Jan 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm #1298385
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!Jan 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm #1947012
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.Jan 24, 2013 at 8:46 pm #1947018
Brendan SwihartBPL Member
@brendansLocale: Fruita CO
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.Jan 24, 2013 at 9:07 pm #1947026
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.Jan 24, 2013 at 9:07 pm #1947027
Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
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.Jan 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm #1947036
Brendan SwihartBPL Member
@brendansLocale: Fruita CO
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.Jan 24, 2013 at 9:38 pm #1947042
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.
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.Jan 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm #1947045
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.Jan 24, 2013 at 10:24 pm #1947053
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
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 : )Jan 24, 2013 at 10:34 pm #1947056
Nice tip about the date and time, Jerry!Jan 25, 2013 at 3:55 am #1947084
@rayestrellaLocale: Northern Minnesota
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.Jan 25, 2013 at 5:57 am #1947097
Greg MihalikBPL Member
My layering goes –
super-thin liner sock for tactile comfort and friction-proofing
plastic bag as a VBL
wool boot sock
tight-to-the-shoe tall gaiter with instep strap
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.)
YMMVJan 25, 2013 at 10:10 am #1947178
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.Jan 25, 2013 at 10:15 am #1947181
Is it a better idea to just pour hot (near boiling) water on the shoes in the morning?Jan 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm #1947214
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.Jan 25, 2013 at 12:51 pm #1947222
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?Jan 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm #1947225
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.Jan 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm #1947231
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 ;)Jan 25, 2013 at 2:48 pm #1947262
Bogs and BergsMember
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.Jan 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm #1947279
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.Jan 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm #1947307
Five StarBPL Member
@mammomanLocale: NE AL
Carry an EXTRA extra pair of socks. Even if you end up with cold wet or frozen shoes, just being able to put on a truly dry clean pair of socks first is psychologically helpful….sure, they'll get wet as soon as you're walking, but they won't be too cold.
I once hiked 3 days in 15 degree weather with soaked Roclites (slipped into a creek one mile into the hike) and as long as I was moving and started the day with dry socks, I was ok. As soon as I stopped to camp, the down booties with overshoe went on, a fire got built, and I did my best to dry my shoes out. Never fully got dry though :)Jan 25, 2013 at 7:39 pm #1947331
I do have some Microspikes that I plan to bring. I've never used these before but they look like they could be useful on ice or mayve with certain types of snow. Even though the size that I bought is supposed to be for a size 10.5-14 shoe, I don't like how they crunch my foot and toes over a size 12 shoe. It seems like this could affect circulation.
Speaking of circulation…. I HATE how most socks on the market seem to fit so tight (when you buy them for your foot/shoe length/size). Sizing up doesn't work well either because you have an excess of material that is not needed and uncomfortable. I will be spending the next few weeks trying to stretch all of my socks that I plan to bring including these Hydroskins. For any of you that share this disliking, I have learned that following brands are better or worse with being too tight:
Not so bad:
SmartwoolJan 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm #1947352
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> If I am going to use a vapor barrier layer in between the shoes and
> insulation AND in between my sock layer and insulation, then are two pairs
> of merino wool socks going to be warmer (better) than a pair of merinos with
> hydroskins over them as the insulated layer?
Never been very impressed with things like hydroskins for insulation.
When canyoning in freezing water we wear 1/4" wet suits – but they
don't keep us warm either.
It all depends on what terrain you are crossing. If it is dry ground,
no worries. If it is cold dry snow, not too many worries. Snow which
is just sub-zero and wet is a bigger problem as your shoes get wet
Me, I would probably wear GTX joggers with GTX gaiters. When the snow
melts on your shoe or around your ankle, the water does not penetrate
the GTX layer. Yes, your socks will get wet anyhow, but there won't be
a huge FLOW of cold water through them. And inside I would probably
wear nylon liners, Darn Tough Vermont Full Boot socks and then another
layer of lighter wool socks over the top – in a large size.
If you are finding DTV socks tight, go up a size. They sure do have a
range of sizes available at Amazon. No, I have no vested interests in
DTV, but I do like their socks.
The big thing is warm trousers, so the blood going into your feet is
> Also, people have suggested putting platypus containers or water bottles
> full of hot water in a shoe in the morning to try and defrost them.
Me, I stick the shoes in a good plastic bag, seal it up, and leave it
at the bottom of my quilt overnight.
> pouring near boiling or boiling water on the shoe just as good or better?
Then you have really wet shoes, rather than a slightly damp ones, and
when they freeze, you are in much bigger trouble.
CheersJan 26, 2013 at 6:36 am #1947387
Dondo .BPL Member
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
Even though the size that I bought is supposed to be for a size 10.5-14 shoe, I don't like how they crunch my foot and toes over a size 12 shoe. It seems like this could affect circulation.
Good observation, Dale. Microspikes really do help with traction in icy conditions but when used with trail runners can restrict circulation to the point where your toes become numb. At least they did in my case. On one trip, it was bad enough that I had to take the Microspikes off and try to negotiate steep, icy terrain without them. Since then, I've switched to lightweight, oversized wp/b boots that are just stiff enough to withstand the pressure of Microspikes.
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