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:
TIP NUMBER 87
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.