Wet feet

Discussion in 'Clothing & Footwear' started by syd_away, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. syd_away

    syd_away Hiker

    After reading a few blogs on the matter, I decided to try out the "don't bother with waterproof footwear just let your feet get wet" philosophy. The theory is that waterproof liners always fail eventualy and make footwear less breathable and slower to dry out.

    I got myself a pair of trail runners last year (Topo Athletic Terraventure) to replace my leather boots and they are heaven in comparison, light and comfy - when it's dry. I've only ventured out once in serious rain though, the other day, and I think must have been a cat in a previous life, because it was horrible! :confused:

    To ease myself in gently I wore waterproof socks (Dexshell) and I could have sworn they leaked as water got in - however once dried I checked this by refilling with water - no leaks. Hmm. Maybe water got in over the top? Perhaps the sock membrane doesn't work when walked in, ie. with a person's body weight compressing them?

    My plan for the winter was to use waterproof socks to keep my feet warm - however I'm not sure that I have confidence in this plan now!

    Just wondering where folks stand on this issue? Any thoughts/experiences?
  2. Rmr

    Rmr Section Hiker

    Mostly non membrane shoes for 3 seasons and Meindl Bhutan non membrane leather boots for winter if needed. If winter is not too bad I revert back to shoes and possible waterproof socks. Suits me sir.
  3. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    Waterproof socks only stay waterproof for so long. Try some plastic bags over the waterproof socks to give them an easier job to do.

    Ive been in great waterproof boots for years after getting trenchfoot but they have given me Achilles tendon problems...so I'm back to glorious bog wading in sodden trainers, hoping my waterproof socks will last an hour before leaking and my feet don't rot off before I can get some Crocs on in camp.
    PhilHo and Robert P like this.
  4. Robert P

    Robert P Ultralighter

    I've tried plastic bags (in winter), Sealskinz and recently Reed Chillcheaters. The Sealskinz only remain waterproof for so long; the Chillcheaters are promising so far (the seams are fairly prominent, wear socks underneath) as they have good potential for better durability
  5. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker


    Been doing it for 11 years. Wouldn't go back to boots.
    I use waterproof socks over my normal socks in Winter. ( Loosen laces to fit)
    They keep your feet warmer, but not much if constantly wet in saturated ground like Dartmoor often is.
    My partner uses Dexshell even this time of year if expecting wetness. Last week in Scotland for instance.

    They don't hold up to constant wetness for many days out IME.

    Waterproof socks make your feet sweat more so maybe it was that?
    Also, wet feels the same as cold, so you may think your socks are leaking when they aren't.
    murpharoo and Teepee like this.
  6. Daymoth

    Daymoth Section Hiker

    What do you exactly mean by winter?

    If i think im going to be in snow and cold I do boots. I dont want frostnip thanks. Plus crampons.

    Ive tried sealzkins for very wet terrain and I guess they were ok to delay the wetness and keep my feet clean.

    If you have a system that works for you already dont feel pressured to change it!
    RobH likes this.
  7. Gobila

    Gobila Backpacker

    I had a very good experience with Bridgedale storm socks until a well meaning member of my household put them through a hot cycle. I found them to be far superior to the various pairs of SealSkinz I've had over the years and I'll probably buy another pair.

    By far the most important part of my kit for wet feet in trail shoes is Gehwohl Extra and I highly recommend it, particularly for consecutive days. I find it makes a great reduction in foot crinklage and as a bonus it stops my feet smelling like they're dead.

    Other than that, you just have to learn to love the feeling of the icy bog water gushing in to your shoes.
    PhilHo, Robert P and Teepee like this.
  8. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    Drying time for shoes and socks can vary quite a lot (you can test socks by washing several pairs and weighing them at intervals to find out which dry fastest). I use Darntough merino short/light in Brooks Cascadias and both socks and shoes take approx 3 hours to dry while walking in them.

    Anything waterproof will restrict airflow so expect to get a little sweaty in waterproof socks.

    In winter, I use dexshell over the same merino light/short darntough socks in the same shoes. Works better for me than boots in crampons and snowshoes but we are all different...:)
  9. Rickyboyd

    Rickyboyd Trekker

    This has probably been discussed in detail elsewhere on the site and my message isn’t directly related to “wet feet” but more the use of trail running shoes.

    Do people use trail running shoes 3 season in Scottish mountains too?

    I have recently bought some Altra lone peaks and whilst I like them and they’re very comfortable they just don’t feel right for say the Cairngorms or Glen Coe for example.
    PhilHo likes this.
  10. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Yes. Many times . Wet Autumns and Springs.

    Just come back from 10 days backpacking in the Angus glens, Cairngorms and Monadh Liath big days with several Munro days. Off trail some of the time most days. 7 nights wildcamping. Both myself and partner both wore inov8s as our only footwear. They were soaked and filthy many times, washed in streams and ended up dry and clean enough for hotel/town use and train travel. It takes tolerance, management, poly bag liners occasionally.

    I use Cheap vapour rub (Vicks copy- mentholated vaseline basically) on my feet if they are getting wet a lot.

    Tried Gewohl. Not massively better than vaseline really.
    Robert P and Rmr like this.
  11. Rickyboyd

    Rickyboyd Trekker

    I can’t seem to sort footwear. I had an old pair of karrimor boots I had for years and when I came to replace them (I had read the trail running hype) but decided to go in between and bought some Salomon walking shoes. Having taking far too many tumbles on wet rock I decided to trade them in for trail runners.

    I moved to Scotland recently and used them in the Cairngorms and Glen Coe recently and something didn’t feel right.

    I have now come full circle and bought scarpa delta’s not sure if I’ll like them either.
    PhilHo, Mole and Rmr like this.
  12. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    I'm the same.

    Most shoes/boots I try on don't fit me well enough to feel happy

    I've bought 2 pairs in the last year thinking they were ok, then ended up selling them on as new, after realising they weren't quite right.

    Only some trail shoes have been great for me. They are all so different. Mostly certain older inov8 models.

    I'd like to try Altras, but not sure how good they'd be off trail.
    Robert P likes this.
  13. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    I love my Altra Kings and my road shoes, but my feet are wide. They all fit me like slippers and the zero drop is very much appreciated.

    Whilst the heel can flop over, I'm hardly on trail in them. I'm running superfeet blue and the plastic heel makes a big difference to comfort with a heavy pack and big miles.

    Up until now, the best trainers ever were my Walsh's but these Altras are in No1 spot.
    Mole likes this.
  14. Patrick

    Patrick Trail Blazer

    I'd have thought its quite likely that water came in the top of the socks if it was raining. I've used trailrunners for the first time this year, both in Scotland and the Lakes. I've enjoyed the comfort and the softness, and its that that I'd credit for going the whole year without blisters. At the moment I'm using thinnish synthetic / wool blend socks, which are fine. They do take a while to dry out though, and I'm tempted to find some thinner socks, perhaps fully synthetic.

    Fundamentally I think if you're going for trail runners you are better accepting wet feet than fighting against them. Waterproof socks will work a bit, but will get sweaty inside and let water in if its raining and its running down your legs, leaving you with wet feet anyway and the difficulties of drying them that you were trying to get away from by avoiding waterproof membranes in the first place. When it gets too cold for this option I plan to simply revert to my old boots. But I don't honestly do much walking when its that cold anyway.
    Mole likes this.
  15. Robert P

    Robert P Ultralighter

    Personally I am as happy using trail shoes as boots / mids in the Scottish mountains, except where crampons are likely to be needed. This is with the caveat that waterproof socks are used, to prevent cold feet. You can use some flexible crampons (eg Kahtoola) with trail shoes but only on easy walking terrain.
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  16. Robert P

    Robert P Ultralighter

    Personally my experience with Altras is that they work well for me on easy ground, but on rough ground they grip well enough but don't hold my feet sufficiently firmly so they end up moving around in the shoe and becoming uncomfortable. I don't know whether that is just how they fit me, or a general characteristic of the Altras. However, I have observed that in trail shoes my feet need a much better fit to be comfortable on difficult terrain than is the case for mids or boots (I rationalise the more tolerant fit with boots is because 'there's more to hold on to your foot' so less movement in the foot box). I've found that some La Sportiva trail shoes fit and perform really well, however rough the ground, along with my old Inov8 Terrocs. I have a large pile of shoes used for easy walks and running that are testament to the iterative process of finding what works for me!
    PhilHo, Rickyboyd and Mole like this.
  17. Rickyboyd

    Rickyboyd Trekker

    I think clothing and especially footwear is such a personal thing. You can listen to other people’s experiences but the only way to know if they are suitable is to buy them and head for the hills. I’m in the Cairngorms again this weekend and think the trails will be making another outing as I daren’t risk 2 days hiking with brand new leather boots.
  18. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    @Robert P
    That's how they Altras look to me. Possibly a bit sloppy when on side slopes etc. I have a wide foot across the "ball's" , but a narrow heel. I'd like to try La Sportivas, but shops I see them in never seem to have my size .(12 /47 usually).

    @Teepee I use superfeet green much ,fo the time (or sorbothanes with older worn in shoes if not too wet) I'll have to try superfeet blues.
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  19. Rickyboyd

    Rickyboyd Trekker

    It’s probably a case of the altras aren’t the right trail running shoes for me either. My foot does slop about a bit on descents.

    probably back to the drawing board!!

    My other half commented that I have more shoes then her now.
  20. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    Viking feet. I have them. Much like the trainers, I'm sloppy on side slopes too. I don't mind the heel slop at all, it's massive bonus in camp as the heel is soft and you can stand on it instead of it being a hard plastic cup that breaks.

    @Teepee I use superfeet green much ,fo the time (or sorbothanes with older worn in shoes if not too wet) I'll have to try superfeet blues.[/QUOTE]

    Yeah, Sorbothane are an old favourite. I think the different colours for Superfeet are for different arch shapes and green are for high arch. Blue are medium and suit my feet quite well.
    Mole likes this.
  21. Nigelp

    Nigelp Ultralighter

    Superfeet. Arch and heal lift for the colours. I use green and orange in walking boots and have blue in my Keen trail shoes. Took ages to get a pair with enough heal room to accommodate my Superfeet! Blues are good middle ground for me. I have an appointment at a podiatrist next month for a full gait analysis. Paying for it and get 45 minutes of their time. I’d like to get some insoles made up so I can widen my search for trail shoes and also lightweight boots

    I have tried the carbon and grey Superfeet but they don’t suit my feet at all. It’s taken me ages to find trail shoes that I can get on with but for hills and mountains I wear boots mostly. They stabilise my feet more and I can’t be bothered to fath about with bags and waterproof socks. May try the trail shoes next week on Dartmoor depending on the weather.
    Teepee and Mole like this.
  22. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    A mate I do LDPs with has, for years paid for and used ( expensive!) insoles designed by a podiatrist. It took me nearly 10 years of annual suggestions for him to try superfeet green. He got some after the Pennine way destroyed his expensive bespoke insoles. He now reckons the superfeet are better for his needs than the bespoke ones which are near 10 times the price!
  23. Henry

    Henry Ultralighter

    I too have struggled with making the plunge unless it’s dry: I’ve stuck with Salomon x mids and darn tough socks.

    My feet were warm and comfy for 3 very wet days in wales although the boots did get wet (I don’t think anything would have stayed dry in that bog!) Ultimately I’ve settled on “it works for me”!
  24. syd_away

    syd_away Hiker

    Thank you for all the replies!

    I too have struggled with footwear and I've yet to find a system that works. I have difficult feet too - narrow heel but very wide in the toes (no taper), plus an old achilles injury from a previous pair of boots - all this rules out about 99% of boots/shoes on the market! I have a pair of Altra Lone Peaks which fit well around the heel a toes but press down on the old achilles injury, so I may have to sell them... I'm now experimenting with the Topo Athletic, with have a similar fit.

    I don't think on the day in question it was sweat, as my feet were also cold. And I did wonder maybe it is just that the cold that *feels* wet, but I checked when I got home and the insides definitely were wet. (But if cold feels wet anyway, what's the point of keeping the water out... yes maybe best not to fight it).

    By "winter" I think I mean cold, wet, boggy conditions, but probably not snow.

    It occurs to me that all this is easy for day hiking, just wear what's appropriate for the conditions. The problem is for multi-day trips when you don't know what the weather is going to do! How to stay comfy when it's baking hot one day and pouring the next? Or a cold wet day but snow the next?

    I've heartened that the general consensus is "do what's right for you". Maybe my approach could be stick to the waterproof footwear for the multi-day trips and only give up once I've realised (the hard way) that the blog posters were right!
    Mole and Teepee like this.
  25. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    By "winter" I think I mean cold, wet, boggy conditions, but probably not snow.

    That's winter on Dartmoor!
    Occasionally snow.

    The worst for cold n wet is around -1 to 4C. Snow or not.
    Once it's properly freezing, it's easier to keep feet dry ( except on properly boggy ground, when it needs to be below -5C to not go through, and stay dry footed IME).

    I only wear boots in winter on on short slow walks, or if planning standing around a lot - working, instructing, checkpointing or socialising.

    Edit.

    Just got bargain "worn once" La Sportiva Raptors on FB market place. Women's. For my partner to try...
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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