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Is non-waterproof footwear really better?
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Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 08:06:37 MDT Print View

Who prefers waterproof breathable (GoreTex or similar) over non-waterproof footwear? This includes options like GoreTex socks.

One observation has me questioning whether I'm really better off with non-waterproof footwear:

I usually hike in my non-waterproof hiking shoes or trail runners, but my feet never dry out due to things like frequent stream crossings and mud pits. I have a pair of heavy all-leather GoreTex boots which I very rarely hike in, mostly because they're heavy and clumsy and I like my ankle to be able to flex for maneuvering and traction. But, my feet always seem to be more comfortable in them because they're only slightly moist from sweat rather than saturated with water.

I'm thinking GoreTex shoes or socks might be the better solution after all in wet environments.

Edited by AndyF on 07/16/2010 08:09:05 MDT.

Gabe P
(Gabe) - MLife
gore-tex socks on 07/16/2010 08:09:03 MDT Print View

gore-tex socks work for me, when it's cool

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 08:48:35 MDT Print View

Andy,

I don't have the constant wet here in Calif that other locations have. Typically when doing a lot of stream crossings, I am then hiking on dry trails and the mesh quickly dries. Often in fall and spring there are sections of snow, then dry trails. Same thing, the shoes dry out. Occassionally, I do all wet trips in snow. Rocky GTX socks work best for me, compensating for the low cut trail runners. Anymore, the only time I use GTX shoes is in cold desert hiking. They are cool enough in this weather so I don't soak my socks in sweat and the GTX keeps my feet clean from sand and dust that permeate mesh shoes. All in all, GTX causes more problems than it solves.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 09:00:25 MDT Print View

"All in all, GTX causes more problems than it solves."

Agreed nick.

What do you do when you come across water deeper than your goretex? Now you're tiptoeing around, changing shoes, etc...
Easier to just find shoes that drain and dry quickly.

Mark Regalia
(markr) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz
I think it is individual on 07/16/2010 09:01:29 MDT Print View

I have used nothing but WPB boots for some 30 years and have never regretted it. Not having to worry about wet meadows on really cold mornings, slushy snow patches, and even rainstorms is great. But apparently some people's feet sweat more. I became aware of this back in my forestry days when I would wear heavy socks under my work boots and never feel overheated or too sweaty while some of my co-workers couldn't do the same.

The one thing I learned working in the woods - there is no such thing as an after-market water proofing treatment for leather. We tried everything. The best would only slow it down a bit.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 09:07:27 MDT Print View

+1 to Nick.

Other thoughts.
1) GTX are more expensive.
2) I am 0-3 for gtx being completely waterproof.
3) They are hotter than non-gtx.

I may try gtx socks for next year's snowshoe season.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Waterproof Footwear on 07/16/2010 09:29:42 MDT Print View

My last two pairs of hiking shoes have been waterproof ones (GoreTex XCR and then HellyTech XP). Initially they worked alright but eventually both pairs became non-waterproof and a non-waterproof pair of waterproof shoes is the worst thing because it doesn't keep your feet dry, nor does it ever dry out. Accordingly, the useful life of these shoes was greatly reduced.

I now favor non waterproof, very breathable shoes and then added Rocky GTX socks if desired.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Re: Re: Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 09:32:36 MDT Print View

Craig wrote: "What do you do when you come across water deeper than your goretex? Now you're tiptoeing around, changing shoes, etc..."

That's what I see as a _theoretical_ big advantage of GTX socks. Wear the shoes only with no socks for the deeper crossings, and then when done, the GTX socks separate the wet shoes from the dry socks. I wonder how well this actually works though.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Waterproof Footwear on 07/16/2010 09:35:21 MDT Print View

I've tried Gore-Tex lined boots, but the only thing I've found that is completely waterproof is leather. Unfortunately, all leather boots are heavy. So, for day hiking on snow, I tend to bring my all leather, full size boots. For backpacking this time of year, I bring my lighter trail runners, but I tend to get wet feet (still lots of snow up there). To deal with it, I just bring additional socks.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
IMO on 07/16/2010 09:46:37 MDT Print View

mesh non for summer
gtx socks for winter, synthetic insulated shoes/boots or vapor barries or thick wool socks, layered

Luke Moffat
(alaska_lanche) - MLife
Sometimes GTX most of the time no on 07/16/2010 09:51:39 MDT Print View

I enjoy GTX in my mountaineering boots.

However my generally hiking shoes I prefer non-GTX models. Just wish Salomon would come out with a non-GTX version of their new Wing Sky model. Love to give that a try. Oh well maybe they are holding out have something "new" to introduce in 2011. I'll just keep running my XA 3D Pros in the mean time.

Edited by alaska_lanche on 07/16/2010 10:37:58 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 10:02:11 MDT Print View

My feet don't sweat much when I hike and given the conditions, I ALWAYS trek in GTX shoes. A hiking buddy has issues with trench foot and doesn't.

BTW, I have never had a GTX shoe fail on me.

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 12:59:30 MDT Print View

"Unfortunately, all leather boots are heavy"

I wish I could find a pair of simple all leather (unlined) light hiking shoes. I've been considering moccasins, or something similar, but I would prefer to have a bit more insulation in the sole for snow use. Leather + merino wool = foot heaven.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
chaco on 07/16/2010 13:29:09 MDT Print View

I wear Chacos pretty much year round. I can add a liner or thicker wool sock, some waterproof socks, or just some bread bags to my feet as the case dictates in a fast fashion. Much more versatile but I can see the same thing being done with a mostly mesh trail runner.

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: Re: Re: Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 13:35:24 MDT Print View

""All in all, GTX causes more problems than it solves."

Agreed nick.

What do you do when you come across water deeper than your goretex? Now you're tiptoeing around, changing shoes, etc...
Easier to just find shoes that drain and dry quickly."

That completely depends on the conditions you're hiking in. Assuming that it's a warm, sunny day in the Rockies, then I'd agree, but if you're in the middle of a three day rain out East, you've got a long wait before much of anything dries.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 13:46:57 MDT Print View

To each their own.

But I find it interesting to note that none of the big-mile trekkers I've read about- Skurka, Jardine, Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman, to name a few- wear GTX footwear.

All seem to be pretty comfortably resigned to the idea of simply having wet feet in shoes that are capable of draining quickly. In their wild coast trek, Erin and Bretwood were wet for months...

I've learned a lot by reading the gear lists and trip reports of these folks- their techniques have always seemed grounded in pretty solid logic and have worked for me.

Mark Regalia
(markr) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz
WPB boots leaking? on 07/16/2010 13:52:32 MDT Print View

In over 30 years of using various brands I have not had a pair that leaked within any reasonable lifespan. The soles have always worn out before they started leaking.

It's personal, but I am a huge fan.

David King
(dking1005)

Locale: Olympic Peninsula
Re: Is non-waterproof footwear really better? on 07/16/2010 14:41:10 MDT Print View

I started with W-B boots but now I always take Gore Tex sox. It's a more flexible arrangement. I can wear the socks with a variety of footwear and I don't have to wear them if it's hot. If I have to ford a stream I take off my socks and put my shoes back on, ford, and then put my shoes on with Gore Tex socks over my regular socks. The evaporation of the water on the shoes even helps keep my feet cooler.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
eVent socks? on 07/16/2010 14:52:41 MDT Print View

Why is it that no one has made eVent socks? They should be plenty breathable and keep feet from sweating too much. The only con I can think of is that they may not be durable enough for use as socks.

-Sid

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
eVent socks on 07/16/2010 15:26:59 MDT Print View

I asked Ron at MLD if he would make eVent socks as he makes the mitts but he said no. That was probably the best shot at something like that.