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Stream crossings with one pair of shoes?
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marshall elliott
(BurntCloth) - F

Locale: The West
Stream crossings with one pair of shoes? on 07/24/2009 22:59:10 MDT Print View

During my recent three-day trek, I was constantly in soggy wet areas and stream crossings that couldn't always be jumped.

I used to change into my camp shoes and wade across, then dry off & change back on the other side. Now that I'm on the UL bandwagon, I didn't bring camp shoes, and was left with the compromise of either going barefoot, and risking injury, or wearing the shoes (and hiking in wet shoes).

What do you do?

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Stream crossings with one pair of shoes? on 07/24/2009 23:17:43 MDT Print View

Wearing one pair of shoes is a classic ultralight technique:

1) Chose well-draining shoes made from non-absorbent materials.

2) Wear thin socks (preferably wool).

3) If you're prone to blisters, pre-treat your feet with Hydropel.

4) March right on through streams and keep going -- the shoes won't be squishy for long.

5) Keep 1 pair of dry socks for sleeping.

6) If you must wear your dry socks with your wet shoes in camp, carry some bread bags to keep the socks dry inside the shoes. (Not for hiking.)

7) Don't try this in the winter.

Have Fun!


Edited by MikeMartin on 07/24/2009 23:19:39 MDT.

Roman Ryder
(RomanLA) - F

Locale: Southwest Louisiana
Haha on 07/25/2009 00:18:20 MDT Print View

I'm going through my JMT list right now...keep wanting to put my comfortable off road crocs that I bought for river crossings back on the list...16.8 ounces. lol

p.s. My normally sub 8 pack is currently 15...not happy!

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Recent thread on 07/25/2009 01:03:36 MDT Print View

There is a recent thread that went into this in "great" detail. Mike, however, has pretty much sumarized it for you. For most people in most of the conditions we are likely to encounter as hikers this approach works well. Even when I wore big boots and gaiters I could never keep my feet dry all the time.

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
re: on 07/29/2009 16:26:36 MDT Print View

I hate squishy socks. Another option would be take off the socks, put the shoes back on, squish through the creek and a little beyond (until the water's mostly out of the shoes) and stop, dry feet, put socks back on. That way the socks don't get appreciably damp for very long and the feet don't say soaking wet, and the shoes will be dry by the time you get where you're going.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Stream crossings with one pair of shoes? on 07/29/2009 16:37:19 MDT Print View

I had your same concerns. On my first trekking trip with one pair of shoes, it was pretty warm so I intentionally walking through streams and puddles wearing my Inov-8 Roclite 295s. It was fine. I would recommend taking off your socks first, as Lori recommended. I was wearing fairly thin Smartwool Adrenaline PhD mini crews, and they got a little squishy for my taste, so I had to stop and ring them out. I didn't time how long it took my shoes/socks to dry out, but it was never uncomfortable. My feet get sweaty anyways, so my feet are damp wading or no. so what's the difference?

Richard Colfack
(richfax) - MLife

Vincere Boat Sock for Crossing Streams & Camp Shoe on 07/31/2009 20:54:01 MDT Print View

Wading through streams in trail runners is something that some ultralighters profess but it's certainly not for me, plus I like to get out of my sneakers at camp. Crocs and Tevas are way too heavy and bulky. The SprintAquatics Nylon Mesh shoes are nice and light but have two major issues; the mesh upper allows dirt to collect in the shoe (when at camp) and the sole is so thin that sticks and pinecones have poked through into my feet. Ouch.

I've done extensive searching on the web for a better solution and I've come across the Vincere Grip/Boat Sock. My men's size large weighs 3.2 oz for the pair. I think they were originally designed to protect the feet when playing beach volleyball but this version is for watersports. The upper is thin breathable lycra that doesn't allow dirt in, and the sole is a thick, textured no-slip neoprene that protects the bottom of your feet from hot/cold and sharp pokey things. They have minimal bulk as they can be rolled up. Good for crossing streams and for use as a camp shoe. I've walked through the woods in these and no sticks or rocks have jabbed through. I also contacted SandSkins and Sockwas, which make similar products, to ask how much their products weigh but they didn't respond to my emails. These are certainly the best solution I've found for stream crossing/camp shoes. Now if they just weighed 1 oz...

I paid $19 for them at their website

Edited by richfax on 07/31/2009 20:57:15 MDT.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Stream crossings with one pair of shoes? on 07/31/2009 22:26:15 MDT Print View

If I can rock-hop on top of flat rocks that have water flowing over them, I will go barefoot. That is the only circumstance I'll walk through a stream without foot protection. In every other case, I will either wear Crocs or I'll just walk through in my hiking shoes (New Balance 907's).

Whether I bring the Crocs depends on how much sun I expect to see on the trail and how dry the air will be. A summer hike through the Cascades... any wetness my shoes experience will evaporate in about 30 minutes so I just walk right through the streams. On the other hand, a hike back east that will have me under a thick canopy of oak and wading through several big streams per day... I'll bring my Crocs so I won't have wet feet all day long.

Jason Smith
(JasonS) - MLife

Locale: Northeast
Stream crossing one pair of shoes on 08/01/2009 07:23:05 MDT Print View

For stream crossings I now take off my smartwool adrenalin socks and cross in my salomon xt wings. Then I walk a little more getting most of the water out. Then I put on my socks then the rocky mountain gortex socks go over the socks. The salomon's come off an on easily and on most hikes I only have one or two crossings where I cannot rock hop. I remove the gortex socks once the shoes have become pretty dry.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Stream crossings with one pair of shoes? on 08/01/2009 07:41:20 MDT Print View

If I am only doing a couple of crossings during the day I go barefoot. There are usually very few sharp rocks in rivers... banging a toe against a large rock is more likely. Usually it's just a case of cold toes.

On the other side I'm pretty happy to be putting dry shoes and socks on though =-)

(If I'm walking through streams all day obviously I just wade on through with my shoes on.)

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Re: Stream crossings with one pair of shoes? on 08/01/2009 08:36:19 MDT Print View

I do exactly what Mike M. recommends. In the summer, here at least, its nice to have cool, wet feet for a little while. Sometimes the humidity is high enough that my "hiking socks" aren't dry in the morning. If putting on wet socks in the morning is not your idea of fun, bring a second pair of "hiking socks." Another pair of Smartwools adds hardly any weight and then you can put your other wet pair on the outside of your pack to let them dry all day.

And instead of bread bags, I bring some small doggy bags (the one's for picking up after your 4-legged friend). I find the smaller size is easier to deal with and they seem slightly more durable.


Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Stream crossings with one pair of shoes? on 08/01/2009 09:28:26 MDT Print View

I recently did my first trip. I'm hardly UL, but I was trying to go as light as I could at this time. I had always thought wet feet were bad but many knowledgeable folks here have insisted that's not the case so I decided to test that out. I just walked through many of the crossings (GSMNP) even if I could hop them. Yes, my feet stayed moist pretty much all day. No, I didn't have any problems because of it. They were pruny but dried out quickly. Put damp socks and shoes on the next morning. Hiked 101 miles over 11 days in cheap Walmart Athletic Works "Sammy" shoes (they appeared they would drain the best). I like Injini Performance socks.

I will say I would like to take a cheap pair of flip-flops next time to wander around camp if I don't go barefoot. Crocs are too heavy and don't compress. I would not waste my time using them for crossings though (unless it's cold out).

I imagine it's not for everyone though. HYOH I guess. I also used the no TP method for my first trip and had no problems. Not willing to go without the trowel though.

Edited by topshot on 08/01/2009 09:34:03 MDT.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
DITCH THE TROWEL! on 08/01/2009 17:12:25 MDT Print View


Use a stick or a rock, you'll do great!

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Stream crossings with one pair of shoes? on 08/01/2009 17:37:20 MDT Print View

No camp shoes, no river crossing shoes!
C'mon, this is a UL site! (unless you're gonna use something made out of a butchered Thinlite and spectra...)

Long trail running has taught me not to worry about the wet feet...On one of my last mountain marathons I fell in a stream and soaked both feet at mile 4. Finished no problem, no foot issues.

I'm a big fan of synthetic Injinji's and lightweight, drainable trail runners (I've started experimenting with cutting out the tongues to speed drying/air flow).

Carry one spare pair of socks, some Leukotape, and some T of Benzoin just in case.


Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Tongue-less shoes on 08/01/2009 18:30:47 MDT Print View

Craig--what have your experiences been with cutting the tongues out of your shoes? Any increased lace pressure or pain on the top of your foot? I'd be inclined to try this, but my feet are very narrow and any loss of volume in the shoe would probably result in a ridiculous fit.

Oh, yeah--if you add up all the time some people spend taking off and putting on shoes and/or socks for stream crossings, on some trails it could add up to a couple lost miles at day's end.

Edited by on 08/01/2009 18:31:45 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Tongue-less shoes on 08/01/2009 19:28:34 MDT Print View

I have a pair of Adidas Supernova Riots without the tongue. I wear a 13 so loss of volume isn't an issue.
I've always run with my shoes pretty loose. Not having a tongue isn't noticeable (in a bad way).
They certainly drain faster.
They also get debris in them faster.
Ultimately I think it's a good shoe for water heavy trips/canyoneering sort of stuff- maybe not a lot of mixed terrain.

I remember the first long trip I did in which I was afraid get my feet wet. I found it INCREDIBLY annoying to have to stop and change socks and footwear at every crossing.

Soak your shoes and you're liberated! Then you WANT to jump in. WAY more fun.

It's funny to me to see people avoiding/precariously navigating a 3 inch deep stream crossing like it's lava or something (usually always the folks with the "waterproof" boots).

To each their own I guess.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
C'mon, this is a UL site! on 08/01/2009 19:34:16 MDT Print View

Craig wrote:

"No camp shoes, no river crossing shoes! C'mon, this is a UL site!"

Right ON for you. You are stating the obvious - This is a forum for lightweight camping! (I was gunna say pretty much the same thing, you beat me to it)

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
supernova riots! on 08/01/2009 20:26:35 MDT Print View

I also use Supernova's and have been since 2004--roughly 5000 miles hiked since then. I love them, though the current version is a step in the wrong direction for my narrow foot. And don't worry about mixed terrain with them--they handle anything and everything just fine.

My wife and I call getting your feet wet "freedom", because from then on you just charge through any water on the trail without a second thought. It's just water, afterall.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Water/camp shoes on 08/01/2009 20:51:05 MDT Print View

Zinetic pocket slippers had been mentioned some time ago-- a year? The are simple mesh and rubber-sole slippers that roll up. My size 11's weigh 8.8oz with the stuff sack.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: DITCH THE TROWEL! on 08/01/2009 22:09:17 MDT Print View

Sorry, Mike. No TP is fine with me but a trowel stays. It was hard enough to dig a hole with a tool MEANT for the job. I couldn't imagine what a PITA it would be with just a stick, rock or heel. You must have soft, root-free ground where you go.