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Vapor barrier socks
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Andrew Schriner
(lettheguydance) - F

Locale: Midwest
Vapor barrier socks on 01/02/2011 12:02:01 MST Print View

Anybody ever make vapor barrier socks for extremely cold weather hiking or mountaineering? What did you make them out of? How did you make the seams to avoid rubbing?

I've got some Gore-Tex Next-2-Skin that I think might work. It's a light knit on both laminated on both sides of the membrane with just a little bit of stretch.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
VB sock materail on 01/02/2011 12:44:27 MST Print View

I can't help you on the patterns or practices of making VB socks but I can help you with the material.

You want VB clothing to be non breathable and I would be concerned that using the gortex fabric you mentioned would not work. You want a non breathable fabric such as sill nylon to trap moisture and lower the imperceptible perspiration that causes you to loose body heat.

Brendan Mulholland
(dools009) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
plastic bag on 01/02/2011 13:09:06 MST Print View

I'd recommend trying a trip using plastic bags. I started that way thinking I'd make some out of sil nylon, but never went back. It seems that people use grocery bags commonly, I use a bag that's about 3x thicker than grocery and can easily get 2+ days per bag (bring a few spares). Surprisingly the bags aren't uncomfortable (I don't even notice them) even though there is a fair amount of excess material due to the fact that they aren't fitted at all.

I've tried the Integral Designs VB socks and if anything they felt more uncomfortable than my plastic bags due to the thicker fabric.


David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
bread sack vbl on 01/02/2011 15:11:43 MST Print View

Click here then click each progressive layer on the top of the page.

Note especially the insole INSIDE the bread sack and the tuck tape over the top
of the instep grocery bag. This will allow several days use out of a bread sack without
your toe going through the bag.

Edited by oware on 11/13/2011 19:23:40 MST.

Brendan Mulholland
(dools009) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
vbl sock question on 01/02/2011 15:33:58 MST Print View

thanks for the link david,

your method differs from what I have used in the past. I would love to pick your brain a bit about the differences when you have a sec -

there is a BPL article that recommended using a thin liner sock inside of the VB liner in order to leave your insulating layers unaffected by perspiration inside the vapor barrier. What is your reasoning behind using a thicker sock/neoprene sock combo inside the plastic bag as opposed to outside?


I love my new 9x9 oware 'mid- beautiful work, thanks again!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 01/02/2011 16:21:36 MST Print View

I would think the bread bag should be inside the sock, not vice versa

Or is there a problem with the bread sack directly against your foot?

Andrew Schriner
(lettheguydance) - F

Locale: Midwest
Gore Tex on 01/02/2011 18:24:48 MST Print View

I was thinking the Gore Tex would be something like in between vapor barrier and no vapor barrier. It would increase the humidity next to the skin somewhat, resulting in decreased vapor loss through the skin (do I have the physiology right here?), but not entirely. Might this work or does VB clothing have to be all or nothing?

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Vapor barrier socks on 01/02/2011 19:05:03 MST Print View

Andrew the idea as I've understood it and practiced it is to keep your insulation layer dry. If the vapor passes through the gtx sock it'll condense in the next layer which is the "real" sock and also the insulation layer. Plus there's the "push-pull" aspect of gtx so a lot of the vapor might work its way through.

I guess David's system is using the neoprene sock as the vapor barrier and it also provides insulation as well! Looks like it ought to be bomb-proof for really cold weather or deep snow. (they come together???)

For less extreme conditions I wear a very thin liner, then the bag, then a sock and a gtx shoe but don't bother with the liner unless it's at least freezing.

usually the sock comes out at the end of the day in very good shape. If you can find the little 3 or 4 gallon scented trash bags it'll even smell great and why not....hasn't been against your sweaty foot or the outside world. Plus it's pretty easy to rinse and dry a thin liner so you might get a couple days use with the same pair of socks and the socks can also be your camp/sleeping socks.

What're everyone's thoughts/experiences with gtx or non gtx shoes in completely frozen weather?

Edited by obxcola on 01/02/2011 19:14:59 MST.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Re: Vapor barrier socks on 01/03/2011 10:39:25 MST Print View

Hi Andrew,

I have a thread here showing how I made a pair of Cuben - VBL Socks.

VBL Socks

You can also buy what "Stephenson’s Warmlite" calls "Fuzzy Stuff" by the yard. It is their VB fabric and sort of cheap but not real light. They seem to have a new web site:

Edited by bfornshell on 01/03/2011 10:42:44 MST.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: vbl sock question on 01/03/2011 11:09:33 MST Print View

The method shown allowed me to use lightweight breathable boots for a two week
May trip in the Tablelands of SEKI where we had wet snow travel the entire time.

The neoprene sock worked as a VLB and as an inner sock as it was fleece lined. It and
the bread sack kept the insole and wool rag sock dry as they were sandwiched between
the waterproof layers. A bit of perspiration did make it through the neo sock, but
was such a small amount that it made no noticeable difference. I would sleep with
all the socks in my bag at night, and they were usually dry by morning. I had to
turn the neo socks inside out at night for them to dry.

I have done the same thing with bread sacks replacing the neosocks, worn over thin liners. Tape over the instep again helps prevent the toes
blowing out.

One of my hiking partners used bread sacks with wool socks and tevas for his snow camp

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Vapor barrier socks on 01/03/2011 11:09:46 MST Print View

Thanks for that link Bill. Up until now I've always used plastic bags but I've been wanting to sew some out of sil. As always, your pictures are helpful and your gear looks great.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
interesting on 01/04/2011 21:30:27 MST Print View

Great Idea to use a neoprene sock as a vbL and an insulation layer. I've been using them for fishing in the frigid rivers for years. I wonder how a pair of seal skins would work? I've been using the Warmlight fuzzy stuff, but they don't stay up and after a few trail miles I find them bunching up around my heels. Bread sacks bring back too many memories of my childhood, when we wore them because we couldn't afford new boots.


David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Vapor barrier socks, new site for vpl system photos on 11/13/2011 19:25:10 MST Print View

New site for the photos of vbl sock combination.