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Looking for advice on hiking shoes for wet terrain.

I have always been a mountain backpacker, the AT & New Mexico/Colorado.  I now live in Florida and would like to section hike the Florida Trail ( still doing AT).  It is a whole lotta different, because of the wet terrain, when you can hike (Dec to April).  So I am looking for recommendations for hiking shoes and socks.  Thanks in advance.

1 Reply

@Chief1 thanks for reaching out!

Given your experience backpacking, you are likely pretty well versed in the fit of boots. If you'd like a deeper dive or discussion about your feet and how certain brands or boots may fit, we highly recommend a virtual outfitting appointment with one of our footwear experts. They can connect with you one-on-one and talk through any specific questions or issues you may be having. 

In terms of boots or shoes that would work for the Florida Trail, it sounds like you've got some swamp and deep stream crossings in your future. Given that it is almost inevitable that your feet will get wet, lots of folks are now simply embracing that fact and going with a breathable shoe/boot that they can 'hike dry' after exiting said water feature. The trick is having a pair of 'wet' socks that you wear when you are hiking (that hopefully are able to dry out as you hike) and a pair of 'dry' socks that you put on when you get to camp to help keep your feet warm. For socks, you will definitely want to go with a non-cotton, moisture wicking sock. Personally, I love wool socks in all conditions (warm or cold), like the REI Co-op Merino Wool Lightweight Hiking Quarter Socks, Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Mini socks, or Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew socks. There are many other great synthetic blend sock options to choose from as well. If you are interested, you can check out this conversation, Socks...waterproof socks and footwear choices, that shows just how divided folks are on how to deal with wet shoes and boots.

We also have a good conversation, Hiking shoes - waterproof vs non waterproof, that has good arguments for a breathable shoe/boot in wet conditions as opposed to a waterproof shoe/boot. The waterproof barrier in a boot that helps keep water out will also help keep water in if water comes up over your ankle. Boots that come up to your ankle and wearing gaiters can help keep water out of your boots for a while, but any time you're wading through deep streams and rivers, or navigating a swamp you might be better off using a breathable shoe or boot. What kind of boots are you using now?

Lastly, we're going to tag a few of our resident Floridians here to see if they have some input about footwear choices on the Florida Trail: @KimBottom  @UnicornsRMyJam  @dshawcross  @apmallard  @Skippersfarm @Florida @forrestgump @Hikes_in_Rain anyone care to weigh in with some advice here? Additionally, @FloridaTrailAssoc is a member of our community, perhaps they have some thoughts they could share!

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

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