Socks and non-waterproof trail shoes

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26/02/2012 at 20:45

Just following up on a deviation in another thread.......

Got my non-waterproof trail shoes as part of a strategy of giving up boots. They were perfect on the Beacons on Saturday - some 14 miles on very mixed terrain. However, the weather was superb and it's very dry up there just now.

My feet get cold when wet as I've found now my Goretex boots leak readily. A poster in the other thread suggested a combination of plastic bags and socks and others dissed waterproof socks. My feet run hot and sweaty especially in Goretex boots (thus my switch of footwear).

What options do I have to keep my feet warm though not necessarily dry?  Merino socks? High wicking polyester socks? Brands to choose? Thx.

26/02/2012 at 21:05

I wear unlined approach shoes all year round and only occasionally use waterproof socks. I find that unless really cold, having wet feet isnt that bad but maybe that is because I walk "hot". I use Bridgedale light hiker socks all year round too as they give me a good combo of comfort and feel warm even when wet

but it is definitely a personal choice whether to have wet feet or not!

26/02/2012 at 21:13
Wool is probably best for warmth when wet but be aware that wool stretches a lotvwhen wet which can lead to bunching depending upon the initial fit.

In summer i just put up with wet feet; when colder i use a liner and a wool sock with,if needed, a goretex sock sandwiched between them. I use rocky goretex socks which, sadly, i don't think are available any more - i hope to be proved wrong because i want some more.

Edit: in the more clement months i use xsocks mountain biking socks, mid seasons xsocks desert storm (a double layer sock). Xsocks simply because they fit me perfectly. The liner is bridgedale coolmax and various smartwools. I have different shoes for summer/other times.
Edited: 26/02/2012 at 21:22
26/02/2012 at 21:29

Its only when its got down to snow/snow melt that I really tend to notice. Often still more or less managable though.

Do certainly try it in spring etc before panicking - wet feet where the water is trapped by a membrane really isn't the same thing as wet feet in a pair of quick draining pair of trail shoes!

26/02/2012 at 21:39
Really helpful comments folks. Think I'll try liner and wool socks together and see how I go with wet feet. I do suspect my feet were cold because once wet in lined boots the moisture was trapped.
26/02/2012 at 21:49

I'm certain that the Rocky socks are no more; I tried very hard to find some last year. The Trekmates Amphibian are finished as well. I bought some Gore Bike Wear GT socks which have proven to be superb, so far, in unlined shoes/boots.

I've found a Merino/synthetic mix sock to be effective when I'm not wearing waterproof socks. Brasher make a '4 season' sock that is excellent. Very durable, warm when wet and tends to keep it's shape better than others I've tried.

Edited: 26/02/2012 at 21:49
26/02/2012 at 22:02

Dachstein wool socks don't stretch when they get wet and they stay warm. I bought my last pair over 20 years ago. I can't seem to find anyone who sells them, now.


"...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy the handicapped and submariners. " ~ Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey

26/02/2012 at 22:21
Ortovox make 'Dachstein' mitts under their own branding. I'm sure I saw some socks when I got the mitts (which are superb).
26/02/2012 at 22:44
I can only find Rocky socks here $40 or REI at $60 Was going to get my son to send some as he's in the States but not at that price! Might take a punt on these, at least the price is reasonable.
26/02/2012 at 22:45
Rocky socks did seem to disappear for a while but now seem to be back, currently in stock and available from REI in the US.
26/02/2012 at 23:03

Seemingly comfortable when static, once walking for a while, the seams on the base of Rocky socks really really hurt the edges of the soles of my feet in ways that no other shoe or sock has ever done I sold them on quickly.

Sealskinz are comfy - until they start to leak.  Which can be from day 2 to day 30 in my experience. - had one pair replaced twice FOC by Sealskinz. (still bought  a new pair recently - they do a job in winter) 

I also have some black newer style MOD 'goretex' socks - they leaked too

I'd like to try NRS Hydroskins - seem to be an approach not much tried  yet, but those who have rate them.

26/02/2012 at 23:44
Try Sealskinz socks, been using them since christmas
27/02/2012 at 00:20
Hi Mole. You walk on Dartmoor, yes? Do you wear trail shoes there?Cheers.
27/02/2012 at 02:28
Kiers. Hi. yes I do since summer 2009. though the last 2 walks, wore boots as hanging around a bit cos of others meant that the wet feet would have got too cold. ( ten tors training with Scouts).
now i have new sealskinz will go back to them next weekend.
27/02/2012 at 11:01
Mole: Following your post, I've been reading up on NSR Hydroskin Socks which look well worth a try. But they're pretty expensive. Any idea on their durability?
27/02/2012 at 11:06

Hi Redscotti,

The point of the arrangement of plastic bags and socks I suggested was to keep the socks between the 2 plastic bags completely dry and of optimum insulation. These dry socks keep your feet warm. My (unavailable to you amphibian socks) keep my feet dryer than a single plastic bag would but my feet are still a little damp. They can still get cold. The 2 plastic bag idea works best when it is very cold, below freezing. At minus 10 C I ended up wearing my thin Merino socks then a plastic bag then thick socks under my Goretex socks just for warmth. Then It occurred to me once I was wearing a plastic bag to keep the thick socks dry from my sweat the goretex socks were not needed. I did not need breathability just waterproofness. Another plastic bag would do just as well.

 Once you are working on the vapour barrier principle you should control your body temperature so your feet are not hot enough to continue to sweat. In the sort of cold temperatures I am talking about you dont want sweat anywhere. It chills you when you stop.

I am actually experimenting with a vapour barrier suit but it is not often cold enough in the UK to really trial it. The one good test camping on the Cairngorm plateau last winter it showed potential. Same idea: thin merino layer then homemade silnylon all over suit then down insulation, kept dry from my sweat by the suit then a waterproof layer which is only breathable for the times when not wearing the vapour barrier suit. The merino layer gets damp but everything else is dry. I think I needed noticeably less layers than I would have otherwise. The suit is designed to come off in pieces without removing the top layers.

KISS principle:

 if you can cope with wet feet do.

If your feet are too cold, experiment with my suggestion of plastic bags. They don't cost much if it does not suit you.

If not then Goretex socks are available. at least the Gore bikewear GT. Unfortunately I think walkers wear them out quicker than cyclists. I wore a hole in the heel very quickly. Replacing worn gore socks is a little cheaper than replacing leaking gore boots! Some people have better luck with sealskins than I did, if you try them, be gentle washing them. I am sure you can tear the membrane just by stretching the knit too much.

Edited: 27/02/2012 at 11:10
27/02/2012 at 11:12
Over longer walks I found that (in sealskinz) perspiration builds up inside the sock which then starts to slip around on my foot. I like to wear lighter footwear when it's drier but I've had shoes sucked off my feet in boggy ground and don't much like the combination of cold and wet. Wet feet in a hot climate is fine however.
27/02/2012 at 13:33
No idea on durability, but given the material,probably last a lot longer than gtx or sealskins and cost the same or less....
I had a pair given to me but too small. seem pretty solid. basically thin wetsuit socks.
27/02/2012 at 13:35
i wear sealskins wwith another sock. and do my laces up properly
27/02/2012 at 15:22

I agree with Derek. If you can cope with wet feet then do so its far easier

It saves that strange hopping walking style when going through marshy ground. Accept the innevitable and stride through it manfully  

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