Trail shoes when it's wet, I just don't 'get' it.

Discussion in 'Clothing & Footwear' started by SafetyThird, May 15, 2018.

  1. SafetyThird

    SafetyThird Section Hiker

    Ok, for years I've been reading about the lightweight hiking movement and many people hiking in trail shoes and trail runners. I've always thought it fine for those lucky sods that live in California or hike the Pyrenees, but for the UK, the wet ground and regular rain, it seemed daft and you'd just end up with wet feet all the time, which is miserable.

    Well, having been seeing so many people on here espousing the benefits of them, I've been giving it a try by taking the dogs for their morning walk round the fields in my trail runners. Every morning my shoes, trousers and feet get soaked and I'm spending the morning with cold wet feet which is, as I've always found, miserable.

    A pair of lightweight boots and gaiters just seems so much more sensible for places like dartmoor or anywhere else in the UK unless the weather's been dry for a few weeks.

    Of course, you might end up with wet feet once in a while if you fall in a bog or have to cross a deep stream but, at least for me, that's always been a fairly rare thing, even on dartmoor, I've normally been able to keep my feet dry for days on end.

    Am I missing something about hiking in shoes or do you all just put up with having cold wet feet all the time in exchange for a bit less weight on your feet?
  2. Taz38

    Taz38 Thru Hiker

    I've started reading "High and low", where the author is trekking across to start with n/w Scotland in trail shoes. He gets wet feet a lot. He tries to avoid getting wet feet but usually fails.
    No disrespect to the author, but unless you don't mind wet feet and the effect of damp/wet feet on your feet, then maybe try to keep them dry (ish), not just by avoiding the wet bits, that often fails.

    I'm quite a novice to backpacking, but not to working outdoors. I own a pair of trail shoes, but unless the weather is kind and conditions fairly dry, I prefer my boots. If its wet, boggy, marshy etc I wear goretex army boot liners in my boots with thinner socks (cheap and do the job (sofar). I also prefer my boots for backpacking.

    Each to their own, we all have different preferences. :)
  3. lentenrose

    lentenrose Trail Blazer

    i have got a broken small toe---the only shoes that are comfortable are terrocs---i have got 9 and 1/2 pairs---i work outdoors--my feet get wet--does not bother me----occasionaly wear sealskin socks for snow
  4. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    I prefer dry feet too. :) If I mostly walked on nice LD paths trail runners would be OK…… but I don't.
  5. Shewie

    Shewie Administrator Staff Member

    I prefer trail shoes if I'm covering plenty of mileage each day, if it's a lazy trip with lots of standing around it's not much fun with wet feet. After crossing a bog section or river my shoes will dry out after a few miles down the trail from heat generated just by walking. I can cover more miles in trail shoes without feeling as tired compared to wearing boots, I find foot placement much better, skipping over and around rocks is a lot easier. Waterproof boots can still leak, get saturated by sweat or mud and stop breathing and often won't dry out until your home.
    Having something like a pair of sealskinz makes camp life more bearable, I don't like sitting around camp with wet feet.

    Wet feet and trail shoes are not for everyone but they work for me, as we go into the colder months I move to lined mids and then leather boots for winter
  6. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    I also find it a real pain when wearing boots to have to change to the crocs for wading rivers & the constant weaving around in boggy sections trying to avoid a flooded boot..............in trail shoes there's no messing about :)
    Plenty of strategies to avoid migging feet..........airing the feet at lunch stops, wash shoes & socks every day, fresh socks & plastic bags for camp wear, Gehwol Extra.
    Gordon, tom, jack4allfriends and 4 others like this.
  7. Charles42

    Charles42 Trail Blazer

    No easy answer. The goretex liner in my fabric boots gave up after less than 2 years. Rubbed in a special wax oil.
    Stopped ingress of water but feet got very sweaty. Prior to that I never got wet feet , even in bogs ,as long
    as I was able to wash of the mud etc and keep the fabric outer reasonably clean.The goretex liner worked
    really well ,but they don't seem to last. I also use MLD long gaiters, very light at 80grms and very
    breathable. Helps a lot in wet/muddy terraine.
  8. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    I've done the wet feet/trail shoes thing for 9 years . In winter I wear waterproof socks with my normal socks. Tried boots again occasionally and always regret it if walking more than a few miles.

    For myself, the advantages of less injury/soreness/fatigue, better proprioception and lightness of foot, easy river crossing, far outweigh the discomfort of wet/cold feet. Good socks and foot care regime help.

    When I first started using trail shoes, I took them on a 2 week backpacking trip as camp shoes to supplement my boots. On day 4, I decided to walk in the trail shoes and carry the boots. Did that for the rest of the trip - just couldn't face the constraints of boots anymore.

    HYOH YMMV etc :happy:
    Imperial Dave likes this.
  9. Clare

    Clare Thru Hiker

    compromise? Gore tex trail runners + gaiters when raining or given that waterproof gaiters that work with trail shoes seem hard to come by then elastic at bottom of rain trousers that goes under the sole of the shoe, gaiter style, and the rain trousers will then sit over the top of the shoe to stop rain getting in around the ankle of the shoe. Not as good as boots but not as bad as totally permeable shoes.
  10. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    I often use goretex trail shoes or mids in the UK; the liner always breaks down but it does not really bother me as they seldom last a season anyway.
  11. widu13

    widu13 Ultralighter

    The theory is this; an unlined shoe (lightweight campers nearly always prefer trail running shoes which are about half the weight of trail shoes) has a lot of mesh and will/does dry out faster. Lined boots and shoes don't work for me, I sweat more than they breathe and I have had pruned feet from them before. Wet shoes are no problem and you definitely cover more ground in a more relaxed manner with footwear weighing 1/3 of what a boot does.
  12. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Wet shoes suck; but are bearable.

    As for definitely covering more ground....?
  13. SafetyThird

    SafetyThird Section Hiker

    Really interesting views, thanks very much. Today, after walking the dogs through wet fields at 8am, I had soaked trail running shoes (brooks cascadias) but after that, I've been working round the farm. It's dry under foot, warm and sunny today. Currently it's 1pm and my socks (bridgedale woolfusion) are still damp, as are my shoes. If they can't dry out in this weather in 4 hours, they're never going to while hiking I don't think.

    It's an interesting experiment, but I think I'll probably stick to lightweight lined mids. Might take these shoes next time I'm backpacking and try them for a day and see how I get on with them on the hill.
  14. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    They might not dry out, but I wouldn't expect them to unless pounding a dry trail (when they can dry out occasionally).
    In real offtrail conditions - Dartmoor/Scotland etc. I'm not expecting to be dry underfoot all day really* (Or in the air). Especially in the shoulder seasons when I'm out most.

    When I did my ml training, on the last day it was so wet, that with trail shoes and waterproof socks, I was the only person with dry socks at the end of the day, despite everyone else in waterproof boots and gaiters.

    *And rarely did feet stay dry in the days when I wore waterproof boots.
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  15. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    -
    The wet feet doesn't bother me, the biggest problem i have when wearing trail runners over wet ground is that the grit gets stuck between and toes and at the pinch point of my soles and grinds away.
    The more ventilated the shoe the worse it is
    I've used sealskinz but still the grit seems to find it's way through

    I've read about breathable shoes drying out quickly, that's not been my experience.
    Had a run in the rain last week, my shoes (Altra Lone Peak 3.5) took 2 days to dry out, this was in my house and it's 27c in the shade.
    Once my feet are wet in the UK, they stay wet, they just seem to get slightly less wet.


    +
    I really reallyyyy reallllllyyyyyyyyyy enjoy not caring once my feet are wet, no walking around puddles or prancing around like a ballerina on hot coals, brings out the little kid in me

    I've never found a pair of boots that give anywhere near the feel that trail runners do, even my thicker trail runners like Hoka's give better feel therefore confidence over rough ground

    Weight,
    As a few others have said, i'm noticeably less tired over the same distance and same terrain when wearing trail runners

    Comfort,
    Comfort levels are up 100 fold compared to any hiking boots i've tried

    Breathability,
    My feet tend to run hot, my feet are usually like tea bags that have been left in the pot overnight when wearing boots, with trail runners my feet are dry except as said above
    ColinHawke and Mole like this.
  16. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    You need to change socks

    1/ Wool is by far the worst material to use for socks

    2/ It usually takes 2 sock changes before my feet start to feel a little less wet
    WilliamC likes this.
  17. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    By this time of year, I actively choose to walk thru streams to keep my feet cooler. Thin liner socks are part of the system for me, injiji coolmax liners by choice. They dry very fast. For really big milages, say over 25 mile days I don't think I could use boots, too heavy and the sweat would give me blisters.
    Mole and gixer like this.
  18. Ken T.

    Ken T. Section Hiker

    Yep, wet feet equals freedom. Now you don’t have to worry about keeping them dry. Fan of waterproof socks too, for winters.
    Mole likes this.
  19. sporangiophore

    sporangiophore Backpacker

    I've recently switched to trail runners for hiking and I love them. My feet do get wet sometimes, but I find if I'm hiking continually that it doesn't bother me, and they dry out quickly. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I slipped while crossing a river and ended up calf-deep in the water. My shoe and sock were soaked through, but within a couple of hours they were dry. If I had been wearing boots, it would have stayed damp inside for the rest of the four-day trip.

    I also wear merino wool socks, which have the excellent advantage of retaining their insulating properties when wet.

    I will continue to use hiking boots for work, where I'm often standing around outside - wet feet would bother me a lot more in those circumstances. But when I'm hiking long distances I can handle feet being temporarily wet.

    I also find trail runners hugely more forgiving than boots. My feet stay happy in trail runners days after they would have been swollen and blistered and begging for mercy in boots.
    Gordon and Mole like this.
  20. JKM

    JKM Thru Hiker

    I converted to tail shoes after my first real wild camping trip. On that trip my goretex and leather lined boots were saturated by the end of the first day (some of the vilest weather I have seen in the lakes then climbing down what was basically a waterfall from esk hause to gt moss did not help) and the boots did not dry over the next 4 days despite some warmer and drier weather.

    After that trip I lost all feeling in my big toe for over six months :arghh: and vowed nether to do that again.

    I don't think I have particularly hot feet but I can get a pair of inov8 290s feeling dry within an hour of total immersion.

    I now use a pair of sealskins socks (bright pink cycling ones were going v-cheap:cool:) and if I turn them inside out overnight I have used the same pair for 6 days straight with no adverse effects :stinkyfeet: and my feet feel fine whereas with boots I know my feet would be starting to hurt.

    Lighter shoes also seems to help with a knee issue I have and generally increase my comfort window.

    If my shoes are wet the following morning they can be a bit cold, but other than that I am perfectly happy with this set up and can't see myself changing any time soon and I think the sealskins are definitely worth the cost for the comfort they provide. Even if I had to shell out £££ on a new pair of socks and shoes each season I would probably feel that was a price worth paying for the comfort.
    Mole likes this.
  21. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    +1 to gixer on moving to synthetic socks if you want to dry out faster (some may prefer merino for other reasons).
    Not all trail shoes are the same and some will dry out faster than others.
    Mole likes this.
  22. JKM

    JKM Thru Hiker

    Also I don't think walking the dog then wearing them to work is the way to get the best out of trail shoes either. I would be wearing a pair of Timberland style boots for that.

    To get the best from them you need to be on the move all day long.
    Mole and WilliamC like this.
  23. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Merino wool manufacturers have used the best marketing agencies, got to take your hat off to them for a job well done.
    After all it's a the main point of income for the North island (New Zealand) and a large portion of the countries income, so there is a lot riding on it.

    Pages and pages of sponsored outdoors media "reviews" spouting the miracle properties of Merino wool over normal local wool.
    It's all absolute nonsense

    No Wool, no matter what type will keep you warm when wet.
    It's one of the biggest cons of the outdoor industry.

    Wool doesn't wick, it takes ages to dry and because it absorbs so much water it's actually colder to wear than synthetic.

    Even if it wasn't, with a synthetic top, you find some shelter, wring it out and put it back on again.
    When you try that with wool you just can't wring it out enough.

    With socks it's even worse.
    You've got a non wicking material that holds onto water.
    So when a part of your foot sweats like the ball of your foot, the sweat stays there, doesn't wick and doesn't dry.

    With synthetic socks that sweat will wick and spread out to non sweating parts of the foot, this will then dry.

    I bought into the marketing nonsense, i've spent 100's of quid on merino stuff.
    Socks, baselayers, jumpers, hats. gloves etc etc

    I wasn't happy with the performance so tried synthetic alternatives, the difference in warmth/cooling, drying and comfort over a wide difference in weather was major.
    I've since relegated my wool stuff to "round the house" or given it away.

    Biggest waste of money i've spent on hiking gear (Well besides $50 on a bit of plastic for the front of a tent that hasn't arrived yet :bag:)

    If i ever need a marketing company though...................
    Arne L., OwenM and JKM like this.
  24. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Apart from my sandals and flip flops in summer, trail runners are my what i wear daily :whistling:

    HAD to buy some shoes for a mates wedding last year, cause ALL my other shoes were either sandals or trail runners and Mrs said "nope, you're not wearing any of them" :D

    Offered to paint my feet brown to match my sandals, but apparently that's not good for weddings :p
    Diddi and WilliamC like this.
  25. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Trail shoes vary a lot in how they dry and how they dry your socks off. The Hokas I have are pretty useless in wet. My inov8s rock. Merrel Moab ventilators really poor in wet.

    I use woolfusion socks (which aren't merino btw) with trail shoes outwith summer. Tough as - last forever (well, 5years so far for my 3 pairs).
    Merino is softer but not that durable.
    On trips I wash socks (and my shoes) most days: sometimes several times if it's mucky/gritty, and re-wear wet.

    As JKM says walking in wet grass is a harsh test. They reckon its a better test for waterproof footwear than paddling in a puddle.
    If not hiking, I'd be wearing boots or wellies crocs or sandles for that (depending on weather/temp).
    WilliamC likes this.

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