I have never used any kind of VBL. They are supposed to work well in really cold weather to prevent sleeping bags, etc. from getting loaded up with moisture from your body which will turn to ice within the bag or jacket, but I've never been out long enough in really cold weather to have that happen.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
Do vapor barrier socks work? I love them. I have been happy in a pair of rbh designs VaprThrm socks to 0F inside a pair of uninsulated gore-tex trail runners. I wear the rbh directly against the skin because they are comfortable that way. When I have used less comfortable socks (link plastic or mylar bags), I have used the thinnest liner I could find.
As to whether to wear heavier socks over them.. that would depend on how much insulation you need. Keep in mind though that you don't want to be pinching you feet... too much pressure effects blood flow which is a great way to make it hard to keep feet warm.
I went on a hike recently, on a nice trail with 3" of snow in trail runners, it was about -5C and sunny. I had thin wool socks, and a second pair and a thicker pair to change into. Here was my dilemna...
If I wore thin socks, I didn't get too cold but the snow still melted like crazy on my trail runners, and they seemed to hold alot of water and not want to dry out at all under those conditions. Once my trail runners were wet they held enough water to instantly saturate both of my dry pair when I put them on, and then I conducted enough heat to keep them wet. If I had worn thicker wool socks from the beginning I think that might have kept the snow from melting on my trail runners, but my feet would have sweated and gotten wet that way. Still that might have been preferable. I could have hiked in shorts to compensate for the thick socks.
Still, if the trail runners were not so darned absorbant, and in a cold when wet way not in a warm when wet way, I think I would have been able to hike alot more comfortably and change socks when I wanted without it being a total waste. Vapor barrier socks would have allowed me to change my socks effectively, but they wouldn't have kept the snow from melting on my trail runners unless I wore thicker socks than I needed to. I think what I really need is trail runners that don't absorb water.
I think I'm going to make something out of deerskin or mooseskin that I can dry with a fire when I need to, and that I can make as breathable or non-absorbing as I need to with beeswax or whatever. I would like trail runner soles though. I might tear apart my trail runners glue the soles onto a pair of ankle high moccassins.
... or I could find a pair of trail runners that don't hold so much water in non-drying conditions.
yup. they are exactly that - just when you make a pair out of scrap silnylon they last longer <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
How often do you need to seam seal them? I heard the seams on VBL socks in particular need to be sealed often, or the moisture leaks out in your shoe.
I did when I made them, but I didn't have any silnet so it was kind of a more rubbery version of silicon cut with white gas. realisticly, a little moisture you really won't notice. most of it happily stews my feet like a wet suit. mind you I've made my pair and maybe had them out for 3 seasons, 2-3 trips per winter. I don't wear them in the summer or anything remotely like it. last time I used them they were still just fine.
Thanks for those tips phat. I will do the scrap sylnylon thing for sure but you got me thinking now I might also try experimenting with stuff like beeswax and lanolin and thin socks, in an extra large size for over my wool socks.
hmm.. unless your beeswax/lanonlin'ed sock can be used to carry water - I think it's probably not the best vapor barrier. - will probably only serve to make your feet smell like either honey, or a wet sheep..
So come to think of it - if you try it - go for the beeswax <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />