As a hiker, you know the importance of keeping your feet comfortable and protected.
Wet boots can lead to blisters and other foot problems, so it’s important to ensure they are properly dried out after each hike.
This guide will show you how to dry hiking boots using several methods to keep your feet healthy on the next hike.
Why is it important to dry hiking boots?
It’s no secret that proper foot care is essential for hikers.
Wet, muddy boots can quickly lead to many foot problems on the trail.
- Blister: The most common hiking injury is blisters. When your boots are wet, they can rub against your skin and cause blisters.
- Athlete’s foot: This fungal infection thrives in warm, damp environments. If you don’t dry your boots properly, you may be more susceptible to this condition.
- Trench foot: This condition is caused by exposure to cold, wet conditions for extended periods. It can lead to numbness, tingling, and eventually tissue death.
Many hikers don’t realize that it’s just as important to dry their boots properly after a hike.
Failing to do so can cause the same problems as wet boots – not to mention that wet shoes can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus.
Drying your boots properly after each hike will help prevent these and other foot problems.
Tip: A good hiking boot stays dry longer than cheap versions. You will find a complete hiking boot buying guide in my other blog article.
Why are boots so hard to dry out?
We’ve all been there.
You finish a hike, and your boots are soaked.
Whether it’s from crossing creeks or slogging through mud, your boots are left saturated with water.
And even if you try to air them out overnight, they’re still stubbornly damp the next day.
So why is it so hard to dry out boots?
The answer has to do with the materials they’re made from.
Boots are typically made of leather or synthetic materials, which absorb water.
Once your boots are wet, getting all the moisture out can be difficult.
Leather, in particular, is especially difficult to dry out.
This is because the pores in leather absorb water, making it difficult for the boot to breathe and dry out properly.
If you don’t take care of your boots, this can lead to the leather cracking and eventually falling apart.
Synthetic materials are also not immune to this problem.
While they don’t absorb water the way leather does, they can still retain moisture.
This is why it’s so important to take care of your boots and make sure they are properly dried out after each hike.
How to Dry Hiking Boots on the Trail
To have an enjoyable hiking experience, it’s important to have well-maintained hiking boots.
To dry your boots quickly on the trail, follow these simple tips.
- Setting Appropriate Expectations: The first step is to set appropriate expectations. It’s important to remember that it will take time for your boots to dry out completely.
- Remove the Laces and Liners: The third step is to remove the laces and liners from your boots. This will allow air to circulate more freely around your boots and help them dry out faster.
- Clean Your Boots: The next step is to clean your boots. This will help remove any mud, dirt, or debris trapping moisture in your boots.
- Stuff Your Boots: The fourth step is to stuff your boots with newspaper or another absorbent material. This will help draw the moisture out of your boots more quickly.
- Hang them up: You should hang your boots upside down so that the water can drip out more easily.
Whether you’re experienced or just starting in the great outdoors, properly caring for your gear is key – including knowing how quickly (and effectively) you can dry those pesky wet hiking boots, so they’re good as new for your next hike!
Tip: If you have a way to make a fire, heat a few stones (preferably in boiling water) and put them in the hiking boot with the help of a stick. Just make sure that the stones are not too hot when heated directly on the fire.
If you want to play it safe, put the stones in your socks beforehand to save your shoes.
How to dry your boots overnight?
One of the realities of hiking is that you’ll get your boots wet at some point.
Whether crossing a stream, stepping in a puddle, or just dew on the grass, your boots will eventually get wet.
And if you don’t take precautions, they’ll stay wet for a long time.
I’ll show you how to dry your boots overnight so you can be back on the trail as soon as possible.
1. Remove the insole if possible
Removing the insole first (if possible) speeds up the drying process by allowing air to circulate freely around the boot.
If you can’t remove the insole, stuff newspaper or another absorbent material into the boot to help draw out the moisture.
But you should only stuff the absorbing material after you clean your hiking boots.
So let’s move on to the cleaning stage.
2. Take out the laces
The next step is to take out the laces.
This will help air circulate more freely around the hiking boot and speed up the drying process.
It’s also a good idea to clean the laces while you’re at it.
You can do this by hand or machine washing them on a delicate cycle.
Just make sure to let them air dry completely before putting them back in your boots.
3. Clean the boots
After removing the laces and insoles, it’s time to clean your hiking boots.
This is an important step because it will help remove any mud, dirt, or debris that could be trapping moisture in your boots.
You can use a boot brush or a damp cloth to wipe them down.
Take care to clean all the nooks and crannies, like the tongue and around the laces.
Once you’ve removed all the visible dirt, it’s time to move on to the next step.
4. Using newspaper or kitchen roll
We all have newspaper or kitchen rolls at home, so this step is easy!
All you need to do is stuff your boots with newspaper or kitchen roll.
This will help draw the moisture out of your boots more quickly.
Check the material after a few hours.
If the shoe was too wet, it might be necessary to change the newspaper and kitchen paper.
By doing so, you’ll somewhat speed up the process and prevent bacteria from forming.
5. Using cat litter or rice in a sock
Another easy and effective way to dry your boots is to use cat litter or rice in a sock.
Put the cat litter or rice in a sock and tie it off.
Then, put the sock in each boot and leave them overnight.
The cat litter or rice will absorb the moisture from your boots, leaving them dry by morning.
Make sure you close the sock well; otherwise, it will make a big mess – I use a simple rubber band.
Tip: Make sure to use a clean sock for each boot, so you don’t transfer any moisture from one boot to the other.
6. Using a towel
If you don’t have a newspaper, a kitchen roll, cat litter, or rice, you can use a towel.
Put a towel in each boot and leave them overnight.
The towel will absorb the moisture from your boots, leaving them dry by morning.
Just make sure to use a dry towel for each boot.
7. Using a boot dryer
If you have a boot dryer, you can use it to dry your boots overnight.
Put your boots on the dryer and turn it on.
The dryer will circulate warm air around your boots, helping to remove the moisture quickly.
Boot dryers are a great option if you’re in a hurry to get your boots dried out.
Unfortunately, this option is only possible at home.
Don’t expose hiking boots to high heat
One way to damage hiking boots is to expose them to high heat.
I’ll discuss the dangers of exposing hiking boots to high heat.
Damages the bonding
Heat can damage the bonding, causing the sole to separate from the boot.
It can also cause the materials to break down, making them less waterproof and breathable.
So, if you’re going to use a boot dryer, make sure it’s on the low or medium setting.
You should also avoid putting your boots near a fire or heat source.
Damages the stitching
The stitching of your boots is important because it holds the materials together.
Heat can damage the stitching of your boots, causing them to come undone.
Damages leather and other materials
Hiking boots are made of different materials, including leather, nylon, and Gore-Tex.
- Leather is a natural material that can be damaged by high heat.
- Nylon is a synthetic material that can also be damaged by high heat.
- Gore-Tex is a waterproof and breathable fabric that can be damaged by high heat.
You should avoid putting your boots near a fire or heat source.
Remember: The best way to dry your boots is to let them air dry at room temperature.
Hiking boot storage tips
Hiking boots take a beating on the trails.
They get muddy, wet, and covered in dust.
When they’re not being used, they need to be stored properly to keep them in good condition.
Here are some tips for storing hiking boots:
- Store them in a cool, dry place.
- If possible, store them in their original box.
- Fill them with newspaper or kitchen roll to help absorb moisture.
- Place them on a boot rack or shelf to keep them off the floor.
- Don’t store them near a heat source.
- Don’t store them in direct sunlight.
- Don’t store them in a humid place.
By following these tips, you can extend the life of your hiking boots and keep them in good condition for years to come.
Tip: For more practical tips on hiking and your safety on the trails, check out my blog.