How Do I Keep My Feet Dry While Hiking in the Rain?

Wet feet are every hiker’s nightmare. To begin with, walking in wet shoes is uncomfortable, which means that it ends up slowing you down. This means that you will end up covering less ground as compared to what you would averagely cover within a stipulated amount of time. 

Secondly, when a hiker’s feet remain wet for a long time, they are at more risk of suffering from blisters because the outer layer of their skin absorbs humidity and softens up. 

How to keep your feet dry while hiking in the rain or snow:

  1. Wear a pair of wool socks
  2. Put a gallon-size Ziploc plastic bag around your foot
  3. Put another pair of wool socks over the Ziploc bag
  4. Put your hiking shoes

Another reason why wet feet are bad news is that the moisture can cause the skin to lose its natural oils, making it prone to cracking and peeling.

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Hikers try as much as they can to keep their feet dry. There exist several ways to do this, but the reality is that there is no guaranteed method of keeping feet completely dry, especially when hiking in the rain.

Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

Apart from rainfall, a hiker’s feet are likely to get wet from many other outdoor elements. For instance, when you encounter a stream or river that crosses the path you are following during the course of the hike, you will most probably have to get your feet wet.

Moisture also comes from the feet themselves in the form of sweat. Hiking requires closed shoes because you need to be prepared for both easy and challenging terrain. 

Hiking with open shoes can be a bad idea because you might encounter dangerous insects and spiky vegetation that could hurt your feet. Open shoes could also get caught in the grass or plants that surround the path causing you to trip and fall. 

Closed hiking shoes enclose the feet to keep them safe. The shoes, however, also lock in moisture and make your feet wet.

With all these factors at play, hikers have a hard time avoiding wet feet when hiking. The only thing they can do is to minimize the wetness and choose gear that helps their feet to dry after becoming wet quickly.

This article shares tips that you can use to deal with wetness on your next hiking trip. Dry feet make a happy hiker, which means that you will derive more joy from your hike by putting these tips into practice.

Tips to keep feet dry when hiking in the rain

Dry feet will ensure you enjoy hiking more. The comfort that comes with hiking on dry feet leaves you less exhausted at the end of the hike. You will also have more time to enjoy the outdoor environment when your feet are dry instead of worrying about slipping and hurting yourself when hiking with wet feet. 

When it rains during the hike, your feet will more likely than not get wet. Being prepared for such a situation and knowing how to deal with the wetness can make all the difference in your hike.

First, your choice of shoes is undoubtedly one of the essential aspects you have to consider when hiking in the rain. It is imperative to take a breathable pair of shoes with you when heading out on a hiking excursion. Breathable shoes are lightweight, which means that they will allow you to cover more ground without your feet getting too tired. 

Photo by Nick Scheerbart on Unsplash

The breathable shoes also allow airflow in and out, which allows your feet to cool off by sweating while also limiting moisture buildup within the shoes. 

Waterproof shoes are an excellent idea when you have to cross a stream or puddle. Should water get inside them accidentally, however, then you are in trouble because it is hard to get rid of the moisture inside. To prevent water from getting in the shoes, pair your waterproof shoes with gaiters.

You can also combine the breathable pair of shoes with a pair of socks that does not harm your feet even when wet to protect your feet when hiking in the rain. 

Merino wool socks are a good choice when heading out on a hike because they dry quickly after getting wet. They are also breathable, which means that your feet will remain comfortable even when the socks are wet. 

Taking more than one pair of socks is also a great idea because you can immediately wear the backup pair after the first pair gets too wet to walk in. You can try to protect your feet further by adding powder and antibiotic foot cream to reduce friction between your foot and the sock’s surface.

The pair of pants you choose to wear for the hike should also be long enough to go over the top edge of your shoes. While a pair of shorts is great when hiking in dry and sunny weather, it will not do much to prevent rainwater from getting inside your shoes when hiking in a heavy storm. 

A long pair of hiking pants, preferably with a flared bottom, prevents water from getting inside your shoes even when it rains.

One more tip that works great to prevent moisture and sweat buildup in your shoes during a hike is taking frequent breaks. 

Whenever possible, remove your hiking shoes and let them air out during the break. Frequent breaks also help you replenish your body strength by taking a quick meal, thus enabling you to have enough grit to hike for the entire day.

Why it’s important to keep your feet dry when hiking?

Dry feet make a happy hiker. You can also cover more ground with dry feet than you would with wet feet. This is because when hiking with dry feet, you do not have to worry about your feet slipping while inside the slippery shoes.

When feet stay in soggy conditions for a long time, they might even develop serious health issues. History books recorded a situation where hours in wet conditions caused soldiers’ feet to develop a fungus that resulted in a trench foot condition during World War 1. 

The condition resulted in some soldiers even losing their feet. Luckily, a hiker who goes out to the hiking trail occasionally is safe from developing such disorders. However, hikers who hike regularly should avoid keeping their feet in soggy conditions for a long time.

Wet feet also rob the skin of its protective layer on the outmost part of the skin and make the feet prone to blistering. Moreover, when feet stay in soggy shoes for too long, they could start forming hard patches that crack with time. 

Another risk of hiking with wet feet is the possibility of your feet developing nerve and tissue damage.

How to dry your feet in camp

After hiking in the rain, you will probably have some wetness in the shoes to deal with. 

Even after following all the tips outlined above, having dry feet after hiking is still challenging. Failure to deal with the moisture at the end of the hike can bring about complications, especially for the seasoned hiker who is out hiking every other weekend.

When you get to the camping destination at the end of the hike, the first thing you should do is remove the shoes and socks you had on during the hike.

Next, you should ensure that you clean the feet with water to remove any sweat that might have built up within the sock and shoes. Clean water works fine on its own, but you can also use soap together with the water. 

Remember to rinse the feet afterward with plenty of water if you use soap. Wipe the feet dry with a towel if you carried one. If you don’t have one, you can let them dry by themselves.

Finally, you can apply a layer of ointment to the feet’ bottom after they have completely dried out. The lotion helps moisturize the feet and acts as a sealant that prevents the skin from cracking and cracking. Ensure that the feet are completely dry before you apply any moisturizing ointment or cream.

Don’t forget to dry out the shoes too. Many shoes have removable insoles that allow them to dry faster. An extra tip is to open the shoelaces if your shoes have any. Open shoes will allow more airflow and will dry quicker. The socks that you were wearing will also need drying. If you still have an extra pair with you, then you can wear them right away.

Wear waterproof hiking boots

Waterproof boots are a great way to keep water and moisture from getting to your feet. The boots should be long enough to cover the area above the ankles. When worn with long pants, the boots leave no gap between the pants’ edge and the boots’ top edge. 

Waterproof boots also have a thick sole that resists cracks and perforations after stepping on spiky and thorny vegetation. This allows you to walk through puddles that may form during a rainy day without worrying about water seeping into your shoes from the bottom.

When choosing hiking boots, ensure that they feel comfortable and fit snug on your feet. Well-fitting boots should leave some room for you to wiggle your toes. However, they should not leave too much space that they come off from your feet as you walk. 

Moreover, consider boots that give you enough ankle support that enables you to walk comfortably when hiking while carrying heavy gear in your backpack.

Alternative methods

Besides the tips above, below are some more ways to keep your feet dry when hiking in rainy weather:

First, always pay attention to your feet and take breaks anytime you feel that the socks have started to feel soggy. Prevention is better than cure when it comes to blisters. 

Frequent breaks during your hike can slow you down, but that is the best way to avoid hurting your feet. When planning a schedule for the hiking day, remember to account for the time you will spend breaking.

Another trick is to trim your toenails before a hike. It might not seem like much, but freshly trimmed toenails can make a big difference in your hiking experience. Long toenails might be uncomfortable when you have hiking boots on your feet the entire day. Shorter toenails also safeguard your socks and prevent them from tearing.

Pack more than one pair of socks for your hike. Having multiple pairs of socks means you will have a pair to change into when one becomes soggy.

Use gaiters to prevent water from reaching inside your shoes. The gaiters fit tightly around your leg and go over the hiking boots’ top edge, which prevents even the small water droplets from settling in your shoes.

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