You might have an upcoming hiking trip where the forecast calls for rain. Hiking in the rain and keeping your feet dry might seem like a big challenge. So what can you do to help keep your feet dry in the rain so you can think about the trail and not your soggy wet feet?
When I started hiking I was caught unprepared when the storm clouds came out of nowhere and heavy rain started to fall. My shoes were soaked and my socks were done for. Ever since that day there have been a number of things I have done to help prepare me and never experience soaked hiking boots again.
If you want to keep your feet dry when hiking in the rain then you can wear waterproof hiking shoes and protect your feet with merino wool socks. Waterproof hiking shoes will keep the water out and merino wool socks will keep your feet insulated and warm.
Below we will go over things you can do before you step foot on the trail, what gear you can buy to help keep your feet dry, and what to do if despite all of your efforts your hiking shoes still end up wet.
What should I wear to keep my feet dry on hikes?
First let’s start off with what not to wear and common items people start with that will cause many issues. When I first started hiking I was definitely wearing the wrong type of shoes and socks. The first thing you want to do is avoid wearing cotton socks and regular running shoes if you expect there to be rain. Cotton is one of the worst materials to get wet as it soaks up the water and does not dry quickly. Your running shoes are likely designed to be used on dry pavement or on a gym treadmill, far away from the rain. If you are wondering if its worth switching to hiking boots, check out our detailed post here.Those shoes are not designed to get wet.
The problem with this combination is that since both do not dry quickly you will be hiking with completely soaked shoes your entire hike. Having completely wet socks and shoes will potentially lead to blisters on your feet as your wet feet are continuously being rubbed as you take each step on the trail. This will be very painful the day of your hike and the days to follow, so try to avoid this.
The first thing I wish someone told me to upgrade would have been to buy some waterproof hiking shoes and wool socks. While these aren’t completely waterproof, they will help your feet stay much more protected and you will have a way better experience hiking. The following sections will go into more details to help keep your feet dry while hiking.
What socks should I wear to hike in the rain?
If you are expecting rain on the trail or even snow, the type of socks you definitely want to buy are merino wool socks. Merino wool socks have many benefits which include great insulation, foot protection, and they dry quickly. Merino wool socks are my go-to sock type and are highly recommended in the industry. I have been wearing merino wool socks for years for hiking in the rain, snow, and extreme heat with great results on my past hiking trips.
One of the best benefits of wool socks is that they provide fantastic insulation. You can choose between thin wool socks to very thick socks depending on the weather you expect. The thicker the material you choose the warmer your feet will feel. This will prevent your feet from freezing in downpours and during the winter. For summer months you also have the option to buy thinner wool socks that provide more breathability and the other great benefits wool socks provide.
The next benefit of wool socks is that you can opt for pairs with more cushioning. The cushioning will help with blister prevention and shock absorption as you make your way across varying terrain.
If you are expecting rain and your socks unfortunately end up wet then wool socks are the best pair of socks you want to have on as they dry the quickest out of all materials. If your socks end up soaked then your best option is to change your socks if possible and let the wet pair dry out.
Although no sock materials will keep your feet dry, merino wool socks offer the best benefits as you hike in the rain and if your socks do end up wet. Socks help protect your feet from the inside out, but the next layer of protection is what protects the outermost layer of your feet. Buying the right hiking shoes makes all the difference when it comes to keeping your feet dry while hiking in the rain.
What shoes should I wear to hike in the rain?
If you’ve ever been on a hike and tried to avoid puddles like the plague or maybe even kept worrying about keeping your feet dry from light rain, just know there are hiking shoes you can buy that will keep your feet completely dry. You can buy men’s Gore-Tex shoes or women’s Gore-Tex shoes. These shoes are designed to keep your feet completely dry regardless of the terrain or weather, however there are a few trade-offs.
What are the trade-offs of waterproof hiking shoes?
Waterproofing technology for hiking shoes has come a long way. Waterproof shoes will have various patented names such as Gore-Tex or Merrel’s DRY, but they all produce pretty similar results. While waterproof boots will keep your feet dry, the things they sacrifice will be breathability, weight, and cost.
In order for waterproof boots to keep water out of the shoe, they all have a membrane to prevent water from getting in, which also limits the amount of airflow to your feet. Although some waterproof shoes claim to have breathability, they aren’t as breathable as non-waterproof shoes, especially in warmer weather.
Another tradeoff for waterproof hiking shoes is that they will be heavier than their non-waterproof counterparts due to the added water membrane. If you are trying to go ultralight than this is something you should definitely consider. If you aren’t trying to shave off ever ounce, then weight shouldn’t be that large of a consideration as the difference is just a few ounces.
The last major tradeoff of waterproof hiking boots is that they cost more. Due to the added technology in these hiking shoes, manufactures will charge on average about $30-$50 per pair.
What should I do if my feet get wet from hiking in the rain?
If you buy waterproof hiking shoes and merino wool socks and your feet still end up soaked from the rain then there are a few things you can do so you can continue hiking safely and comfortably. Your feet can still get wet if water is entering from the top of the boots.
If you want water to roll off the base of your legs and ankles then something you can buy are gaiters. Gaiters will prevent water or snow from entering the top of your boots. This will drastically help keep your feet dry. Check out affordable gaiters on Amazon.
If your socks are completely soaked then the next thing you should do is change into a new pair of wool socks. This will help your feet from becoming soaked which may cause blisters since your feet are softened from the water. From there you can ring out your soaked socks and place them in your pack so they can dry. This will allow you to continue your hike and keep your feet comfortable.
Drying Your Hiking Shoes
If your boots are completely soaked then once you reach camp or your destination then the first thing you want to do is shake out your boots for any excess water. If the weather calls for rain for the next few days then you have no choice but to continue hiking with wet boots as they likely will not dry. If however you are lucky and there is sun then you have a chance to dry your hiking shoes. Place your shoes upside down at a slant so that water can run downwards and out of the opening of your shoe.
Waterproof boots and merino wool shoes are your best bet, but they are not 100% waterproof and will possibly become wet. The best thing to do is just be open to getting wet feet while in the rain and your hike will be much more relaxing. However, wearing waterproof hiking boots and wool socks will greatly increase the odds of your feet staying completely dry. There have only been a handful of times where I wore those items and my feet still got wet because the downpour was excessive and over a long period of time. Enjoy your hike out in the rain!