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Fast and Light Shoulder Season Footwear Tips
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Fast and Light Shoulder Season Footwear Tips on 02/21/2012 16:39:16 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Fast and Light Shoulder Season Footwear Tips

Will Inman
(Empacitator) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Footwear on 02/21/2012 17:37:44 MST Print View

Great article, thanks. A lot of good information in one place!

wander lust
great article on 02/21/2012 19:56:09 MST Print View

Great article.

I use the same system and it always worked for me in 3 seasons, I even use them in summer.

Not fearing wet shoes / feet is probably to biggest step to enjoy hiking in such conditions.

The NSR Hydroskin socks are brilliant: they dry reasonable fast, insulate and are quite durable.

I used the wear a 2nd thicker woolsock for aforementioned conditions and neoprene socks work way better. The thin Hydroskin do not insulate that much if you are not moving though.

Btw the Hydroskin are quite good camp socks / shoes when they are dry.

Either just use them over your dry pair of socks to walk around camp or use them inside your wet shoes for pee breaks.

Edited by sol on 02/21/2012 19:56:54 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: fast and light socks on 02/21/2012 20:28:17 MST Print View

A note on socks: I've been using two pairs of Patagonias ultralight merino ski socks since around Christmas. They have as good a fit as the Smartwool ones mentioned here, but a higher nylon content and will I hope be more durable as a result. The Smartwools, wonderful though they are, barely last a season for me.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Shoes on 02/21/2012 21:12:12 MST Print View

So how are the X-Countires holding up compared to the Crossleathers?

Daniel Sandström
VB on 02/22/2012 03:23:10 MST Print View

Dare I ask on the subject of VB socks? I'm hesitant, imagine it might need a whole new article - actually read one here a while ago..
Any thoughts, opinions on it?

Just sad I'll need a second pair of running shoes, as my trail gloves fit perfectly with thin/medium socks. Neprene socks - if even finding a pair - probably won't fit, as you mentioned.

Splendid article, especially combined with Will's one!

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
Rehash? on 02/22/2012 03:49:54 MST Print View

nice piece - but pretty much a rehash of what you wrote on your blog 2 years ago here


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Rehash? on 02/22/2012 07:06:09 MST Print View

Thought it seemed familiar. Good article. And it is new content for this site. I'm sure we will be seeing more blog posts being reposted here from all over. I am totally fine with that BTW.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Upwards foot expansion on 02/22/2012 07:30:43 MST Print View

As I took my first foray into winter backpacking this year, I had to rethink my footwear. Since I didn't want to plunk down a large chunk of money for a complete new footwear setup, I made do with what I had (except for new GoreTex socks).

I used my regular trail runners, but as one would expect, they were too tight with a liner sock, wool sock, and GTX sock. So instead of going out and buying a new pair of shoes, I simply took the liner out of my shoe. Done. It gave my foot the needed room and I really didn't miss the liner at all. Less foam to freeze as well.

Just something to consider.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
gtx socks on 02/22/2012 07:51:48 MST Print View

I've had really good luck w/ gtx socks and thin merino socks- am able to use my normal shoe w/o sizing up, I haven't had to ford anything that was higher than the socks though- the hydroskins probably trump gtx socks in those condtions

I've also had very good luck w/ Hydropel when hiking in wet conditions, the stuff really works

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
tall socks, how tall? on 02/22/2012 07:53:53 MST Print View

I have found Smartwool ski socks to be very annoying to wear, when I last tried them 2 years ago. They only come up to the fattest part of the calf, which means there is nothing to keep them from sliding down, and they do. Also it feels uncomfortable to have the elastic band around the calf instead of above it.

If they are truly knee high on David, his legs must be much shorter than mine.
Are the Pata socks any taller?

I have some Falke ski socks which are very comfortable as far as fit, but their wool content is so low, they are far less warm and pleasant against the skin, and they mat up much quicker than the high wool content socks, which is why I switched to the Smartwools a long time ago for backpacking.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: shoulder season footwear on 02/22/2012 08:03:17 MST Print View

VBL socks are definitely a whole 'nother subject. Skurkas discussion on his site is darn good. I find them essential, but usually only wear them when it's consistently below 15 F or so.

The X Countrys are holding up well for a mesh shoe, but without reinforcements akin to a toe rand I've still gotten a few holes from deadfall and scrambling. Unlike the Crossleathers, I expect the uppers to be the limiting factor. The Crossleathers are the only trail shoe I've used where I can wear the tread down to nothing with the upper still intact.

Note that the only Smartwool ski sock I've found which stays put is the very thinnest one they make. The thin Patagonia sock is a similar dimension, perhaps a hair taller. I've no doubt there are some very lanky folks whom this leaves out in the cold.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Thanks on 02/22/2012 08:06:25 MST Print View

Great article, Dave. I had taken a lot from your original blog post and it's nice to see that information updated. Could you expand on the uses of the various thickness NRS socks? Sounds like the 0.5 mm would be the ideal for hiking specific trips. What is your pick for ones that include shoulder season packrafting?

Edited by Ike on 02/22/2012 14:36:35 MST.

Daniel Sandström
Re: re: shoulder season footwear on 02/22/2012 08:52:20 MST Print View

Like the previous post, interested in the thickness of the NRS socks. Also, as there are different sorts or laminates of neoprene. How waterproof/permeable and breathable are the neoprene? Say on a scale 0-10 you just invented - 0 being barefoot, 10 VB.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Footwear on 02/22/2012 09:48:58 MST Print View

Nice read. I'll have to try those NRS socks.

This article reminded me of this day:

Caltha Lake - Stein Valley

martin cooperman
(martyc) - M

Locale: Industrial Midwest
A superb article on 02/22/2012 10:01:23 MST Print View

A very nice article. I read the one you originally wrote on Bedrock and Paradox and tried out your suggestions. I already owned the NRS hydroskin socks for boating.

This past weekend in 30-degree weather I took some folks out for a hike with a guaranteed stream crossing. All wore hiking boots with no alternative footwear (except my wife, an experienced hand, who brought Crocs for the crossing). All, except my wife, balked once they saw the knee-deep water. They thought their gortex hiking boots would only have to cross ankle deep water. We would have to turn back.

Just for the experience I waded the stream in the liner socks topped with the hydroskins in mesh trail runners. The others kept watching me expecting, I suppose, that I would either topple over and be washed downstream or begin howling in pain. Actually the part of my leg that did ache was the part above those Patagonia ultralight ski sock liners, which was exposed to the water. I walked around a bit on the far side, my feet cool but not really cold, then crossed again. As we hiked back I had to hike more briskly than the rest, deliberately scrambling up some hillsides to keep my feet warm. I needed to hike rather than stroll to stay warm.

I was so delighted that this worked that I declined a ride home and walked the 10 miles back to my house, my feet, socks and shoes slowly drying out, and still warm.

I took full credit for your clever neoprene sock idea, to no avail. The consensus was not that I'd hit on a great sock and shoe combination, but that I was plainly nuts. Probably both are true.
Marty Cooperman
Cleveland, Ohio

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
excellent article. on 02/22/2012 10:36:07 MST Print View

Nice Work. and finally, a article without that sappy pc condescending lack of opinion so noxiously prevalent of late.
(vacco ran out of commas earlier in the day ... all he had left was those hard to spell "little dot things" ... )

i can't hardly wait to go bag me some nrs socks.

thank you !

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Calf/knee high socks on 02/22/2012 11:54:30 MST Print View

David, about the height of the base layer sock, I understand a calf/knee high sock will be warmer than a regular height one but I wonder how important this is and if it's worth the drawbacks. Does it really contribute significantly to keep the feet warmer?

Brian Emerson
(briguymaine) - F
Training for feet? on 02/22/2012 12:15:38 MST Print View

Strengthening your feet is talked about in the article, any suggestions for a training regiment for flat feet?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: neo socks on 02/22/2012 13:55:19 MST Print View

Ike, I use the Hydroskins for almost everything. If a packrafting trip is cold enough that I bring my drysuit (which doesn't have feet), I use my 2mm socks. And often wish I had a better drysuit. This does have some downside. After I took the final photo in the article (after 3 hours in the packraft getting soaked by the flooding river I was floating), I spent 10 minutes pacing around the gravel bar cursing and trying to get feeling back into my legs and feet.

The 3mm NRS socks have taped seams, and are effectively waterproof. So basically a 10. The 2mm non-taped socks are perhaps an 8 or 7, the Hydroskins a 5 or 4, and bog-standard wool socks a 1.

The warmth of knee high socks, however thin, is a strictly non-empirical opinion of mine. I'm sticking to it, but encourage everyone to experiment and find out for themselves.