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Stream crossings

Morning , I've been at this backpacking stuff for a long time and always bristle at stream crossings . I am interested in any cleaver ideas for crossing without filling my boots with water ?  Traditionally I have just made certain that the top of my gaiters are nice and snug and then I carry a strong elastic with hoop/loop closures to bind the gaiter very tight around the boot lacings . This works pretty well and is certainly a lot faster than all the quick change solutions .  Are there any other thoughts ? 

8 Replies

If I am doing a route with a lot of stream crossings, i just wear tennies or something designed to get wet and slog on thru, but circumstances vary.  Be adaptable.....

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Ya made me smile . H2's are one of my all time favorites and I have literally worn out several pair. Perhaps this is the best solution . But you have to admit that it is a whole lot more convenient to tighten up the gaiters and keep on truck'n rather than carrying extra footwear . Then again I do carry my H2's as my camp shoes ,, sometimes .  Lighter moccasins are my favorite however for dinner time . 


Thanks for taking the time 

I carry a pair of light weight and fast drying plastic Crocs to slip into for stream crossings and to lounger around in once I make camp. When crossing a steam, I make sure my boots are TIGHLTY tied to my pack.

aka "Boonerelli"

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I second crocs. Super light, comfortable and pretty good stability. I always carry them, because even if I don't have stream crossings, I love kicking off my shoes and wearing them in camp. Only downside IMO is they are bulky. I strap them to the outside of my pack.

Hi Folks!

I own both Crocs and Keen styles as pictured below. Both will surely work for water crossing during a hike.

I love my Crocs and wear them more so than my Keens on a daily basis when out and about, however for stability walking over scattered rocks in a stream or through submersed rocky waters (even when implementing the Croc ankle blackstrap) the Keens provide more stability and tread for water crossing and part time trail use, based upon my experience. 





It is common for people to backpack in trail runners and just hike through water crossings relying on the fact that trail runners dry fairly quickly. Similarly backpackers often don't choose waterproof footwear because if these do get wet inside they are very slow to dry.

Beyond that, changing to sandals for a water crossing that will crest the waterproofness of your footwear is commonly done. Some go barefoot although I think it is not wise to risk the injury in the backcountry.  People who advocate it might claim the better grip makes the risk less for them.

I like to use light weight sandals I can hike in a little way to handle crossings that are close together.  For me that means a heel strap and toe strap rather than toe thong.  I've used basic Tevas and Xeros. H2's seem much too heavy to take.

While I can see gaiters preventing light splash over in shallow streams where the water is lower than the boot, I suspect they won't keep knee deep water out even if the gaiters are waterproof.  The boots that work for me currently happen to be waterproof so I would not risk getting them wet inside using that method in that circumstance.

I have worn short gaiters with mid boots and light weight gaiters with trail runners both on long day hikes and found them useful for keeping debris out of the shoe but a little annoying to manage.  Neither were waterproof and water crossings did not a feature in the hikes I wore them on.  With high top boots and long pants I did not find gaiters that useful for 3 season use. 




@Crash lots of good information already given. Depending on the weather/season and how large a crossing it is you may want gaiters, a water shoe (croc), or a light pair of waders. I'll focus on the last, as people have offered some good options for the first two. If there are a few longer crossings and it is in the late fall / winter, wiggy's waders might be a good option ( They are lightweight thigh-high waders. Some people like to put shoe-goo on the sole to give them a little more grip, but they are pretty popular:

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