Shoe set up for hiking in mud?
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Aug 14, 2011 at 6:39 am #1278003
We are going to be hiking in Tasmania soon and I've been told to expect lots of rain and mud. Will trail shoes and gaiters do the job or should I consider buying some boots? I am thinking mainly about whether my shoes will ever dry out or feel comfortable if they are constantly filling up with sludge!Aug 14, 2011 at 8:21 am #1769188Ken StrayerMember
While on a normal trip I usually dont give it too much thought and just walk through it and deal with it. However, on a trip where I know for a fact it is going to be nothing but mud city I do alter my footwear. I wear my old pair of bellville combat boots and my OR Croc gaiters.
With this setup my feet stay dry and I can usually keep most of the mud off of my clothes and out of my boots. So in essence I recommend a taller boot that is tight fitting as to prevent mud from entering. Even if you dont have a tall boot to use, gaiters are a must and the taller the better IMO.
I hiked a part of a recently used logging trail with this setup where the mud was seriously 2ft deep or more in places. And other than the mud all over my boots and gaiters and some on my pants my feet were dry and happy.Aug 14, 2011 at 8:46 am #1769194Link .BPL Member
this article talks about mud and footwear:
this article talks about being wet and your footwear:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/lightweight_guide_to_backpacking_in_sustained_rain.htmlAug 14, 2011 at 10:42 am #1769211Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
4" of mud or 2'? On the 4" side, mid-high boots and gaiters. No experience on the up-to-your-knees-suck-your-boots-off stuff other than jaunts on tidal flats. Good luck there!Aug 14, 2011 at 10:47 am #1769212John S.BPL Member
I'd wear the same shoes for everything. I might take gaiters, but you can simply clean off the pants at the next water source.Aug 14, 2011 at 2:59 pm #1769285Jason ElsworthBPL Member
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
I haven't yet used trail runners in any of New Zealand's most notorious mud spots, but this is one time when I would consider longer gaiters. Other issues are that trail runners may get sucked of your feet more easily than boots. Also in thick deep mud you can't always see well where you are putting your feet, so boots may provide more foot protection than trail runners. So far though I have found trail runners to be fine in moderate mud.Aug 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm #1769286Joseph ReevesSpectator
@umnakLocale: Southeast Alaska
We just came down the mountain this morning in clouds, fog and mud. Yesterday was so much nicer….
So, in a rain forest you have two choices. Lot's of mud wear ExtraTufs, not a lot of mud, wear your hiking shoes, and don't use "waterproof" shoes. I usually just wear shoes.
My wife hiked a lot in Tasmania — Cradle Mountain — and she wore shoes. Her comment is the rangers say walk on the trail and get wet. She might bring aqua socks for the worst partAug 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm #1769316Barry CuthbertBPL Member
@nzbazzaLocale: New Zealand
I do most of my tramping in the Tararuas here in New Zealand (it's the closest mountain range to home), and they are well known for their mud. There are many different types of mud and bogs ranging from Plasticine-like through varying stages of liquidity to thin mud soup to OMG-how-deep-is-that shoe suckers. Virtually every route has some degree of mud involved. Tasmanian mud is somewhat similar.
I've used all sorts of footwear from 4 season leather boots to lighter 3 season fabric boots to trail shoes in these mud ponds and regardless of what footwear you use, you get dirty and wet, or in a word, muddy. What is most important is grip, because the last thing you want to do is to slip and have an involuntary full body mud pack, not at all pleasant! So whatever shoes you use need deep open lugs, and I find that most typical running shoes are just too slippery. I haven't tried fell running shoes from the likes of Walsh or Inov-8 but they look good as an UL option for mud.
Gaiters make a huge difference. Less mud inside the shoe or boot and your socks stay cleaner. Short ankle gaiters for going lightweight, knee length snow gaiters for protection.
My personal UL setup currently is synthetic and leather trim Salomon trail shoes and 400D nylon ankle gaiters. For rougher terrain and more robust use I use Scarpa ZG65 GTX boots and knee length canvas gaiters.
There are many techniques for walking through mud. Some dance around the edges but this causes the mud to spread out further. Others plow straight through, like myself, using rocks and tree roots and clumps of plants to stand on. I find this is the most efficient way through mud.
With experience you will learn to "read" mud and be able to choose the appropriate path and technique. Have fun.Aug 15, 2011 at 7:44 am #1769451
Thanks for all the great responses. I feel more confident about bucking the boot trend (everone else i know) now that I have heard others' experiences. The weather should not be anywhere near freezing unless we get a surprise snow dump in summer so I am happy to stay with my trail shoes and take on some of the suggestions like gaiters and waterproof socks.
@Anna. Thanks for the links. They were really helpful.
@ Barry. I hope I learn to 'read' the mud quickly so I don't lose my shoes or have a mud bath! BTW, NZ is our next planned trans-Tasman walking destination after the Overland track.Aug 15, 2011 at 5:41 pm #1769685Barry CuthbertBPL Member
@nzbazzaLocale: New Zealand
I found some photos demonstrating the proper technique and attitude required to tackle mud. These photos were from a tramp I did with my 8 yr old daughter two months ago up to Mt Holdsworth in the Tararuas. It's the most popular trip in the range so the track is to a much higher standard than most tracks/routes in the ranges, but there are still some mud patches.Aug 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm #1769805
Barry, brilliant photos! Brings back some memories. I had forgotten how much I loved mud when I was young (only a few years ago, ha ha!). Thanks for the inspiration and proper instruction… I'll make sure I try to enjoy the mud as much as your daughter. I wonder why I started worrying about it?Apr 26, 2012 at 5:11 am #1871402
Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who posted links and suggestions! We had a fabulous time on our Tasmania trip with rain and mud, snow and slush, and a few spots of sunshine thrown in.
For anyone else pondering their foot comfort in wet and cold conditions, the three articles that helped me were:
In the end, I decided to experiment a little.
I spent a day walking in my ‘thinny thin’ socks and mesh trail shoes. I managed to stay dry for a while, stone hopping to avoid puddles and mud patches, but eventually I misjudged a step and then my feet were soaked. I felt quite liberated after that, jumping in puddles (like Barry’s daughter!) and forging through the mud. It was a weird sensation as my footsteps pumped the water out of my shoes. My feet were soaked and never got warm. It became quite uncomfortable by the end of the day.
The track after one hour of rain
Next day, I wore my thin socks under some Rocky Goretex Socks and got some serious hotpots (which I managed and never turned into blisters). I gave up on the Rocky Socks until the morning I woke up to snow falling and decided to give them another go. This time I put some Ininji toe sock liners underneath my regular socks and what a difference it made. Out of 30+ people at the hut for dinner that night, only one other person had dry feet. My husband, with his Goretex boots, had soaking shoes for most of the trip! As long as I walked fast enough my feet stayed warm despite slogging through snow and mud. Another big benefit, though short-lived, is that my mesh shoes did dry out each night.
Apr 26, 2012 at 7:06 am #1871430Brett PeughBPL Member
I tried for a long time to come up with a system that does something to keep my feet dry and warm without mud but just decided it was easier for me to bring an extra pair or two of good wool socks to go with the Chacos and just get muddy. I could always roll up my pant legs if I needed to.Jun 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm #1997483Adam KlagsBPL Member
@klagsLocale: Northeast USA
So based on most responses here, it seems like there's a lot of "positive attitude responses" which I love, but they aren't helping us who really hike in the mud. I was about to ask a similar question so I'll join this thread instead. I'm getting the idea that only the people posting photos in the mud really know what kind of hiking we mean by "muddy." I spend most of my time in the northeast in the whites and the ADK range, as well as other parts of upstate NY. The trails have a tendency to be extremely rocky and very muddy. I have always wanted to try the running shoe method up here, but so far I just can't understand how you'd do it in mud comfortably. I tried it once… and it was only once for a reason. After the first mile of submerged trail, you just have so much mud in your shoes that you can't do anything. With boots and gaiters I had protection from the mud itself. Yes, the boots still got wet after a few days. But they didn't ooze mud through them constantly. Meanwhile, my trail runners with lightweight gaiters just oozed mud into them, making a wonderful slippery paste inside the shoes. This created a situation where, no matter how tight the shoes were laced, I did not feel like I had solid connection with my feet. Even more difficult to deal with were the tiny grains of rock/sand that were grinding into my socks and feet at that point. It become a welcome site to see a running stream where I could take my shoes off and clean out the INSIDES of them. So please, somebody help me here and explain how I can have more lightweight shoes in sustained deep mud? I don't like having to make a new trail and add the the problem of erosion on the trails. So far nothing other than an ultra-heavy, partially leather-covered upper style boot keeps the mud and water out. And yeah, they are way overkill, and I don't like wearing them. But they keep my feet dry for two sustained days of Mud, vs the 5 minutes I get out of the trail shoes with lightweight gaiters. Thoughts?Jun 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm #1997490IanBPL Member
If you're goal is to keep your feet dry then you'll probably have the best luck with leather boots; if you're in the really soupy stuff then that can work against you ime. My experience from Louisiana swamps, Panama, and Ft Drum is the best three season footwear for trekking through >ankle deep mud is a good ol' pair of military jungle boots.
They won't keep your feet dry but they offer other benefits:
1. Lighter than traditional combat boots or leather hiking boots. I have some I can weigh later.
2. They dry quickly.
3. The Panama Lug sole sheds mud well and has good traction
4. They wont' get sucked off of your foot
If the mud you are encountering isn't coming over your sole then I'd look for something else. I spent five years in upstate but never used trail runners in the field so I can't speak to how well/poorly they would work there.
There are some good ones out there and there are some knock-offs which will fall apart quickly. If you get a pair with the speed lace system and panama soles, you are probably getting a legit pair.
An example:Jun 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm #1997492Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
My problem with mud isn't wet or muddy shoes, but the lack of traction. Especially on slopes. Below are pictures of a Palm Oasis and you can see it has a pretty good slope. The water comes from a spring 24/7 so some of the hillsides are slippery.
Last week I was hiking in southern Massachusetts where it had been raining for days on end. Again, I don't mind getting dirty and wet, but going up slight inclines was decidedly difficult. On both trips I was wearing trail runners, but two different models.
The good thing about mud is that there is usually plenty of water around to clean things up.Jun 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm #1997497Adam KlagsBPL Member
@klagsLocale: Northeast USA
I appreciate the recommendation on the boots, Ian. My point was not so much that I always want my feet dry… it isn't actually the water part that bothers me at all. Its the mud/sludge that creates the problem. I found that the mud would ooze into the trail runners. or up the gaiters because there was very little space without an ankle section like a boot has. I'm wondering if maybe some kind of ultralight boot that isn't made of mesh or easily permeable material would do. Does anyone have experience with anything like this?Jun 17, 2013 at 4:15 pm #1997536Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Sometimes there is just no real solution. So just accept it and stop worrying.
CheersJun 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm #1997589Ross LBPL Member
@rossLocale: Beautiful BC
Ever hear of rubber boots. Don't wear them myself, but I know an Aussie and a Canuck that use them exclusively in the mountains of British Columbia and swear by them. Sounds crazy and a little heavy, but pick your poison. You can go warm dry and heavy, or light cold and wet. Newer materials like polyurethane instead of rubber have made some boots lighter recently. And yes, I do know this is a lightweight forum, but in extremely muddy conditions just perhaps trail running shoes are not the optimum choice. Cheers.Jun 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm #1997590Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Bellville makes a high top, non waterproof minimalist boot that weighs less than 2 pounds per pair.Jun 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm #1997591Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Nick, have you tried using some shoes that have traction designed for mud? You really want something with cleat like lugs.Jun 18, 2013 at 8:35 am #1997665Kate MagillBPL Member
Surprised no one has mentioned inov8. They make some mud-specific trail runners. I haven't used them, but they have big ol' cleats for traction and an upper that isn't mesh and is designed to seal out mud and debris. Here's a review of the Mudclaw 265:Jun 18, 2013 at 8:46 am #1997666IanBPL Member
Thanks for sharing that Kate. I have plans for the West Coast Trail next summer and I don't think my LS Wildcats are up to the challenge mud wise.
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