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Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Winter Socks on 12/23/2012 22:12:20 MST Print View

I've got a winter camping trip coming up. I don't want frostbite on my toes. Any tips?

I've got a pair of Merrell boots, waterproof but not insulated. I'm wearing these socks:
Fox River Socks

http://www.foxsox.com/catalog/product.aspx?type=subcategory&sortorder=stylenumber&code=UNI&selectedstyle=6650

What other steps should I take to ensure I come back from my trip with ten toes? Any tricks with wrapping your feet in mylar or something? Should I use liner socks?

(I have great mittens, so my hands are set.)

Edited by mdilthey on 12/23/2012 22:13:39 MST.

joe newton
(holdfast)

Locale: Bergen, Norway
BPL should add these articles as a tab each winter :) on 12/24/2012 01:20:31 MST Print View

Check this series of articles from BPL for everything to do with winter footwear:

https://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/lightweight_footwear_systems_for_snow_travel_part_1.html

Links to Parts II and III contained within.

Kronos Master of Fate
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
BPL should add these articles as a tab each winter :) on 12/24/2012 06:13:42 MST Print View

You know the search function is not completely useless...

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Thanks! on 12/24/2012 18:09:59 MST Print View

Thank you for the link!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
BPL winter footwear article weakness on 12/25/2012 19:37:10 MST Print View

The BPL article does not properly address NECESSITY of a good VBL for winter footwear. You absolutely must keep your boots and insulating material dry all day.

You can use a well waterproofed ripstop sock over liners and under a medium weight insulating sock.

My preference is thin synthetic sock liners and a thin neoprene diver's sock that I've seam sealed. I wear this inside felt packs and as well inside Gore-Tex lined boots.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: BPL winter footwear article weakness on 12/25/2012 20:04:32 MST Print View

"The BPL article does not properly address NECESSITY of a good VBL for winter footwear. You absolutely must keep your boots and insulating material dry all day."

Necessity would not be the best word to use. Keeping your boots and insulating material dry all day does not require a vapor barrier layer. Now, for some people, it does. Some people have feet that sweat a lot. There are all sorts of possible temperature ranges for winter hiking, and one 'size' does not fit all. In general, the colder it gets, the more valuable a vapor barrier is, but some people never get cold enough to really require it.

Polling amongst cross country skier friends, I found that most used the two sock layers, but nobody used any vapor barriers. Alternatively, one sock layer and inner boots. But you have to be fairly serious to wear boots with inner boots.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: BPL winter footwear article weakness on 12/25/2012 20:51:25 MST Print View

> You absolutely must keep your boots and insulating material dry all day.
It's a lovely idea all right.
It just happens to be totally and utterly impossible to do under many conditions.

I have said it before, and I guess I will say it agaion many times: what matters is not whether your feet are wet or dry; what does matter is keeping them warm.

My advice: above -20 C I would not bother too much with VBL gear. I would make sure my legs are always warm and my footwear was not blocking the circulation of (warm) blood through my feet.

In fact, the worst conditions imho are just below freezing. The snow sits on your footwear and melts - and the ice cold water gets in. Way below 0 C, the snow stays as snow. Above 0 C - who really cares?

Cheers

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Re: Diver's Socks on 12/25/2012 21:06:00 MST Print View

I updated my boots, mostly for circulation. Replaced the Size 12 Merrells with their "waterproofness" that soaked through in a few hours with a pair of La Sportiva Delta GTX boots, in a Size 12.5.

This oughta help.

I cannot buy a pair of diver's socks between now and next Monday.

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Warm Feet on 12/26/2012 09:46:23 MST Print View

Hi Max,

I tend to agree with Roger; wet or dry isn't really important, as long as you're warm. My experience is, in really cold conditions with lots of snow, I'm probably wearing ski boots. Down to zeroF I'm usually OK wearing good thick socks and shoes which allow good circulation. I often use neoprene in my neck of the woods, Hydroskins like many articles and forum posts here mention, but I often have to ford creeks in winter. If I don't have any fords, I usually don't use them.

A couple things I do believe are important. Keep your legs warm, especially your thighs. Roger harps on this, and he's right. The warmer that blood going down your legs remains, the warmer your feet will be. Dry your feet completely when you get to camp, and have nice fluffy socks to sleep in; use these socks only for sleeping, not walking. I like to carry a couple of pint Nalgene bottles; they're great for thawing frozen boots and shoes in the morning. You might also consider warmer footbeds for your boots, though I've never found a pair that works great AND doesn't take up too much volume in your boots.

If you'd like to try vapor barriers, get a few produce bags from the grocery store, or maybe some of the long bags they have at Subway. Easy, cheap way to try VBL socks, and I also find them handy if I have to put wet shoes on dry feet/socks while in camp. You'll need liner socks to use VBLs for walking: liner/vbl/heavy sock.

I also like knee-high gaiters in winter; keeps your calves dry and warm, and keeps snow from piling into the tops of your boots.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Warm Feet on 12/26/2012 13:03:06 MST Print View

"You might also consider warmer footbeds for your boots, though I've never found a pair that works great AND doesn't take up too much volume in your boots."

I found a pair of Thinsulate footbeds that aren't too thick. They seem warmer than the stock ones.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Warm Feet on 12/26/2012 13:29:35 MST Print View

Hi Scott

Lots of good advice there.

> Dry your feet completely when you get to camp, and have nice fluffy socks to sleep
> in; use these socks only for sleeping, not walking.
+1

> If you'd like to try vapor barriers, get a few produce bags from the grocery store,
+1
or bread bags - very trad.

> I also like knee-high gaiters in winter; keeps your calves dry and warm, and keeps
> snow from piling into the tops of your boots.
+1
I do use knee-high GoreTex gaiters in winter.

Cheers

Raquel Rascal
(flutingaround)

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
Polar wrap toasty feet on 12/26/2012 13:45:16 MST Print View

I have been experimenting with Polar wrap toasty feet insoles

http://www.amazon.com/Polarwrap-Toasty-Feet-Shoe-Insoles/dp/B001GCTXIG

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
VBL on 12/27/2012 06:53:32 MST Print View

I echo the VBL recommendations!

Anyone who hasn't tried using the VBL on their cold feet is really missing the boat!
I often use thin plastic grocery bags, or bread bags or small bathroom trash bags. I find that even the crummiest bags will last me about a week(35 miles). If it blows out early, just grab another grocery bag from the pantry. They're free!

I suffered from cold feet a LOT. When I did fitness walks in winter, often 35*F and lower, in windy/rainy/snowy or just plain cold conditions, using my lightweight training shoes, my toes were icy cold and I was miserable. I was desperate to warm up my feet, and nothing was working.

Then I tried Vapor Barrier Layers for no cost, using these free bags from the store.
It was like having heaters in my socks! My feet did not get cold! They were actually
WARM!
I used wicking sock liners, then put a pair of thin plastic grocery bags slipped over my feet and smoothed them out, and put on a nice pair of over-socks to hold them up and provide some outer insulation layer. On went the walking shoes, and out I went into the cold.
Pure heaven!
I have used VBL ever since, and I also use it on the rest of my body in the cold situations that I may encounter. But, the feet were the first experience, and that showed me the way to comfort.

Now, I challenge any of you who have been avoiding this technology to try it for free, just like I did. You all have these bags at home and you have socks, and it's cold outside, and you walk in the cold to stay in shape, just like I do.
Just try it!!!!

I believe that every person who tries this will convert to using VBL. It is a night and day improvement!

And if you have cold feet at night in your sleeping bag, just do the same thing!
It really works, and I'm not exaggerating.

Raquel Rascal
(flutingaround)

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
... on 12/27/2012 07:06:56 MST Print View

Hi Tom, thanks for the enthusiastic response.

I'm working on my winter hiking set up too. Can you confirm that this is the correct way to do it?

Start with thin wicking liner
Add bread bag
Add wool insulating sock
Finish with boot.

I have two different boots, and I need help determining which one would be best to hike with in deep powder and snowshoes. I have a pair of Vasque GTX boots (waterproof breathable) and a pair of North Face waterproof snow boots (completely waterproof - do not breath). Any thoughts?

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
Re: ... on 12/27/2012 07:21:58 MST Print View

That's the system that works for me.
It's simple, cheap, and it works.

As for your boots, I'm not experienced with boots like that, but I'd suggest using the VBL with whatever boot you feel is best for the application.
It will keep your feet warmer with any boot that you use.
And it also keeps any external water from contacting your feet, should any water leak into the boot from outside.

It's almost like magic.
Cheap, weighs next to nothing, so thin that you don't even know it's there, and it keeps you warm as toast.

When you start using it all over your body, the biggest concern is being too hot, not too cold! Then you have to become adept at layering and venting to maintain a neutral body temp during exercising and rest situations.

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: Re: BPL winter footwear article weakness on 12/27/2012 08:20:08 MST Print View

> In fact, the worst conditions imho are just below freezing. The
> snow sits on your footwear and melts - and the ice cold water
> gets in. Way below 0 C, the snow stays as snow. Above 0 C - who
> really cares?

The worst conditions I've ever dealt with was just above freezing, with lots of wet snow, and non-waterproof boots. Didn't have any kind of neoprene sock or VBL sock to prevent water penetration of the inner sock. Really uncomfortable, as in constant cold, wet feet.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: BPL winter footwear article weakness on 12/27/2012 08:58:07 MST Print View

How about just

bread bag
wool sock
boot

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
Re: Re: Re: Re: BPL winter footwear article weakness on 12/27/2012 09:24:59 MST Print View

It could possibly work that way.
But the purpose of the inner wicking liner is to prevent the thin plastic from feeling "clammy" against the skin. And it helps to put some space and material in between, to establish the "micro-climate" inside the VBL without it sticking to the skin and feeling uncomfortable..

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BPL winter footwear article weakness on 12/27/2012 09:34:42 MST Print View

I've tried garbage bag torso VBL against skin, and didn't mind "clammy" feeling.

If you have to have a 2nd pair of inner socks it defeats some of the simplicity

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
VBLs on 12/27/2012 09:49:54 MST Print View

Hi Tom,

VBLs certainly work, and work well. It seems very dependent on individual physiology as to what temperature they start to become effective. For me, that temp seems to be in the zeroF range. Andrew Skurka wrote an article for BPL on the subject: www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/.../vapor_barrier_liners.html

One thing to note with VBLs, it is imperative to maintain the integrity of the vapor barrier. Carry a few spares if you're using bread bags; if one tears it won't work. Also use gaiters, as any external moisture penetrating the VBL will destroy the effect.