How to Keep Feet Dry While Hiking – 13 Tips That Work

A man in hiking boots and a kid standing inside a puddle of mud while on a hiking trail

The ever-present issue of soaked, soggy socks. There ain’t a hiker who hasn’t experienced that fantastic feeling. Most outdoor enthusiasts cherish that one moment (it wasn’t that short, though) so much they’d rather never taste it again. Okay, so what’s the deal with this intro?

What we’re trying to say is: not a single hiker likes to walk around in soaked footwear. Come to think about it: no one likes to feel their feet are wet while still inside the shoe. That’s exactly why today we’ve chosen to show you nothing less than 13 tips on how to keep your feet dry while hiking!

Buying yourself a quality pair of waterproof socks is always the way to go. Wear tall boots & gaiters combo for maximum water protection. Also, you can use plastic bread bags as a waterproofing layer between your boots and feet, among other solutions. Lastly, cover your feet in hydrophobic balm to keep ’em healthy. 

That’s too short of a paragraph for anyone to leave satisfied! That’s why you should keep on scrolling!

Table of Contents

Why’s proper hiking footwear so important?

Here’s something you didn’t know: hiking equals a lot of walking. What an insight, right? Anyway, even though it’s a bit obvious why high-quality hiking footwear is so important, it’s best we elaborate a bit on its significance.

A pair of good-fitting hiking boots basically don’t have any alternative. Hiking in sneakers? If so, good luck spaying your ankle and whatnot! Hiking boots are cleverly designed to support your feet with stiffer midsoles. Additionally, they offer better ankle coverage, something which, of course, prevents the mentioned ankle sprains.

You’ll also want to know there’s probably nothing worse than injuring yourself in the middle of a hike. That’s especially unpleasant if you’re on a solo hike, without your hiking buddies nearby to help you out. Ending your hiking trip in a hospital bed isn’t something you’d call an outcome you’ve hoped for, right?

Okay, now that we’ve underlined the significance of proper hiking footwear, let’s see those tips on how to keep feet dry while hiking! You’ll thank us later.

A person not keeping their feet dry by jumping inside a puddle.

How to keep your feet dry while hiking – 13 Tips that work

So, shall we begin? Here are the tips we hope you’ll find very useful during your future hikes!

#1 Opt for good socks

First things first, forget about those cotton socks you’ve gotten last Christmas from your granny. You’ll want to know cotton cocks are a no-no because they act as unintentional sponges. They keep the moisture next to your skin, thus making you feel rather unpleasant. Instead of wearing cotton socks on your hiking adventure, choose socks that are made from merino wool or synthetic fabrics since they’ll wick the dampness away from your feet.

#2 Air out yer feet, sir

Use the breaks (when you stop for lunch, tea or coffee from the thermos) to air out your feet and socks dry. Let the sun and the breeze take care of the issue! Of course, it’s best if you’ve got a spare pair of socks in your trusty backpack, just so you can put clean & dry socks on your not-so-clean, but dry feet.

#3 Another sock-related tip (who would’ve thought?)

Heard about waterproof socks? If you haven’t, it’s about time you learn something useful. Anyway, if you’re sure the hike won’t be a dry one (you’ve seen the forecast, or there’s a lot of wet grass ahead), obtaining a pair of top-notch waterproof socks might be just the thing to do. They’re very effective and can compensate for boots that have a hard time dealing with water. One last tip: once you’re done washing them, dry them inside out.

#4 Tall boots and gaiters

There’s an age-old saying that goes something like this: the taller the boot, the drier the foot. And when we say age-old, we mean: we’ve just made it up. However, it’s nevertheless the truth. Tall & proper walking boots are more efficient than mid-height shoes. Also, don’t forget to wear waterproof gaiters (as they’ll allow you to walk through water) since they’ll provide additional protection.

#5 Dry the boots in-between walks

We’ve already mentioned you should dry your feet and socks once you stop to take a break. Additionally, you’ll want to dry your boots in-between walks/hikes as well. Just take out the insole, relax those laces and put your boots inside a room with good air circulation. Don’t forget to keep them out of the path of direct sun. Also, never should you put your leather hiking boots on a radiator, as it will most probably damage the material.

#6 Take good care of your boots

In other words: be a good parent to your hiking boots. Even the toughest of them deserve some proper care in order to stay like that. Clean, wax, condition, and re-proof them every once in a while, just so they maintain their waterproof protection. Also, do you know how does one waterproof leather hiking boots?

#7 Waterproofing leather hiking boots

You’ll find many full-grain leather hiking boots out there without a waterproof membrane. Most of ’em rely on the natural waterproof attributes of leather. However, over the years of use, even leather boots tend to be a bit leaky (who says their hearts are made of stone?). Anyway, you’ll want to add a waterproofing treatment only after you’ve cleaned the boots, but haven’t let them completely dry out. It’s important they’re a little wet when you apply the waterproofing solution (Nikwax, for instance) since leather will soak it up better in that case. 

#8 Rain pants to the rescue

Imagine you find out there’ll be some rain on the day of your planned hike. Geesh! What now? There’s no need to panic. Just put on a pair of rain pants that’ll cover the tip of your hiking boots, so you make sure there’s no water leaking from above. 

#9 Plastic bags, really?

It ain’t the best one we got, but still… To be honest, it gets the job done, so you really shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks. Anyway, if you’re in desperate need of a waterproof layer between your dry feet and a dampened pair of hiking boots, plastic bags (that’s right, plastic bags) are a fantastic DIY waterproof-socks substitute. Also, you’ll want to know that bread or newspaper bags are especially good for this type of ordeal. There’s a good chance you’re laughing right now, but we’ll see who laughs last.

#10 Crossing the water

Say, for instance, that you’ve got to cross through water on your hiking path. The first thing you’ll want to do is approach the situation in a calm manner. Look for if there’s a way to cross the obstacle upstream or downstream, wherever there’s less water. If possible, avoid stepping into the water completely. 

Also, keep your eyes out for a sturdy fallen log or a rocky area you can cross resurrecting your long-forgotten acrobatic techniques. Even though going off-the-trail isn’t recommended, this might be an expectation: look for a better way to pass through or over water obstacles.

#10.1 Barefoot walking?

Thinking you can cross the stream barefoot, thus avoiding getting your hiking boots wet? Think again! The whole act can be quite dangerous. Many times you can’t even see the bottom clear enough. Avoid crossing the water barefoot to ensure you don’t end up cutting yourself unintentionally on sharp rocks.

#11 What about hydrophobic balm?

It won’t get your feet dry or something but it will ease the sometimes troubling consequences of walking with wet feet. You know how your skin can react when being in contact with water for longer periods of time. That’s also how your toes will shrivel up old-prune style. Hydrophobic balms will keep your feet healthy.

A pro tip: for this purpose, you can even use diaper balm for babies.

#12 Old-school leather waterproofing

There’s an old-style method of waterproofing your hiking footwear. You’ll want to thoroughly cover your leather hiking shoes with mink oil. There are some folks that say this works wonders. However, keep in mind you’re trying this option at your own risk. 

#13 Acceptance is key

You’re probably wondering why there’s a word like acceptance here in the first place. The thing is: no matter how well you waterproof your feet, all of these methods work to a certain point. There’s a chance that, no matter what you do or what happens, your feet will get wet. Also, the lack of breathability can be an unwelcome substitute for the dampness of the feet. 

This, of course, doesn’t mean you should get frustrated or sad about it. It’s all a part of the process, and if you accept the rules of the game as they are – you’ll enjoy your hiking adventures (here are some wonderful suggestions) to the fullest! Now, let’s start wrapping things up before this article turns into an overly-sentimental, motivational piece!

Final words

That’s about it on the whole how-to-keep-feet-dry-while-hiking thing! As always, we hope you’ve had some fun reading this one, and that it helped keep your feet dry during some moisty hikes!

For more tips related to hiking footwear and hiking en général, don’t hesitate to visit this page.

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