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  1. #1
    Registered User EAsprts26's Avatar
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    Default Waterproof Shoes Vs Non

    So right now I was gonna go with GoreTex Salomons, Even Shortie Gaiters, and Possibly rain pants to keep the water out completely.

    My question is, are waterproof shoes worth it or should I just go with some lightweight trail runners since my feet will probably eventually get wet. Ive been looking at the Brooks Cascadia shoes for a while, but keep telling myself that my feet will be dry if I stick to my initial plan. I also tend to have sweaty feet so should I stay away from goretex shoes for that reason?

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    Valid question, with two answers...

    One school of thought: no...your feet are gunna get wet so why fight it. Waterproof shoes, once wet, will dry very slowly, long after wetable shoes. And waterproof shoes make your feet sweat when it's hot. Besides, waterproof shoes don't stay waterproof for many months (they'll say). They'll quickly loose the waterproof qualities, (due to dirt and rips in the lining) and your shoes will dry slowly.

    The other school of thought: yes. Proponents will tell of how their shoes work fine, even after several days of hiking in the rain. And their feet don't sweat excessively.

    There is no one answer, since both schools have seasoned proponents, who have lots of miles of expereince, and who are well respected here.

    I have a pair of boots that keep my feet dry for several days in heavy rain. They are heavy when dry, get even HEAVIER when wet even though they're wet just on the outside, and they make my feet sweat and smell so bad I have to store them outside next to the garbage can!!

    I subscribe to the first school, my shoes are very breathable, and my feet get wet instantly, even in light dew. BUT...they dry within minutes once the trail dries out. When wet, I just grin and bear it. Convince myself that having water squishing out of my shoes is a good thing. Tell myself how much fun I'm having and trudge on. One good part of having completly wet shoes is not having to worry about trying to avoid the puddles and water flowing down the trail. I just splash right through without losing stride, just like a kid on his way home from grade school!!

    My hiking partner has a pair of waterproof boots that wet out after about a day. They become Herman Munster shoes after that. They weigh a ton and dry only after a couple days. Its painfull to watch, but he wears them for medical reasons.

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    Do you have sweaty feet? If you do, those goretex shoes are going to make your shoes feel like a sauna.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by leaftye View Post
    Do you have sweaty feet? If you do, those goretex shoes are going to make your shoes feel like a sauna.
    I don't think my feet are any more sweatier than the next person, but they do sweat and gortex doesn't prevent sweat from soaking my feet. I've come to the conclusion that gortex shoes do nothing to prevent wet-feet syndrome. Not worth the money.

  5. #5

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    It depends on you and what you're doing, are we talking about a thru hike?

  6. #6

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    Gortex will fail. If you rarely hike, maybe only the big vacation, Goretex is wonderful stuff. Love it.

    I want my trail shoes to keep sand out and to drain well: shortie stretch gaiters help with sand.

    If you expect frequent water crossings or muddy trail, water shoes begin to make sense. I carry water shoes and use them as camp shoes as well.

    For even moderate exertion rain pants get sweaty. That is why I use rain chaps or long gaiters, especially if the "rain" is from wet brush. Others use a rain shirt or rain wrap, but I want my knees out of the rain.

    I like a poncho, if no strong wind.

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    Registered User EAsprts26's Avatar
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    Yes this is for a thru hike, and after much consideration I think I am gonna go with the Brooks Cascadias...I ran cross country for 6 years and my favorite most comfortable running shoes were by far the Brooks ones. I think ill get those and maybe some insoles for cushion...as far as hurting my feet...I always have super calluses and my feet can take a real beating without injury.

    This will be my first time stepping away from the age old Boy Scout idealism of the super boot. I feel like I was lied to growing up in scouting haha! But I was a backpacking guide for two summers in Southwest New Mexico and I learned to change my entire outlook on gear.

  8. #8
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I finally switched from Gore-tex boots to mesh boots (Montrail Hardrocks). My feet are not nearly as wet by mid-day on a dry trail as they always seemed to be with various waterproof boots over the years.

    I will still wear a waterproof boot for a day hike, but for anything longer I've converted to mesh.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

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    Registered User gopher's Avatar
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    Your concern is about blisters caused by wet feet. The army created a jungle boot to deal wit water in Vietnam the were designed to be quick drying not water proof. The most important thing about any boot is fit fit fit. Poor fitting boot cause blisters wet or dry. Marginal fitting boots cause blisters when wet. Change socks often use a sock liner and go for quick dry.

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    I too am wavering. I found that quick dry running type shoes were acceptable, but need a little more ankle support. This season I am looking at a mesh boot that will drain and dry. I find that Gore Tex keeps water in if you are wearing pretty much any thing short of rain pants and gaiters. The main problem seems to be water coming in through the top. Even with gaiters, if you are wearing shorts, water will run down you leg under the gaiter unless you have your gaiter super tight, then your circulation gets cut off, or use duct tape to seal it to you leg, which will rip the hair off you your leg.

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    Oh yeah, and scout hiking and extended trail hiking (section or through) are two totally different styles. Scouting is a great organization to a point. Large scale camping and teaching basic camping skills as they apply to car camping or possibly short trail hiking seem to be their strong point. Group hiking of multiple days is where I think they are struggling. I have been on the trail several times and encountered troops struggling along under packs that are way too heavy. They get to camp and then they have to conduct merit badge classes etc., build a big 'ol campfire and cook scout food (chile in a Frito bag, Eggs in a ziplock, etc...). While they espouse low impact, the reality is they operate on such a large scale, they wind up making a pretty big impact wherever they go in the backcountry.

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    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Tough call because its different from Pyroman's answer.... I owned the Solomon's you mention for several years I thought they were awesome. But there are a whole new class of UL waterproof running shoes at EMS now that look even lighter. The Solomons work when I go canoe camping or kayaking - With a large group many of the other men saw me getting wet in the white water and at one point I took a bath on a rapid (Canoe flipped) and asked if I brought a change - they could not understand it was tech wick head to toe... On a hot sunny day I was dry 15 to 30 minutes... I frequently plow through streams when hiking in Lancaster and do not get blisters. When Hiking with others they see this and I get a raft of questions and "gee why did you do that?" - The stuff works due to the right thick socks and mesh sides that allow a lot of air and moisture out... they are almost sandals. And its going to take a long time for acceptance. The Solomon had a weak point on the ones I had and it was the heal adjustment. I didn't care for it and I got over it - it wasn't a factor - I think it has since disappeared. Teva's did very well in a wet environment in Canada too.
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  13. #13
    Registered User dla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gopher View Post
    Your concern is about blisters caused by wet feet. The army created a jungle boot to deal wit water in Vietnam the were designed to be quick drying not water proof. The most important thing about any boot is fit fit fit. Poor fitting boot cause blisters wet or dry. Marginal fitting boots cause blisters when wet. Change socks often use a sock liner and go for quick dry.
    +1.
    I use a cheap non-cotton dress sock for a liner under my Kirkland Merlino wool main sock. Change socks often. Wash out/wring out the old and hang them on my pack. Take a break when my feet need it.

    I also like the luxury of a pair of crocs for stream crossings and camp shoes.

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    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I've found that my feet will think they're a lot drier if I change into a dry pair of liners and wring out my thicker socks.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  15. #15

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    Waterproof shoes are fine for short duration hikes. In hot weather they will make your feet warmer than breathable shoes, which can increase the possibility of blisters. Nearly all long distance hikers I know use breathable low topped shoes. For rainy weather of a day or two, you can wear waterproof socks inside the shoes and achieve the same results as waterproof footwear, with the advantage that you can appreciate the ventilation of your shoes on warmer days without the waterproof socks (also, waterproof membranes in footwear eventually get contaminated with body oils and salt from sweat, and will begin to leak. They are also subject to extreme wear, unlike a jacket or pants, and once worn out, not only leak, but still cause your feet to sweat). Waterproof socks can be easily laundered and replaced when worn.
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  16. #16

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    I thru hiked last year March 10th to October 9th. There was one snow storm that I was happy I had my winter boots for but I was in the miority. Most people had trail runners some were fine some were pretty cold by the end of that day. I swaped out my boots for trail runners after the smokies my girl friend waited until Hot Springs, on the first hot day she pulled her boots off while we were taking a break and found that her feet were white and pruny like she'd been in the bath too long. Not long after Hot Springs we ran into a guy wearing gortex trail runners who's feet had been reduced to globs of athletes foot.

    In my experience the best gear does change depending on where and when but in general you'll be better off with the most breathable footwear you can get. It's a question of whether you want your feet wet sometimes or a lot of the time.

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    I currently have some Keen shoes with GT. I'll be swapping over to non-GT trail runners for the trail. I'll bring 'high' gators for cold weather along with a pair of GT-socks. Some just bring a vapor barrier like bread bags. To each their own .....

  18. #18
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    You might also coat your feet in Hydropel to avoid the pruning and eventual blisters and sloughing.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  19. #19

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    Another approach is to get mesh trail runners that are not WP and bring a pair of Goretex socks for rainy or really wet days. I did this last year for a three weeks section hike and found it worked well for me. I used Rocky Goretex socks. Socks inside Goretex socks were damp at the end of the day from sweat, but not wetted out, and would easily dry overnight from body heat when draped over my shoulders while I slept.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Connie View Post
    Gortex will fail. ....
    Yes, so true. And so will any other proprietary shoe/boot "waterproofing". Nothing is waterproof on the trail.

    I discovered on my thru-hike Gore-Tex and the like failed consistently within 5-10 days in wet conditions. Once water finds it way in it's all over.

    Now, I choose trailrunners/hiking boots based on comfort rather than waterproofing.

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