How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry?

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Home Forums General Forums General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion How to dry out wet socks in the backcountry?

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    chris smead
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Jose, CA

    Anyone know a trick to dry out wet socks and/or shoes while in the backcountry?
    My previous attempts resulted in burned socks and melted shoes.


    drowning in spam


    Locale: SoCal

    Hike them dry.

    Put them on a dark rock.

    Socks – clip them to your pack.

    Shoes – tighten them and swap into dry socks frequently.

    Air out your feet more frequently.

    Travis Leanna
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wisconsin

    If they're not too wet, you can sleep in them. I did this in GNP last summer and it worked well. I would wring out the socks as much as humanly possible, let them hang dry as much as I could before bed, then put them on right as I got in my sleeping bag. They were often dry by morning. Some people will mention that this can be bad if you use a down bag, but I find that the moisture in the wrung out socks is minimal enough that it doesn't affect the down bag at all.

    At the very least, you start the day with warm, damp socks instead of cold damp socks!

    Fred eric
    BPL Member


    Locale: France, vallée de la Loire

    I dont keep wet socks on my feet during the night , i prefer having my feet dry when possible to avoid skin problems.
    I prefer drying them under my top base layer, on my chest during the night and over my shoulders during the day, more heat there too :)

    Chas Ho


    I wear two pair of thin socks. For one thing they greatly cut down on the friction between my shoes and my feet but also they dry quickly overnight by hanging on a branch.

    Matt Mahaney
    BPL Member


    Locale: In the District

    +1 for sleeping them dry on your chest. Wring them out first. I produce enough body heat to dry a pair of injinji by morning. Thicker wool socks are damp in the morning, but they aren't cold when I put them on. Note synthetic socks are going to stink. I've choked myself on smell a few times having them bundled up in my sleeping system, but I expect to stink while hiking.

    Wild Exped
    BPL Member


    Locale: OZ

    Find a branch, 1/2 inch or so thick, twist and ring each sock tightly around said branch (so as to squeeze out as much as possible), pop them in the bottom of your sleeping bag.

    Alternatively, if they are just likely to get wet again the next day, don't bother, heat a bit of extra morning water and give them a rinse before putting them on.

    Ginger Allman


    Locale: Ozarks

    If it's not going to rain over night, put them on a branch. Not over a branch…slide them down along a branch so the wind won't take them away.

    Or try hanging them inside your tent somehow. Or draping them on something. Anything's gotta bet better than putting wet socks on your chest. Ugh. Do you guys actually try to make this backpacking thing more uncomfortable?

    Chas Ho


    I had to come back and say..the thought has been bouncing around in my head all day.
    The sleeping with your wet socks on or on your chest is nasty.
    Not saying I wouldn't do it in a pinch or a semi-emegency situation but as a regular practice..I don't think so. Yipes.
    OK, hopefully addressubg it will get the thought of it out of my head..:)

    mark wuethrich


    Breathable stuff sack + wet clothes + Hot water bottle.

    tommy d


    My solution this year has been to stop wearing socks. Of course, that means wearing footwear that doesn't "require" socks. That said, if you have wet socks, I believe Eugene made some really good suggestions.

    On the Trail

    Step 1. Take off your wet socks.

    Step 2. Let your feet air dry and wring out your socks. If you're in a sunny spot, you can let your socks dry on a rock; and

    Step 3. Put your socks back on your feet and start hiking again to build up heat.

    At Camp – Repeat the same step while setting up and moving around camp. If you have to take your socks off, put on your warm layers and then stick the socks under your armpits.

    At least around here in New England, I can't remember successfully "air drying" anything completely. I've gotten things from wet to damp, but never dry without body heat.

    spelt with a t
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rangeley, ME

    I have tried drying them in my armpits but found hanging them under my tarp usually works just as well. I carry a pair of sleep socks in all but the hottest weather, and would only wear wet socks to bed as a last resort.

    ed hyatt
    BPL Member


    Locale: The North, Scotland

    You can also use the 'towel twist' method – if you don't mind a baselayer absorbing a bit of the damp.

    Wrap socks in a lengthwise baselayer, stand on one end and twist the top until it spirals itself 'solid' – this really drives a lot of water out.

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    What Eugene said:
    > Hike them dry.
    > Socks – clip them to your pack.

    Personally, I think trying to dry wet socks in your sleeping bag is simply moving the water from your socks into your sleeping bag. May not matter in summer time; can be a disaster in winter time when the down goes soggy.

    My 2c.


    Miguel Arboleda
    BPL Member


    Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan

    Adding to the towel twist method… if you carry a UL microfiber towel with you, like the MSR UL Towl, just lay the wet sock on the towel, and gently wring the sock out in the towel. Then do the same for the other sock. You can also use a bandana, but cotton bandana's don't dry out as fast as the UL towels.

    The sock will still be damp, but it will dry a lot more quickly when hung up to dry, when put in your sleeping bag, or worn in your shoe. On rainy days, just stop and wring your socks out this way every now and then. It's keep your feet a little drier.

    Buck Nelson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Alaska

    Usually I carry 3 pairs of socks. I save a pair of dry socks to sleep in. Dry socks are much warmer and give my feet a better chance to recover during the night. Wet socks get wrung out before bed. If it doesn't look like rain I will often hang wet/damp socks on a branch outside. If it does look like rain I usually hang them inside the shelter where they rarely dry to amount to anything. During the day if it's drying weather I pin or clip wet socks to the back of my pack.

    If it's really rainy it's mostly a matter of simply adapting. Wet feet are part of the game. Chances are my shoes will be wet in the morning when I put them on anyway, so I just often have to suck it up and put on wet socks and shoes in the morning. In wintery conditions where my footwear isn't getting soaked, and I want to keep it that way, I will often sleep with damp socks inside my sleeping bag or between my long underwear top and my insulating jacket.

    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pennsylvania

    I'm a hammock sleeper and use a quilt. I wear my wet socks until it's time to go to bed and then I get in my hammock, change into my dry sleep socks, and simply put the wet socks in the hammock under me.

    By morning they are completely dry and I don't get the funk of sleeping with them on my chest.

    Diane “Piper” Soini
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Barbara

    I tied a shoelace on the inside of my tent along the small ridgeline it has (I have a GG One). I use that to hang my socks at night. If they are dry by morning, great. If not, I get wet socks to wear. I save a dry pair for in case the sun comes out again.

    Steven McAllister
    BPL Member


    Locale: Arizona, US

    Socks will not dry overnight outside in humid environments. Dew will just keep your socks wet.
    I hang mine on a line under the ridge of my tarp. Seems to be the driest place on cool wet nights.

    I also believe in the multiple layered thin socks method. Two pair thin socks will dry much faster than one pair of thicker socks.
    Less friction with layered socks as well.

    Diplomatic Mike


    Locale: Under a bush in Scotland

    If the conditions are continuously wet, i just accept that i'll be putting on wet socks in the morning. Dry socks will be wet within a few seconds anyway. As long as i have a dry pair for sleeping, i'm happy.
    In cold, wet conditions, i'll use Rocky socks to try and keep my merino socks dry.

    Will Webster


    I know they raise 'em tough in Scotland, but sucking the water out of dirty hiking socks?

    Diplomatic Mike


    Locale: Under a bush in Scotland

    I use my dirty socks to filter the water i wring out of my underwear. :)

    Chas Ho


    Thats going to take awhile to get that image out of my head. You don't put powdered drink mix in the water once you are done with it..? :0

    Diplomatic Mike


    Locale: Under a bush in Scotland

    I simply add a few herbs, and a little jerky. :)

    Will Webster


    Come to think of it, isn't that how you make haggis?

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