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Waterproof walking shoes or not for early Spring?

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Dadhairday

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (2020)
I plan to walk in trail shoes, nothing heavier. Expecting lots of rain March and April. What are experiences of gtx and similar waterproof or non-waterproof alternatives? I don’t want feet to overheat but don’t want to walk in soggy socks all day?
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I plan to walk in trail shoes, nothing heavier. Expecting lots of rain March and April. What are experiences of gtx and similar waterproof or non-waterproof alternatives? I don’t want feet to overheat but don’t want to walk in soggy socks all day?
Below is a post I have made on this issue before. Maybe it will be of help :)
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Water will enter trail runner shoes, hiking shoes, or backpacking boots through any opening during a rainstorm, when walking through wet grass and brush, or drench 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 always effective.
  • First, you can try keeping rain pants over the tops of shoes, so the water runs down the pants past the opening. But this system can be uncomfortably hot in warm weather during rain-soaked conditions. It offers no protection for puddles or having to cross water runoffs on the pathway.
  • You can try using a footwear with a waterproof gaiter or some other waterproof cobbles -- like thick plastic bags. I have not often seen a gaiter or other waterproof trapping that would both keep the water out and keep the feet dry.
“Waterproof” shoes are a misnomer for several reasons.
  • They can fail because the materials simply don’t work over the near and long term because it is difficult to apply and cover all areas of the footwear sufficiently.
  • The waterproof coating or laminate in the shoes does not last. Some manufacturers of the lightweight trail shoes, which are usually constructed as a hybrid of fabric and leather, have treated them with a coating which can quickly wear off. It also keeps sweat in the shoe and your feet get soaked in sweat. Fairly quickly, coatings break down and will no longer be waterproof.
  • Footwear which relies on a “Gore-Tex” style of waterproof/breathable laminate will break down through both wear and tear and dirt buildup on the material which renders it ineffective.
When I’ve tested so-called 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. Sometimes a shoe will start the test period working fairly well under a narrow range of wet conditions, but as the testing progresses the failures increase.

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. It can't. Unlike outerwear, the shoe material radically inhibits the ability of the membrane to allow water vapor to escape, thereby trapping it in the shoe.

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 from outside moisture as well.

This 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, as I’ve said, don’t work well.
  • “Waterproof” socks, which don’t work for similar reasons: shoes still get wet, and feet soak 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.
I have never had total success at keeping my feet dry in very wet conditions, which led me to research what has been done to develop effective strategies. If I can’t keep my feet dry, then I need to try and eliminate or minimize the risk of any of the bad things that could occur 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 numerous holes in the thin leather bottom portions so that water drained out quickly and never sat in the boots.

What are the most frequent and problematic '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.
So, what does work for me, and others, if I am going to be walking or backpacking in wet weather?
  • Apply a good, thick coating of a Goop (ointment or salve) to my feet and between toes before putting on socks and shoes in the morning. If rain occurs later in the day, then remove shoes and socks and do the same. This helps protect from external moisture.
Goop which has a high content of wax – either bee or paraffin – is most ideal, especially if it also has a high lanolin content.
  • Wear non-waterproof shoes which can drain and then dry out quickly. This minimizes the amount of puddling in the shoe that 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 eliminate moisture from sweaty feet. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the source of the moisture is that feet are exposed to: be it rain or sweat, each can cause the same problems.
  • Wear thin, light-cushioned merino wool socks, which don’t 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.
  • Take off shoes and socks to let feet air dry during rest stop that will be longer than 20 minutes.During this 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 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 wander around town, I put on a pair of dry Merino wool socks, insert the extra pair of dry insoles into my shoes, and put the shoes back on to walk around in. 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.
  • Apply more salve or ointment and wear dry and warm socks at while sleeping; this gives feet 8-9 hours of recovery.
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andywild

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
april '2018'
Oh dear... Dadhairday has only gone and opened a can of worms!!

I predict 18 comments with a 60/40 split...

Then someone will mention ponchos and there'll be 9 more comments and maybe even a small poem...

Here's my input .. I used gtx trail runners... Walked through (very) shallow streams and puddles... They never let water in and kept my often sweaty feet as fresh as a daisy...
I continue to wear the same model at home and they always perform spot on...
Many will tell you otherwise and they're likely to be true but my Solomon Vario 4gtx have been ace...
Now cue the "non-waterproof shoes dry quicker" comments... Which are also very true!
Good luck whichever way you choose.
 

Richard Ward

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016, 2017, 2018)
Madrid to Salvador to Primitivo (planned 2019)
Waterproof shoes IF expecting wet conditions and multiple days of freezing temperatures. Otherwise, non waterproof Salomons work well for me. YMMV....
 

jozero

Been there, going again...
Camino(s) past & future
CF x 3
I predict 18 comments with a 60/40 split...
Brilliant!! Except it is my understanding that 94.652% of all statistics are made up so I won't trust the poll regardless!

I'm a fan of GTX mid-high boots, Lowa is my preference. Comfortable and handles ground water and mud well and when matched with Smart Wool socks I never had sweaty feet. Most Albergues had old newspapers to stuff in your shoes if you had a particularly bad weather day, which I'm sure those wearing non-GTX shoes probably did too?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
As someone who just recently joined the trail runners crowd (well, two years ago) mine (Altras) say that they have some sort of waterproofing. That has not been my experience. My first day this year on the Vasco Interior, it rained for about 7 hours straight. My feet were soaked within a couple of hours or less.

Once your feet are wet, they don’t get any wetter, so the only time I was uncomfortable was right at the beginning when I was transitioning from dry feet to wet feet, and then after about 23 kms when we stopped for a rest under a café awning and I took off my shoes and socks. I squeezed out my socks and let my feet dry, but then I had to put those wet suckers back on my feet. THAT was uncomfortable.

For me the advantages of the trail runners far far outweigh any disadvantages from not having waterproofing, which our expert @davebugg tells us rarely works anyway!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I've surrendered to sometimes having wet feet. As Dave has said:
I have never had total success at keeping my feet dry in very wet conditions, which led me to research what has been done to develop effective strategies. If I can’t keep my feet dry, then I need to try and eliminate or minimize the risk of any of the bad things that could occur 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 numerous holes in the thin leather bottom portions so that water drained out quickly and never sat in the boots.
And because I don't like cold wet socks, I leave my shoes on all day if it's wet. As Dave said, it's the draining that's important:
Wear non-waterproof shoes which can drain and then dry out quickly. This minimizes the amount of puddling in the shoe that bathes the feet in moisture. Modern trail running shoes, and trail shoes often have nice open mesh fabric which is terrific for draining water.
My solution is to wear watershoes - they grip slippery surfaces really well and are made so that the water drains out. I've been using the Keen McKenzie, but it looks like even the second iteration of this model is no longer available at Keen direct or from REI. But you can get them on Amazon.
This year I tried Arroyos as a substitute but they are hotter and I got blisters between my toes as a result. :(:(
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
I prefer to carry an extra pair of socks to change along the day in case of wet feet than to wear 'waterproof' shoes.

As you see, opinions vary. Do you have time to test different options and see what works for you?
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Totally brillant post @davebugg.

I’m with @trecile in the sandals brigade. With “waterproof” socks if it’s cold. They work exactly as Dave says. Keep feet warm even if not dry.
 

camino07

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18Norte
Well,for me I prefer my Keens shoes with waterproof soles, not had wet feet,able to walk through shallow puddles and dry overnight when stuffed with newspaper( if caught in a downpour.) Finally after many caminos and much trial and error with socks, no blisters.
 

andywild

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
april '2018'
Simple arithmetic tells me that's unlikely.
Ahh, you're assuming each post would be 100% for or against? Mine was 92% for... 17% against and just over a quarter ambivalent... Never mind simple arithmetic, this is Camino mathematics!!
(Phew, I think I got out of that one) 🙄

I'm still working on the poem.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
Brilliant!! Except it is my understanding that 94.652% of all statistics are made up so I won't trust the poll regardless!

I'm a fan of GTX mid-high boots, Lowa is my preference. Comfortable and handles ground water and mud well and when matched with Smart Wool socks I never had sweaty feet. Most Albergues had old newspapers to stuff in your shoes if you had a particularly bad weather day, which I'm sure those wearing non-GTX shoes probably did too?
I just read that as mid thigh boots.... well i guess they would be pretty water proof
 

Stewart K.

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
APril 2016
In early spring, I walked in non waterproof running shoes and carried dexshell waterproof socks. When it rained, I put on the socks. Kept feet warm and dry. As soon as it stopped raining, I switched socks. Worked great for cool/cold rainy days.
 

Andree Pollock

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
I plan to walk in trail shoes, nothing heavier. Expecting lots of rain March and April. What are experiences of gtx and similar waterproof or non-waterproof alternatives? I don’t want feet to overheat but don’t want to walk in soggy socks all day?
I can only speak to my experience. I walked the Camino in April. Waterproof trail shoes, gaitors and rain pants. My feet stayed dry the entire time except when we had three days of down pour. At the end my shoes were damp and took a couple of days to dry. If we would have been in places with proper heat, we would have dried out at night and this would not have been a problem.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
I walk in Altra mesh trail runner. They dry quickly and they are comfortable. I live in the Pacific Northwest and it is wet here 90% of the time. Along with Darn Tough socks my feet are generally warm.
 

Chris Gi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Did April through June 2018 from Pamplona to Santiago. 2020 May or end of September.
I plan to walk in trail shoes, nothing heavier. Expecting lots of rain March and April. What are experiences of gtx and similar waterproof or non-waterproof alternatives? I don’t want feet to overheat but don’t want to walk in soggy socks all day?
Love my Ahnu waterproof breathable shoes. Walked for days through mud and pouring rain and my feet were always warm and dry at the end of the day. They probably have over 1,000 miles on them and I am still wearing them - although I doubt they would last another Camino.
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
Goop=BagBalm for me. It holds up better than Vaseline. I apply morning and night leaving my inner silk socks on to not transfer goop to a dorm bed.
My feet sweat a lot so I dry shoes/socks by removal on long breaks or just change socks.
I have long given up on 'waterproof' and treat the results rather than trying to prevent. GoreTex is better on my shoes at retaining moisture than keeping it out.
And only time I have had blisters is when I walk with wet feet; I suspect it is the maceration (new vocabulary for me) that Davebugg mentioned in his excellent tome above (#3).
 

Dadhairday

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (2020)
I prefer to carry an extra pair of socks to change along the day in case of wet feet than to wear 'waterproof' shoes.

As you see, opinions vary. Do you have time to test different options and see what works for you?
Good thought. I have a pair of gtx trail shoes and similar that are not waterproof. Frankly don’t mind wet feet for a weekend on the fells. My query was really trying to explore best option for what will be two months’ daily walking - something I can’t test. I do plan to take sandals to alternate footwear a little. Don’t mind cold feet, my worry is about blistering. Perhaps I should have put my question more carefully?
 

Dadhairday

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (2020)
Thanks for the advice so far. I don’t mind walking with cold or wet feet. I am worried about blisters which tend to develop more rapidly when feet are wet in my experience. I regularly do two day trail events in non-waterproof shoes and often suffer from blisters. I also get that waterproof shoes can’t be 100% effective as others note eloquently here. Still leaves me with a quandary. By the way I will travel with walking sandals too and alternate with the trail shoes. Whilst I’m trying to travel light I recognise my feet are my most important bit of equipment!
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
can someone recommend a brand of "goop"?
Out of all of the Goops I have used, my current favorite is HikeGoo. How much of the tube's content's I take depends on how long I will be gone on the trail and expected weather conditions. Rather than take the entire tube, I have a small container which I put a portion of the HikeGoo into.

Because HikeGoo is a terrific anti-friction ointment, it is something that is used by athletes and backpackers for blister protection as well. So if putting ointment on feet in order to help prevent blisters is a method used, HikeGoo (or whatever goop is used), HikeGoo serves as a multi-tasker for feet.

Alhartman mentioned Bag Balm, which works well because if its high lanolin content. Plus, the various ingredients it contains can help with superficial skin injuries by acting as a anti-bacterial treatment.

Successful 'goops' contain a good percentage of lanolin. A bit less effective are those primarily containing petrolatum (vaseline). The most successful formulations usually contain beeswax.

I define 'successful' based on the goop's ability to persist on the skin for longer periods of time while walking. Those preparations made primarily of petrolatum do work, but they tend to wear off fairly quickly as they are absorbed into the socks and the skin.

Lanolin tends to absorb less quickly, plus it seems to be more therapeutic to the skin. It is still subject to being rubbed away by socks.

For petrolatum's and lanolin's, the practical implication for the quicker wear is to apply more frequently as you walk.

Goops with a beeswax content tend to 'stick' to the skin and remain persistent for longer periods of time while walking. The more beeswax, the better. While HikeGoo performs well as a commercial preparation, one can create their own Goops by 'cooking up' their own formulations from beeswax and lanolin which can be purchased.
 

Richard Ward

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016, 2017, 2018)
Madrid to Salvador to Primitivo (planned 2019)
My only major blisters from my past 3500 miles of hiking occurred in Maine when hiking an Appalachian Trail section in "waterproof" trail runners. The shoes were saturated in water because 80% of the trail on that day was water covered or boggy (including a chest high river ford 😬). I also had to hike fairly quickly to make it to a shuttle location on time.

My goal is to have the moisture wick from the part of a Smartwool sock that touches my foot, to the outer part of that sock so that I don't get the immersion type of blisters that I had in Maine. I also am careful not to hike so fast as to develop blisters on hot spots, and will change socks (and from shoes to sandals) as necessary.

Maybe I have been lucky in my three Frances walks (April/May 2016, May/June 2017, Nov/Dec 2018), but they have been quite dry, compared to my 2000+ miles on the Appalachian Trail. Only one day on each with a rain that is nearly guaranteed to get your feet wet. I could easily generate enough heat just by walking to wick the moisture from my non-waterproof trail runners on the drizzly ("wee mist") days. That being said, the Norte that you plan to walk in March/April could be much rainier and boggier than the Frances, so that might make waterproof shoes a bit more beneficial.

I personally would not worry too much about shoe selection, so long as you have some type of trail runner that fits you well, and use hiking poles. Waterproof would keep you warmer, and on certain days, drier. Mesh trail runners are lighter (a pound on foot is same as having 5 pounds on your back, in terms of energy expenditure), often cheaper to buy, and seem to drain/wick moisture away better.

Plus, if disaster strikes, and the shoes are not working out well for the conditions, you can buy new shoes/boots in Bilbao, Santander, etc., or take an alternativo (or bus) down to Frances, which would probably be much easier hiking at that time of year.

Buen Camino!
Thanks for the advice so far. I don’t mind walking with cold or wet feet. I am worried about blisters which tend to develop more rapidly when feet are wet in my experience. I regularly do two day trail events in non-waterproof shoes and often suffer from blisters. I also get that waterproof shoes can’t be 100% effective as others note eloquently here. Still leaves me with a quandary. By the way I will travel with walking sandals too and alternate with the trail shoes. Whilst I’m trying to travel light I recognise my feet are my most important bit of equipment!
 

Dandabika

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Completed GR65 (2016)
I plan to walk in trail shoes, nothing heavier. Expecting lots of rain March and April. What are experiences of gtx and similar waterproof or non-waterproof alternatives? I don’t want feet to overheat but don’t want to walk in soggy socks all day?
When it rains or when you walk across dew soaked field as you start off in the morning your feet will get wet no matter what type of shoe you wear. The objective is to dry your feet as quickly as possible once they become wet. Shoes that have the most venting features dry the fastest as you walk. First you change your wet socks to dry ones and keep walking. If it rains all day, the rain runs down your leg and ultimately into your shoes. Wear a long poncho and that tends to help a bit. Waterproof pants just make you wetter because you'll sweat yourself wet in them. Tried that, done that, not ever going to do that again. Membrane (Goretex) type of shoes tend to hold the water that much more and longer because they do not vent anywhere nearly as quickly as well vented shoes. Your feet sweat no matter what you wear, so sweaty feet inside the membrane plus wet on the outside means your feet never dry. Membrane shoes are the slowest type of shoe to dry, so much so, that they are more often than not still wet the following morning even if you stuff newspaper tightly in them to help them dry. Vented ones dry much better overnight. I've used both types on extended walks. I use only well vented hiking shoes now.
 

Dadhairday

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (2020)
When it rains or when you walk across dew soaked field as you start off in the morning your feet will get wet no matter what type of shoe you wear. The objective is to dry your feet as quickly as possible once they become wet. Shoes that have the most venting features dry the fastest as you walk. First you change your wet socks to dry ones and keep walking. If it rains all day, the rain runs down your leg and ultimately into your shoes. Wear a long poncho and that tends to help a bit. Waterproof pants just make you wetter because you'll sweat yourself wet in them. Tried that, done that, not ever going to do that again. Membrane (Goretex) type of shoes tend to hold the water that much more and longer because they do not vent anywhere nearly as quickly as well vented shoes. Your feet sweat no matter what you wear, so sweaty feet inside the membrane plus wet on the outside means your feet never dry. Membrane shoes are the slowest type of shoe to dry, so much so, that they are more often than not still wet the following morning even if you stuff newspaper tightly in them to help them dry. Vented ones dry much better overnight. I've used both types on extended walks. I use only well vented hiking shoes now.
Very helpful, sound advice based on experience. I’m certainly leaning towards well-ventilated rather than gtx at the moment. Fully agree with comments about waterproof pants. I will just wear shorts on wet days.
 

Jim Stinson

ibrew4u
Camino(s) past & future
5/2015 CF
4/2017 CF
5/2019 CF fr Astorga
I've slogged all around the world in the cheapest leather boot the gov't could buy. And the Marines never send you anyplace without plenty of mosquitos and rain. I've hiked 3 Caminos and gotten drenched on all three for at least one or two days.
Waterproof works from the outside for about two hours, then it works from the inside for a day.
The greatest enemy to your waterproof boots is water cascading down your legs into the tops of your boots. Now you have two size 10 washing machines for your socks.
So, there are two effective strategies: 1) keep water from touching your footwear. b) quickly drain the water from your footwear.
The second is the most doable, as the first is only possible by not venturing outside.
Draining the footwear eliminates the washing machine effect, but still gets your socks wet. So now we shift to the sock strategy.
I'm not a goop on my feet guy. If it works for you, then do that as davebugg describes.
Wool socks drain quickly and keep your feet warm (unless in ice cold water). I always pack 3 pair. I change socks every 90 minutes and apply baby powder to feet and socks during changes to dry and smooth out the feet. Plus who doesn't love the smell of babies? The sweaty socks go on the outside of the pack to dry for the next change. One pair is not in rotation and is reserved for disasters.
If raining, the wet pair gets wrung out and put inside the jacket, either around the waist, or in the armpits, to dry/warm with body heat.
Here's where a thin sock liner comes in handy. A snug fitting liner helps wick moisture from the skin to the wool sock, and helps reduce the friction of the wet wool on the wet skin. Some swear by the goop, I use a liner instead. The liner also helps if your feet sweat a lot as mine do.
If you find yourself, on a rainy day, in an albergue with no dryer (secadora) (or with more pilgrims than can share the dryer), use your body to dry your clothes. We walked 7 hours in pouring rain, and not even the pack cover remained waterproof. We were soaked, as were tomorrow's clothes with no way to dry out. The humidity was too high for clothes to dry hanging inside.
So, after showering and drying off with a wet towel, we put on tomorrows damp clothes and went about albergueing. In about 90 minutes, our clothes on our bodies were dry and we switched to our damp laundered clothes to dry them as well (this works with quick-dry poly clothing. Longer for cotton).
By the time lights out came, we had two sets of dry clothes ready for the morrow. The socks took a little longer, but into the sleep sack they went and were dry in the morning.
I hike 90% in Chacos (toe socks below 40ºF), 10% Keen vented ankle hi boots with light Merino wool socks.
Buen Camino
 

Dadhairday

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte (2020)
I've slogged all around the world in the cheapest leather boot the gov't could buy. And the Marines never send you anyplace without plenty of mosquitos and rain. I've hiked 3 Caminos and gotten drenched on all three for at least one or two days.
Waterproof works from the outside for about two hours, then it works from the inside for a day.
The greatest enemy to your waterproof boots is water cascading down your legs into the tops of your boots. Now you have two size 10 washing machines for your socks.
So, there are two effective strategies: 1) keep water from touching your footwear. b) quickly drain the water from your footwear.
The second is the most doable, as the first is only possible by not venturing outside.
Draining the footwear eliminates the washing machine effect, but still gets your socks wet. So now we shift to the sock strategy.
I'm not a goop on my feet guy. If it works for you, then do that as davebugg describes.
Wool socks drain quickly and keep your feet warm (unless in ice cold water). I always pack 3 pair. I change socks every 90 minutes and apply baby powder to feet and socks during changes to dry and smooth out the feet. Plus who doesn't love the smell of babies? The sweaty socks go on the outside of the pack to dry for the next change. One pair is not in rotation and is reserved for disasters.
If raining, the wet pair gets wrung out and put inside the jacket, either around the waist, or in the armpits, to dry/warm with body heat.
Here's where a thin sock liner comes in handy. A snug fitting liner helps wick moisture from the skin to the wool sock, and helps reduce the friction of the wet wool on the wet skin. Some swear by the goop, I use a liner instead. The liner also helps if your feet sweat a lot as mine do.
If you find yourself, on a rainy day, in an albergue with no dryer (secadora) (or with more pilgrims than can share the dryer), use your body to dry your clothes. We walked 7 hours in pouring rain, and not even the pack cover remained waterproof. We were soaked, as were tomorrow's clothes with no way to dry out. The humidity was too high for clothes to dry hanging inside.
So, after showering and drying off with a wet towel, we put on tomorrows damp clothes and went about albergueing. In about 90 minutes, our clothes on our bodies were dry and we switched to our damp laundered clothes to dry them as well (this works with quick-dry poly clothing. Longer for cotton).
By the time lights out came, we had two sets of dry clothes ready for the morrow. The socks took a little longer, but into the sleep sack they went and were dry in the morning.
I hike 90% in Chacos (toe socks below 40ºF), 10% Keen vented ankle hi boots with light Merino wool socks.
Buen Camino
Very helpful and practical advice. Appreciated.
 

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When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 15 1.4%
  • February

    Votes: 6 0.6%
  • March

    Votes: 43 4.0%
  • April

    Votes: 165 15.2%
  • May

    Votes: 265 24.4%
  • June

    Votes: 83 7.7%
  • July

    Votes: 21 1.9%
  • August

    Votes: 23 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 311 28.7%
  • October

    Votes: 133 12.3%
  • November

    Votes: 13 1.2%
  • December

    Votes: 6 0.6%
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