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  1. #1
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    Default cold weather footwear???

    Heading out NOBO next week FEB 29, down to a few final problems to iron out, right now the question is foot wear. Do people wear trail runners in snow and rain and freezing temps while thru-hiking???

    I've got broke in midweight gortex boots, and trail runners, can I wear the trail runners, or am i risking Frostbite/injury in March weather on the trail?

    any advice?

    V/r HT1

  2. #2
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    i say start with the mid-weights. you won't regret it and you'll thank me later. i drink busch light. see you at dot's

  3. #3
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    You can definitely wear trail runners if you have room for thin and medium socks. Melting snow keeping your trail runners wet will be your biggest problem, so some sort of waterproof layer over your socks is a good remedy in a jam, but it really helps if the trail runners don't absorb and hold too much water. Wearing extra clothing will keep your feet warmer. Hopefully no snow, but just so you know it can be done.

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    Sorry didn't see LWs post coming. I would defer to his judgement if you've got the boots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAK View Post
    Sorry didn't see LWs post coming. I would defer to his judgement if you've got the boots.
    just sayin'. he's gonna see some cold temps and snow. freakin trail runners ain't gonna cut it. i don't care what any other "experts" says. i ain't a expert by the way

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    I hear you, and you know how much snow you can get down there different times of year, and I don't.

  7. #7
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    I wear trail runners in snow. Even had them in a drift of a foot. Just take them off at camp and get into something warm. They dry quick. In '07 I wore gore tex boots for my start, they still got soaked and took several days to dry. You wear what works best for your feet and body mechanics. That's what propels you down the trail.
    Last edited by Blissful; 02-21-2012 at 22:22.







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  8. #8
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    I love hiking in snow, new snow, crusty snow, even wet snow. Sometimes it's easy, as easy as summer, and sometimes it's a real pain in the ass, even just a little snow. Adds a whole new dimension of variability. I don't know mountains. That adds another dimension again especially in winter. I think an early start is a cool way to go as long as you are prepared and flexible, e.g. extra food you probably won't need and no strict schedule.

  9. #9
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    I wear waterproof/breathable trail runners, wool socks, and tall gaiters if the snow or mud are deep enough. Works for me.
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    I did the Fundy Footpath in wet snow one spring, and the flat sections were like hiking in a ditch of water where the water naturally pooled. I ended up hiking in neoprene booties and trail runners which I had intended to use for crossing streams. I brought my light leather ankle boots also but didn't use them until the sun came out on the final day. Just a 3-4 days hike but it was lots of fun. Snow didn't slow me down too much as it was more water than snow. On a winter trudge I got a snow storm and it slowed me down alot, even though it wasn't seriously deep. It was dry snow, but my feet still got wet. Extra clothes kept my feet warm. Ran out of food though. Good times.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    I wear waterproof/breathable trail runners, wool socks, and tall gaiters if the snow or mud are deep enough. Works for me.
    can I get some specifics on those shoes?

  12. #12

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    I wore cloth boots and grocery bags for what seemed like most of GA and NC. They worked well despite the snow since they were easier to put on in the morning than leather boots which get very difficult to put on if you forget to leave the tongue out. They had the advantage of thawing out fairly quickly, and had very sturdy vibram soles. I wish I could find something similar today. Midweight boots should be a good choice, assuming they have good traction.

    I'd be very hesitant to try trail runners when you have a chance of seeing some real snow.

    Regardless of what you do, take a barrier; plastic grocery bags are free and weigh almost nothing. I was able to tuck the bag tops underneath my gore-tex pants to keep the snow away from my socks. I would then cover with gaiters to reduce the amount of snow that snuck in anyway. Yes, my feet were wet all the time due to sweat if nothing else. Socks and boots won't really dry when you get a lot a snow, but least my feet were warm from the bags while I was hiking.

    Take a pair of camp shoes. I changed to tevas as soon as I could at night (crocs didn't exist back then), and changing out of them into frozen boots was the last thing I would do before leaving camp in the morning. When you do stop for the night, change immediately to a dryer pair of socks and cover with bags before putting on your camp shoes.

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    I started in late Feb in 2010 and used trail runners; they worked for me. You have to expect a few mornings where the shoes are just frozen; put them on as your last act before hiking and then hike hard for a while to keep your feet from being to cold at the start of the day. I think I might have used goretex socks, but don't expect those to make things wonderful. I didn't use any sort of vapor barrier during the day; can be useful at night so you can change socks and keep those socks dry while wearing wet shoes. But I was really really happy with feathered friends down booties at night until I hit Virginia.

    One hiking partner I had on that trip, a guy with a ton of backpacking experience, used light goretex hikers and he was glad that he did, and he switched out after we were pretty much done with snow. I was glad that I stuck with trail runners. So I don't think there's a single right answer here. Just make sure to have a dry pair of thick wool socks to sleep in at night if you don't use down booties (but I really liked down booties at the start of the AT ...).
    Gadget
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    I use trail runners / reg running shoes all year round. just make sure you have your dry pair of socks ready to go when you get to camp. Even if your shoes/socks are completely saturated at the end of the day a medium sized fire lasting about two hours should take care of drying them out depending on the thickness of your socks and the material your runners are made of. Even if you dont get them completely dry it is my opinion that putting on a frozen pair of trail runners is much easier than putting on a pair of 4 pound ice blocks (I mean leather boots). In the winter i basically designate one pair of socks for hiking and one for camp that way i know for a fact that my socks are dry when i stop for the day. the drawback to this is that you have to grit your teeth and put on some very cold socks before heading out the next day.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by HT1 View Post
    can I get some specifics on those shoes?
    Well, I like the Salomon XA Comp trail runners because they fit me very well and they are light and flexible. I have Goretex for winter and mesh for 3-season hiking. But I won't "recommend" them because they may not fit you.

    The combo of Goretex trail runners, wool socks, and eVent gaiters keeps my feet warm and dry even for long hikes in bad weather. Note that this is specific to winter in the Southern Appalachians - this probably wouldn't work in the Presidentials.
    Ken B
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  16. #16
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    I wear non-goretex trail runners in freezing/rain/snow conditions, with a light weight ankle length wool sock in close to 30 degree temps and a thick wool sock in colder temps. I always wear light gaitors. I do play with plastic newspaper bags with some success, but my most recent tests of one plastic bag on one foot, none on the other, haven't made me sure of the best combination. What I do like to do is check to see if my trail runners are frozen before I get out of my sleeping bag in the morning, and if they are, I'll defrost them before i get up. I will rarely sleep with them in my bag inside a plastic bag, but generally don't. With light trail runners the defrosting only takes 15 or 20 minutes, and makes putting them on a whole lot nicer experience. I sometimes just put them on my stomach while sleeping a bit more on my back (easily done -- i'm a hammock user) either in a plastic bag or just as they are if they are clean enough. I haven't had any moisture problems either way since they aren't really drying -- just defrosting. What I am really curious about is trying goretex socks... they seem to have a world of advantages over goretex footwear, at least in theory (to me...) first, they are light enough so that you could just sleep with them on your hands to dry them out -- you get to wash them easily-- and your trail runners will dry faster since they don't have a goretex membrane and can be lighter/meshier. I'm not a fan of neoprene socks, but wonder about everyone's goretex sock experience.
    Lazarus

  17. #17
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    "I'm not a fan of neoprene socks, but wonder about everyone's goretex sock experience"
    Mixed, for me. In such conditions I'll use them, but don't expect too much. If they start out dry, then at least you might have a longer period until you get wet in slushy wet conditions. If snow is relatively dry, or cold, then not a problem, but less of a problem then anyway. Sometimes they can act like a "sort-of" vapor barrier layer, which in theory you can then walk dry, but in fact, it's going to be easier to "walk things dry" with less stuff on inside your shoes.

    You certainly can dry them out at night if you work at it, but I find at such times that goretex socks aren't my top priority of things to try to get dry.

    I think the specific conditions matter a lot. As do your expectations. As do how worn the goretex socks are. As, in some cases, does the breathability of your shoes (to allow for vapor transport). If you don't get them wet from the top (wicking from pants or socks or whatever), a relatively new pair of goretex socks on trail or road that's not overgrown with brush can really help.

    Note that I'm mixed on neoprene socks too; I've been in situations where they seemed wonderful, and yet also recall similar situations where my feet were cold.
    Gadget
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  18. #18
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    I am very concerned with the overall strategy here.

    If I leave in late Feb NOBO, I can expect snow and cold. I like the idea of Moab Ventilators, but need to understand how I will handle continual wet/cold conditions. With unlimited resources, and swap-out strategies, this would be easier for sure. But I don't plan on that.
    I have never hiked say 7 days in a row with wet feet and don't know what affect that will have on me either.

    And since I plan on a LONG duration hike (6+ months), enjoying much - plan on ending in snow as well.

    People keep writing that it depends on the person. I don't know that I believe that.

    I am looking for an overall strategy regarding footwear, socks, with managing safety and comfort with potentially cold and/or very wet conditions.

    Oh, I decided to NOT go with the Gore-Tex Moabs based on many who say it just takes too long for those to dry out.

    Thanks!

  19. #19

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    LW said it all.
    Start with mid weight boots and good wool socks, you won't regret it. I used light weight non waterproof shoes and boots on my first thru and even though the boots dried quickly, I got blisters due to them getting wet everyday in some places. OTOH, I used Vasque Sundowners- all leather, mid weight, goretex on my 2002 thru. I tried trail runners for about 300 miles and then went back to the Sundowners. The Sundowners did keep my feet dry, protected and comfortable no matter what the temps or conditions however I went back to the Sundowners because the trail runners began giving me blisters at the 200 mile mark.

  20. #20
    AT 2012 1azarus's Avatar
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    hydropel should be your go-to back up plan. i should have mentioned it earlier. it'll help make whatever you decide to wear... work in the long haul.
    Lazarus

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