This weekend I was reminded of a great tip to help get your boots dry quicker when they get wet. I was hiking with some friends who were doing a three day hike.
It was quite a task they were undertaking to hike the 80 miles of the Wicklow Way in Ireland over three days. I couldn't go along for the whole weekend and only joined them on one of the days, day two.
I think I did about 27 miles with them that day and I was exhausted at the end of just the one day! They had done about the same the previous day and would do the difference on the third day. A great achievement and pretty tough going!
The main reason I mention this was that day one for them started in a day of torrential rain. Not a nice way to start 🙁 The only plus side was that it is Summer so at least it wasn't freezing cold although still not exactly warm on open mountains.
Needless to say, their gear, after eight hours hiking in heavy rain, got very, very wet. They of course then had the challenge of getting all their gear dry by the following morning of day two to be able to start out in dry clothes.
We were chatting about it the following day and that is where I thought a post on some tips on how to dry your hiking boots as quickly as possible would be useful.
This is only really relevant for any kind of multi-day hike where you get your boots wet but need to use them the following day. Ideally, you don't want to be putting on a wet pair of boots when you set out the following day, so anything you can do to help them dry quicker is a good thing.
So here are a few suggestions that should help you dry your boots as quickly as possible.
Clean your Boots as Soon as you Remove Them
Regardless of whether your hiking Boots are wet and dirty, the first step is to clean them as soon as you take them off. This can be a pain to do when you're tired after hiking all day long but it I strongly advise it. There's more detail on tips on how to clean your hiking boots here.
Of course cleaning your boots may not be your top priority if you're out camping over a multi-day hike but definitely the first port of call when you're done.
However, even if you are camping out, if you can get a splash of water over them at the end of the day, it will do them no harm at all.
Remove the Insole
If you have a removable insole, take it out of your hiking boots. This will let air get into the insole itself and to circulate in and around the boot itself. Most good hiking boots will have a removable insole so this should be feasible in most cases.
Remove the Laces
Now, this is something I have to be honest and say I have never really done but it is an option if your boots are saturated wet. It shouldn't have a major effect on the overall boot drying process but it will do no harm either. At the very least, give them a good loosening.
Put Your Boots in a Cool Room
Now, first off I should state that sometimes this isn't practical. When I go away on weekend hiking trips, many times I will stay in a guest house, hotel or bed and breakfast.
In situations like that, where I need to use my boots the following day, most of these types of places will have a warm room of some kind like a hot press or a boiler room. If not a specific room they may have a warm living room with an open fire that you can utilize to help dry your boots. Obviously, if I need my hiking boots the next day, a cool room isn't going to do the trick! In those instances, I utilize a warm room if available ... but ...
Warning: be careful putting hiking boots too close to a direct heat source or in too hot a room as it will damage them!
Now, you're just confused huh 🙂
Well, let me explain. In the normal run of things, ideally you want to avoid a direct heat source and if possible use a cool room to dry your hiking boots. To help illustrate this, if you are out on a day hike and you have a whole week to dry your boots, leaving them in a cool room (room temperature is fine) to dry naturally over a longer time is the best option.
However, if you need to get out on the trail again the next day, you may need to utilize a heat source in some form to try and speed the process up. I hope that makes sense!
Of course, when you're on a multi day hiking trip, the luxuries of a nice guest house may not always be on the cards so this may not always be an option. For example, if you're backpacking through the wilderness you might have to get a bit more creative.
In this instance, if you get the opportunity to, utilize the sun and air as much as possible. That is, if you can get a break in the weather and there is some direct sunlight providing some element of suitable heat and / or a warm breeze, leave your boots out in it to help them dry out. Don't leave them in the sun for too long though!
If you have a camp fire at night, the natural tendency is to put your boots beside it. I don't recommend this. The same warning above re: a direct heat source very much applies here so be careful. Even sitting with your boots on close to a camp fire for an extended period could cause them problems so be very mindful of the distance you put your boots close to one even when wearing them. Too close and it will mess with the glue bonding and possibly even melt parts of your boots! Nightmare 🙁
As stated above, ideally, in normal circumstances, after you've cleaned your boots down, if you can, leave your hiking boots at room temperature or a bit cooler to dry naturally. This will help ensure that the stitching of the boots don't get put under too much stress in the drying process. This is especially relevant for leather boots which have a tendency to crack if you don't look after them properly.
If you have leather hiking boots use some kind of leather treatment after each use, and then let them dry in their own time in a cooler room. This will greatly help extend the life and length of use you get out of them
Put Newspaper Inside your Boots
This is a neat little tip that works pretty well. One of the problems you have when drying hiking boots is that they need to get dry on the inside as much as on the outside, in fact more-so on the inside.
This process can take a long time letting them dry from the outside in only. Part of the reason is that the moisture within the boots hasn't got as many places to immediately escape to so it continues to circulate within the insides of the boots.
If you can, get your hands on some newspaper. Take a page and crumple it up into a loose enough ball, making a tear here or there is great too. Fill your boots up with news paper balls like this and leave them to dry.
This expedites the drying process as the paper takes in all the moisture from inside he hiking boots that had nowhere else to go. When done, just take the paper out and hopefully your boots are nice and dry inside as well as outside.
You may need to add several balls of newspaper, simply replace with dry newspaper when the bits inside your boots get damp and moist. Be careful not to scrunch the newspaper too tight though, it needs air flowing around it to work it's magic 😉
I've used this several times and it's a handy little thing to do that works a charm.
These are just a few quick tips to help you dry wet hiking boots when they inevitably get very wet on the trail. It's never ideal than starting your day's hiking in a pair of wet or damp hiking boots.
Putting a dry sock and foot into a wet or damp boot is not an ideal way to begin so anything you can do to expedite the drying process has to be a good thing!
If you're just starting out hiking and you're just at the point of buying boots, never mind cleaning and drying them, and you're unsure what type of hiking boots you should get, check out the hiking boot buying guide and my hiking boot recommendations. That should get you started on the road to finding the best hiking boots for you.
I find hiking to be a continual learning experience for me and I am certain there are other little tips and tricks that one can do to help speed up the boot drying process. Do you have any nuggets of wisdom to help dry your hiking boots quicker? Please do share them in the comments below 🙂
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