
I love my waterproof gortex boots I wear them year round all the time and have no issues with them letting in water, or holding sweat in. But they are full leather which gets cleaned and waterproofing treatment a couple times a year. I also think the full leather uppers protect the Gortex more then mix material uppers. I spent 120 bucks on them 7 or 8 years ago and have to finely replace them the sole is just about worn smooth, not bad for a pair of Merrell boots made for REI

12-26-2010, 18:07
Being a full time trail builder, I've worn many types of boots over the years, some GT, some non-GT, and others with some kind of proprietary "water-proof" liner. The dryest boots I have worn utilized a proprietary waterproof liner called Sympatex. I found these boots to be much drier than any Gore Tex boots I owned. That said, I currently don't own any wasterproof boots although my Scarpa's, which are silicone impregnated leather come close. I agree with other posters that for weight and quick drying, nothing beats a lightweight trail runner. I used Keens for a couple of years and found them to dry quickly and quite often just trudged thru water without changing out my shoes. Within an hour they were dry again. Also, the lighter weight on my feet eliminated the need for additional camp shoes as my feet were not achy after a day of hiking. Not sure I would recommend them for winter hiking though.

Ditto-what works for me may not work for others. Find someone who is a good boot fitter and spend time looking at your options. Footwear is no place to skimp.