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  1. #1
    Registered User Chaps's Avatar
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    Default Shoes: Waterproof or Not?

    On hikers' gear lists I'm seeing about a 50/50 mix of waterproof to non-waterproof shoes. I'm not sure which is best since both have their pros and cons. Can anybody here convince me one way or the other about which would be most appropriate for the CT? FWIW, I will be in low-cut hiking shoes, not trail runners. (If you feel the need to convince me that I should be using trail runners, let's save that for another thread. That being said, my wife and I have placed a bet on how many posts go up before somebody says I should be using trail runners .)

  2. #2

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    My boots have Gortex, my trail runners too, were I to purchase trail runners again I'd opt out of the water proof membrane. And I tried real hard not to suggest you not use trial runners.

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    Registered User Chaps's Avatar
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    Jesus, rocketsocks! Now the wife and I will fight over whether or not you did suggest I use trail runners Thanks a lot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Top Hat View Post
    Jesus, rocketsocks! Now the wife and I will fight over whether or not you did suggest I use trail runners Thanks a lot!
    it's that double not thing...gets em everytime, hehe

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    it's that double not thing...gets em everytime, hehe
    I meant me, i'm also lysdexic, and a tellable speller.

  6. #6
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    The trouble with waterproof shoes is no matter how waterproof they are, water is going to get into them via the top of the shoe if you're out in extended wet weather.

    AKA, water will run down your legs and into the shoe and once there, it won't be able to get out and your shoes will stay wet long after a non-waterproof shoe would be dry. Also, if you happen to step into water deeper than your shoe - same thing.

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    Like 10k says the waterproof shoes will get wet and take forever to dry.

    Sent from my SCH-S720C using Tapatalk 2

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    I used non waterproof trail runners (Cascadia 8). They worked fine and lasted the entire CT but obviously i walked in wet shoes much of the time due to frequent rain and the shoes could stay wet for longer than I anticipated especially overnight when I hiked in rain in the afternoon. I don't blister easily so this was tolerable. I'm not sure that waterproof shoes would be an improvement because like others have said they probably will get wet anyway and just take longer to dry out.

  9. #9
    illabelle's Avatar
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    I haven't tried non-waterproof shoes, and I'm "just" a section hiker...
    For light rain, for walking through grass, for crossing shallow streams and muddy places, I like my Gortex shoes and keeping my feet dry. In a downpour, my feet would get wet I'm sure, but that doesn't happen very often. On occasion I have taken a bad step crossing a creek and submerged a shoe and I've learned that socks do a pretty good job of absorbing most of the water. A few hours later, no they're not dry, but they're not much wetter than they would be from sweat.
    So while I've considered non-waterproof, I haven't found a good reason to switch.

  10. #10
    Hike On!!!!! Many Moons's Avatar
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    No! No water proof less hot blisters! HIKE ON!!!

    Miller

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    Just what is a low cut hiking shoe, and why would you wear it?

    You will hike farther with less effort, and be more nimble with lighter footwear.

    Footwear needs to drain when water gets in, waterproof doesn't

    Breathability keeps feet drier, reduces blisters

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    Just what is a low cut hiking shoe, and why would you wear it?

    You will hike farther with less effort, and be more nimble with lighter footwear.

    Footwear needs to drain when water gets in, waterproof doesn't

    Breathability keeps feet drier, reduces blisters. Although its a two edged sword. Sometimes you have to change socks and rinseout frequently due to dirt buildup with footwear with lots of mesh. On the jmt i was changing socks halfway thru the day each day, after only 10 miles. On AT I can wear the same socks for a week without issue.

  13. #13
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Just what is a low cut hiking shoe, and why would you wear it?
    I wear low-cut hiking shoes, specifically Merrell Chameleons, because they provide much better support than trail runners, nice on rough or rocky terrain. They still look kinda like trail runners, are only a few ounces heavier than trail runners, the difference being they have a stiffer sole, which is where support really comes from in a "boot". On very smooth trail, I do go with trail runners though.

    I generally do wear goretex lined low-cut hikers in Colorado (this is the CT forum), but not on the AT. Many of the Merrell models come both ways and I have both lined and unlined. The lined ones do keep my feet dry in most terrain in Colorado. I personally don't notice a difference in drying time for goretex lined "boots" (low-cut), but there probably is a bit of a difference, just not obvious to me who wears both interchangeably. But really, the liner stuff works pretty well, again, for "Colorado wet" (which is not very, compared to back east).

    Another situation where goretex-lined hikers shine is in wet, shallow snow situations.

  14. #14
    Garlic
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    Goretex has been around a long time and lots of people use it in footwear and like it. I personally don't get it--tried it once and it didn't work out for me.

    Do you know that Goretex needs to be both clean and dry in order to "breathe?" In my experience, those conditions don't often exist simultaneously in footwear.

    But plenty of hikers find a way to make it work, and for them the cost is justified.

    You'll probably go through a few different pair of shoes in your long distance hiking career before you find the "right" ones. It only took me 2000 miles and five pairs on the PCT before I found mine. I hope your path is easier! My point is you'll have to find out for yourself what's best for you.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    For light rain, for walking through grass, for crossing shallow streams and muddy places, I like my Gortex shoes and keeping my feet dry.
    This was one super annoying problem with my footwear on the Colorado Trail. A few times, I would camp with perfectly dry shoes and it would rain overnight leaving the grass and shrubs along the trail soaking wet. Since I hike early every day, my shoes would be completely soaked as if I was in a rainstorm just because of the wet grass. And my pants soaking wet below the knee due to wet shrubs.

    I should mention one other thing since this is on the Colorado Trail forum. There was only one wet stream crossing (Texas Creek on the Collegiate West) so crossing streams was generally not an issue. Of course this will depend on the time of year of the hike.
    HST/JMT August 2016
    TMB/Alps Sept 2015
    PCT Mile 0-857 - Apr/May 2015
    Foothills Trail Feb 2015
    Colorado Trail Aug 2014
    AT: Rockfish Gap to Boiling Springs 2014
    John Muir Trail Aug/Sept 2013

  16. #16

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    So as you can see Top Hat & wife, the field is split, we hope this helps you.

    to white blaze.

  17. #17
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    I have Keen Voyagers (not waterproof). I guess they would be classified as low-top ventilated hiking shoes. On my hike last July, I hiked through a good rain storm on day 1. At one point, my shoes were completely saturated to the point they would go squish squish when I walked. The next day I got to a road crossing where a guy had all his gear laid out to dry (he had been caught in the same storm). He looked at his waterproof boots and said they have been drying in the sun for several hours and they are still soaked. I looked down at my shoes and they were completely dry. So I am a believer in the notion that ventilated non-waterproof shoes will dry and the best way to guarantee that you always have wet feet is to have waterproof shoes.

  18. #18
    Registered User Chaps's Avatar
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    So far, the replies from 10-K and Odd Man Out reply have been most convincing. I was originally thinking of going with waterproof, but their counter-arguments make a lot of sense. As far as the potential for a stream crossing goes, I am bringing along a pair of 6 oz Teva Originals for those scenarios. They should also make a fine camp shoe since, if it's cold, I can wear socks with them.
    This is all great info, guys. Thanks for chiming in.

  19. #19
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    FWIW, unless you're hiking the CT in sloppy wet icy/snowy cold conditions and/or doing possibly many snowy covered side summits I'd say you're best off with non WP low cuts.

    WP verse Non -WP shoes is a more complex subject than often somewhat narrowly discussed. For example, there are more WP membranes than simply Gore Tex and even Gore Tex has various versions used in different branded shoes. Personally, I like a one piece Event WP membrane in my WP low cut hikers.

    Although these conditions would not likely apply to CT terrain and trail conditions I get excellent wet foot protection, BREATHABILTY, and warmth on intermittent muddy wet snowy trails/conditions by pairing WP socks, like made by Hanz or SealSkinz, with trail runners or low cut hikers. And, although I've heard it countless times that WP shoes take "forever" to dry that has not been my experience equally across all WP trail runner brands and models. Different WP membranes, how the membrane is integrated into the shoe, main shoe materials(amount of mesh, synthetics used, suede/leather(treated or not)), weather conditions, etc play roles in how fast WP shoes dry. All that is solved though if you separate the WP liner in the form of a warm WP sock from the non WP shoe.

    Some rail runners are only partly WP too. That is, the WP membrane may only be in the front half of the shoe where you'd likely get wet feet pushing through wet trail like in grass like Coffee experienced. A couple models of Solomon trail runners for example have this feature.The re godfor dry times, breathability, yet protect rom getting soaked feet in those type of conditions.


    Don't buy into you have only a narrow choice between ONLY WP shoes OR Non-WP shoes! There are options!

  20. #20
    Registered User tarditi's Avatar
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    I am not going to convince you to wear trail runners on this thread either.

    My vote is for non-waterproof - take forever to dry and wearing low tops, if there is water you will likely get it inside too.

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