How to Keep Feet Dry While Hiking in the Rain

How to Keep Feet Dry While Hiking in The Rain

One of the most uncomfortable things that can happen when walking or hiking is ending up with soaking-wet feet. It can be vital to your overall experience to ensure your feet are kept well dry, so the last thing you need is wet shoes and socks.

Why is it important to keep your shoes dry?

Conditions such as trench foot and common athlete’s foot are among the issues caused by wet feet. In most cases having wet feet for a short period of time is not going to be an issue, apart from an uncomfortable feeling whilst walking. However, if you are perhaps hiking long distances or are somewhere without dry socks and shoes, it can become a more serious issue.

Long Distance Hiking

Choosing Waterproof Hiking Boots?

The first point to visit is the use of waterproof shoes. I’m sure if you are already a keen walker then you probably have some sort of hiking boot that will have a certain level of waterproofing built in. However, on long hikes shoes can get more and more saturated until the moisture eventually seeps in.

It’s difficult to find a happy medium for waterproof hiking boots as you want a breathable shoe, especially during long hikes but to have them fully waterproof also becomes tricky.


Gore-Tex offers the best waterproofing ability with the technology to allow your feet to breathe. The material guarantees to prevent water from penetrating through the material whilst moisture from sweat is able to escape. Gore-Tex is an expensive option for hiking boots so its best to evaluate what sort of use you are going to get from them.


If you’re looking for a more natural source of waterproof hiking boots then leather is also a good shout. Despite leather being naturally waterproof it is still recommended that you apply a waterproof treatment to the boot and ensure they are looked after well.

Nubuck Leather

The difference between normal leather and Nubuck is the processing of it. Nubuck is sanded on the outside layer of the skin. This side is tougher which helps it to repel water. The thing that puts most people off is the fact it might have more imperfections than other leathers, due to using the outer layer. Even so it’s a good choice for a waterproof boot when applied with a waterproofing. 

These materials are the best types for being waterproof however I would recommend checking customers’ reviews of your chosen boot. My own boots are made from Nubuck Leather which does a great job of repelling water. You can search by the different types of material and other variants at Go Outdoors. Click here for the latest range of waterproof walking boots at Regatta. 

Waterproof Shoes For Hiking

How to waterproof hiking boots?

Comfort is important so choose the boot that is going to best suit you and then increase the waterproofing yourself. Even if you choose a high standard of waterproof boot you should still maintain them with waterproofing as their own protection will soon deteriorate over time. Remember, this doesn’t apply to Gore-Tex hiking boots.

An important point to mention is to always follow the care instructions that come with your boots. It’s often the case that cleaning and waterproofing are done differently with different materials. It is also recommended that you do not use any waterproofing on Gore-Tex boots as it affects the breathability of the boot.

Clean your boots thoroughly beforehand and ensure there is no mud on the material. The best time to waterproof is to apply it whilst the boot is still wet, this way the treatment can soak into the material more easily.

Applying good-quality waterproofing is essential. If you apply something that is not up to the job then it will just disappear during your first long hike.


Dubbin Wax is ideal for leather boots and is commonly used to help them repel water whilst conditioning the look of the shoe. It’s not recommended to apply direct heat to leather boots as it dries them out and can cause cracking. The dubbing should be heated using a hairdryer and the boots kept in a warm area, this will allow the dubbing to be applied more easily.

Nubuck Leather

Its best to use spray waterproofing on Nubuck, this way the hiking boot will still be breathable. You must not apply dubbing wax to Nubuck as it can cause staining. Remember always follow the guidelines on caring for your specific boots, all good quality hiking boots come with a guide.


Again, spray-proofing is the most ideal option when waterproofing fabric hiking boots. Fabric can be harder to clean than the previous materials discussed. It’s certainly worth cleaning them as much as possible, a lot of high-quality brands suggest it pro longs the life of the boot.


Other Ways To Keep Your Feet Dry

Gaiters For Hiking In Wet Weather

If you want to add that extra bit of waterproofing to your shoes then use Gaiters. These handy portable covers go just around your ankles and tend to cover the areas where your boots will saturate. Of course, these are ideal if you come across some heavy rain or wet areas as they will help reduce to likely hood of wet feet. Gaiters tend to be a popular choice during snowy walks as they prevent the snow from working its way into your boot, especially when there is deep snow to walk in. There are usually handy attachment points like straps, so there is no possibility of them slipping off. Don’t forget to buy some good quality ones made from a waterproof and breathable material, just like when choosing your hiking boots. Amazon sells a range of walking accessories including all different types of walking gaiters. Click here to check them out. 

Waterproof Hiking Socks

If you want to lessen the chances of your feet getting wet even more, try using waterproof socks. There are many top brands now providing both waterproof and breathable socks. Dexshell Ultralight and SealSkinz produce some great waterproof socks. Just remember to always take a spare pair of socks with you and not rely solely on waterproof socks.

Tips and tricks

It might be fairly obvious but taking something to dry your boots out when you get a chance can come in handy. The only problem are you are unlikely to be able to take your hairdryer or plug-in heater with you so I found some tricks for drying your boots.

  • Many hikers use their sleeping bags to dry out their boots, but make sure you clean them well beforehand. Stuff them into the bottom area and let them dry overnight.
  • If your hiking boots are soaking and it’s a cold night put them in a plastic bag and put them in your sleeping bag, this way they won’t freeze.
  • Taking the laces out and the insole (if they have one) helps them to dry quicker.
  • Putting newspaper inside your boots overnight is a quick fix for helping to dry out your hiking boots.
  • Drying inserts can be used for a slow drying process, the benefit is that they are portable and can be taken on a long hike.

Waterproof Hiking


Hopefully, this article has given you a little insight into some simple ways to keep your feet dry while hiking. It’s always going to depend on how far you walk and the severity of the weather. Choosing a good pair of walking boots that are not only waterproof but comfortable to walk in is vital. Ankle Gaiters for hiking are very inexpensive and can help reduce the likely hood of water getting into your boots, which makes them something you certainly use.

Have a look at my walk to Red Lake on Dartmoor or check out some of the best walks in South Devon. There are also plenty of other great posts on the website. Happy Hiking

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Dean Lissaman

My name is Dean and I love to travel, especially when it comes to family. It's my goal to inspire others through writing about those places I've been. Everything I write about is taken from first-hand experience and knowledge. Being a keen dog owner I also share my knowledge over at, where I offer advice on getting out and about with your dog.

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