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Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

OK, let me build a foundation for this question..... Where I mainly hike it is very rocky, with numerous streams that are generally 6-12 inches deep, just deep enough to go over boots. I do most of my hiking in the winter months, so there's a lot of ice-crust crunching going on. Snow is not generally an issue, but temps do sometimes stay below freezing all day. I recently (in warm weather) switched to trail runners for two reasons: lighter, and I can just blast through the creeks and keep going. Even though they dry quickly, I cross a lot of streams and so basically they stay wet all the time. Typically, when it's cold, I stop at each stream, take off socks and boots, put on water shoes, wade across, take off water shoes, dry feet, put socks and boots back on. This eats a lot of time, and I was wondering if waterproof socks were the answer, and, if so, should I just stick to the trail runners? Typical daytime temps are just above freezing when I normally do most of my hiking. Thoughts?

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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

I got some water proof socks for my trail runners this year for the same reason, but for summer conditions and only AFTER a day of stream crossing.

but think about this....neoprene socks during the day to keep the feet warm, and the waterproof socks at camp.  Either way, the runners are going to be almost frozen the whole time.

 I’m still struggling with this concept or the original slow plan.

maybe someone else has experience with this.

 I’m usually bailing out for boots in winter, mainly for a boot’s better ‘purchase’ on slick surfaces.

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes
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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

I would give neoprene socks a try.  I have only used them when scuba diving, but they and a wetsuit retain a layer of water next to your bod that keeps you comfy ( well, sort of, anyway)

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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

@SILHiker 

No, waterproof socks are NEVER the answer! We good? Okay, happy trails. Well, there's a commercial on, so maybe I'll type a little more...

In warmer months, waterproof socks are about as helpful as waterproof boots, they not only keep water out, they keep water IN! Better to have a pair of "wet socks" and "dry socks" (and yes, I've owned/tried both) and just 'power-through' streams and rivers.

Whether a new pair of boots/shoes are waterproof is the LAST thing I look at, instead, I look for good ventilation (which means faster drying!) as to boots vs trail runners, with today's modern materials, there really isn't much of a weight difference. So the REAL question is, do you plan to be on a trail that is mostly flat and level, or uneven and unstable? If it's the latter, I recommend BOOTS every time!!

If we're talking about the colder months, insulation is important, but so is TOE ROOM! So your winter boots should be about a half size larger than your summer boots. Again, weight is a lesser consideration. Waterproof winter boots? Sure, but hard use may make them less waterproof, so test them before hitting the trail and use a good sealant.

Keep in mind, different brands fit differently. Keen (my fav's), fit wide, Merrill fits true, etc., so see which works for you. In the end, it's the FIT that matters most.

Commercial over, bye!...

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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

Nope, once you and your wet trail runners & socks get to camp, waterproof socks make your runners wearable again. Done, over, finito.

plastic bags also work to put over dry socks to put back on the wet shoes

AND with the low temps, your feet won’t be sweating 

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes
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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

@SILHiker 

... another commercial...

Okay, to be clear... so you're HIKING, your feet get/stay wet from MULTIPLE water crossings all day, and you want to know if waterproof socks are the answer to SAVING TIME (and 'wet feet', I presume).

W-e-e-ll, yes and no. We good? Catch ya later. ARRRRG! Darn commercials!!

Sure, if you put on ANY socks, and LEAVE them on, it will save time. But you can accomplish the same result by wearing NO socks (of course, your feet will still be wet, so there's that). Look, other than having someone at each and every crossing to CARRY you across, where there's water, there are wet feet!!!

It’s like I always say, "If it's hot out, you're gonna be hot. If it's cold out, you're gonna be cold. If it's wet out, you're gonna be wet. The 'trick' is in not minding so much!" There are typically only two ways that happens: Gear or guts!!

Sure, get gear/layers that will help you deal with the conditions (terrain and weather), but you always need to have a certain level of good ol' fashioned GUTS.

We're talking about WILDERNESS, people! Out there, they have this weird stuff called... DIRT!... that has a lot of things in it called... ROCKS!... and something called... WATER! I jest, of course, but my point is you should EXPECT a certain level of discomfort... and, you shouldn't mind so much or you are at risk of being like the many noobs who ask me, "Is there a drinking fountain around here?"

Personally, I'll stick with tromping through creeks and streams in my ventilated boots and arriving at camp at the end of the day with dry feet. But okay, here's a little experiment for you, put a waterproof sock on one foot, a plastic bag on the other, and walk around town all day. Tell me how that works for ya.

OOH! Commercial over!!

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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

If your not a ultra-ligher, you might think of waders used in fishing.  They weigh but can slide over and keep you dry for the area.  It would only make sense if you were crossing water areas often, but it would keep you dry. 

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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

@Gary2Actually, you have a point.

Waterproof shoes and [ankle] boots are really only good for water that goes over your toes. If it gets up to your ankles, you'd need boots up to the knee (a reasonable option for winter months, provided they're also insulated and have good toe room). And if it gets up to your knees, yes, hip waders are the only other option.

So, get some guts, they're a LOT lighter!

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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

@SurvivalGal You make me wish that I'd never asked such a stupid question, I was hoping for some helpful advice. But your mission is apparently to put down and stomp on anyone who doesn't have your 754 or whatever years of SURVIVAL experience. So please don't bother yourself to answer any more questions I might have, thanks. Actually, I don't think it was a stupid question, I just should have asked that you, specifically, didn't answer.

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Re: Socks.... waterproof socks, and footwear choices

@SILHiker we found your original question to be a really good one - one that many of us at the co-op struggle to find the "perfect" solution for, which is why we haven't weighed in officially and have left it to the community to see what creative ideas are offered.

Waterproof socks are a possibility, although we have found that they often don't hug all parts of the foot very securely and can therefore be a cause of blisters if you try to wear them for an entire hike. And yes, breathability can also be a challenge with them. Accepting wet feet is not often a great option, especially when the temperature is as cold as you've described. In many ways, your approach of changing shoes/socks at each crossing may continue to be the best (albeit time-consuming) one.

We will continue to pulse in on this conversation to see if there's a great solve out in the world that we aren't aware of...so thank you for starting it! 

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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