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M Water Weight Gain and Drying Characteristics of Lightweight Hiking Shoes after Submersion

by Carol Crooker

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Article Summary:

How much water do popular lightweight backpacking shoes soak up, how quickly do they dry, and why should you care?

Adventure racer Isaac Wilson says in Backpacking Light print magazine Issue 3, "We've also looked at how our feet function best. Is it best to keep them dry, and then maybe sweat a little bit, or is it best to let them get wet, and dry naturally? And we've definitely found that drying naturally is better. Human skin is one of the most waterproof, breathable substances ever created. It's fantastic. If we allow our feet to do what they're supposed to do naturally, we end up with fewer blisters, fewer problems, less sweat buildup, and fewer sock issues."

John Vonhof, in his article, Hot and Bothered: Foot Care in the Heat, in the same issue, recommends breathable and fast-draining shoes, wicking socks, and various tricks of the trade to keep your feet healthy when hiking in hot weather.

The problem is that feet that are moist for a long time are more prone to blisters and things like athlete's foot. Even if you aren't fording creeks or walking through wet grass, quick drying shoes are important to foot health as, according to John Vonhof, "the most common cause of wet feet is perspiration." With these thoughts in mind, I set out to measure how well various shoes used for lightweight backpacking lose moisture weight during hiking (through draining, pump action, and evaporation) after they've been submerged underwater and thoroughly soaked.


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