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#9801 - 01/03/11 08:03 AM Vapor barrier socks?
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
I am looking for recommendations on vapor barrier socks.

Here's a Google search showing several kinds.

I found after a half day of snowmobiling that my socks and liners were damp, and standing in snow, my feet began to get cold. I need to get a system that keeps things dry for an overnight trip.

I figured anyone who goes out on snowshoeing or x-c overnight expeditions may have this all figured out, but it is new for me. Suggestions and ideas are greatly appreciated.

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#9802 - 01/03/11 10:32 AM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: Steve C]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
Steve -

You don't need anything too expensive or complicated. Some of my friends use the veggie bags you get in a supermarket, or for slightly tougher ones - bread bags.

Use a wool sock liner first - my favorite are the SmartWool. Then the vapor barrier, then a good wool sock, and finally your boot. The barrier will cause your sock liner to become quite wet, but only up to a point. For reasons that aren't entirely clear (at least to me) most people's feet stop sweating after a certain point when using vapor liners. What IS important is that you put on dry socks socks in the evening - can't stress that enough. Otherwise, you run the risk of trench foot. If you're curious what that is - just Google it. Pictures of the condition are not for the faint of heart.

Of the Google search, this one is probably the best. Try to find the simplest/thinnest ones. You want to avoid excess material bunching up in your boot. I have a basic pair that I got many years ago from a company which doesn't exist any longer.

But first, I'd try the veggie bags/bread bags. Vapor liners are a bit of an acquired taste. Not everyone likes them.


Edited by KevinR (01/03/11 10:37 AM)

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#9805 - 01/03/11 11:30 AM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: KevinR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks for the help, Kevin. What do you think about those fleece-lined neoprene things? It sounds like they are meant to keep moisture OUT, but in snow travel conditions, might do the opposite, plus provide some insulation.

> Vapor liners are a bit of an acquired taste. Not everyone likes them.
Well, I'd like to avoid them, too, but the when the alternative is suffering frozen feet and even frostbite, it's a no-brainer.

I'd never heard of Trench Foot until last summer when my son's hiking partner on the PCT developed it after 5 days hiking through wet snow conditions just south of the Canadian border. He quit the hike and suffered with painful swollen feet for weeks!

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#9808 - 01/03/11 01:43 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: Steve C]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
Steve -

I just re-read your first post, and realized you were talking about keeping your feet warm while snowmobiling, and my reply was oriented to winter hiking. Those two have somewhat different needs to keep your feet warm. As a bit of background - my cold-weather experience comes from living in northern New England until a few years ago when we moved to the eastern Sierra.

The thickness of the vapor barrier is likely to have much less significance when you're snowmobiling, as your foot is mostly immobilized. When you're hiking, you want it as thin and unobtrusive as possible, or it can cause blisters.

What boot do you use snowmobiling? And do you use chemical foot warmers?

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#9815 - 01/03/11 03:44 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: KevinR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
I use Sorel boots like these: Sorel Bear boots



So you're right, I don't need to hike much. I'm more interested in the long-term keeping the vapor out of the felt liners, since that seems to be the big problem for an extended trip. The liners just plain get wet from my perspiration, I believe. Last winter's trip my feet nearly froze due to the moisture.

I think next time I go out, I'll use the cheap bread bags as an experiment. If the felt liners stay dry, then I might invest more $$ in something more substantial.

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#9817 - 01/03/11 04:01 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: Steve C]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
You've got a good start with those boots. I have a pair of Sorels also, although they're about 30 years older than those! Great boots, just won't wear out - just need to replace the felt liners once in awhile.

Speaking of felt liners - consider getting an additional felt insole, preferably one with reflective foil on one side. Put that in, foil side down. Hopefully, you won't make the boot too large to get the regular liners, plus your foot and sock (and a very thin breadbag). Assuming, of course, that the Sorels have removable liners.

Also - consider getting a backup pair of liners, and swapping them out in mid-afternoon.

And, don't overlook chemical footwarmers. The handwarmers will work, but they're a little thick and will cause your toes to curl a bit. Probably not a problem snowmobiling, but may throw you off if you use them hiking. If all else fails, you can get them in a ski shop. Don't put them next to your skin, though - they may burn it. Put AT LEAST one sock layer between you and the pad. And, it takes about an hour for them to come up to temp, so put them in while you can still feel your toes.

And, in way of emphasis - get a pair of SmartWool sock liners. A bit too warm for summer, but winter - they can make a HUGE difference.

And yes, I know a little something about cold feet. Among other things, I ran the main Killington (VT) chairlift on weekends/holidays when I was HS and later college vacations, and I once climbed Algonquin (NY ADK's) when it was -44F. That's not windchill - that was the still-air temp. And yes, I frostbit my toes, mainly my right foot. It's still sensitive.

Edit - you probably know this already, but ... besides a helmet, what are you wearing on your head & face? There's an old saying - if your feet are cold, put on a hat. Most of our heat loss is via our head.


Edited by KevinR (01/03/11 04:36 PM)

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#9818 - 01/03/11 04:06 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: KevinR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Yes, I'll be sure to use the hand/foot warmers. I used them in Michigan back in November, mountain biking. They really work great.

I have spare felt liners, so they WILL go along on the next overnighter.

And I can see you DO have some experience with cold feet!!!

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#10062 - 01/16/11 07:27 AM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: Steve C]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 432
Loc: Reno, Nevada
When I climbed Denali, one of the other clients was a dermatologist. He wanted volunteers to wipe one foot each night with alcohol, and put a special prescription antiperspirant on the other foot. He wanted to see whether the foot with the antiperspirant would be noticeably dryer or warmer. Everyone volunteered to participate. Nobody noticed much effect at lower elevations. When we got higher and several of us started wearing vapor-barrier socks, we immediately noticed a difference. I reported my one dry foot and used the antiperspirant on both feet after that. I don't know what that antiperspirant was, but it definitely worked.

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#10063 - 01/16/11 07:36 AM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: bobpickering]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
Bob -

Was the antiperspirant a cream or a stick?

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#10069 - 01/16/11 12:52 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: KevinR]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 432
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Kevin:

If I remember right, the antiperspirant was a clear liquid in an unmarked bottle.

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#10070 - 01/16/11 01:42 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: bobpickering]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
Thanks, Bob. I have friends whose feet sweat alot - not just in vapor barrriers - who put antiperspirant on their feet, and says it really helps reduce it. They used it mostly in cold weather. I guess there's no reason to believe the soles of our feet are that much different than our underarms in terms of antiperspirant.

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#10075 - 01/16/11 07:49 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: KevinR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Antiperspirant -- a good/new idea. I should try it. It is the ankle area, below the calves that perspire badly for me. At least in summer when I am working in dust -- as in digging in dirt -- I can see the perspiration literally rolling down my leg. ...of course I am sure my feet perspire, too.

I could probably just smear on a cream variety.

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#10133 - 01/19/11 07:42 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: Steve C]
JohnCurranLadd Offline


Registered: 01/19/11
Posts: 5
Loc: San Francisco, CA, USA
I've had some luck with SealSkinz socks worn at night to add some warmth. rarely wear them inside my boots, though
_________________________
John Ladd
often found at groups.yahoo.com/group/johnmuirtrail/ (former moderator there)

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#10144 - 01/19/11 10:32 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: JohnCurranLadd]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
John, thanks for the pointer to Sealskinz. They look like very interesting winter activity wear.

But I am wary -- (quoting this page) their "Middle layer: Waterproof MVT (Moisture Vapor Transpiration), allows perspiration to escape while not allowing water to penetrate" would subsequently allow vapor to collect in the outer insulating material of my boot.

Since I am trying to keep all perspiration INSIDE, so it does not reach the dry outer insulating felt material, I don't think Sealskinz would work for a multi-day snow trip.

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#10151 - 01/20/11 06:20 AM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: Steve C]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1033
Loc: Madison, WI
I'm going to try some of these - the ski boots I got for April are plastic, but they don't make any real attempt at keepin water out of the boot if you should cross a stream.

I actually need some over the (ski-)boot gaiters I think, and all I can find is made for arctic conditions... doh
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#10415 - 01/27/11 06:42 PM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: Steve C]
Norris Offline


Registered: 06/14/10
Posts: 22
Loc: Del Mar, CA
This is what I use and I highly recommend them: RBH Designs VaprThrm insulated socks
My feet do not get wet in them even if I don't use antiperspirant. Very warm.

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#11428 - 03/09/11 11:01 AM Re: Vapor barrier socks? [Re: Norris]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1033
Loc: Madison, WI
Originally Posted By: Norris
This is what I use and I highly recommend them: RBH Designs VaprThrm insulated socks
My feet do not get wet in them even if I don't use antiperspirant. Very warm.


exactly what I bought - will be testing them in the Sierra and on White Mountain in 2 weeks
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