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Footwear - waterproof boots v. fast drying trail running shoes.
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Paul Dalley
(pauldalley) - F

Locale: Gulf Coast
Footwear - waterproof boots v. fast drying trail running shoes. on 07/06/2011 20:30:57 MDT Print View

I would like some comments on this: I have two options for my next trip. First, wear my GoLite non-waterproof trail running shoes. Or, my new GoLite Timberlite waterproof boots. I tried the boots on today. They fit well, but my feet got warm in them without any exertion. My feet stay cool in my trail shoes.

What do I wear? I'm leaning towards my shoes. Less heat, less sweat,less blisters. My feet might get wet, from rain, or dew. But I'm betting that they can dry quickly. Any experience with trail shoes in the rain? I have been training with the shoes. But I have the nagging concern about wet feet on the trail. Thus the boots. Conventional wisdom too (keep your feet dry, but sweat makes em wet too). But I feel cool when my feet feel cool. So I'm not sure what to do.

I don't leave for for awhile so I time to make up my mind.

Any thoughts about non-waterproof trail shoes in wet conditions?



Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
Opinion on 07/06/2011 20:40:39 MDT Print View

I hike in the Sierra all season and gave up boots for all but the coldest snow days where I have to kick steps for miles.

Anything else and I am I trail runners.

I did two days out last weekend and with all the melt I walked in water about half the time. At least with my runners and light socks my feet dry after a few miles or at least at camp.

With the boots they never dry out

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Opinion on 07/06/2011 20:46:02 MDT Print View

waterproof boots keep your feet hot, wet, blister prone and cumbersome to wear. if the shoes fit, wear them. if your feet get wet, so what, they'll dry. key thing is to manage your feet constantly. let them dry, cover hot spots, clip toenails etc.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Boots. on 07/06/2011 20:57:55 MDT Print View

Definitely the boots. They're multipurpose - meaning you won't have to carry anything else to store your water in. When your thirsty just pop off your boot and take a drink from the funky cup.

W. P.
(uriah034) - F

Locale: South
Which Shoe on 07/06/2011 22:28:40 MDT Print View

I'd go with the trail runners (TR) over the boots (B). It sounds like you feet will have a better chance of being dryer in the TR because the B's will cause your feet to be wet with or without water. In rain, depending on how heavy it is, you may get wet feet in both. WIth a few stops and some normal foot care, you should be fine in the TR's.

Where are you going to be hiking?

Gerald Weigl
(Overton) - F

Locale: 3rd rock from the sun
wet feet = masochism? on 07/06/2011 23:10:30 MDT Print View

You all like hiking with wet feet?? I guess in arid areas this might be ok, but here my feet would be constantly wet. Why not choose something like Inov-8 Gore Tex Trail Runners?

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: wet feet = masochism? on 07/06/2011 23:12:39 MDT Print View

water always gets in then wont come out. wet feet feel nice. cools them off and gets rid of hot spots almost instantly. gore-tex trail runners get overly hot, and not every puddle "is just the right depth" to not go over the liner.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re: wet feet = masochism? on 07/06/2011 23:55:21 MDT Print View

goretex also takes forever to dry and wont drain if (when) you go past that "just the right depth". If your feet tend to get tore up after being wet for day after day, use Hydropel.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
No wet feet for me... For long anyway. on 07/07/2011 04:53:05 MDT Print View

Nah, I don't like hiking with wet feet. Trail runners dry fast similar to a synthetic shirt. When hiking a persons feet generate a significant amount of heat and your shoes and socks will dry out. Wool is warm when wet and doesn't pile like cotton when it's wet so make sure you wear the thinnest wool socks you can that are appropriate for the conditions.

In conditions where your foot has to stay dry consider water proof socks. I've found no need for them so far myself but I don't hike in snow during the winter.

Like the rest of an UL kit footwear is a system that has to be designed to work together based on the conditions. You should really check out the articles here pertaining to trail runners in adverse conditions. In my opinion they're one of the best reasons for being a member.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Footwear - waterproof boots v. fast drying trail running shoes. on 07/07/2011 09:20:03 MDT Print View

I think this is a personal issue that only you can answer. Go on a Day Hike in each, perferably the same one in the same conditions and with a water crossing if you will be encountering them on your hike. Then pick the one you like better. Only you know how your feet re-act and if the total soaking that you can usually avoid with a Gortex boot is worth the clammyness your feet will experience all day vs the complete soaking you get from stream crossing in a TR vs the 80% of the time your feet will be dry.

For me I like Gortex Trail Runners in the spring when temperatures are 15 C or below. Above that Regular Trail Runners work better for me.

The real key in my opinion is having a sock system that works for you. Make sure you have Cotton free socks. If you don't want to spent $6-$10 dollars on socks Walmart has cheap 99% polyester 1% spandex Fruit of the Loom socks for real cheap. You just got to check the labels as the cotton free socks look the same as the 60% cotton socks. With Polyester socks I don't really notice the clammyness in cooler temperatures with the gortex and only the first 10 minutes or so in a soaked shoe are uncomfortable.

Edited by GregF on 07/07/2011 09:20:51 MDT.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: Re: Footwear - waterproof boots v. fast drying trail running shoes. on 07/07/2011 10:01:53 MDT Print View

Those synthetic socks tend to bunch up around the balls of my feet and toes. Your mileage does vary from mine.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
wet feet on 07/07/2011 10:08:06 MDT Print View

I hate wet feet. This has slowed my transition to lighter footwear, and even owning some inov8's now I've been hard-pressed to resist getting goretex socks right away. I've never had the swamp foot problem. Maybe my feet just don't sweat as much as others'. There's some scoffing--rightfully--about stepping in puddles that are too deep--a problem I've never had b/c my boots are actual boots--10 inches high.

This is a personal choice, of course, but you won't find many people here recommending boots and even fewer recommending goretex boots. For your particular question, I say skip the goretex b/c the boots you have aren't high enough to make a difference. For anything less than a full boot, goretex seems like an affectation to me, good for keeping off the morning dew but useless in a situation where you'd really care about your feet staying dry.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
wet feet are okay! on 07/07/2011 10:08:44 MDT Print View

Use the NON-waterproof shoes.

Wear the THINNEST socks you have, they dry the quickest.

And DON'T WORRY about getting your feet wet! It's fine, just walk thru streams and let your feet get soaked! They'll dry off eventually.

There is so much stress about wet feet in the hiking community, and I've found that this is totally un-necessary, ducks have wet feet all the time, and they do just fine.

I teach lightweight camping to beginners and intermediate backpackers. I have seen so much energy waisted in trying to keep feet dry. I've seen people do dangerous stuff like walk over scary logs, when getting wet feet would be MUCH safer.

Also - If you cross one stream, there is probably gunna be another shortly up the trail, and once your feet are wet, the decision to get 'em wet again is easy.

I do NOT advocate extra "river crossing" shoes.

Also, don't take your shoes off and walk across a stream barefoot. This is a ridiculous waste of time.

Edited by mikeclelland on 07/07/2011 10:12:59 MDT.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: wet feet are okay! on 07/07/2011 10:13:58 MDT Print View

Sorry Mike but that's not what you say in your book. :P

As you've said wearing thin socks and a shoe that is well vented will help your feet to dry off after a dunking but that isn't much help if you're hiking through consistently wet trails for 15 miles. Some people can handle wet feet, some can't and get immersion foot which and lead to blisters and skin spiting.

Know your own feet and the conditions you'll be hiking in before choosing shoes.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
"Footwear - waterproof boots v. fast drying trail running shoes." on 07/07/2011 10:42:42 MDT Print View

A point worth mentioning is that at times (often in my experience) feet can be drier in fast drying trail shoes than waterproof boots because once the latter get wet they take far longer to dry. I've walked for hours in wet boots in conditions where trail shoes would have dried in under an hour. Outside of snow and freezing weather I find waterproof socks, waterproof boots and gaiters too hot - if I wear any of these my feet get wet from sweat and are much more prone to blisters than when wet from outside water. But that's just me. Those who suffer from cold rather than hot feet may well find these a way to keep their feet dry.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
wet feet on 07/07/2011 12:49:50 MDT Print View

Reply to Chad:

If you are in wet conditions for a LONG time, a thin layer of Hydropel is magical. It helps a LOT!

Also - if it's cold and wet for miles on end (like the squishy alaska tundra) I advocate a pair of neoprene socks (approx. 5.5 oz) as a way to keep the feet warm, even though they'll be wet.


Here's what I say in the book:


It’s okay to have wet feet!

Ducks have wet feet all the time, and they do fine, and they are downright adorable!

I do NOT carry extra stream crossing shoes. I do NOT squeeze my socks out if my feet get wet. I do NOT walk barefoot across streams. I do NOT scout for a dry steam crossing (well, sometimes I do, but if I don’t find it in the first few seconds, I just get my feet wet).

If you are lightweight camping, you have light nylon shoes. These will dry fast, especially if you wear thiny-thin socks. (see tip 85, How many socks?)

If you get to a stream crossing that involves wet feet, there is probably gunna be another soon after, so you might as well expect to get your feet wet. The beautiful thing is that once you get your feet wet (like ducks) then the next stream you find is not a dilemma at all. All moral issues about sacred dry feet are solved once they get that first soaking. If you plan on having wet feet all day a thin coating of Hydropel in the morning is hugely beneficial for minimizing the dreaded pruney feet. (see tip 83, Using Hydropel)

Rock hopping across a river with a big traditional backpack can be hazardous. But, with agile little shoes and a UL load, it’s much easier. But, there is a safety issue when the rocks get big, and the consequences of a fall get dangerous. When in doubt, get your feet wet.

Please note, when I talk about stream crossings, I am not describing fast moving rivers where a fall could be dangerous - or fatal. For more detailed safety info on rivers, read Allen and Mike’s Really Cool Backpackin’ Book.

Cody Bitterman
(cocobitzz) - F
Moab GTX on 07/07/2011 13:35:09 MDT Print View

I wear Merrell Moabs, and personally my feet run dry as it is, so a little claminess is welcome. I love these shoes, will probably buy a pair of mid's of them after these.

Kevin Haskins
(kevperro) - F

Locale: Washington State
I like boots on 07/07/2011 13:36:37 MDT Print View

I tried to like Trail Runners but I'm a boot guy. If you dunk them they stay wet longer but as people have isn't the end of the world. I use THICK wool socks too so I'm about 180 degrees from everyone on this board. ;-)

The reality for me is that at least 95% of the time my feet are not wet. I guess it depends on where/when you hike but I don't wear boots to keep my feet dry. They will from small puddles or incidental water contact but they won't from all day rain which runs down your leg or from deep stream crossings. I tend to stay home when the forecast is bad and there just isn't that many deep stream crossings where I hike.

The bottom line for me is that I wear what makes me most comfortable after multiple long days of hiking and what cost the least for a given amount of use. I prefer a boot, others prefer a trail runner. The only way you will find out which is for you is by going out and trying them yourself.

Paul Dalley
(pauldalley) - F

Locale: Gulf Coast
Thanks! on 07/07/2011 15:08:23 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the comments. Very helpful! To reply to some questions. My trip is to Isle Royale, MI. We have picked our route. This this my third trip. (My second was a disaster, but that's another story). So I'm pretty sure that my sustained wet feet hazard is most likely to be rain.

I think that the waterproof socks is the best option for me at this time. I have never had to hike for extended periods with water soaked feet. The waterproof socks seem like a good light weight option if I don't like wet feet. At least I will be able to get mitigate the problem and get through the trip.

I have been training with the trail shoes, and I don't want to change footwear this close to the trip. In a temporary soaking I can live with, but days of pounding rain? Don't know.

I'll keep everyone posted.

Thanks again!


sheila o
(bumpass) - F

Locale: The Far Left Coast? : /
foot wear on 07/07/2011 15:34:48 MDT Print View

TR and Hydropel. I may have two pairs of socks on and take one off as my feet swell. If crossings are deep, I'll take off my socks and pull out the inner sole too, just so my feet aren't as wet. Loosen up TR for a great camp shoe as well.