Is there a way to dry the shoes out when they get wet? I am referring to situations specially when I can not hang them out to dry.
Consider a situation wherein I am trekking in the night, and I need to cross a stream and then I know that I am not gonna walk much through wet places (mud, grass lands, etc), but I am gonna walk for sure. So is there a way to dry them out faster? So that I don't get blisters. Had this been a daytime I could simply hang them out in the sun for a while when I plan to have lunch or rest for half an hour or so..

  • 2
    Some of the answers in outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/5648/… might be useful. Commented May 15, 2014 at 11:43
  • 5
    Take your shoes off when crossing the stream? I usually take special sandals (Teva) for fording, then hang those outside my backpack to dry as I continue hiking.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 15:04
  • 2
    Yeah, cross the stream in sandals. There's an adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Commented May 15, 2014 at 21:08
  • How about wearing waterproof socks? In that case your feet would remain dry.
    – Neeku
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 0:44

6 Answers 6


Consider whether you really need to have dry shoes before going thru all the trouble. In the winter, wet footwear can be a serious problem. However, when it's warm out there is really no danger from wet shoes. The only issue may be that you simply don't like the feel of it.

In situations where its warm enough and there is no real danger from wet shoes, keeping the shoes dry is not necessarily the best answer. Here in New England, trails regularly have wet areas when they aren't frozen. The way I often deal with this is to decide up front that I simply don't care if my shoes get wet. It's actually quite liberating to not worry about it. It makes getting thru wet areas and crossing stream much easier.

There are a few things that help make this work, mostly being the right shoes and the right socks. I use shoes with cloth uppers that therefore breath easily, and fairly thick wool socks. Thick wool socks versus thin cotton or other synthetic make a huge difference. With this setup it's really not uncomfortable at all to walk in wet shoes. You don't get that sloppy squishy feeling, and I've never gotten blisters or felt any rubbing due to the wetness.

On the plus side, you feel much freer to just walk around anywhere. You stop worrying about getting wet, finding ways around large puddles in the middle of the trail, when the beavers have flooded the road with 2 inches of water, crossing streams, etc. All around it makes for more enjoyable hiking.

I know this may sound somewhat unintuitive, but give it a try before just assuming this makes no sense for you.

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    When I've tried this, the result has been blisters. Wet skin is softer than dry skin.
    – user2169
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 17:20
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    @Ben: Make sure to use thick wool socks, that's important. Commented May 16, 2014 at 18:08
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    I second this. One of the trails I frequent in the summer has almost 30 stream/river crossings in about 7 miles. It's not worth it to change shoes that many times so I use trail runners that drain easily instead of boots. And merino socks are essential. Never had any blisters this way either.
    – montane
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 3:07

Here are some ideas:

  • Bring spare river crossing footwear
  • Use hiking sandals (e.g. chacos) as your main footwear
  • Use quick drying shoes instead of big boots
  • Use a small towel to remove excess water by pressing on it against the sole of your shoe (repeat until no water can be drawn)
  • Bring a spare pair of socks (wool is often prefered) to keep your feet dry; rotate them as they dry outside your pack

You could also make a fire and try not to burn your footwear while drying it. You could use a hot rock to warm and dry the inside. Your mileage may very with this; I personally wouldn't consider this an option unless a pre-existing fire is already available.

In addition, I would be more concerned to have my feet wet over a longer period of time.


First of all, this is why I DON'T prefer boots...at all. Sometimes you gotta' wear them though. Sometimes, for logouts, snow trekking, etc...boots are just mandatory. Boots hold an unbelievable amount of water; it annoys me to no end. Gore-Tex and the like are no better in practical applications.

Drying footwear is a problem because of these two items:

  1. Drying footwear too fast or too hot will ruin leather boots and some shoe adhesives.
  2. Drying boots can be an all night effort, often with mixed results.

What I have done in the past with boots is start a campfire then place the boots at about a 45 degree incline so the foot hole is aiming as much towards the fire as possible. I actually experimented with this for a few weeks on a trip through rain and snow and I found the fire will dry waterlogged boots in several hours, but only to about 60-70% dry factor.

Another option I have used, primarily with running shoes which hold a lot less water; I stuff a shammy or a towel deep down into the shoe. The towel will suck out the water from a running or hiking shoe pretty well..boots not so much but it does work. Shammys are pretty light weight, maybe try them and see how you do.

Note: Do NOT dry boots too close to a hot fire or your boots will be even more water prone each night!

I will concur with the people who recommend fording streams etc.: consider barefoot, sandals, or alternative shoes to ford in. Do not wear your Gore Tex boots into a stream thinking they are waterproof. Contrary to what you were told on the box, they really are not...well...not when you get in over the tops or they are broken in..there just is no real way to get a dry pair of boots across a stream reliably, in winter. Just not worth it.


Stuffing newspapers into wet shoes does wonders while keeping the shape of the shoes. If you, like the suggestions above, you add mild heat the shoes will be dry overnight- even heavy waterproof boots.


For the night, open your boots completely (remove soles), have them upright and throw in iron oxide -based hand warmers. They'll heat up to some 70°C/160°F and your boots will be dry by the morning. 10 pairs of hand warmers should cost less than 10 bucks and they weight close to nothing.


A small computer fan, taped to a short piece of perforated vacuum-cleaner-type hose, blowing into any boot, will generally dry it out overnight. Commercial ski boot dryers work this way. No heat. Small 5v computer fans can even be rigged off battery power.

But I generally bring some flip-flops for campsite wear and switch into these (or go barefoot) before crossing streams. Getting boots wet isn't worth the risk.

  • Considering a 0.12A fan, 4x1.2V, 2000mAh rechargeable batteries, you should get about 15 hours, not that bad (please disregard my previous comment)
    – njzk2
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 18:07

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