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#103900 - 09/29/08 07:26 PM Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp
khanti Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 21
Loc: NE Wisconsin
I've been reading through the archives here and elsewhere trying to resolve a footwear problem and still have questions. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance! I just moved back north (NE Wisconsin) from the south after being away for many years. So, now that I'm back in the Northwoods, and seeing as I love the cold weather, I went winter camping with some friends a few times this past winter and really enjoyed myself. It's a totally different experience than fair-weather hiking and one that I instantly fell in love with. But ... I had foot problems both times. the rest of my gear worked out great, but my feet were consistently uncomfortable.

First trip: Had insulated hiking boots (North Face something or others... crap). Worked fine during the day, hiking on packed show, etc, but at night around camp (temps between -10F and +10F) my feet froze. I also made the rookie mistake of taking boots off at night and not having removable liners (which the boots didn't even have) in my bag such that the boots were blocks of ice come morning.

Second trip: Sold off the NF boots on Ebay... and dug out my 15+yo Sorel's with felt liners. This solved the problem of cold feet in the morning (also with temps around 0*F), but even they were a little chilly at night. Could probably solve this with neoprene socks and/or another sock layer, but the real problem is that I was too HOT in them during the day hiking/showshoeing about in +10-20 temps.

It seems I can't win. But I'm not yet defeated... Some things I'm considering. Pros and cons from what I've read so far. If anyone has further pros/cons, I'm all ears!

Option 1: Cheap water-proof insulated boots, such as found at Cabelas, etc (for colder days) or trail runners (for warmer days) during the day and then NEOS overboots over them at night. Pros: adjustable warmth, relatively cheap. Cons: stability in overboots, no removable liner for warmth come morning.

Option 2: Steger Mukluks. nuff said. Too warm, maybe, for during the day? Though, it seems everyone wants them, but no one posts reviews after owning them. Anyone here own them? Can you speak to how they work when active during the day and inactive at night? Would you go for the Arctic or Yukon lacing systems? etc. Con: PRICE

Option 3: Two pairs of shoes?? Something lighter for the day and something moon-boot like for night/morning, I guess.

I'm not a ultra-running hard-cardio kinda guy. I just enjoy being outside, so when I say active, that's light hiking, showshoeing, etc. Not out to get a real workout, just covering some ground and enjoying being outdoors. But still, maybe I'm asking the impossible: a totally flexible, -30 to +30 winter footwear system that works whether I'm hiking or sitting around camp. oh and it has to weigh next to nothing ... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

TIA

-Ken

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#103901 - 09/29/08 08:27 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: khanti]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I have done a couple of trips to Yosemite in winter, plus a couple of day trips.

I've worn Sorels with the removeable liners while snowshoeing and b/c ski boots-Atomics on one trip and Garmont Excursions with removeable liners on another. On each trip, I took a pair of SD down booties for sitting around at night or very short trips around camp.

Since I am on skis, ski boots are a given. For me the Garmonts worked best. Setting that aside, if I was hiking or snowshoeing, I'd use an insulated boot of some kind and a down or synthetic bootie around camp.

At night I have Patagonia expedition weight socks, too which are very warm.

I've also been looking at the Steger Mukluks, but you need really cold weather for those to work well since they really aren't waterproof-no tramping through puddles. Like you, I don't know anyone who has a pair.

I'm not sure what everyone else here has; Jim has Sorels and some homemade booties, if I remember right; Eric has ski boots and maybe booties; not sure what Steve has; Rick, Phat and Jak are Canadians and are out in really cold weather (-30C) and I can't remember what they wear either, so hopefully they will come along and remind me.

ps. Forget about weighing next to nothing-not going to happen. Booties aren't all that much, but real insulated boots are heavy.


Edited by TomD (09/29/08 08:29 PM)

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#103902 - 09/30/08 05:19 AM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: TomD]
khanti Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 21
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Thanks for the info. The down bootie was an option I hadn't considered. In fact, I didn't know such a thing existed! Could fill the 'moon-boot' role in by third option...

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#103903 - 09/30/08 09:29 AM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: khanti]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
There are down booties and synthetic booties. A number of companies make them. Some have nylon shells, some have something more substantial.

If you look at the sponsors (top of page), you should find various versions of them on their sites.
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#103904 - 09/30/08 12:42 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: khanti]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada


I hump around the boonies in the winter. I use one of two things:

1) a pair of leather hiking boots, nicely waterproofed, (raichle's) with good wool socks and liner socks, coupled with a full gore-tex gaiter

2) A pair of kamik insulated snow boots, felt liners - much like your sorels. again with liner socks
and woolies, but possibly also a vapour barrier sock.


There I differ from you. I also do the following:

1) when wearing sorels/felt lined boots unless I know I can dry the felt liners, I wear a silnylon sock inside my boot in the winter over my liner socks. The purpose of this is to keep my foot moisture out of the felt. It saves me having wet boots from perspiration. otherwise it's impossible for me to do this.I've used plastic bags for the same purpose. just look up "vapour barrier sock" and you can find something to buy.

2) for in camp (in tent) I have an old pair of MEC *synthetic* booties. I change into dry socks, pull the perspired in ones off and dry them, (fire, or hot tent, back of neck, etc.) and put on my booties.
if I was using conventional boots and thick socks, I open up the boots to dry a bit too.. but they'll
deal the way they are. If I'm using kamiks I pull the liners to dry them. Truth be told I could
use down booties, but I like not having to worry about the down getting wet, and the weight
difference isn't that much.

If I know I have heat at night (hot tent, etc) it's easier.
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#103905 - 09/30/08 10:08 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: phat]
bmisf Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 629
There's a fantastic article (multi-part series) on this at backpackinglight.com, though it's probably in the subscription area. One of the best articles I've seen, with lots of good recommendations exactly along the lines of what you're looking for.

Combining insulated overboots like those from Forty Below with trail runners and optional tyvek overboots makes for a really flexible system.

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#103906 - 10/01/08 12:26 AM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: bmisf]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Steve, What did you wear snowshoeing at Yosemite? I can't remember. The idea of trail runners and overboots just makes my feet cold thinking about it.

I'm thinking ski boots, mukluks and my booties this season.
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#103907 - 10/01/08 07:48 AM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: TomD]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

insulated overboots and tyvek on trailrunners... hmm....

well, I would never say "no way" till I saw it.. but it sounds strange and hinkey to me <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I'm starting to like real nice trailrunners, but can't see any way to make 'em work well int 20 below <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
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Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#103908 - 10/01/08 06:26 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: phat]
khanti Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 21
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Thanks again for the feedback, folks! I just bought a newer/warmer pair of Sorels (the Alpha Trac, lace up version) and a set of synthetic MEC booties. We'll see how these treat me this winter.

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#103909 - 10/01/08 07:11 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: TomD]
bmisf Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 629
Quote:
Steve, What did you wear snowshoeing at Yosemite? I can't remember. The idea of trail runners and overboots just makes my feet cold thinking about it.

I'm thinking ski boots, mukluks and my booties this season.


Actually, I think I just wore waterproof breathable trail runners and warm socks with gaiters on that trip. It was actually quite warm (in the 20s and 30s).

In Yellowstone earlier this year, where temperatures got down to -14 our first night, I wore trail runners with neoprene top covers from Crescent Moon. I tried them without the neoprene covers one day and was indeed too cold - but with them I was quite comfortable. That setup, combined with Crescent Moon Magnesium 9 snowshoes I was testing, was perfect for those conditions, and very lightweight and maneuverable. The only bad thing was that some condensation formed inside the shoes - the covers seal them up a bit too well. I had to be careful to dry out my socks at night, and next time would use a VBL sock inside the trail runners.

Mukluks are good where the snow isn't too wet, though I'm not sure they have enough structure to work well with some of today's ratcheting snowshoe bindings (they are great with softer bindings and old-style lacing).

I always bring down booties with removable WPB covers to wear around camp. My current ones are from Feathered Friends, and while I like them (especially the removable covers), they don't have enough structure or a grippy sole to make them safe to walk in on icy snow kitchen "floors" or other slippery surfaces. I combined them with oversized Crocs a few times last winter, and that worked pretty well, though it adds weight and bulk to the pack.

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#103910 - 10/02/08 08:31 AM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: khanti]
alanwenker Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 812
http://www.cookecustomsewing.com/mukluks.htm

These are warm and light and will dry reasonably quickly. You may wish to wear a pair of running shoes inside for support. However I did notice they are out of stock until spring, although some regional shops may have some in stock (I noticed you're from Wisconsin and the mukluks are made in Minnesota). Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis may have them in stock, the large outfitter in Madison may have them in stock - can't remember the name, but they run the large canoe expo in the spring.

My guess the reason for the lack of supply is Dan had a knee replacement and had to cut back production for a short time.

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#103911 - 10/02/08 02:24 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: bmisf]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Thanks, I will have to look at those. I would only be wearing the mukluks as camp boots. If I could find some kind of overboot for my booties, that might work better-something to keep them dry since they are just nylon and give them some rigidity and grip while padding around camp.
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Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#103912 - 10/02/08 04:04 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: alanwenker]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada


ooooh.. those look nice! like a cross between a sorel and a bootie!
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#103913 - 10/02/08 04:51 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: phat]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
No matter what, my feet get cold. Until last winters early Spring trip. Even with good down booties, my feet still get cold. I put some of those chemical packs on the bottom of my stockened feet, then back into the booties and was toasty for the first time ever. They have a light adhesive that sticks to your socks and give off heat for six hours or so.

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#103914 - 10/02/08 09:43 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: hikerduane]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Duane, Heat Factory makes an insole licensed from Superfeet that takes a small heat pack about the size of a business card that fits in a slot under the ball of your foot. It lasts about 6 hours. I've used them a couple of times in ski boots.

Those Cooke mukluks do look good. Unlike the Stegers, which look very traditional, they are waterproof, which is nice.
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#103915 - 10/03/08 08:15 AM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: TomD]
alanwenker Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 812
The Cooke products are very nice and Dan is a super guy. Dan used to sell a removable fleece liner for the mukluks, I'm not certain if he still does. Mine have this and I like it, not so much for during the day, but mainly at night in camp.

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#103916 - 10/04/08 07:30 PM Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp Hmm. [Re: TomD]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
Take a look at Ccabela's catalog (no, I don't own their stock) and look at Rocky SnowStalkers. They have a removable EVA foam inner liner. They are the only Rocky winter boots that have a liner. This liner is very important for two or three reasons.

1. the liner must first be duct taped over the "breathing holes", making it a vapor barrier to keep the Thinsulate insulation dry. This is CRITICALLY important. Like felt pacs, a vapor barrier liner keeps insulation dry and your feet warm.

2. The liner is removed from the boot at night & kept (or worn) in the sleeping bag so it is WARM in the morning when you put on those freezing cold boots.

3. (optional) you can wear the liners in a pair of camp booties for added warmth.

Don't like these boots? Get a pair you like and buy thin neoprene socks for VB liners. I use 'em for felt pacs.

Eric


Edited by 300winmag (10/04/08 07:33 PM)
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#103917 - 10/04/08 10:24 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: alanwenker]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Alan, I think they have that liner. I saw mention of it on his website.
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#103918 - 10/05/08 01:05 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: khanti]
thecook Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 541
Loc: Minnesota
I have a pair of Steiger mukluks and love them! My wife wears hers all winter. The advantage of having Steiger's is that since they are not waterproof, they breathe. Mine are black with canvas uppers. When I have to replace them, I'll go with brown bottoms and white canvas uppers, the black heats up to much in the sun and has some problems with snow melting on them. Although I use the older TD91 wing bindings, several of the guys I go winter camping with have ratcheting bindings and have no problems with their mukluks. If it is really cold out, I still use the chemical heat packs. I am particularly partial to the toe ones that stick to your sock. However, I'm camping right along the north shore of Lake Superior so it gets pretty cold. Hope this helps.

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#103919 - 10/05/08 03:07 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: thecook]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Cook-how did you size yours? I know from the website, there seems to be two ways to do it, depending on how much insulation you want in it. Which way did you go? I just measured my foot using their guide and I actually would wear a woman's size 8 since the smallest man's size is way bigger than my foot. Don't think that matters; they seem to all look alike.

ps. I presume it's cold enough where you are so not being waterproof isn't an issue. Here in CA, a lot of the time, there is snow on the ground, but the temps are so warm people are skiing or snowshoeing in t-shirts. I see they have some kind of waterproofing spray on the website.


Edited by TomD (10/05/08 03:10 PM)
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#103920 - 10/05/08 07:27 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: TomD]
thecook Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 541
Loc: Minnesota
I followed their sizing chart, called the company for confirmation and then ordered the wide width, thinking that I would fill the space with a liner and a THICK wool sock. (My feet get cold easily when I am out all day <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> ) I really did not need the extra space as my feet stay warm in just a pair of smart wool socks with the mukluks. Yes, they sell waterproofing spray which is effective in cold weather but I would not try to wear mukluks in slushy snow. They really are only for below freezing, and preferably teens or lower, temps.

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#103921 - 10/06/08 12:42 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: TomD]
alanwenker Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 812
If I recall the sizing is dependent on whether you want to double up on insulation. Stegers are great, but if you are somewhere that the snow is slushy they may not be a good choice. In the Snow Walkers Companion, Garrett Connover suggested using inexpensive rubber over-boots on slushy days. However the Connovers live in Maine and likely do not run into wet snow all that often. I'd love to accidentally trash all my winter footwear to have an excuse to buy a pair of Steger's.

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#103922 - 10/06/08 01:10 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: alanwenker]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
II'd love to accidentally trash all my winter footwear to have an excuse to buy a pair of Steger's.


Be careful what you wish for. Last time I wished similar things I ended up with 2 inches of raw sewage in my basement. The granting of said wishes is not all it's cracked up to be. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#103923 - 10/06/08 05:12 PM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: thecook]
khanti Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 21
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Very good to know. I may yet get a pair.

USPS attempted to deliver by MEC booties today,but I wasn't home. Looking forward to trying them out.

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#103924 - 10/09/08 09:17 AM Re: Footwear for Backcountry Winter Showshoe/Camp [Re: khanti]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Has anyone made their own mukluks? I know that my Boy Scout Field Book (serca 1990's) showed how to make some.
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