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Winter footwear? I'm befuddled.
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Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
Winter footwear? I'm befuddled. on 10/27/2012 20:40:15 MDT Print View

I haven't hiked in the dead of winter in a few years but the last time I did, I wore Asolo 520's with heavy wool socks and gaiters. Although there was no insulation, my feet were only cold during lunch and in the morning. I was hiking in Pennsylvania with snow on the ground between a dusting and thigh depth.

I still own these boots. At 13 years old, they're very worn out and they need replaced. I would like to know what ul'ers wear for their footwear. I own a pair of Columbia GTex trailrunners, though I'm not sure they'd be any good for winter. They'd be terrible without gaiters, that's for sure. I'd like steered in the right direction.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Winter footwear? I'm befuddled. on 10/27/2012 21:55:40 MDT Print View

I wrestle with "winter" hiking shoes for PA...since it's not a Sierra or an Upper Penisular winter. I grew up ~1 hr north of P-burg, PA and live around Allentown, so "winter" can be 0F with foot deep snow and wind or 38F with rain and mud. I don't want to wear heavy waterproof boots and get blisters, but don't want to end a 3-day hike early because of the rain, snow, or expected creek crossings makes it sketchy to continue.

Gaiters are easy to take in the car and then throw into the pack at the last minute if there is a question. I do think that dry, thick socks and down booties are a VERY nice fall-back campsite decision when the temps drop and the energy falters. I do wonder if I can hike through wet snow in lightweight trail shoes (sneakers) and be OK if things turn bad. There is always the option of throwing the wet trail hikers into a stuff sack and putting them under my knees in the sleeping bag to make the morning easier.

I'm not sure if the recent BPL winter article answers my concern either. Thanks for starting the discussion.


Edited by TomClark on 10/28/2012 00:16:11 MDT.

joe newton

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Re: "Winter footwear? I'm befuddled." on 10/28/2012 01:20:44 MDT Print View

Re: Tom: "I'm not sure if the recent BPL winter article answers my concern either"

Actually I thought Dave linked to two excellent resources on the subject in his line:

"My article on shoulder season footwear will be suitable for mild winter conditions, while Rietveld and Reichl’s series covers colder temperatures."

Dave's excellent article on 'shoulder season' footwear is here:

And Will and Janet's comprehensive 3-part article on winter footwear systems can be found at:

They are all excellent, in-depth articles gained from a lot of experience and experimentation. The solution for warmer winter hiking feet lies within!

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: winter footwear on 10/28/2012 08:29:08 MDT Print View

+1 on those article recommendations. They are both awesome.

My approach:
For light snow- liner sock, (+/- VBL), med weight wool sock, sealskin goretex sock, MT101 trail runner, OR rocky mountain gaiter

For deep snow:
liner sock, goretex sock, wool sock, MT101, Light energy overboot.

I really like the LE overboots. Never get cold feet, and it's nice to have dry shoes at the end of the day for camp use. They also don't freeze at night.

Chris Grove

Locale: Colorado Front Range
40 Below Over-Boots on 11/05/2012 10:45:33 MST Print View

Last winter, I expanded into the high country for snowshoeing and hiking. It is OK for my trail runners to get wet on my local trails but it is quite a bit different above 10000 feet. I bought the GTX version of my trail shoes. BLAH! I had a previous pair of GTX trail runners that were always hot. These things got just as cold as my standard pair.

Anyhow, I am looking for a new winter shoe. I would prefer something with a flexible sole. I was debating between INOV-8 OROCs + SealSkin Socks or the Salomon SnowCross.

The 40 Below Over-Boots are an interesting option. I get to use my regular shoe. The flexibility really appeals to me. I am leaning towards the shorty version. If the trail is dry or the day is warm, I can take the boots off. I can carry the boots on local trails and I can wear them if I encounter "deep" snow.

Ike, how packable are the over-boots?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
40 Below overboots on 11/05/2012 12:00:28 MST Print View

The 40-Below overboots (I have the short ones) are quite flexible and therefore packable, and they are nice and warm, too. Also great customer service!

However, they have a smooth sole, because they are designed to be worn with microspikes or (primarily) snowshoes, not for just plain hiking in snow. Worn alone, you won't have traction.

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/05/2012 12:03:21 MST.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: overboots on 11/05/2012 12:25:05 MST Print View

They are basically a neoprene bootie with a rubberized sole and a foam insert. As Mary says, they are very packable. I have the regular height version which weighs just over a pound for the pair, so if I think it likely that I will be carrying them much, I am more likely to use a different option like a gore-tex sock and gaiters.

Chris Grove

Locale: Colorado Front Range
40 Below Over-Boots on 11/05/2012 17:24:19 MST Print View

Thanks for the insights.

I am divided. I normally carry some sort of traction if I think I *might* encounter snow and ice. Adding over-boots would be no big deal. BUT I prefer screw shoes if I know ice is on the agenda. I think my original plan (Inov-8 OROC or Salomon SnowCross) might be better for me.

Thanks Again!

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Winter footwear? I'm befuddled on 11/06/2012 14:11:49 MST Print View

One winter I used the Neos overboots.
They worked but it was hard to keep my feet dry (from sweat..)
Now I use the Salomon Belhua and gaiters.
That combination is lighter than runners plus Neos and much more comfortable when not using snow shoes.
I still get somewhat sweaty feet but not as much.
(i just have a pair of wool blend socks with them)

Edited by Franco on 11/06/2012 14:12:37 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Neoprene sox on 12/06/2012 14:33:53 MST Print View

I wear thin neoprene sox over thin polypro liners. This keeps insulated boots free of my sweat. I use either GTX fabric & leather winter boots or felt pacs or, on occasion, NEOS W/ felt pac liners.

At night I remove the sox and turn the neoprene sox inside out to dry. After initial drying I put them in my sleeping bag to finish drying and don a new pair of polypro liners and thick "sleeping sox" for night.

This is the only way I know to keep boots dry from sweat. It works and I will likely keep on using it.

BTW, when backcountry ski camping the liners of my Scarpa boots serve as waterproof liners and I remove them to dry in my sleeping bag overnignt.

Nice to have warm boots in the morning! Agonizing to have cold boots and freezing toes.

P.S I lived in Erie, PA for 36 years and was a Nordic patroller there for 10 years so I do know a bit about PA weather. Coldest night I experienced in Erie was -22 F. and that happened when I slept snugly in a Quinzhee!

Edited by Danepacker on 12/11/2012 13:00:18 MST.