Apr 1, 2011 at 11:03 am #1271522
I'm making my first forray into ultra-light backpacking. I normally carry everything but the kitchen sink. Last year since I graduated from grad school and finally got myself a real job, my annual trip was pretty tough as my fitness level has dropped.
So I've decided to help make up for it by reducing the amount of weight significantly.
I'm most concerned about crossing streams, esp places where there is a decent amount of water and no way to cross it without stepping in at least ankle deep water. Is there anything you guys do to prevent your feet from getting wet? Does it even matter?
I've always been told that wet feet lead to blisters, and it seems like going low-top or to non-waterproof shoes may not be such a great idea.Apr 1, 2011 at 11:14 am #1718412
If it's not going to get above 40 or 50 F, I often wear GoreTex socks while hiking.
If the water is too deep for them, or if I want to keep my shoes dry when not wearing them, I cross barefoot. Wearing just the shoes and dumping out the water can keep your socks a little more dry.
Usually, I'm wearing non-waterproof trail runners (waterproof ones dry slowly, and they always get wet somehow), and I just get them wet. If the temps are over 50F, I'm probably wearing thin nylon or polyester dress socks. These dry quickly, and don't cause discomfort when wet. If it's colder, and I'm not wearing GoreTex socks, I'm wearing wool socks over the dress sock liners. The wool socks keep my feet warm enough, and the liners prevent blister issues.Apr 1, 2011 at 11:17 am #1718415
In my experience, wet feet in heavy boots leads to blisters, not so for trail runners that fit well. Pair these with a good wool or synthetic sock combo, wear them through the streams and you will have no problems. Trail runners tend to dry fairly quickly and good socks prevent your feet from getting cold. I also bring a dedicated pair of dry sleeping socks. Spring cold weather trips might require different sock combos.
Bringing dedicated stream crossing footwear sucks. It is a total pain to switch back and forth and anything with good protection and purchase power tends to be really heavy.
I just returned from a 5 day trip where the first two days totaled nearly 100 back and forth stream crossings. I'd never go back to anything else.Apr 1, 2011 at 11:22 am #1718420
I went on a trip years ago in Glacier where we had what felt like a dozen stream crossings, all too deep for our big heavy water proof boots. We knew this was the case for our trip in advance so we had water shoes and pack towels. We easily spent as much time walking that day as we did changing footwear.
I now use trail runners and am considering for warmer trips to use VFF Treks. I've walked straight through creek crossings while a friend in boots wanders around for 10 minutes or longer to find a way around so as not to get the inside of his full-leather and goretex lined boots soaked. I've yet to have any blister problems, but my feet are generally resilient to such issues.
I will not go back to boots or waterproof shoes for 3+ season trips.Apr 1, 2011 at 11:27 am #1718427
If it is near freezing, i simply take off my socks, put my shoes back on, and cross. I put my socks on when i cross. If it is above 50f, i don't bother taking off my socks, as my feet will soon warm up. If the water is above knee level, i remove my pants/trousers and stick them on again when i'm across.
I always wear merino socks.Apr 1, 2011 at 11:51 am #1718438
This trip is during the summer, so you guys feel if I wear shoes that generally drain and wool socks, I shouldn't have a problem just walking straight through and letting them dry as I hike?
Do you deal with muddy trails?
I'm also considering getting a pair of mid-rise light weight boots from Inov-8. At 13 ounces, they are pretty light and are supposed to be water proof.Apr 1, 2011 at 11:59 am #1718446
I deal with really muddy trails. I often have to walk through trails that are streams with blazes on the nearby trees. Even with temps below freezing at night I am fine wearing my non-waterproof trail runners and getting them wet and muddy. Feet warm up in just a few minutes of walking even when it's 40 degrees.
The waterproof mid boots are still going to be a problem for those deeper crossings, and as others have said, the inside tends to get wet somehow or another (especially on longer trips).Apr 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm #1718450
If you're going through many crossings, it's probably best to just tromp through them with your shoes on. I find with wool socks I'm not very uncomfortable. Important for this method, however, is shoes that drain. Otherwise there's a lot of slosh until the water works its way out.
If it's just one or two crossings in a day, you can't beat flip flops. Just switch into them, dry off with a packtowel afterward, and get on with your day. I carry mine in a walmart sack so I've got something to carry my shoes in while I cross, and then I can wrap up my wet flip flops and stow them.
As for mud, sometimes there's just no way around a big sloppy mud pit. The big drawback here, I've found, is that you get silt in your shoe/sock and once that dries out a bit you've got a pretty abrasive grit between your toes. Blisters will happen. Bring extra socks so you can clean off and switch out if this is a concern.Apr 1, 2011 at 12:22 pm #1718473
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
"Does it even matter?"
Not unless it's pretty cold, and even then there are ways to keep wet feet warm. The wet feet = blisters bit is just a myth.Apr 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm #1718475
You could always just do this:Apr 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm #1718484
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Once the shoes and socks are wet, trail dust = mud. I've not had any trouble with just wading through and continuing to hike, though. Once my feet are mostly dry, I remove the dirt from between my toes at the next rest stop. If there are no more creek crossings for a while, stopping to wring out the socks after the ford does speed the drying process a bit. I've had my feet get just as wet from wet grass (in the morning or after rain) as from wading a stream.
Last summer, on a muddy trail in Olympic National Park, I got VERY muddy because I slipped and fell! The worst of it was that I couldn't get up for a couple of minutes because I was laughing so hard! I was very glad to have my base layer with me (in the pack) because I had to head for the beach at our destination to rinse my pants and shirt and empty pack off in the surf. It's a good thing that nylon dries really fast!Apr 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm #1718488
Don't worry so much!
I've hiked for days here in permanent mud without any problems. My feet are sometimes never dry for many days. As long as i carry a spare dry pair of merino socks for camp, i'm fine. Well draining shoes are a must imo. My choice are the Mizuno Wave Harriers. They suit my broad forefoot.Apr 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm #1718496
On the west coast of Vancouver island where it rarely dries out, you can get trench foot in a matter of just a couple of days. So either you all are lucky, or we are doing something wrong.Apr 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm #1718498
You are doing something wrong Dave. :)Apr 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm #1718500
@davecLocale: Crown of the Continent
I haven't had the pleasure myself. ;)
I do think that, as Mike notes, ensuring dry feet in camp is vital. Fuzzy wool sleep socks and a synthetic bag, and perhaps a fire, are all a good idea.Apr 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm #1718504
If you change your socks when you make camp and dry your "day socks" out overnight, you should have largely dry socks and shoes in the morning and your feet should be warm and dry for however long you're in camp. You can accelerate drying by putting the wringing out the wet socks and putting them in your sleeping bag with you.
My mini-experiments show that lightweight trail runners and wool or synthetic socks will dry out overnight easily in a controlled temperature/humidity environment (my apartment).Apr 1, 2011 at 1:03 pm #1718505
I had my one and only case of immersion foot about 25 years ago.
Wearing waterproof boots on a weeks trek in a wet summer.
It was like trying to walk on broken glass.
I've never had any problems wearing quick draining trail shoes. As i said, as long as you dry them at night.Apr 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm #1718514
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
What does trench foot look like?Apr 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm #1718516
Wet feet may not lead to blisters, but they certainly can. A multiday trip without dry feet can lead to trench foot. You need to experiment and have a blister treatment strategy if you do get blisters. You also need to make sure your feet dry out at night.
1. Wear water shoes to cross.
2. If only a couple of water crossings you can remove socks/insoles and cross in shoes/no socks. Put shoes back on with two bread bags over socks for some distance until shoes dry out some.
3. If alot of crossings you might just leave socks on and then at camp, change into dry socks and cover them with two bread bags if you need your shoes on.
Only with experimentation will you find what works best for you.Apr 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm #1718519
Wet feet doesn't cause blisters!
Blisters are the result of a hot spot caused by rubbing/friction!Apr 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm #1718527
Go back a couple of hundred years, and my ancestors wore a kilt and leather brogues on their feet. For good reason, as Scotland is a wet climate, and they had many bogs and streams to cross daily. The kilt meant no wet fabric against their lower legs. Brogues are shoes with lots of perforations. Yes the water comes in, but it goes out just as easily. Modern sandals use the same idea. National costumes are maybe a tourist thing these days, but their origins lie in function.Apr 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm #1718528
Here you go Jerry…Apr 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm #1718530
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Wet feet don't cause blisters. They may even cure them. When I hiked the PCT I had blisters from about day 4 all the way through to about the 750 mile mark. At that point, I was in the Sierras where the trail was basically a stream and my feet were wet all day long. My blisters finally went away and my feet became very tough.
In Washington on the PCT I was constantly being rained on or walking through wet plants so my feet were once again always wet. No blisters then, either.
So long as your feet dry out each day for a little while, you won't get trench foot. My feet dried out at night.
Goretex or other waterproof shoes will only make you miserable. Breathable, quick to drain is much better. You can also hike in sandals. I hiked a portion of the JMT last summer wearing Chacos with wool socks. I never had to give any stream crossings a second thought and wearing Chacos was a delight (except in the snow where they pretty much sucked.)Apr 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm #1718536
@philipdLocale: Ontario, Canada
As mentioned by a few folks on the thread…for me the key is drying my feet out thoroughly during the evening. I have gone 3-4 days with wet feet all day every day and as long as I am able to dry my feet in the evening and into a pair of clean/dry socks that I keep for sleeping in then I have been good. I use a non-wp trail runner and merino wool socks. I do watch my feet during the day and apply a bit of a generic version of sport slick to my toes sometimes as a preventative but not sure that is even needed. Works for me.Apr 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm #1718537
That pic looks familiar.
I do the unimaginable and cross the stream in my bare feet. Then put on dry socks.
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