Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry?


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Will Webster
(WillWeb) - M
suck it up? on 06/13/2011 10:33:13 MDT Print View

I know they raise 'em tough in Scotland, but sucking the water out of dirty hiking socks?

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Tasty. on 06/13/2011 10:39:40 MDT Print View

I use my dirty socks to filter the water i wring out of my underwear. :)

Chas Ho
(i_charles) - F
How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry?" on 06/13/2011 10:59:00 MDT Print View

Thats going to take awhile to get that image out of my head. You don't put powdered drink mix in the water once you are done with it..? :0

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Hikers soup on 06/13/2011 11:16:25 MDT Print View

I simply add a few herbs, and a little jerky. :)

Will Webster
(WillWeb) - M
Re: Hikers soup on 06/13/2011 12:10:53 MDT Print View

Come to think of it, isn't that how you make haggis?

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
I'm getting hungry now on 06/13/2011 12:16:07 MDT Print View

Sort of, except you add a few sheeps lungs. :)

My apologies to the OP for the thread drift.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/13/2011 12:26:47 MDT Print View

"Anyone know a trick to dry out wet socks and/or shoes while in the backcountry?
My previous attempts resulted in burned socks and melted shoes."

Other than the above suggestions, carefully placed sticks around the fire. Also, wool is much more fire-resistant, but nearly always blended with synthetics.

M W
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
Fire and rocks on 06/13/2011 12:47:00 MDT Print View

"Anyone know a trick to dry out wet socks and/or shoes while in the backcountry?
My previous attempts resulted in burned socks and melted shoes."

I assume if you had enough fire to burn socks and melt shoes you could instead put some rocks on the fire to heat them up then remove them and lay the socks on top. Alternatively, I guess you could put some smaller heated rocks inside your socks to help dry them out. I've never tried it - thought of it just now.

EDIT: As Antti points out a couple of posts down, water + ash = lye. Hmmm... Maybe not a good idea to put rocks with ash into wet socks. But what is the amount of ash and water required to make it dangerous?

Edited by rcmike on 06/17/2011 10:15:32 MDT.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Re: Re: How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/13/2011 14:03:34 MDT Print View

What Roger said.

Putting your wet socks into a down sleeping bag at night is just asking for trouble. I can only imagine that this would be feasible with a synthetic sleeping bag, if the nighttime lows never get below 60*F, and if there was just not enough sun to dry them out by hanging them on your pack.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/13/2011 18:31:51 MDT Print View

I just wring them out as much as possible and hang them under my trap some where. I dry my feet and put dry sleeping socks on as soon as I stop for the day. I have found that sleeping in socks that are even just damp from sweat leads to cold feet and a bad night when temps get low. The next day I just put the wet socks back on. Many years ago I used to wear full Yeti gaiters in an attempt to keep my feet dry, but now much prefer the trail runners and wet socks technique.

Nick C.
(nixie) - F
re: How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/16/2011 20:58:53 MDT Print View

To expand on Mark's comment, there's always the Verber hot water bottle trick.

Make a hot water bottle by pouring boiling water into a Nalgene bottle or similar. Wrap wet socks around hot water bottle. Dry socks with minimal suffering.

Of course, putting on wet socks in the morning is kind of like eating a toad for breakfast. You can be pretty sure nothing worse is going to happen to you that day. It's also fairly invigorating.

_______________________________
edit: For Roger. Well, never frozen boots but the occasional frozen trail runner. Definitely more painful than a wet shoe! My (admittedly imperfect) technique for potentially frozen shoes is lowered expectations. Give up on drying shoes and aim for merely wet ones. I put the shoes and socks in a plastic bag and sleep with them in my quilt. To minimize the psychological trauma of putting freezing wet shoes on, I find using plastic bags as a VBL helpful.

Edited by nixie on 06/17/2011 15:19:44 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: re: How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/17/2011 01:07:37 MDT Print View

> Of course, putting on wet socks in the morning is kind of like eating a toad for
> breakfast. You can be pretty sure nothing worse is going to happen to you that day.
> It's also fairly invigorating.

You obviously haven't put frozen socks and frozen shoes on in the morning.

Cheers

Antti Peltola
(anttipeltola) - F
Re: How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/17/2011 04:55:08 MDT Print View

"I assume if you had enough fire to burn socks and melt shoes you could instead put some rocks on the fire to heat them up then remove them and lay the socks on top. Alternatively, I guess you could put some smaller heated rocks inside your socks to help dry them out. I've never tried it - thought of it just now."

Those rocks would likely bring some ash into your socks which is quite bad idea. Water + ash = lye.

But heating the rocks in boiling water is a working idea. Take small rocks from the bottom of river/lake (to get clean ones) and put them into boiling water for a while. Use pliers, wire, chopsticks or whatever suitable tool (spoon isn't a good one but a fork might work) you have with you to lift them up one by one and wait a few seconds. If the rocks are hot enough, the surface will dry up in few seconds, and then you can put them into the socks. When the rocks are cold, put them back into boiling water. You probably do not need to repeat for socks, but for sleeping bag (or shoes if you bother to do it) you might need to.

If I don't have a sleeping bag to dry up, just some clothing, I usually just put the item on my hand and dry it up near the fire. My hand gets too warm before the sock etc. burns, so I just turn the other side of the item towards the flame whenever I feel too hot.

Edited by anttipeltola on 06/17/2011 05:07:30 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/17/2011 09:59:42 MDT Print View

Wet socks = Work socks

Take off the wet ones at the end of the day & toss 'em somewhere, put on dry ones, go to sleep. In the morning, put on wet socks & shoes. Hike. Body heat will dry them if the environment itself is dry enough. Otherwise they'd be wet in a few minutes of hiking anyway.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/17/2011 10:53:21 MDT Print View

Probably the best is wearing dry pair at night, wet ones during the day, but

If my socks are wet, my boots are also wet.

I can dry out the socks by wearing them overnight, then wear them in the morning where they'll get wet from the boots, then I can change into my dry socks and put the wet socks outside my pack where they might dry over the course of the day. When they dry out, switch again, etc. The boots will have a better chance of drying out this way.

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry?" on 06/18/2011 03:39:17 MDT Print View

Jerry, great answer. Wet shoes will rewet the dried socks so all that effort of sleeping with the socks to dry them will be rapidly undone (and you sleeping bag may not be so nice in the morning).

Chis, good question. If your shoes aren't dried out by morning and hiking in wet socks bothers you I would try a variation of everyone else's advice. Assuming you like to sleep in dry socks have one pair for around camp, and take two pairs for hiking. Thin socks really do dry faster. Then do everything you can to dry out the socks overnight and alternate during the day as Jerry suggested. Elastic loops on the outside of your pack should keep the socks safe and they are very light.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry? on 06/18/2011 15:56:07 MDT Print View

Overnight, the wet socks go into a ziplock bag and then into my sleeping bag. They don't dry, but they don't get my down damp and at least they are warm when I put them on in the morning! As Jerry says, once my shoes dry out, I can switch to dry socks and put the wet ones in the front mesh pocket of my pack to dry.

Note that in the morning, even in fair weather, you'll be hiking through dew-drenched vegetation which will get your feet just as wet as wading a creek! Another argument for not putting on dry socks first thing in the morning!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
sleep on 06/18/2011 17:45:21 MDT Print View

sleep with em and a hawt nalgene

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Socks on 06/20/2011 22:52:49 MDT Print View

Great discussion going here. Drying socks can be a tough area to really succeed at in the wilderness. I'll write about what's working for me.

Some people say to just live with wet feet, but for me when my feet are wet for a prolonged period then they wrinkle up (prune feet) and this is shortly followed by blistering. I had this pretty bad two weeks ago. The only way for me to have prolonged wet feet and not blister, is when I generously use Sportslick or Hydropel. This technique works, but it's not a very enjoyable strategy to have wet feet all the time when there are other strategies that will get you dry feet with minimal effort. I use this technique only as a last resort (ie. all my socks are wet).

IMO, the most important consideration for drying socks is choosing the right socks in the first place. I like very thin synthetic socks that are as fast drying as possible. Drying times are far more important to me than stink. Wool socks are way too slow drying and even most synthetic socks are too slow. I like DeFeet Ventilator LiteLow socks and I'm hoping to try those 'hyper thin' Drymax socks sometime if I ever get a mailing address. Check out the road cycling section of your local REI or cycling shop for some nice light, thing low synthetic socks.

Using the right socks, I hang them off my pack to dry if I have the weather conditions and sock supply to allow this, otherwise I dry them by sleeping with them on. The other alternative to drying socks is to use Rocky Gore-Tex socks to avoid getting wet socks, and then you hope your feet never get too wet. If they do, change your socks for dry ones and carry on. I've had good results with this, but I'm sure the Rocky socks will wear out if you use them for a lot of miles and the socks add a bit of weight and lead to damp feet due to zero breathability if your socks are wet....so you need to keep changing your socks which is a pain since Rocky Gore-Tex socks are difficult to get on/off. Overall, it's not a bad technique but it is a bit of a vulnerable one.

To dry my thin synthetic socks by sleeping with them on, obviously I start by giving them a solid wring out. Then I put them on once I've entered my shelter for the night. They are a bit chilly and uncomfortable for about 10 seconds, and then they are just wet but warm. The socks are obviously sorta wet for maybe an hour and then after that they just feel somewhat damp, but not uncomfortable at all. By the time I'm done reading and ready to sleep, they are at the damp state and they end up being bone dry in about 3 hours total.

"Putting your wet socks into a down sleeping bag at night is just asking for trouble. I can only imagine that this would be feasible with a synthetic sleeping bag, if the nighttime lows never get below 60*F, and if there was just not enough sun to dry them out by hanging them on your pack."

This comment sounds like it's from someone who has never tried this. Drying socks is your sleeping bag is far more feasible then you're giving it credit for. I dry socks regularly in my down quilt with lows down to 40F, even in very humid (temperate rainforest) areas. Obviously the humidity gathering inside my down bag is impossible to measure on the trail, but I suspect my down bag breathes well enough that significant moisture does not accumulate. I've never noticed any sort of loss in loft, even when doing this every night for up to 5 nights consecutively.

One final comment is that hanging your socks from your pack works very well in conjunction with wearing them to bed. If you can get your socks to the 'damp' state by hanging them from your pack, then they won't be uncomfortable if you put them on to wear to bed and they will be dry in no time if you are using the right socks.

Edited by dandydan on 06/20/2011 22:54:36 MDT.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Take care of the feet... on 06/21/2011 10:13:01 MDT Print View

I'm coming from the perspective of usually being able to get socks pretty dry overnight. My approach is this, based on the two/alternating socks system:

-- as soon as possible upon setting camp, remove the wet/sweaty socks and if necessary, take this opportunity to further wet them for a "wash". Then, wring them and then turn them inside-out to expose the loopy side. This enables them to dry faster.

--set them or hang them somewhere in sunlight and breeze, if possible.

--if night comes and it will be warm enough for continued drying, secure the socks so they don't blow away and be done. If not, hang them inside the tent so long as they're not drippy, and ensure the vents are open.

--if so cold that they won't dry, bag'em in a ziplock and keep them warm in the sleeping bag before changing out of the dries and into the wets for the next day on trail.

--if your feet are wet at night, wash them with "hand sanitizer". This will kill some of the fungi and the high-alcohol content will dry your feet for sleeping (or application of bandaging) as it vapors off.