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"Your feet are waterproof."
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
"Your feet are waterproof." on 02/04/2012 22:19:35 MST Print View

I have heard this statement before on this site. What exactly does it mean?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: "Your feet are waterproof." on 02/04/2012 22:55:12 MST Print View

Under most circumstances don't worry about getting your feet wet. They will be fine. They are waterproof!

Like doing the Lost Coast trail. Pretty much wet feet the whole time you are walking. We have had very little feet trouble on our trips.

Edited by kthompson on 02/04/2012 22:56:38 MST.

James McIntosh

Locale: Near Bass Strait
Don't let your feet stay wet for too long on 02/05/2012 00:09:07 MST Print View

I've had terrible trouble with wet feet on one occasion. After having them wet most of the time for about 4 days, the undersides became extremely swolen and hurt like anything when I lifted them off the ground to step. A doctor I walk with attributed this to the deep skin delaminating from the foot. Sounds hard to believe, but the pain really was horrendous. I ended up "baking" them over a camp fire 'till they dried out and they came good.

Wet feet also get more fungal infections.


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Don't let your feet stay wet for too long on 02/05/2012 00:25:47 MST Print View

Yep -- our feet are pretty darn water resistant. While I've read that hiking in wet soaking boots can lead to blisters -- I've hiked in wet boots for ten hours or so without problems at all. Of course, YMMV on this one. But Jim is right too. However water resistant, our bodies are, they are not designed to be soaked in water for days on end.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Re: "Your feet are waterproof." on 02/05/2012 07:29:21 MST Print View

We of course dry them for the night. But wet socks and shoes back on in the morning. Like anything else, too much of one thing is never good.

Ivo Vanmontfort
(Ivo) - MLife
Don't let your feet stay wet for too long on 02/05/2012 08:01:58 MST Print View

prevent "trench foot"

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Trench foot on 02/05/2012 09:50:05 MST Print View

Look up trench foot and how to prevent it

One hiker on grouse mount last year got it, couldn hike out and almost died ...

Our ancestors in the world wars knew all about it ...

Not even magical BPL UL thinking can overcome basic techniques to prevent injury

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
dry at night on 02/05/2012 09:51:28 MST Print View

if you can get your feet dry at night (which shouldn't be too terribly difficult)- having them wet during the day doesn't seem to be much of an issue

if I know ahead of time they are going to be wet I like to use a very light layer of Hydropel

my wife and I on a trip to the Gila (NM) made over 100 stream crossings in two days, our feet never were fully dry during the day- we'd dry them good at camp (and put on dry wool socks), re-apply Hydropel and put on the damp socks/trail runners in the morning and have another go- neither of had so much as a hot spot that trip

if we would have stopped to put on sandals or the like it would have taken us 4 days to do this stretch, not to mention that the crossings were a little (to a lot) swift- having trail runners on was a much safer option

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Trench Foot on 02/05/2012 11:35:30 MST Print View

Letting your feet dry out over night certainly helps, but it won't necessarily prevent trench foot. I managed to develop it over the course of a single long day back in 2000 (before the days of Hydropel -- or at least I didn't know about it then). I was walking along the PCT in Washington. Although I started the day with dry feet, it was raining, and my shoes got soaked. I kept going up over passes where it was snowing, and then down into valleys where it was raining, and my feet stayed very wet and very cold all day; not cold enough for frost bite, but definitely cold. That night I got to a town and got a hotel room. My feet felt more sore than usual, but I didn't think anything of it until I woke up in the middle of the night to find my feet throbbing, twice their normal size and bright red with white splotches. Couldn't walk on them at all for a couple days and had to end a thru-hike because of it.

My take-away is that drying out your feet at night will work to prevent trench foot in normal temperatures, but if it is wet and cold out, you need to find a way to keep your feet warm, like by using a goretex sock to trap heat or something.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Wet Feet on 02/06/2012 06:27:53 MST Print View

Wet feet in the summer or three seasons is one thing, but wet feet in the winter is a whole different ballgame. It's not the wet feet themselves which pose a problem, but the wet boots and socks which cause a hassle. At camp wet feet can be warmed and dried in good socks and down booties, but wet boots will freeze solid at night when the temps may reach 10F or lower.

On a recent trip into the Snowbird backcountry (NC), I got a couple nights at 10F and then for the next couple days had to ford Snowbird Creek with 12 crossings in bare feet using my Crocs---and walking between fords in the snow. It was dang cold and painful. And the crocs were too short and killed my toes so in camp one night I used my pocket knife and fixed the problem. See below.

Cut Crocs

Edited by TipiWalter on 02/06/2012 06:28:51 MST.

martin cooperman
(martyc) - M

Locale: Industrial Midwest
Wet feet and neoprene on 02/06/2012 11:28:26 MST Print View

I've tried some very thin neoprene socks over light synthetic liners.
NRS has a version of thin neoprene called 'hydroskins'.
They will not keep your feet dry.
They will allow a very thin layer of water to warm quickly next to your skin.
This works well for multiple creek crossings in chilly temperatures.
At night, of course, you remove these, dry your liner socks on your belly, dry the neoprene socks a little the same way and change into warm wool socks for the night.
Marty Cooperman
Cleveland, Ohio
Land of many stream crossings and much cold weather.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Trench Foot on 02/06/2012 11:34:30 MST Print View

If you feet are constantly wet, especially in warmer weather, you can get fungi that can cause problems... similar to athlete's foot. So a good washing at night, drying, and some sort of anti-fungal application should fit the bill.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Your feet are waterproof. on 02/06/2012 14:01:32 MST Print View

Lots of info here. Or you could just ask Eric for all the answers - yawn:). Personally I am going to try and buy some of this BPL magic stuff - sounds great.

In 30 years of hiking I haven't been able to come up with a practical way to guarantee keeping my feet dry all day everyday.

Edited by jephoto on 02/06/2012 14:04:10 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Trench Foot on 02/06/2012 14:23:16 MST Print View

Hi Chris

> I woke up in the middle of the night to find my feet throbbing, twice their normal size
> and bright red with white splotches.
That's not trench foot. That's incipient frost bite.
Your shoes were too small and they blocked the blood circulation.
You were lucky.


Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Re: Re: Trench Foot on 02/06/2012 21:53:30 MST Print View

"That's not trench foot. That's incipient frost bite.
Your shoes were too small and they blocked the blood circulation.
You were lucky."

Not being familiar with trench foot, I initially thought frost bite as well. But, the doctor said otherwise. My feet never got close enough to freezing to actually develop frost bite or frost nip (though they were definitely cold).

The doctor said trench foot, which my research after the fact confirmed. This website seems to describe my situation and symptoms exactly under the heading "Trench Foot":

Shoes that are too small contribute to both trench foot and frost bite, but didn't play a role in my situation. I was wearing shoes deliberately 1 and a half sizes larger than normal to accommodate swelling and foot growth on a thru-hike. I was swimming in them (literally and figuratively!) this day since my feet were cold and wet, and less swollen than usual. At least until later that night.

Also, although I'm sure Nick didn't intend to imply this with his post, someone else might get confused by his use of the term "trench foot" in his subject line, and discussion of fungal infections in the body of his post -- trench foot isn't fungal. Very different sort of malady.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: Trench Foot on 02/06/2012 22:01:35 MST Print View

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Trench Foot on 02/06/2012 22:28:18 MST Print View

Immersion foot is another name but I remember it being a term for the less serious stage of trench foot. I and a friend of mine had the early stages before. Its pretty painful. Hiking in mud and wet trails with wet socks/shoes all day- day after day can cause it.
To prevent it you just need to THOROUGHLY dry your feet every night. Try foot powder and always have clean dry socks to sleep in.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Trench Foot on 02/07/2012 02:40:04 MST Print View

Hi Chris

Interesting. Yes, I was thinking of the fungal version.
Not sure there's a lot of difference between chillblains, your sort of trench foot and frostbite though: one could lead into the other as far as I can see. Uncomfortable.
(Caution: I am NOT a medico.)


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Trench Foot on 02/07/2012 02:49:48 MST Print View

I'm thinking that's a good reason to have at least a small camp fire every night (if you can), and in more extreme situations to take off your shoes and let your feet air a bit during breaks during the day.
This is a random thought... would putting ashes from the campfire on your feet help? I know you can use ashes to sterilize your hands. Maybe ashes would help resist fungal type things?

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Drying w/o fire on 02/07/2012 09:29:50 MST Print View

Of course, the "hand sanitizer on the feet" method can both dry and kill fungi, aside from allowing one to attach bandages that won't stick to sweaty/wet feet. On multi-day trips, not a bad idea at all in terms of preventive medicine.