Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold
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Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/08/2012 14:31:44 MDT Print View

Hey Everyone,

Winter is here...yeeeehaaaaa. I am heading on a thru hike in Yellowstone next week. We should encounter some cold nights average this time of year will be 21 for a low and only 40's in the day. 3 Days 2 Nights.

My question is, we have to cross 3 rivers. This normally does not scare me...but. I only wear trail runners any more, I just can't handle the boots and really how do you cross a river in a boot anyway.

So my plan is to just walk in, I am going to wear some wool hiking socks and once i get to camp change out socks and put on some plastic bags, like grocery sacks for walking around camp. I have considered getting a pair of Seirus Hyperlite Stormsocks, but I have no experience with them.

Do you have any suggestions for me on crossing the rivers in some pretty cold weather?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/08/2012 14:51:02 MDT Print View

We take our socks off and cross in our joggers. That way our feet warm up as soon as we put our dry socks back on. Yes, even in snow-melt.

We either roll our trousers up or remove them so they don't get wet either. Warm legs mean warm feet.

We only cross bare-foot if the bottom is sany. Numb feet and sharp rocks are a bad combo.

Cheers

Randy Reamer
(Apathy) - F

Locale: Great White North
Rivers on 10/08/2012 14:53:11 MDT Print View

There are probably better ways to go about it but generally I hike up my pants and barefoot it across as long as it is not above knee level. Deeper than that and you will have some issues. The glacial rivers up here stay near freezing all year round and in the winter when its below zero it can be pretty painful. Drying your legs off with a bandana and getting back into dry wool makes all the difference.

Interested in a better solution.

Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
Re: Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/08/2012 15:05:11 MDT Print View

I was planning to leave my socks on, but it makes a lot of sense to quickly take them off and dry your feet a bit on the other side. I guess they will eventually get wet in the joggers but might would warm you up a bit till you get going again.

I assume you are putting them back into your wet joggers.....

-chad

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/08/2012 20:57:05 MDT Print View

> I assume you are putting them back into your wet joggers.....
Yeah, but trust me, wet joggers with dry socks are nowhere near as bad as wet wool socks in wet joggers.

Cheers

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/08/2012 21:13:14 MDT Print View

Would it also help to remove the shoe's footbed? These probably don't soak up water but might make warming/drying the socks that much faster.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/09/2012 01:13:28 MDT Print View

> Would it also help to remove the shoe's footbed?
Can't see any advantage myself. I would probably drop one of them in the river anyhow ...

Cheers

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/09/2012 01:28:18 MDT Print View

I'll offer a suggestion. I won't claim that it worked perfectly.

I was going to be on foot in Alaska, and there would be some wide stream crossings that were almost knee-deep. The water was to be very cold. The stream bottoms were seldom sandy, sometimes with rounded pebbles, and sometimes with jagged rocks. This is BPL, right? So, I wanted something that would likely keep me drier and warmer than just walking through the cold water, but I didn't want the weight of fisherman's waders.

I got two clear plastic bags that were long and narrow. They were long enough to go from my feet up past my knees to mid-thigh. The width was sufficient for my stocking feet to fit in, but they would get snug around my thighs. I had some extra boot insoles, and these got taped onto the bottom as puncture protection. I had some rubber bands that fit around the tops to hold them onto my thighs. This rig was lightweight, durable enough for three or four wide stream crossings, and cheap.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/09/2012 04:14:17 MDT Print View

> I got two clear plastic bags that were long and narrow.
Neat!

Cheers

David Adair
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Re: Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/09/2012 12:57:50 MDT Print View

Chad- If you do a few searches here on BPL you will turn up a series of articles and threads on the subject of wet weather footwear. The articles are worth the price of membership by themselves IMO. There is also an article by Dave Chenault titled "Footwear for the Other Three Seasons" you should be able to access. Following Dave's suggestion, I would take a pair of NRS Hydroskins which are 0.5 mm neoprene. They are thin enough that I can wear mine over my regular wool socks in my normal shoes. After river crossings, put your socks back on with the neoprene over them, at least until your shoes dry a little. I have no experience with the socks you mention but I am sure there are others out that would serve the same purpose.

They are also good for keeping your sleep socks dry at 2 am and less slippery than plastic or tyvek on the snow.

They won't necessarily keep your feet dry, just dryer and warmer.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/09/2012 14:19:29 MDT Print View

Cross in runners without insoles or socks.

Once across, put on socks, than bread sacks with the insole inside, then runners.

This keeps your socks and insoles dry while you hike and lets the runners dry some.

A bit of duct tape on the bread sack over the top of the ankle to gather it so it won't ride up or down works great!




or

Just bring thin neo socks and wear them alone (no shoes) to protect your feet while crossing.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Yellowstone Oct. stream crossings on 10/09/2012 18:14:44 MDT Print View

Chad those rivers will be low, and the probability of bonus stream crossings where you'll get your feet wet is remote. Thus dedicated footwear for stream crossings might be worth considering. Plain neoprene socks or booties will cut the cold and provide enough foot protection for mild crossings. Something like Crocs might be fine too. While it's foolish to use footwear like that to cross the Lamar or Bechler when they're rowdy, this time of year it should be quite safe.

In spring, when the rivers are higher and the streams are up too, I'd wear neoprene socks with a liner sock and just bust on through everything.

If you do get your shoes and/or socks wet, sleep with them under you (socks under pad, shoes under head) so they won't freeze.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Crossing Rivers in the Winter Cold on 10/10/2012 23:09:08 MDT Print View

"I got two clear plastic bags that were long and narrow. They were long enough to go from my feet up past my knees to mid-thigh."

I probably wouldn't have even noticed these if I hadn't read this thread the other day, but I had to stop at a grocery store on the way home and randomly saw these, designed to protect casts when showering:

http://www.amazon.com/Waterguard-Cast-Protectors-Adult-Short/dp/B003V7UN2Y

Stream-crossing aid? Cold weather vapor barrier? Maybe...

Logan Kidwell
(Logan) - MLife

Locale: Maine
warm feet in shoulder seasons and winter on 10/11/2012 10:55:02 MDT Print View

About a year ago or so, there was an article here on BPL about ultralight footwear options for exactly what you are talking about.

I strongly recommend NRS neoprene socks. I have them in two thicknesses, and they have been the perfect solution for me in wet and cold (including wading) in Maine. In "full winter" I switch to rbh vapor barrier socks once "wet" is out of the equation.

Check this out (if you hven't already):

https://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/fast_light_shoulder_season_footwear_tips.html


Have fun,

Logan

Chad Webster
(blaktee) - F

Locale: Targhee National Forest
thanks everyone on 10/12/2012 09:50:11 MDT Print View

Hey Guys,

thank you so much for the ideas and helpful tips. I got some neoprene socks and tested them out. I soaked my shoes in some freezing cold water and also dipped my bare feet in the water for a min. or so. Then I put dry socks on, the neoprene sock over the dry wool socks and stuck em in the soaking wet shoes. Then I went to a football game....I know that sounds dumb and my wife made tons of fun of me. But it got 35 degrees and was a perfect test of just sitting there letting my feet get cold. They actually only got chilled, worked pretty good. I think I am going to give this a run next week crossing the Bechler. Highs of 50's and low 20's and night. I think i will live, maybe lose a toe, but really who needs 10 of them anyway. :)