footwear and river fording
hi ive not done much hiking in NZ and was wondering what type of footwear you would wear if you were to go on a hike that required river crossings compared to what you would normally bring i usually wear a a mid-boot preferably leather with gortex lining but i dont like the idea of crossing a river in a boot like that especially in winter so options i can think of is lightweight trail runners- porus but quick drying secondary small light shoes like plimsols just for river crossings non gtx boot?
there are often so many river crossings required in NZ and they often need decent footwear because of the rough river beds. we leave our main footwear on and often wear boots because trail runners arent stiff enough on rough rocky surfaces and don't last. you're often scuffing footwear against rocks and tree roots no tracks here and they can demolish running shoes pretty quickly. gore tex is a waste of time, it never dries out once its wet, its only good for keeping feet warm in the snow.
In winter your supposed fast drying boot won't dry, so you can forget about that. Can't vouch for this, but you could take out the insoles, cross, wring out socks, walk 200 metre, then wring out socks again, and put insoles back in. I'm assuming you bring fairly thick woollen socks, that should soak up a lot of water. I have met a DOC ranger who was wearing boots, but I don't think he took out his insoles, and just wrung out his socks a few times, according to him wet shoes weren't a big deal this way. Looked like they were goretex boots too.
in winter gore tex boots never dry, non gore tex are more likely to dry out esp if you're walking in them and not giving them a repeat soaking but gore tex stays wet without decent warmth while you're not wearing them, just sweating keeps them wet inside. i dont know why companies put out so many gore tex boots, whether gore tex are subsidising the cost of the boot, although gore tex is such a well promoted brand it can be easier to sell a product that has gore tex because people fall for the marketing.
I think gore tex boots are great. They work for a large variety of typical tramps. You guys are all tramping in Fiordland, but the rest of the country has bridges and less water :-)
Rivers, rain, knee deep muddy tracks. Feet get wet. I always have crocs in my pack for hut/camp wear. I never use them for river crossings. I just get wet feet. I find I get use to it really quick. Barely notice I have wet boots. It's part of the sadistic charm of tramping.
Ugh, one time early in my tramping career I went on a trip where we crossed the final river and then waited around in wet boots for a couple of hours for the vehicle arrived. It never occurred to me (or anyone else) to take my boots off. How I suffered - it must have been winter. Now I am fanatical about starting the day with a nice non-soggy boot and dry sock. Some folks stuff their boots with lots of jammed-in newspapers to soak up the excess water. I often unravel their discarded paper so the next party can use it to light the fire. As soon as I get to a hut, off come the boots (if wet). They get turned upside down to drain for a hour or so. The socks are wrung out effectively by a double plait twisting method (remembering most of my socks come from huts so don't cost me a bean). When the boots have stopped dripping, they are put high above the fire/woodstove to take advantage of the indirect warm air with the insoles removed. The rule with leather boots is to only have them close enough to a source of heat that you can hold your hand against comfortably. I often see boots closer than this but hold my counsel as some people will only learn things the hard way (like I did after drying my boots by the fire for 3 weeks on a traverse from Makarora to the head of the Dobson - that was their last trip). This trip I experimented with drying my wet plastic boot inner with a small heated rock placed inside at regular intervals. I believe it made a difference to the dryness. If the rock were too hot, it might affect the glue though. You can harden up and get used to chronically wet feet and boots like gaiters says. I had 54 days of wet boots in Fiordland. We just left the boots and socks outside in the rain. God, I was tough in those days...I also learned to cure athlete's foot with no medicants but htat's another topic!
For most of us 2 3 or 4 days wet feet is not going to cause an issue except comfort in those that care. Wet feet are more suseptical to blisters though so if you suffer from these dry feet might help. Much longer than this though and foot rot of various sorts can be a real issue. Thats why armys go to extreme lengths to keep feet dry. Just airing the feet at the end of the day can be enough for most people but not always
I dont have an issue with goretex linings - they seem to help my boots dry out a bit faster but then again I try to avoid major wet-feet trips. I have been on trips (for example the approach to Mt Tappy, involving about 80 creek crossings to get to the Hodder hut) where we used gym shoes to walk up the snowmelt creek, to keep our boots dry in the snow. Generally I would use other shoes (if I can be bothered carrying them, which I dont generally) for smaller crossings where you can see the bottom but its still a risk - especially if you are taking your boots into snow.
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