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layering footwear
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Dale Caldwell
(dalemc) - F

Locale: Coastal Georgia
layering footwear on 01/24/2013 17:17:58 MST Print View

I am getting ready for my first winter hike in tennis shoes and am trying to prepare for single digit temps with ice and snow. I have plastic bags, a pair of sock liners, a pair of wool socks, a pair of hydroskin socks and a pair of Altra superior trail shoes. My question is... where do I put the plastic bags if I'm in conditions where a vapor barrier is desired? In between the shoes and hydroskins or in between the sock liners and wool socks? Or one bag between each? Thanks!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Tennis shoes? REALLY? on 01/24/2013 21:31:33 MST Print View

Dale, WHY are you going winter camping in single digits (F., I assume) in tennis shoes? Are you using gaiters?

My lightest cold weather setup is feltpacks inside of NEOS W/ a supportive foam insole. I use seam sealed light neoprene divers' sox over thin poly pro liner sox for a vapor barrier.

Remember, a non-waterproof boot or shoe WILL melt snow which WILL wet your insulatig socks. After that everything goes south.

P. S. Please re-think this. You could end up losing a few toes otherwise.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/24/2013 21:33:56 MST.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: layering footwear on 01/24/2013 21:46:03 MST Print View

Typically the VBL would be over a thin liner. I've done a couple trips this month with highs in single digits, 8" or so of snow with just midweight wool socks and Rocky Gtx socks and am fine while moving. I'd just take everything you listed and experiment and see what works best for you.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Don't Use Tennis Shoes on 01/24/2013 22:07:08 MST Print View

Winter = Boots. Be safe, friend. Almost everywhere in the U.S. with single-digit temps also has several inches of snow. At altitude, several feet. That means your mesh shoes are going to turn into ice cubes.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: layering footwear on 01/24/2013 22:07:25 MST Print View

I wouldn't go with hydroskins. Hydroskins are not waterproof. Maybe snow proof, but I'm not sure. Goretex socks would be better.

If you are already using a vapor barrier, why not use an additional plastic bag for the waterproof outer layer? You are blocking sweat from getting into your socks with the vapor barrier, so why do you need a waterproof/breathable sock? I haven't used this method but it makes the most sense to me.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Don't Use Tennis Shoes on 01/24/2013 22:25:11 MST Print View

Winter doesn't necessarily = boots. There's lots of strategies for wearing trail runners in winter for those of us that don't have enough snow for skis or snowshoes (but still hike in snow). I haven't worn boots in years and backpack throughout the winter. Start here:

Although I haven't tried it, what Justin says makes sense. If you're going to hike with a VBL, might as well keep your insulation layer dry. I find gaitors pretty much mandatory. 500ml Nalgenes are nice for pre-warming in the morning.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Don't Use Tennis Shoes on 01/24/2013 22:38:16 MST Print View

Tennis shoes can be fine in winter, with proper use. I've done several overnights and a few multi-day winter trips in tennis shoes.

You have to make sure they are big enough to fit extra sock layers.

1. Liner
2.VBL (optional)
3. Insulation layer--thick wool
4. Optional second sock
5. GTX sock--pretty much mandatory

There are at least a few articles on using trail runners in winter.

Oh yeah, and gaiters. You'll want some high gaiters. I've had good luck with MLDs eVent gaiters. Nice piece of gear.

Edited by T.L. on 01/24/2013 22:42:07 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Snow depth on 01/24/2013 22:53:49 MST Print View

Freezing temps don't always mean large amounts of snow either.

Check out this interactive map to see what the snow depth is in your area. If you bookmark it like I have, don't forget to reset the current date.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Snow depth on 01/24/2013 23:24:56 MST Print View

If you delete the date and time from the URL:

and bookmark that, then when you envoke it, it will use the most recent date and time

I kept forgetting to reset the date and time, noticed that the data didn't make any sense, then figured out it was for a different date

And you could default to a location near you rather than Mount Hood : )

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Snow depth on 01/24/2013 23:34:12 MST Print View

Nice tip about the date and time, Jerry!

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Frozen shoes? on 01/25/2013 04:55:56 MST Print View

What do you plan on doing with your shoes when you sleep? It is pretty hard to put on frozen solid shoes which you will have if they get wet. You will be in snow I take it? Might think about placing them in a drybag and sleeping with them.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: layering footwear on 01/25/2013 06:57:40 MST Print View

My layering goes -
super-thin liner sock for tactile comfort and friction-proofing
plastic bag as a VBL
wool boot sock
trail runners
tight-to-the-shoe tall gaiter with instep strap
Northern Lites

Even though the hydroskins aren't water proof the boot socks stay pretty dry. I stick the socks in my bag to dry and warm them for the next day.

If the weather and conditions are warm enough to result in wet shoes and they freeze solid over night, I partially fill a Platy with hot water, squeeze the air out, put it in a shoe to thaw and warm, and then put on the shoe. Repeat. It does make for a slow start. I don't have enough room in my bag to sleep with them.(With a Caldera Cone, it costs about 0.5 oz of fuel per shoe.)


Edited by greg23 on 01/25/2013 06:59:00 MST.

Dale Caldwell
(dalemc) - F

Locale: Coastal Georgia
THANKS! on 01/25/2013 11:10:19 MST Print View

I appreciate all the great advice. I will be wearing a shoe that is 1.5 size larger than normal. I don't think that I have time to get my hands on some Rocky Gortex socks before I go. If I am going to wear bags between the shoe and socks and between the liner and locks, I wonder if the Hydroskins are necessary or if they should be replaced with a second merino sock instead. I am going to get my hands on some gaiters before I go.

For shoes and socks that you are trying to "dry out" or warm up overnight, are y'all putting them in a ziplock bag or CF stuff sack before putting them in your sleeping bag with you? It seems that the bag would keep them from drying by not getting air or that any water would collect in the bag with the socks or shoes. Then again, I don't want to have a dirty pair of wet shoes loose in my sleeping bag.

Dale Caldwell
(dalemc) - F

Locale: Coastal Georgia
Also.... on 01/25/2013 11:15:38 MST Print View

Is it a better idea to just pour hot (near boiling) water on the shoes in the morning?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: THANKS! on 01/25/2013 13:32:22 MST Print View

It's gonna be real tough trying to dry shoes in winter. From my experience, once they are wet, they stay wet (or frozen). After that, you're simply trying to mitigate the effects.

Putting them in a waterproof stuff sack in your sleeping bag won't dry them out, but it will prevent you from having to put frozen shoes on in the morning.

You certainly don't want wet shoes soaking your sleeping bag.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
I GOTTA ASK... on 01/25/2013 13:51:09 MST Print View


Please tell us just why you want to use tennis shoes for backpacking in winter?

1. "Tennis shoes" are cotton canvas. Remember the saying "cotton kills"?
2. Tennis shoes are also low cut, requiring gaiters - do you have any?
3. Is this a stunt? Perhaps a religious pennance?

Edited by Danepacker on 01/25/2013 13:51:58 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: I GOTTA ASK... on 01/25/2013 14:00:58 MST Print View

Not to answer for Dale, but the term "tennis shoes" has been used interchangeably with most low-cut athletic shoes for as long as I can remember.

I'd bet Ryan Jordans gear closet that Dale is referring to some forms of trail runners.

Dale Caldwell
(dalemc) - F

Locale: Coastal Georgia
... on 01/25/2013 14:13:02 MST Print View

Travis, you are correct. I should not have referred to these shoes as tennis shoes. They are trail runners.

Eric, I appreciate your concern. For over a year now I have stopped walking in shoes with a heel to them. I like the zero drop style shoes, though the minimalist shoes aren't enough for the trail for me. The Altra Superiors seem to strike a good balance. Until hiking this past year in trail runners, I used boots. I took a trip last year in single digit temperatures in boots and my feet were miserably cold. I think that the boots were too small for winter use though. Anyway, since changing my style of walking (with a forefront strike that shoes with heals don't allow for), I really enjoy the ground feel and have reduced the chances of injuries. I really have no desire to hike in boots ever again unless I absolutely have to. I don't want to hike in temps colder than 0 F for many reasons so I'm trying to just make sure I can go this low semi-comfortably. I have suffered from frost bite on multiple occasions without permanent damage and don't want to go there again.

Also, boots are heavy ;)

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
layering footwear on 01/25/2013 15:48:49 MST Print View

Bit concerned about your traction on snow and ice. Do you have something for that?

No idea on the scientific merit of this, but local outdoorsman wisdom says that once you've frozen something, it'll freeze quicker, forever after. So if you've already had frostbite, be extra careful of those parts.

Two layers of VBL (aka breadbags), one on either side of the insulation layer, works well. I once walked a blizzard in sandals with that setup (long sad story). After dryness, wiggle room is most important, you've got that. Keep your legs warm, too. Hard to get warm blood at the far end of a cold leg.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Low heel sole contour winter footwear. on 01/25/2013 17:03:25 MST Print View


OK, I now see where you're coming from and the true type of shoe you are referring to. I guess my Merrill Moab Ventilators would qualify as "tennis shoes" as well, though I'd never wear them in snow.

As I mentioned, I use the lightweight NEOS overboots with a feltpac liner and contoured insole. They are actually ALMOST a low heel setup because my felt liners have no heel and the moulded foam insole has almost none. They are at least half the weight of regular feltpacs.

I've seen others post here that they use NEOS too so you could consider them in teh low shoes aren't warm enough.