View Full Version : keeping feet dry... seeking advice!!

08-24-2005, 21:33

I seem to have a real problem keeping my feet dry when it is raining hard or after a rain.

I own a pair of Eastern Mountain Sports Summit Goretex II hiking boots (3.8 lbs--big feet--, nubek leather and goretex lined). Feet should stay dry. On a recent hike in southern White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.. I hiked parts of trail that where over grown with vegetation (was not AT)..and the wet vegetation rubbing on my boots seemed to soak through. And then of course..there is the occassional slip into puddles or stream.. of course..after the foot goes into stream..all bets are off..water is in the boot.

I was not wearing my rain pants..so that may be part of problem. Was not wearing gaitors either.

So question is...

1) is there something wrong with boots that damps seeps through from wet vegetation?

2) Would rain pants and/or gaitors have helped? I worry about these being too warm being summer.

3) Is it inevitable in very wet trail conditions..that my feet will become not just damp but drenched?

Finally.. I am wondering... should I just expect that water will find its way in..and use hiking shoes that let the water easily evaporte out? My boots..once wet..stay wet for days or seem to!!

I remember seeing a young Lady earlier this summer hiking on the Franconia Ridge who was hiking south bound on the AT...She was wearing water shoes.. basically sneakers made of mostly mesh.. that dry out super fast. Not much support but very quick to dry. She seemed to be doing ok. She said it was really wet and rainy and buggy in 100 mile wilderness she had come through.

So is thru hiking the AT best in supportive water proof goretex lined boots or better in Very quick drying but non waterproof mesh sneakers?

thanks for advice ... I really look forward to feed back!!


08-24-2005, 23:02
Well nothing is really waterproof...everything has a saturation point-even $500 boots. I think you're better of wearing Chaco sandals or trail runners because at least they dry fast.

08-25-2005, 00:09
Does anyone ever put plastic bags over their boots during rain to keep them dry?

08-25-2005, 01:48
I know this is not practical for a thru-hike -- but if its only a day hike, and you know it is going to feature rain and wet veg., nothing beats the old LL Bean Maine Hunting Shoe....the rubber bottom is completly waterproofed, and the leather upper breathes well enough that my feet do not get too steamy...thick socks help. I've used them for years in Alaska in spongy tundra etc. and really like them. They don't provide any "support" whatever that is, but I rather like the sort of barefoot or moccasin type feel. Cheers, Bill

Just Jeff
08-25-2005, 02:41
If you want dry feet, don't hike... :p

Gortex is basically a vapor barrier. Vapor barriers block vapor going either way, so the VB just makes it harder for feet to dry, especially when it's humid out. If you step in shallow puddles and your feet don't sweat much, waterproof boots might be good.

Otherwise, you can't really waterproof the top of the boot. Rain pants and gaiters help guide the water to the outside, but stepping in a stream will soak them and your feet will sweat...and heavy boots will just be harder to dry.

Hike in whatever keeps your feet the most comfortable. The big topic these days seems to be running shoes or trail runners...you'll see both shoes and boots on the trail. I use a really light boot...almost like normal high tops, but with a more aggressive tread. It's Hi-Tec, but I tried on several expensive ones and the cheap Hi-Tec pair fit the best ($70 on sale for $30).

Shroomism, if you put plastic bags over your boots, they'll be soaked because the sweat can't evaporate. That, and you'll poke holes as you walk so they won't be waterproof, anyway. If you want to use a VB (like when it's really cold), put on a liner sock, then a plastic bread bag, then a hiking sock. Your boots will get wet but your feet will stay dry (well, as dry as any skin in a VB).

Otherwise, just wear shoes that let your feet breathe and get wet. Maybe bring along a lightweight camp sandal that you use for stream crossings, too.

My thoughts, anyway.

08-25-2005, 09:32
I use cheap walmart boots and they seem to do a good job. Thay are advertised as waterproof and for the most part are. After a while all waterproofing wears off and you need to replace it. I use a can of silicone spray and after a good period of rain i hit both my tent and boots with the spray which can be bought anywhere and am dry for another few weeks.

08-25-2005, 09:35
In the summer just accept that your feet will get wet. But in cooler weather a combination of Gore-Tex boots, gaiters and rain pants will keep your feet dry and warm, even in extremely wet conditions. I do all my hiking late fall thru early spring and find this works perfectly. I can't remember the last time I hiked in wet feet.

By the way, Gore-Tex is not a vapor barrier fabric, but does breathe allowing water vapor to pass but blocks liquid water. If you are doing something strenous and begin to sweat, it will build up inside, that's why it's not good for warm conditions.

08-25-2005, 12:18
My guess is that your boots didn't "wet through" as much as water drained down your legs into the tops of your boots and/or sweat was no longer able to vent.

There isn't really any way to keep your boots thoroughly dry...they will get wet given enough time and wetness.

I've heard enough thru-hikers complain that, while highly breathable shoes certainly dry quickly, it gets really old to have wet feet and no support for those extended periods when the trail is continually wet or they get soaked with each afternoon's thunderstorm.

Contrary to my efforts to go lighter, I've started to add back in additional socks. My feet sweat...a lot...and I've found that I feel a lot better, and my feet stay a lot healthier, when I put on semi-dry liner socks underneath wrung-out SmartWools after giving them some time to air out a few times a day. Of course, this approach falls apart given enough days of rain and high humidity.

I've found that gaitors don't really help very much as the water still finds its way into the tops of my boots. Draping the legs of rain pants over the tops of the gaitors helps a lot more, but the pants hold in a lot of heat.

There is no solution out there yet, but I have visions of developing a one-sock clothes dryer that runs on a butane canister that would give me dry socks each morning! ;)

08-25-2005, 13:03
i opt for 'quick dry' vs 'don't let them get wet'...

i'm not a gortex fan. army issued me a rainsuit, bivy sack, sleeping bag cover, and gortex boots when i was at fort drum, ny (west of the adirondacks. flatter, colder, more snow). it all got wet, and was heavy to boot. i finally quit wearing the rainpants and carrying the bivy. poncho shelter was roomier and lighter. but i digress...

i think i use the same hi-tec boots just jeff uses... mine were about $30 or so off the campmor clearance rack. had a pair of hitecs in the army and loved them, so i tried another pair. they're great. i've also got a pair of walmart boots that are probably the best value i've ever gotten out of a pair of boots. cost me about $12 about 7-8 years ago. i walked them down to nothing, but still use them to mow the lawn. just hate to throw them away... we've been through a lot together. both pairs get wet, but dry quickly. good soles, some padding at the ankles, leather toes, and quick drying nylon uppers that also let my feet breath. i occassionally hike in running shoes if it's going to be really rainy, and they are very quick-drying, but i like a little more ankle support most times. the hi-tec boots weigh 39.4 oz for the pair, and the running shoes are 33.5 oz.

plastic bags on your feet will lead to nothing but trouble unless you change socks every couple hours, or the sweat will build up inside and cause rubbing and blisters. army VB boots (mickey mouse boots) worked that way... fine as long as you changed socks very frequently, miserable if you didn't.

most likely your feet got wet from rain, whatever the source, running down the inside of your boots from your pants/socks. also, how much 'vapor' can move from inside a hot steamy boot, through a gortex membrane, and 'evaporate' off a soaking wet boot? not much, i'd guess. sort of like a gortex rain jacket... hated mine. often ended up wetter inside from sweat than if i'd just let myself get wet. might be different if i hadn't been doing anything strenuous.

summary: let your feet get a little wet and opt for quick-drying shoes/boots.