Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

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Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by Dogan » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:30 pm

So I have a question that seems rarely, if ever, addressed here and elsewhere: How the hell do people keep boots well and truly dry in the field?

I've got a boot dryer and my everyday 8" NB boots live there when not on my feet, which is lovely. Thing is, I occasionally wear them for more or less 3 days at a time without access to a boot dryer, and even with daily sock changes the insides get... moist. Not wet from external causes, but from trapping sweat inside, where it works its way into the soles and inner linings. This is more than a minor annoyance, but in the long term it's a larger concern (Trench Foot and Athletes Foot anyone?), especially as this moist environment decreases the protective nature of socks especially from cold and friction, and the resultant cracking of skin in between toes represents a very real sanitary concern.

How the heck do people prevent this in the field? Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by woodsghost » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:44 pm

Change socks 4x a day. Wear wet socks on outside of pack.

Put news paper or cardboard in there at night.

Put cardbord with the ridges in there as a chimney and use a fire to cook the moisture out.

Use foot powder.

Stop and take breaks. Take your socks off and dry/rest your feet. I wave mine around in the air to get circulating air and remove more moisture. It looks ridiculous. Let your feet bake in the sun.

Bring flip-flops for camp.

Wear more synthetics on your feet (but they will stink!!!!).

That is what I can remember. The biggest things I have done is wear flip-flops more and change socks more often.
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by taipan821 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:03 pm

are we talking just sweat, rain or dunking boots?

personally, I use jungle boots because they breathe better than conventional all leather boots, downside is they let water in really easily, but thanks to large panels of fabric dry fairly quickly
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by Dogan » Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:36 pm

I'll try the quadruple sock changing, foot powder. I already keep flip flops in my pack and use them at night (sometimes bring highly breathable trail running shoes, but they have not water resistance whatsoever). Anything more uh, reusable than paper and cardboard for drying? They're stiff enough that when off the uppers will stay open and vent, but I'd rather not pack in newspaper and pack out wet sweat covered newspaper. Fires are not usually an option (high fire danger and prohibited open flame in dry season, and in the wet season, well I'd rather pack in my Svea123R and fuel than spend time looking for dry wood. Also not an option while on site at work). Synthetics as in nylon socks? I normally run cotton socks but have not had the same issue with wool, although wool is generally reserved for snow and ice conditions in my AO.
taipan821 wrote:are we talking just sweat, rain or dunking boots?

personally, I use jungle boots because they breathe better than conventional all leather boots, downside is they let water in really easily, but thanks to large panels of fabric dry fairly quickly
Sweat. And the boots do have "breathing panels," they just don't really work it seems.
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Last edited by Dogan on Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by MPMalloy » Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:53 pm

taipan821 wrote:are we talking just sweat, rain or dunking boots? personally, I use jungle boots because they breathe better than conventional all leather boots, downside is they let water in really easily, but thanks to large panels of fabric dry fairly quickly
I had jungles my whole entire time AD, & they are the way to go.

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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by woodsghost » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:21 pm

Dogan wrote:I'll try the quadruple sock changing, foot powder.
This can theoretically be done with 2 pairs. You wear one pair, then switch it out and dry the other pair. A survival manual mentioned putting the wet pair inside your shirt around your belly. The heat will dry the socks. Cody Lundin does something similar with tinder, so I'm sure it works. Other military manuals talk about drying them on the outside of your pack. I usually just carry 4 pairs of socks and then throw them in my sleeping bag to dry them out (or between two thin sleeping bags and you sleep inside both).
Dogan wrote: Anything more uh, reusable than paper and cardboard for drying?
When you find it, let me know. I'll take 6. :mrgreen:
Dogan wrote:Synthetics as in nylon socks?
Yup! Nylon. Acrylic. Spandex. Although you can get wool/nylon/other mixes. And I suspect you can get some space aged something or other with the UnderArmor logo on it.
Dogan wrote: I normally run cotton socks but have not had the same issue with wool, although wool is generally reserved for snow and ice conditions in my AO.
Cotton socks are usually bad juju. Cotton retains moisture like crazy. In a desert environment that is fine for your clothes, but not good for your feet. Canvas boots might help? It makes sense. Synthetics will lose moisture faster than anything, but pick up odors and hold on to them. I think there is silver impergnated stuff that helps reduce odors, but I have not looked too closely at actual effectiveness. Wool is about the best compromise. I have some Darn Tough socks that are great in the summer and pretty good in the winter. I have Wiggys I like for most seasons too. I have been using both brands for over 5 years. Smartwool socks have earned a very good reputation, or so I seem to hear.

Bamboo socks are something to look at. I have read a lot of good things about their moisture management and natural fibers are always more stink resistant.

Sock liners are great for reducing blisters. Pantyhose worn inside the sock does a great job at leaving a slim profile in the boot but reducing friction and blisters, even with increased moisture build-up. I need to "borrow" some of my wife's pantyhose (something calf-length) and try that trick out. I"ve not actually tested that one but I keep running into it from BTDT types. They also sell purpose made sock liners. I've used silk socks, bamboo socks, nylon purpose made liners, and dress socks.
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:45 pm

In my experience, water resistant boots, even those with Gore-Tex socks, do more to keep moisture in. As previously mentioned wear synthetic socks and especially synthetic sock liners. If you are in a hot climate, I have actually found synthetic dress socks the kind sold for $15 I half dozen in Costco work pretty well. I have use them running around in Boy Scout camp in July when it is hot and humid. Consider changing out your socks halfway through the days hike. And as mentioned before clip them to the back of your pack to dry and air out.

Between hikes, go metro-sexual and get a mani-pedi done, pay the extra for a paraffin bath; you will think you were issued a new set of hands. This is also good for controlling calluses on your feet and extending the life of your socks.
Last edited by Evan the Diplomat on Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by LowKey » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:41 pm

Wool socks of the appropriate weight for your season and climate. Yes, even hot summers...just go with lighter wool.
Good quality jungle boots with canvas (not nylon) panels worked nicely for me, even winters as I was wearing the wool socks I mentioned above.

Polish the leather regularly. Don't go with flesh out leather, it soaks up moisture like a sponge.

Change socks every time you stop moving.

Take your boots off and wear your camp shoes/sandals/flip flops at every opportunity in order to give both you boots and your feet to dry out.

Wash your feet and use foot powder as often as you can.

Wear gaiters.

Expose your feet (the soles and between the toes) to sunlight as much as you can during breaks (UV kills many fungi).
Try to orient your empty boots to get the most sunlight inside of them as you can. Unlace them and pull the tongue out as far as you can to open the boot as much as possible.

....and just accept the fact that water is going to get into you boots when it's wet out. The trick is to dry stuff out as quickly as you can manage. Air flow is a good thing.
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by woodsghost » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:56 pm

These articles caught my eye and I thought of this thread. The Army is coming out with new jungle boots.

http://kitup.military.com/2017/03/jungl ... -boot.html

And a bit of background and talking about the whats and whys.

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016 ... -year.html
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by LowKey » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:19 pm

woodsghost wrote:These articles caught my eye and I thought of this thread. The Army is coming out with new jungle boots.

http://kitup.military.com/2017/03/jungl ... -boot.html

And a bit of background and talking about the whats and whys.

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016 ... -year.html
Hmmph.
I never had a problem with the steel sheet in the OD Jungle boots causing an issue with temperature, hot or cold, and I wore them through Spring, Summer, Fall, and as far into Winter as I could manage before someone higher up got on my case for wearing them out of season (often mid December before they noticed).

As to the "holes get clogged with mud" issue....no shit. Mud does that, and if they make the holes large enough that the mud doesn't clog them you're going to get critters crawling in through the holes. Do what everyone else did...scrape the damn mud off from time to time.

Also, I think they'll be hard pressed to find a better insole for a jungle boot that the ones that were in the Vietnam era OD boots.
Really, they just need to bring them back, and not those crappy Black Nylon POS.
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by SCBrian » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:11 pm

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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by ManInBlack316 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:17 pm

Didn't see it mentioned yet, but I could have missed it. If possible, bring two pairs of boots.
Not always an option, but it works great if you can leave a pair at camp, switching boots every day.

There was a time in the National Guard, we were at Camp Blanding during a wetter than usual season and boots were soaked no matter what you did. So we did most of what was already mentioned. I even took plastic bags and put my feet inside of them inside of my boots to fight against the moisture, this was a very temporary solution, that thankfully didn't cause any damage to my feet.
A good second pair of boots would have been awesome, I only brought a second pair that didn't fit me right at the time unfortunately.
We did treat a guy with borderline trench foot, nasty stuff. Take care of your feet.

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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by MPMalloy » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:29 pm

ManInBlack316 wrote:Didn't see it mentioned yet, but I could have missed it. If possible, bring two pairs of boots. Not always an option, but it works great if you can leave a pair at camp, switching boots every day.

There was a time in the National Guard, we were at Camp Blanding during a wetter than usual season and boots were soaked no matter what you did. So we did most of what was already mentioned. I even took plastic bags and put my feet inside of them inside of my boots to fight against the moisture, this was a very temporary solution, that thankfully didn't cause any damage to my feet.
A good second pair of boots would have been awesome, I only brought a second pair that didn't fit me right at the time unfortunately.
We did treat a guy with borderline trench foot, nasty stuff. Take care of your feet.
As a former light infantry medic, I could not +1 this enough. Problems with your feet can be crippling. Take good care of your feet, ZSers.

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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by LowKey » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:41 am

MPMalloy wrote:
ManInBlack316 wrote:Didn't see it mentioned yet, but I could have missed it. If possible, bring two pairs of boots. Not always an option, but it works great if you can leave a pair at camp, switching boots every day.

There was a time in the National Guard, we were at Camp Blanding during a wetter than usual season and boots were soaked no matter what you did. So we did most of what was already mentioned. I even took plastic bags and put my feet inside of them inside of my boots to fight against the moisture, this was a very temporary solution, that thankfully didn't cause any damage to my feet.
A good second pair of boots would have been awesome, I only brought a second pair that didn't fit me right at the time unfortunately.
We did treat a guy with borderline trench foot, nasty stuff. Take care of your feet.
As a former light infantry medic, I could not +1 this enough. Problems with your feet can be crippling. Take good care of your feet, ZSers.
While I've never tried this out personally, long ago I was told by some old timers that if you knew you would be unlikely to be able to change boots or put on dryer socks that you could coat your feet liberally with medicated Vaseline(esp between the toes), then put on a pair of wool socks, then a bread bag, followed by another pair of wool socks. They said the Vaseline would keep your perspiration off the skin of your feet and it would be mostly absorbed by the 1st wool sock, and that the 2nd wool sock would help keep you warm and prevent tearing of the bread bag.

I dunno, but sounds like it might work. Messy though.
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Re: Moist avoidance, or keeping boots dry in the field.

Post by Hiroshima_Morphine » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:57 am

Dogan wrote:So I have a question that seems rarely, if ever, addressed here and elsewhere: How the hell do people keep boots well and truly dry in the field?

I've got a boot dryer and my everyday 8" NB boots live there when not on my feet, which is lovely. Thing is, I occasionally wear them for more or less 3 days at a time without access to a boot dryer, and even with daily sock changes the insides get... moist. Not wet from external causes, but from trapping sweat inside, where it works its way into the soles and inner linings. This is more than a minor annoyance, but in the long term it's a larger concern (Trench Foot and Athletes Foot anyone?), especially as this moist environment decreases the protective nature of socks especially from cold and friction, and the resultant cracking of skin in between toes represents a very real sanitary concern.

How the heck do people prevent this in the field? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Stupid side note: Trench Foot is mentioned in the TV show Hell on Wheels (set in the late 1860s- early 1870s), but the term wasn't coined until World War I-

Anyway, I have nothing useful to add but I did learn. So thanks for starting the conversation, Dogan.
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