How to Dry your Boots

Wet boots mean cold feet, very cold feet and in the Arctic, dangerously cold feet.

In this post, we will go through a few options on how to dry your boots.

Your feet tend to sweat no matter what the temperature and this introduces moisture into your boots over time.  In the snow, I find that no matter what I do to seal off the top of my boots, snow tends to get in which my body heat melts.  I am first alerted to this by my feet getting cold.

When you are able to get back to a heated cabin, you have a range of options to dry those boots before you have to go back out again.

It is very important that you look after your boots, without them you are in big trouble.

Do not put your boots on or very close to a fire, wood stove of radiator.  Drying boots too fast and too hot damages the leather which can cause it to crack.  Once that happens, they will never be waterproof again.

If the boots have rubber in them, that rubber can melt and even shrink, this means that the boots tighten and in some cases, shrink to the point that you can no longer fit your feet inside!

I was told a story by Lars Falt in which he and a team of fellow Northmen were traversing Northern Sweden by Nordic Ski, it was very cold, -30 c and below, they all had wet boots so at night when they went to bed, they all put their boots by the fire to dry.  During the night, they worked in shifts to keep the fire going while the others slept.  The person on fire watch was supposed to keep an eye on the boots and move them back if they needed it.  In the morning, they all got up and went to put their boots on but they had all shrunk!.

So there they were in the middle of the frozen north unable to put any boots on.  They had to cut the toe off each boot so that they could cram their feet in and wrap the outside with whatever spare clothing that they had.

I laughed at this most amusing scenario but Lars had still not got to the point where he could see the funny side of this pretty serious situation.  They could all have got frostbite and lost their feet.

Do not be the guy who gets frost bit, trench foot or severe pain from having freezing feet.

Dry your boots as a matter of high priority, before you do anything else.

In a heated cabin, I prefer to tie the boot laces of both boots together in a normal shoe lace knot and simply hang them up near the roof of the cabin.  The roof is where all of the hot can be found and there is plenty of space for the air to move freely.  They will usually be dry in no time.

If the boots are particularly wet on the inside, take out the inner’s and put them somewhere warm to dry out.

Another option is to get some paper towels, newspaper or kitchen roll and screw them up into balls and stuff those inside the boots.  This will draw the moisture out and again, they will be dry in no time.

A somewhat more risky option is to light a tealight or other small candle and drop it inside.  The candle flame will generate heat inside the boot and also draw air inside to help drive the moisture out.  This can be problematic is the flame touches the inside of the boot or if you get wax inside.  This technique does work outside though so is a good bit of knowledge to keep in your mental tool kit.

If you are not in a heated cabin or are sleeping outside, your body heat is likely to be the best option.  Brush off the snow and put your boots inside some kind of bag such as your sleeping bag bag (the bag that you stuff your sleeping bag into for storage).  Take that into your sleeping bag with you, your body heat will help to dry it out overnight while you sleep.


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