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How to deal with cold/wet feet ?

La Brique Jaune

Official member of la confradia del pinza del oro
Year of past OR future Camino
2017: SJPDP to Finisterre
(202?): I hope and need to
Hi To All,

I read a couple of threads about how to avoid wet feet but I think in my humble opinion the feet will come wet eventually by the rain/snow itself or the by transpiration no matters the choice of boot/shoes/waterproof/gaiters*.

My question is not really about wet feet but how to keep myself safe when the temperature go down ?, that's why I put my question in the safety section.

If I remember well, I read on the forum a post about multi-layering system: Like a waterproof sock between two pair of sock.

I think my next Camino (202?) will be around october or april.

Thanks

*Yes I know it's a big topic, I will deal with the wet feet :)
 
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Anhalter

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2019 CF
My approach for April or October would likely be, taking my usual Trailrunners that are very much not waterproof and my usual socks. In most circumstances, i think this will work just fine while i am actually walking. For the occasional more extreme conditions i would carry a pair (or two) of waterproof socks.

This is my plan, and not yet put to the test. For my May/June Camino i was just fine with the occasional wet feet.
 

Isca-camigo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Various ones.
Your feet can get wet through transpiration in deepest winter and stay warm. I took trail runners in December 2019, they were low cut and non waterproof. I used normal winter hiking socks on days when it didn't look like rain and water proof ones on the very many days it did rain. It worked my feet did not feel cold on any occasion even on a 32km day from Rabanal to Ponferrada when the crazy wind and rain were making paths unpassable. The inner merino lining is insulative and keep your feet warm even if they are damp from your perspiration , I also used thermal liner's to help with heat regulation. My thoughts at the time were even if there was snow I would feel confident using that system with maybe the addition of gaiters, which was what I was carrying as well. My socks were of varying thickness so I could have if the need arose put my thinner winter socks under my waterproof ones instead of my liners for additional heat.
 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
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A little trick for wet shoes - carry two plastic veggie produce bags. Wear them as a waterproof liner. The "Subway" sandwich bags are a nice rectangular shape. :)

Super handy when your shoes were soaked in the rain and you later want to leave the Albergue for dinner. No need to get your dry, warm socks wet. :)
 
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As mentioned earlier your feet will get wet from sweat anyway using waterproof socks. What I see as an advantage though is that cold outside water cannot displace the warmer inside sweat. There will still be heat loss through the waterproof membrane.
 
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TMcA

Active Member
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Carry gaiters. Put them on if it's going to rain. I wear low cut (short) ones.

Carry a second pair of socks and change out at lunch of if your shoes get soaked. Even in dry weather, I have begun to air my feet out and change my socks during the day. Socks are easy to wash at the end of the day and if they don't dry overnight, it's easy to clothespin them to my backpack (the "pilgrim clothesline").
 

Camino Chrissy

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I had saturated wet feet in my squishing trailrunners for hours at a time, even on a cold day a few times on spring caminos. I was surprised at how well my feet did, no blisters and they did not feel particularly miserable.
 
Last edited:

linkster

¡Nunca dejes de creer!
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I have walked in heavy rain for several consecutive days in mid November in non-waterproof trail runners, and was fine. My feet were not cold, but chilly at times. My socks and shoes were soaked at the end of the day. I did change to a dry pair of socks midday. At night, I pulled the insoles out of my shoes, stuffed them with some crunched up newspaper, and they were dry by morning.

If you are really worried about it, you can improvise a layering system like Sarah suggested. A pair of liner socks, plastic bag, Darn tough sock. The plastic bag is non-breathable, and acts like a vapor barrier. It will keep moisture in, and out. The liner socks will still get damp from perspiration. The plastic will help retain your body heat. OR if you want to get fancy check out something like the Rab Vapor Barrier Socks.
qal-31-bl_vapour_barrier_socks_pic_bst_1.jpg
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I have used goretex lined socks in the past, but only when climbing on snow and ice on consecutive days in Scotland - where sweaty feet are the least of my concerns, but soaked boots are.

I doubt that any vapour barrier would work effectively in a boot or shoe where there’s no prospect of air circulation. I’d also be cautious about using any impermeable waterproof barrier such as a plastic bag as - certainly in my case - the sweating implications would be horrendous.

Best efforts to dry footware overnight - switching to a pair of sandals - and multiple pairs of clean dry socks would be the only reasonable option IMHO. Skin dries faster than fabric.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
What am I missing? I have walked numerous caminos in cold, rainy weathers in the 20 -30s degrees for hours! With only non gortex hiking shoes, ..., a wicker sock and on really cold day an additional wool sock. Sometimes we were in snow up to our mid calves for an hour or so. After deep snow, I changed socks, when the occasion presented itself. My feet may have felt wet, but not cold?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
What am I missing? I have walked numerous caminos in cold, rainy weathers in the 20 -30s degrees for hours! With only non gortex hiking shoes, ..., a wicker sock and on really cold day an additional wool sock. Sometimes we were in snow up to our mid calves for an hour or so. After deep snow, I changed socks, when the occasion presented itself. My feet may have felt wet, but not cold?
That was similar to my initial reaction. But then I considered that it wasn't good advice to say "I did it and survived 10 times, so you don't need to be concerned at all." :)

In April and October, I wouldn't expect winter weather, except possibly in the couple of high elevation places. I would not take winter equipment or footwear for a camino in April or October. In unusual conditions, you should consult with the pilgrim office or hospitaleros to make sure you will be safe. If not, don't walk that day in that location.

My experience has been that my feet do get wet in heavy rain, even wearing supposedly waterproof shoes, but cold feet have not been a problem. You might be wise to wear wool socks in those conditions, since wool still provides insulation when it is wet. If I were walking in remote wilderness where I might get wet, where the temperature could drop drastically before my shoes could dry, and I would be stuck outdoors in bad weather, then I would be more worried.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
What am I missing? I have walked numerous caminos in cold, rainy weathers in the 20 -30s degrees for hours! With only non gortex hiking shoes, ..., a wicker sock and on really cold day an additional wool sock. Sometimes we were in snow up to our mid calves for an hour or so. After deep snow, I changed socks, when the occasion presented itself. My feet may have felt wet, but not cold?

What you are experiencing is common in non frigid temps with wet feet, such as spring and fall. Wool and synthetic socks, but wool especially, will hold body temperature in wet, soggy socks so well that the water saturating the socks actually warms up, especially with walking.

If I were in frigid temperatures of winter, I would use something as Sara and linkster suggested above: a three layer system involving a thin sock against the skin, a vapor barrier (premade of a plastic bag), and another thin wool sock.. This will not keep feet from getting wet, it will keep the moisture next to the skin warm.

Perhaps this post I have previously written may also help:
------------------------------------

Wet Weather Walking

Water is indomitable and will enter trail runner shoes, hiking shoes, or backpacking boots through any opening during a rainstorm, when walking through wet grass and brush, or flood into them if you walk through puddles or other standing water along the Camino.

There are two potential remedies to this problem, neither of which is effective.

1. Use rain pants to extend over the tops of shoes, trying to redirect the water running down the pant legs from making its way into the shoe. This can create other potential issues: uncomfortable and hot when it is warm outside during soggy conditions. It cannot deal with standing water, like puddles or having to step through water running on the path.

2. You can try waterproof gaiters, or a home remedy like thick plastic bags over footwear. I have yet to see the gaiter or home remedy that would keep out water PLUS keep feet dry.

“Waterproof” shoes are a sort of marketing ‘half-truth’ at best.

The waterproof/breathable materials layered inside a boot or shoe simply do not work over the near and long term because it is hard for manufacturers to cover all areas of the footwear sufficiently.

Neither the waterproof coatings, or the W/B laminates in the shoes last very long. Some makers of trail shoes, which use both fabrics and leathers, treated them with a coating that wears off. These coatings also will trap heat and sweat inside the shoe which can soak feet in sweat. When coatings break down, they are no longer waterproof.

Footwear which relies on a “Gore-Tex” style of waterproof/breathable laminate will break down through both wear and tear and dirt buildup which makes it useless.

When I have tested waterproof / breathable fabrics in shoes for various manufacturers, their actual performance never matched what was claimed. My reports to their QA departments have always reflected these weaknesses as found during testing.

Waterproof/breathable membranes, like Gore-Tex, are only marginally breathable—water vapor from perspiration does not pass through the fabric as efficiently as is claimed. So, on warm days the experience of having sweat being trapped in the shoe is common. Combined with the fact that the fabric waterproofing is quickly damaged by dirt, sweat, grime, and abrasion and it’s only a matter of time before exterior moisture begins penetrating the fabric and allowing feet to get wet.

That is why most experienced trekkers and backpackers no longer go to great lengths to keep feet dry. They accept that when the weather is wet, feet will also get wet. Even the US military uses footwear for wet conditions which is not waterproof. The strategy is how to minimize any problems when feet are wet.

In working with folks new to backpacking who ask about waterproof footwear recommendations, I have asked why they wanted waterproof shoes. Sometimes, they will look at me as if I had spaghetti sticking out of my nose. Most will answer that they think their feet will stay dry, and that having wet feet is akin to getting into horrible trouble.

This post is meant to help inform, reassure, and give a different line of thought and reasoning to this issue.


I like to have dry feet. I always try to avoid wet feet. I have tried many ways to keep my feet dry:

“Waterproof” shoes, which have not been an effective solution.

“Waterproof” socks, which have similar issues: shoes still get wet, and feet can be soaked with sweat. However – In cold weather these soaks can be the basis for using vapor barrier warmth conservation of the feet.

Wearing multiple pairs of socks, frequently changing from wet to dry, which eventually all get wet.

Carrying multiple pairs of shoes, which eventually all get wet, too.

When I first started backpacking decades ago, I fretted at getting wet feet when it was raining on the trail. No matter what I tried, feet would get wet if the weather were wet and soggy. Several things converged, causing me to investigate what, if any, successful strategies are used to keep feet comfortable and healthy in sopping wet weather. My reasoning was that IF I cannot keep my feet dry, then how do I keep feet happy and healthy. . . or at least reduce risks of bad things happening to my wet feet when walking.

Some of these lessons I learned while in Vietnam…. Like the fact that our boots had fabric tops, and that there were numerous, eyeleted holes in the thin, leather at the footbed level, which allowed water to quickly drain out so that it did not remain trapped in the boots while soaking our feet.

What are the bad things?

Maceration is the medical term for pruning, where the skin’s outer layer absorbs a lot of moisture and gets “soggy” from that moisture. The skin gets sore and extremely soft which makes it more prone to blistering and developing other problems.

Cracking of the skin when the macerated feet dry. The natural moisture and oiliness of the skin is gone. The severity depends on how much stress the skin is exposed to after it is dried out.

What works for me, and many others, when walking or backpacking in wet weather:

Apply a good, thick coating of a goop (a thick and long lasting ointment or salve) to feet and between toes before putting on socks and shoes in the morning. Repeat this a few times throughout a wet day.

This helps protect skin from external moisture. A goop which has a high content of wax – either bee or paraffin – is most ideal, especially if it also has a high lanolin content. There are a few silicon based products, like 2Toms, which are also effective at creating a moisture barrier.

Wear non-waterproof shoes which can drain, and then dry out quickly. This minimizes the amount of water puddling in the shoe which bathes the feet in moisture. Modern trail running shoes, and trail shoes often have nice open mesh fabric which is terrific for draining water.

Non-waterproof shoes will also help eliminate moisture from sweaty feet. Remember, it does not matter the source of the moisture feet are exposed to, be it rain or sweat, each can cause the same problems.

Wear thin, light-cushioned merino wool socks. Thinner padding will not absorb as much water as thicker socks. Merino wool will also keep wet feet warm and comfortable in most seasons and temperature ranges, unless the weather is frigid winter-cold.

While I prefer merino wool socks, there are some decent synthetic-blend socks, specifically designed for hiking, which can also work well.

Take off shoes and socks to let feet air dry during rest stops which will last longer than 20 minutes. During that time, I will wring out any excess moisture from the socks, but I will not put on either of my dry pairs (I take three). I will also wipe off moisture on my feet and then reapply a goodly amount of goop to my feet to help keep them from becoming macerated.

When stopping for the day, apply goop to the bottoms of feet, both before and after showering.

Carry an extra pair of insoles. These insoles do not have to be your preferred “walking” insoles that you may have purchased separately. These can be the same lightweight pair which came with your shoes. These will be the barrier between your wet footwear and your dry socks when you are done for the day and if your shoes are a bit damp come morning.

I find that at days end, I can remove the wet insoles and use absorbent paper or toweling to sop up as much moisture as is possible while I am showering and dealing with end of the day chores. When I get ready to go to dinner or to wander around town, I insert the extra pair of dry insoles into my shoes, put on a pair of dry Merino wool socks, and put my shoes back on. This accelerates drying out the shoes. Depending on the shoe’s material, within a couple of hours the shoes are mostly dry.

At bedtime, I remove the insoles and stuff absorbent material into the shoes to continue the drying out process, if need be, during the night. Most of the time the stuffing is not needed, even if the shoes are still a bit damp. They will finish drying by morning.

Apply more salve or ointment and wear dry and warm socks at night; this gives feet 8-9 hours of recovery.
 
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linkster

¡Nunca dejes de creer!
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I doubt that any vapour barrier would work effectively in a boot or shoe where there’s no prospect of air circulation. I’d also be cautious about using any impermeable waterproof barrier such as a plastic bag as - certainly in my case - the sweating implications would be horrendous.
That's because you are a dog. 😂 🤣 😂 🤣

FYI. here is an article on the use of vapor barriers. Vapor Barrier Liners: Theory & Application
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
What you are experiencing is common in non frigid temps with wet feet, such as spring and fall. Wool and synthetic socks, but wool especially, will hold body temperature in wet, soggy socks so well that the water saturating the socks actually warms up, especially with walking.

If I were in frigid temperatures of winter, I would use something as Sara and linkster suggested above: a three layer system involving a thin sock against the skin, a vapor barrier (premade of a plastic bag), and another thin wool sock.. This will not keep feet from getting wet, it will keep the moisture next to the skin warm.

Perhaps this post I have previously written may also help:
------------------------------------

Wet Weather Walking

Water is indomitable and will enter trail runner shoes, hiking shoes, or backpacking boots through any opening during a rainstorm, when walking through wet grass and brush, or flood into them if you walk through puddles or other standing water along the Camino.

There are two potential remedies to this problem, neither of which is effective.

1. Use rain pants to extend over the tops of shoes, trying to redirect the water running down the pant legs from making its way into the shoe. This can create other potential issues: uncomfortable and hot when it is warm outside during soggy conditions. It cannot deal with standing water, like puddles or having to step through water running on the path.

2. You can try waterproof gaiters, or a home remedy like thick plastic bags over footwear. I have yet to see the gaiter or home remedy that would keep out water PLUS keep feet dry.

“Waterproof” shoes are a sort of marketing ‘half-truth’ at best.

The waterproof/breathable materials layered inside a boot or shoe simply do not work over the near and long term because it is hard for manufacturers to cover all areas of the footwear sufficiently.

Neither the waterproof coatings, or the W/B laminates in the shoes last very long. Some makers of trail shoes, which use both fabrics and leathers, treated them with a coating that wears off. These coatings also will trap heat and sweat inside the shoe which can soak feet in sweat. When coatings break down, they are no longer waterproof.

Footwear which relies on a “Gore-Tex” style of waterproof/breathable laminate will break down through both wear and tear and dirt buildup which makes it useless.

When I have tested waterproof / breathable fabrics in shoes for various manufacturers, their actual performance never matched what was claimed. My reports to their QA departments have always reflected these weaknesses as found during testing.

Waterproof/breathable membranes, like Gore-Tex, are only marginally breathable—water vapor from perspiration does not pass through the fabric as efficiently as is claimed. So, on warm days the experience of having sweat being trapped in the shoe is common. Combined with the fact that the fabric waterproofing is quickly damaged by dirt, sweat, grime, and abrasion and it’s only a matter of time before exterior moisture begins penetrating the fabric and allowing feet to get wet.

That is why most experienced trekkers and backpackers no longer go to great lengths to keep feet dry. They accept that when the weather is wet, feet will also get wet. Even the US military uses footwear for wet conditions which is not waterproof. The strategy is how to minimize any problems when feet are wet.

In working with folks new to backpacking who ask about waterproof footwear recommendations, I have asked why they wanted waterproof shoes. Sometimes, they will look at me as if I had spaghetti sticking out of my nose. Most will answer that they think their feet will stay dry, and that having wet feet is akin to getting into horrible trouble.

This post is meant to help inform, reassure, and give a different line of thought and reasoning to this issue.


I like to have dry feet. I always try to avoid wet feet. I have tried many ways to keep my feet dry:

“Waterproof” shoes, which have not been an effective solution.

“Waterproof” socks, which have similar issues: shoes still get wet, and feet can be soaked with sweat. However – In cold weather these soaks can be the basis for using vapor barrier warmth conservation of the feet.

Wearing multiple pairs of socks, frequently changing from wet to dry, which eventually all get wet.

Carrying multiple pairs of shoes, which eventually all get wet, too.

When I first started backpacking decades ago, I fretted at getting wet feet when it was raining on the trail. No matter what I tried, feet would get wet if the weather were wet and soggy. Several things converged, causing me to investigate what, if any, successful strategies are used to keep feet comfortable and healthy in sopping wet weather. My reasoning was that IF I cannot keep my feet dry, then how do I keep feet happy and healthy. . . or at least reduce risks of bad things happening to my wet feet when walking.

Some of these lessons I learned while in Vietnam…. Like the fact that our boots had fabric tops, and that there were numerous, eyeleted holes in the thin, leather at the footbed level, which allowed water to quickly drain out so that it did not remain trapped in the boots while soaking our feet.

What are the bad things?

Maceration is the medical term for pruning, where the skin’s outer layer absorbs a lot of moisture and gets “soggy” from that moisture. The skin gets sore and extremely soft which makes it more prone to blistering and developing other problems.

Cracking of the skin when the macerated feet dry. The natural moisture and oiliness of the skin is gone. The severity depends on how much stress the skin is exposed to after it is dried out.

What works for me, and many others, when walking or backpacking in wet weather:

Apply a good, thick coating of a goop (a thick and long lasting ointment or salve) to feet and between toes before putting on socks and shoes in the morning. Repeat this a few times throughout a wet day.

This helps protect skin from external moisture. A goop which has a high content of wax – either bee or paraffin – is most ideal, especially if it also has a high lanolin content. There are a few silicon based products, like 2Toms, which are also effective at creating a moisture barrier.

Wear non-waterproof shoes which can drain, and then dry out quickly. This minimizes the amount of water puddling in the shoe which bathes the feet in moisture. Modern trail running shoes, and trail shoes often have nice open mesh fabric which is terrific for draining water.

Non-waterproof shoes will also help eliminate moisture from sweaty feet. Remember, it does not matter the source of the moisture feet are exposed to, be it rain or sweat, each can cause the same problems.

Wear thin, light-cushioned merino wool socks. Thinner padding will not absorb as much water as thicker socks. Merino wool will also keep wet feet warm and comfortable in most seasons and temperature ranges, unless the weather is frigid winter-cold.

While I prefer merino wool socks, there are some decent synthetic-blend socks, specifically designed for hiking, which can also work well.

Take off shoes and socks to let feet air dry during rest stops which will last longer than 20 minutes. During that time, I will wring out any excess moisture from the socks, but I will not put on either of my dry pairs (I take three). I will also wipe off moisture on my feet and then reapply a goodly amount of goop to my feet to help keep them from becoming macerated.

When stopping for the day, apply goop to the bottoms of feet, both before and after showering.

Carry an extra pair of insoles. These insoles do not have to be your preferred “walking” insoles that you may have purchased separately. These can be the same lightweight pair which came with your shoes. These will be the barrier between your wet footwear and your dry socks when you are done for the day and if your shoes are a bit damp come morning.

I find that at days end, I can remove the wet insoles and use absorbent paper or toweling to sop up as much moisture as is possible while I am showering and dealing with end of the day chores. When I get ready to go to dinner or to wander around town, I insert the extra pair of dry insoles into my shoes, put on a pair of dry Merino wool socks, and put my shoes back on. This accelerates drying out the shoes. Depending on the shoe’s material, within a couple of hours the shoes are mostly dry.

At bedtime, I remove the insoles and stuff absorbent material into the shoes to continue the drying out process, if need be, during the night. Most of the time the stuffing is not needed, even if the shoes are still a bit damp. They will finish drying by morning.

Apply more salve or ointment and wear dry and warm socks at night; this gives feet 8-9 hours of recovery.

Seriously Dave, we walked in the low 20s with wet feet in February heading up to Foncebadon...feet never got old. About how cold do you think it might need to be before preparing to use a barrier? wouldn’t the plastic barrier create blistering?

@C clearly, my question “what am I missing” was seeking information, not trying to make a statement.
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
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Via de la Plata 2011
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Astorga to SdC 2015
I have walked in heavy rain for several consecutive days in mid November in non-waterproof trail runners, and was fine. My feet were not cold, but chilly at times. My socks and shoes were soaked at the end of the day. I did change to a dry pair of socks midday. At night, I pulled the insoles out of my shoes, stuffed them with some crunched up newspaper, and they were dry by morning.

If you are really worried about it, you can improvise a layering system like Sarah suggested. A pair of liner socks, plastic bag, Darn tough sock. The plastic bag is non-breathable, and acts like a vapor barrier. It will keep moisture in, and out. The liner socks will still get damp from perspiration. The plastic will help retain your body heat. OR if you want to get fancy check out something like the Rab Vapor Barrier Socks.
qal-31-bl_vapour_barrier_socks_pic_bst_1.jpg
I use these Rab socks both in summer when walking in wet areas, picking cloudberries or crossing arroyos, and on very cold days walking in snow as a midlayer between two socks. Keeps you warm in both cases.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
That's because you are a dog. 😂 🤣 😂 🤣

FYI. here is an article on the use of vapor barriers. Vapor Barrier Liners: Theory & Application
Well every day’s a school day, but it would appear that VBLs are more suited to the ‘multiple days Scottish winter climbing’ application I referred to than any condition reasonably foreseeable on any Spanish camino.

and, yes - Henry the (actual) dog does indeed have sweaty feet.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Seriously Dave, we walked in the low 20s with wet feet in February heading up to Foncebadon...feet never got old. About how cold do you think it might need to be before preparing to use a barrier? wouldn’t the plastic barrier create blistering?

@C clearly, my question “what am I missing” was seeking information, not trying to make a statement.

When I use a vapor barrier, it is usually above 10,000 feet when the temperatures are below 20F and I am in persistent wet and icy conditions. I have never used a vapor barrier lining during my usual late fall caminos. Like you, my feet have never gotten cold during wet weather.

For blistering issues, I don't find VBLs a significant issue, but I do keep a constant guard up for maceration issues and treat my feet in that regard. Maceration can aggravate blistering and skin infections, but simple precautions tend to thwart those risks. :)
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
@C clearly, my question “what am I missing” was seeking information, not trying to make a statement.
I wasn't intending to suggest you had made a "statement." Like you seemed to be, I was puzzled/uncertain what the OP was concerned about, since April and October are not months I would expect to be so cold as to be a problem, and in really cold weather, one wouldn't even normally get wet feet. But I didn't want to dismiss those concerns simply because you and I have never had a problem.
 
There a lot of good tips here. Light shoes that drain, extra insoles (NON ABSORBANT) Merino blend socks, short gaiters, Remove insoles and laces at night for drying, Stuffing with newsprint can help sometimes. Good luck! Has anyone tried spraying wet shoes and socks with rubbing alcohol to cause faster evaporation? There is little joy in putting wet shoes
 

La Brique Jaune

Official member of la confradia del pinza del oro
Year of past OR future Camino
2017: SJPDP to Finisterre
(202?): I hope and need to
Hi
I was puzzled/uncertain what the OP was concerned about, since April and October are not months I would expect to be so cold as to be a problem

I was thinking if I get the feet wet in april or october-november and the temperature is cold, maybe I can get the flu or a cold.

Added ---> I was worried about in the high elevation, like the section near Foncebadon, o Cebreiro
Thanks
 
Last edited:

RJM

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
A few times
During warm weather Caminos if my feet (shoes and feet) get wet I do not care. I wear shoes that dry fairly quick and bring a lot of socks. I wait for the rain to stop, and then I stop walking, take a break and take off my shoes, dry off my feet and put on new socks and keep walking. Later on if I can I put my shoes out in the sun to fully dry. If you wear shoes or boots that do not dry easy on a summer Camino, you may want to consider another type.
On the Camino when it is cold to add to the wet you can either do that more often (except wear wool socks) or wear the breathable waterproof type socks made of gore-tex etc. Whatever you do, when you add the cold you have to let them dry and do sock changes. Otherwise you will get what soldiers call trench foot.
I do not subscribe to putting your feet in a non breathable plastic bag. They will sweat and will not dry and may lead to problems. That is why nobody sells plastic bag socks for hiking lol.
Like anything else, you simply have to maintain your feet to avoid the problems and maintain your footwear like any other piece of clothing or equipment. Wash and dry them in the sun when you can. I always do every chance I can on warm sunny days. Wash my shoes and put them in the sun to dry. It is nice to put on a clean, dry pair of shoes the next morning and they do not stink.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I was thinking if I get the feet wet in april or october-november and the temperature is cold, maybe I can get the flu or a cold.
I don't believe there is any relationship between wet feet and the flu or colds, although if your body is being treated badly and is overtired, you might be more susceptible to any infection. In winter, respiratory diseases are more common for various suspected reasons. Probably wearing a mask on your face when in company of other people would be more useful for preventing a cold or the flu, than keeping your feet dry. That is something Covid has taught us - I have not had a single cold or other illness in over a year, probably due to the measures we've all taken.

Has anyone tried spraying wet shoes and socks with rubbing alcohol to cause faster evaporation?
My initial reaction was of course not, because the alcohol will evaporate first and then the same amount of water will be left to evaporate afterward. A bit of googling reveals that it is more complicated than my ancient chemistry knowledge allows, and things like "azeotrope" were mentioned. Suffice it to say that I don't think the difference in drying time would be significant to the pilgrim.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I also don't want to dismiss someone's concerns, but I am not sure what the concerns are:
  • Influenza? A viral infection. Not related to feet. Get vaccinated annually to mitigate risk.
  • Blisters? See Dave Bugg's posts above
  • Hypothermia? A concern at any time of year. I think wet clothes might be a more serious risk than wet shoes and socks but everyone who spends time outdoors should educate themselves about hypothermia:
 
I don't believe there is any relationship between wet feet and the flu or colds, although if your body is being treated badly and is overtired, you might be more susceptible to any infection. In winter, respiratory diseases are more common for various suspected reasons. Probably wearing a mask on your face when in company of other people would be more useful for preventing a cold or the flu, than keeping your feet dry. That is something Covid has taught us - I have not had a single cold or other illness in over a year, probably due to the measures we've all taken.


My initial reaction was of course not, because the alcohol will evaporate first and then the same amount of water will be left to evaporate afterward. A bit of googling reveals that it is more complicated than my ancient chemistry knowledge allows, and things like "azeotrope" were mentioned. Suffice it to say that I don't think the difference in drying time would be significant to the pilgrim.
Thanks, I was hoping alcohol would help.
 
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linkster

¡Nunca dejes de creer!
Year of past OR future Camino
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When I first switched to trail runners, I sprayed them with a ~Nikwax silicone product. I only used it once, because they dried out quickly enough on their own.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Hi


I was thinking if I get the feet wet in april or october-november and the temperature is cold, maybe I can get the flu or a cold.

Added ---> I was worried about in the high elevation, like the section near Foncebadon, o Cebreiro
Thanks
Having wet feet does not increase the chance of contracting a viral infection.

Cold and ‘flu viruses are more prevalent in the autumn and winter.

There is more rainfall in the autumn and winter and it is more likely that your feet will be wet.

Correlation does not equal causation
 

Roby

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May/June 2018
I am confused by what I have read. I wear Gore Tex waterproof boots and synthetic socks from Decathlon, when it rains, I pull PVC rain pants over my pants.
I was at Camin from mid-May to mid-June. Let’s say it was seven rainy days out of it, I walked through puddles and mud, not once did I have wet feet.
Neither from rain nor from heat.
I always and exclusively had only one pair of socks, they cost about 15 euros for two pairs of socks.
I have heard several times, not only on this forum, claims that wet feet are inevitable. Some people avoid Gore Tex materials because they are harder to dry, etc.
My 200 euro boots, 8 euro socks and 10 euro rain pants have never let me down. I never got my feet wet and I never got a blister.
Every year I walk a few hundred kilometers, comparable to Camino, my feet are always dry.
I would expect most to have the same experience as me, especially since most also buy far more expensive equipment than I have.
How is it possible that your wet feet are something expected?
What I am missing?
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Having wet feet does not increase the chance of contracting a viral infection.
Actually, having wet feet does increase the chance of an HPV infection (i.e. warts).

That's why some people use footwear when using public showers. But I don't think that this was among the OP's safety concerns.

 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
After reading @Roby's post #35 above I've remembered that I have read of hikers who apply antiperspirant to their feet. That might keep feet dry inside a Goretex or vapor barrier. That might cause other problems though.

This may not suit others but on a wet and cool to cold (snow) week on the Aragonese in early November I just put up with wet feet and kept the same socks on. I still have all my toes.

By the way, I only had the shoes I walked in.
 

zzotte

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012 Camino Frances, 2014 Lourdes to SDC, 2016 Camino del Norte
I opt for non waterproof shoes, my feet breathe much better and it dries If gets wet, with that said I carry no less then six pairs of wool socks (thins) and a minimum of twice a day I let my feet air out put on clean socks and move on :)
 

KiwiBee

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Leon to Melide (Feb 2014)
Melide to Santiago (Feb 2015)
Walked during flooding in February. I wore Rebok sneakers and snug merino socks. The initial plunge was cold but then my feet would go back to normal temperature and be fine. I would change into Crocs at the end of the day and wear the dried out socks again the next day. No blisters or cold feet. No colds or sniffles.
Happy walking 😊
 

Kimtom

Wannawalk
Year of past OR future Camino
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Like Roby, I wear waterproof shoes. While it is true that fabric used by Altra is not long wearing, on March Caminos with plenty of rain and puddles, my feet have not gotten wet.
 
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Roby

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May/June 2018
I opt for non waterproof shoes, my feet breathe much better and it dries If gets wet, with that said I carry no less then six pairs of wool socks (thins) and a minimum of twice a day I let my feet air out put on clean socks and move on :)
Ok, different people, different choices, that's perfectly normal but I must add, feet breath in waterproof shoes, shoes are not sealed, they just don't allow water to come in but allow steam to get out.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Ok, different people, different choices, that's perfectly normal but I must add, feet breath in waterproof shoes, shoes are not sealed, they just don't allow water to come in but allow steam to get out.
I have to gently disagree on both points. While, anecdotally, some folks have success with keeping feet dry, a large percentage do not. The success also increases with heavier boots that have less fabric areas. As time goes on the WP/B membranes that start off intact, do wear and abrade and break down and clog with dirt and oils.

Wet feet with waterproof/breathable footwear is common. Just a quick look using the search engine will produce lots of stories of wet feet and footwear.

There is a large difference in both air circulation and breathability between non-gortex style footwear and those which do not use a laminate Waterproof/Breathable membrane. While an individual may not experience dampened feet from wearing a WP/B laminate shoe, that is often due to individual physiological differences. Ambient temperatures and conditions also play a huge role.

I do not get damp feet in my Lowa Camino (model name) boots during the times I use them in winter and icy conditions. They not only have a gortex liner, but they also incorporate some insulation as well.

But if I wear them in the spring to fall months, my socks will get damp.

You are doing great having a match with footwear that fits and feels good, and that works in wet weather. But your feet and footwear choices, as you said, are not the same and will not be what will work for everyone. Add to that the fact that people choose footwear that is lighter, like trail and street runners, that are not as adept at shedding water, will also make your experience of avoiding wet feet not a universal given.

Your information may help some to evaluate choices to try and match your experience.
 

camino.ninja

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
The
Hi To All,

I read a couple of threads about how to avoid wet feet but I think in my humble opinion the feet will come wet eventually by the rain/snow itself or the by transpiration no matters the choice of boot/shoes/waterproof/gaiters*.

My question is not really about wet feet but how to keep myself safe when the temperature go down ?, that's why I put my question in the safety section.

If I remember well, I read on the forum a post about multi-layering system: Like a waterproof sock between two pair of sock.

I think my next Camino (202?) will be around october or april.

Thanks

*Yes I know it's a big topic, I will deal with the wet feet :)

The first couple of months out of four years of walking I got wet feet. It really is something you have to learn and adjust your gear.

I use waterproof trail running shoes, but boots work just as well. Not all are waterproof. And Gore-Tex lining tends to crumble over time.

On top of the shoes / boots I put gaiters. And on top of the gaiters, I put rain pants.

And on top of my rain pants I put a rain poncho. One with sleeves and closed in the sides. This is important in wind and heavy rain. Otherwise, you will get wet feet as well.

If you get wet feet (I do not) you just keep walking.

When you arrive, the accommodations usually have newspaper you can stuff your shoes with. Change every 10 minutes until they are almost dry. And go get wet feet again the next day. Or adjust your setup to stay dry.

A hot shower or foot bath helps on cold feet. Or walking.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I think this thread underlines the truth that we are all different, and we all walk in different weathers. I have walked the last eight or so times in sandals, including a very wet, cold and muddy early spring Norte. My preference for sandals is partly because of my difficulty in finding shoes or boots that fit my weird shaped feet. Sometimes it is a matter of finding the least worst answer!
 

camino.ninja

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
I think this thread underlines the truth that we are all different, and we all walk in different weathers. I have walked the last eight or so times in sandals, including a very wet, cold and muddy early spring Norte. My preference for sandals is partly because of my difficulty in finding shoes or boots that fit my weird shaped feet. Sometimes it is a matter of finding the least worst answer!

Sandals are my preference too. Except for rain season.
 
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filly

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Many years ago, I needed to buy new walking boots and did so in Zamora, when my feet had already carried me from Seville and thus suitably ‘stretched’. I discovered Spanish made Chiruca boots. I now get them sent from El Corte Ingles or buy them at Hipercor in Santiago. I find that they suit the landscape, the terrain.... and my feet.

I also discovered rot-proof trekking sandals. Perfect for dealing with deluges, Rio crossings, submerged paths etc. They are also my off-duty footwear and are ideal for ‘end of day’ flat path and asphalt kilometres.

This combination helps to keep my feet aerated and my boots drier in winter and cooler in summer. image.jpg

I have learnt much from previous posts. Many thanks to all, especially the information on ‘maceration’!
 

camino.ninja

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
I am confused by what I have read. I wear Gore Tex waterproof boots and synthetic socks from Decathlon, when it rains, I pull PVC rain pants over my pants.
I was at Camin from mid-May to mid-June. Let’s say it was seven rainy days out of it, I walked through puddles and mud, not once did I have wet feet.
Neither from rain nor from heat.
I always and exclusively had only one pair of socks, they cost about 15 euros for two pairs of socks.
I have heard several times, not only on this forum, claims that wet feet are inevitable. Some people avoid Gore Tex materials because they are harder to dry, etc.
My 200 euro boots, 8 euro socks and 10 euro rain pants have never let me down. I never got my feet wet and I never got a blister.
Every year I walk a few hundred kilometers, comparable to Camino, my feet are always dry.
I would expect most to have the same experience as me, especially since most also buy far more expensive equipment than I have.
How is it possible that your wet feet are something expected?
What I am missing?
View attachment 96836

In winter the majority get wet feet. The rain can be quite heavy in winter. Feburary being the worst usually.

And we are not talking puddles with mud in winter but more like rivers and lakes sometimes.

And a lot of Gore-Tex shoes are not really waterproof. Or they loose their waterproofness after some hundred kilometers.

And a full day in heavy rain the majority get wet feet. But it can mostly be avoided with gaiters and shoes that are actually waterproof in a full day of heavy rain.
 

Roby

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances May/June 2018
I have to gently disagree on both points. While, anecdotally, some folks have success with keeping feet dry, a large percentage do not. The success also increases with heavier boots that have less fabric areas. As time goes on the WP/B membranes that start off intact, do wear and abrade and break down and clog with dirt and oils.

Wet feet with waterproof/breathable footwear is common. Just a quick look using the search engine will produce lots of stories of wet feet and footwear.

There is a large difference in both air circulation and breathability between non-gortex style footwear and those which do not use a laminate Waterproof/Breathable membrane. While an individual may not experience dampened feet from wearing a WP/B laminate shoe, that is often due to individual physiological differences. Ambient temperatures and conditions also play a huge role.

I do not get damp feet in my Lowa Camino (model name) boots during the times I use them in winter and icy conditions. They not only have a gortex liner, but they also incorporate some insulation as well.

But if I wear them in the spring to fall months, my socks will get damp.

You are doing great having a match with footwear that fits and feels good, and that works in wet weather. But your feet and footwear choices, as you said, are not the same and will not be what will work for everyone. Add to that the fact that people choose footwear that is lighter, like trail and street runners, that are not as adept at shedding water, will also make your experience of avoiding wet feet not a universal given.

Your information may help some to evaluate choices to try and match your experience.
Of course, not all shoes are the same, just as not all feet are the same.
Since you wore a lot of shoes and you have a lot of experience, I think you helped me with choosing next shoes.
I’ve been wearing these since 2018 and they’ve really done a lot of kilometres, I believe they’ll last another Camino this year but no more than that.
Maybe I was just lucky and came across the perfect shoes for me, which then means that I need to buy the same model again and insure myself for the next few years.
 

patgreen

Member
A little trick for wet shoes - carry two plastic veggie produce bags. Wear them as a waterproof liner. The "Subway" sandwich bags are a nice rectangular shape. :)

Super handy when your shoes were soaked in the rain and you later want to leave the Albergue for dinner. No need to get your dry, warm socks wet. :)
I'll look out for the Subway bags. I use the bags supermarket bread comes in.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Of course, not all shoes are the same, just as not all feet are the same.
Since you wore a lot of shoes and you have a lot of experience, I think you helped me with choosing next shoes.
I’ve been wearing these since 2018 and they’ve really done a lot of kilometres, I believe they’ll last another Camino this year but no more than that.
Maybe I was just lucky and came across the perfect shoes for me, which then means that I need to buy the same model again and insure myself for the next few years.

I would characterize your success not as luck, but as you having the persistence needed in diligently looking for and finding the footwear you knew would work well for your own needs. When you look for new shoes, if that same model either is no longer made, or if that model has changed to the point you do not like that new model, you have the shoes you are still wearing as the example of what you want to have, in fit and feel and function, regardless of the brand or model.
 
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camino.ninja

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
Of course, not all shoes are the same, just as not all feet are the same.
Since you wore a lot of shoes and you have a lot of experience, I think you helped me with choosing next shoes.
I’ve been wearing these since 2018 and they’ve really done a lot of kilometres, I believe they’ll last another Camino this year but no more than that.
Maybe I was just lucky and came across the perfect shoes for me, which then means that I need to buy the same model again and insure myself for the next few years.

While you are out trying new shoes. Take a look at Asics Gel-Sonoma G-TX. It is trail runners. But thay last about 3 times longer than regular trailrunners. So about the same as a good solid pair of boots. And at a good price. They are very popular among spanish people for the wet season.
 

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