Hiking in wet boots can be uncomfortable and tarnish a good hike. Wet boots may start to rub, which can lead to blisters. You should always have dry boots before a hike, but they can take quite a long time to dry completely. This leaves many wondering if there are faster ways to dry hiking boots.
The 7 ways to dry hiking boots quickly are:
- Stuff boots with absorbent material
- Use a fan
- Try a boot dryer
- Hand warmers
- Soak up with rice
- Wrap in a towel
- Campfire for outdoor drying
Hiking boots are designed to tolerate anything the great outdoors may throw at them. However, using your boots after a wet hike is no fun and the drying process can be tedious. In this article we look at why hiking boots take so long to dry and offer tips for drying them more quickly when needed.
How Long Does It Take Hiking Boots To Dry?
How long hiking boots take to dry depends on how wet they became on your hike. A well-sodden pair of hiking boots can take up to a week to fully dry out when left in a cool, dry environment with good ventilation. The best way to let hiking boots dry is gradually.
Drying gradually is best for when you have plenty of time before your next planned hike. You should always clean off any mud from your boots before leaving them to dry. Mud means an extra layer on your boots which lead to more drying time. Mud left on drying boots can also result in permanent stains.
You should use an old towel to soak up any excess moisture. You can then remove the laces and the insoles if possible. With the laces, you can squeeze out any excess water before hanging them up to dry in a suitable location where they are exposed to fresh air. Removing the laces from the boots will help them dry faster.
Similarly, removing the insoles and hanging them up will help them dry quicker too. Not only does it help the insoles dry faster, but it will also allow for greater air circulation within the boot for a quicker drying time.
If you are on a multi-day hike or staying away from home for an extended period, the gradual approach to drying your boots will not be ideal. We will discuss ways to dry your hiking boots faster a little later, but first it is useful to appreciate why hiking boots can take so long to dry.
Why Is It Hard To Dry Out Hiking Boots?
It is hard to dry out hiking boots because of the materials used. They are designed to offer protection for your feet from both the terrain and the elements. The materials used are durable and water resistant – ideal for hiking – but also the reason hiking boots can take a long time to dry out.
Hiking boots are made from various materials including leather, suede, rubber, and synthetic materials such as polyester. The uppers of hiking boots are usually constructed from heavy materials to protect your feet, and this is one of the reasons they take longer to dry. They can also be constructed with multiple layers, with the inner layers taking even longer to dry.
One of the key functions of hiking boots is to keep the feet dry, therefore the waterproof properties mean they absorb more water than most types of shoes or boots. This is another reason why hiking boots require longer drying times compared to other forms of footwear.
How Quickly Can You Dry Out Hiking Boots?
You may be able to dry out your hiking boots within a couple hours up to overnight depending on how wet the boots are and which method you use. With a specialized boot dryer, you could even have your boots dry within a couple of hours.
Although allowing your hiking boots to dry gradually is the best approach, there are times when this is not convenient. When hiking on consecutive days and your boots are wet from the first day, you will want to find a quicker way to dry your boots.
The one thing you should avoid when quick-drying boots is placing them too close to any form of direct heat. This could be by your home fire, a radiator, a blow-dryer, or a campfire. Direct heat can cause damage to the exterior protective materials of your hiking boots.
Not only can excessive heat damage the materials, it can also degrade the adhesives which bond parts of the boots together. Any damage from exposing hiking boots to high levels of heat will also reduce their durability and reduce the lifespan of the boots.
7 Tips To Dry Hiking Boots Quickly
1. Stuff Boots With Absorbent Material
Stuffing your hiking boots with absorbent material is the most common and simplest approach to drying your boots quicker. After all, it is the inside of the boots you are concerned with getting dry and this approach targets that directly. This is also convenient as many hikers have absorbent material on hand.
Newspaper is usually the first option to go for, but kitchen paper and shammys are also good alternatives to help speed up the drying process. Once you have crammed the boots with whichever material you have on hand, it will wick away moisture from inside the boot. A shammy is also reusable and doesn’t include the risk of getting any ink from newspapers on the inside of the boot.
Keep an eye on the process though, as once your chosen product has absorbed as much as it can you may need to replace it with more. When you think it has absorbed most or all the moisture, remove the materials and allow air to circulate within the boots to finish the drying process.
If you are on the trail for the night you will need to use whatever you have on hand. A spare pair of socks or a handful of leaves may do the trick in these circumstances. Whatever you use to absorb moisture, you may not end up with completely dry boots the next day, but it will be far better than if they are only left out to dry without assistance overnight.
2. Use A Fan
A fan is a very effective way to quickly dry out your hiking boots. The fan should be non-heated since excessive heat may damage the boots. Using a fan will quickly circulate cool air around the inside and exterior of the hiking boots, rapidly wicking away any moisture.
Before you turn on the fan, you want to remove the laces while also resting the tongue out on the toe of the boot. You can use some towels or clothes to help angle the boots so the air from the fan gets to the interior of the boots while drying the exterior. The towels will also mop up any excess moisture which may drip down off the boots.
You can leave the boots like this until they are dry or for however long you feel comfortable with a fan on for this purpose, as you may not want to leave such an appliance on all night. You can check on the boots from occasionally and adjust the angle of their position if you feel certain areas are not drying as quickly as others.
3. Try A Boot Dryer
For many people this is one of the best methods for quickly drying your hiking boots without damaging the material and shortening the lifespan. It does this by using thermal convection to gently warm the boots, avoiding the high heat that could harm them.
A boot dryer is not really an option while out on the trails with overnight camping involved. However, for back-to-back hikes from home it is a great solution as it can have your boots dry within a couple of hours.
A boot dryer can cost around $20 to $80, with some models allowing you to dry multiple boots at the same time. This can prove a good investment if you consistently need to dry hiking boots quickly without damaging the material. Read the manual which comes with the dryer for the safest and most efficient way to use the appliance.
4. Hand Warmers
Hand warmers are another effective way to speed up the drying process for your hiking boots. Anyone who struggles with cold fingers may already appreciate the benefits of these handy little warmers tucked in a pocket while out hiking. However, you may not have considered using them to dry your wet boots.
Using hand warmers is as simple as placing one in each boot and then leaving them overnight. There are quite a variety of hand warmers available on the market, from air-activated warmers to rechargeable battery alternatives. Whichever type of hand warmer you prefer, they tend to be an inexpensive option for drying hiking boots quickly.
Hand warmers can emit heat for up to 10 hours and provide heat of around 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Although different types will vary, any type of hand warmer will help your boots dry faster than they would drying on their own.
5. Soak Up With Rice
Any solution which uses something most households will already have, or can quickly be obtained from a local store, is always helpful. You will notice how rice absorbs water when boiled in a pot, so it may be no surprise it can also be used to absorb moisture from your hiking boots.
Rice grains are hollow and will absorb water quickly. To use rice to dry your hiking boots you will need to have a container large enough to hold the boots. This could be a bucket or a suitably sized plastic tub. You will also want a lid or something that you can place on top of the container as a cover.
Once you have your container you fill it with an inch of rice, before placing your hiking boots on top of the rice. Now you can grab your container lid and cover the boots and rice. Let the rice do its thing overnight, drawing the moisture out of the boots. If your boots are exceptionally wet you may look to replace the rice once it has absorbed as much moisture as you think it will.
If you are reluctant about using a food item to dry your boots, then cat litter is an alternative item. You do not have to be a cat owner to utilize this method, as similar to rice, cat litter is easily obtainable from local stores. The cat litter will absorb and draw the moisture from your hiking boots in the same manner as rice.
6. Wrap In A Towel
You can use a towel to dry boots, as well as yourself, when you come back from a hike in the rain. It is best to use old towels for your boots, ones you may keep around the house for such tasks. You will want to rub the boots down to dry off any excess moisture on the exterior of the boots.
A towel will help soak up moisture from the boots. You only need a single, large towel for the job. Begin by taking two corners of the towel and tucking one corner in each hiking boot, filling as much of the inside as you can. The rest of the towel is used to wrap around and enclose the pair of boots.
Leave the boots enclosed in the towel for a few hours if possible to allow as much moisture as achievable to soak into the towel. If your boots are still wet you can replace the towel with another to complete the drying process. It is best to remove the laces and insoles when possible before inserting the towel. These can be hung up separately to dry.
7. Campfire For Outdoor Drying
When your hike involves overnight camping, then drying your boots quickly becomes more difficult. You can leave them to air-dry overnight, stuffed with leaves, and possibly double up on your socks the next day. However, the likelihood is you will still have damp boots which can be unpleasant to hike in.
If you are camping overnight, you may have a campfire going. This provides an opportunity to dry your boots a little quicker and one that should not be ignored. However, it is worth re-iterating that excess direct heat can damage the materials and waterproof properties of hiking boots, and you should avoid the temptation to place your boots too close to a campfire.
Placing the boots too close to a fire could start to melt the rubber soles. Therefore, take steps away from the campfire until you do not feel any of its heat. Gradually step back towards the fire until you first start to feel its heat.This is where you want to leave your hiking boots.
If you angle your boots so the inners are facing the campfire you may reap more of the benefits. You will need to accept that placing the boots at such a distance will reduce the speed of drying, but it is better than damaging the properties which make hiking boots so valuable for hiking.
You can use items such as newspapers, towels, rice and even cat litter to help absorb moisture from your hiking boots and make them dry quicker. Hand warmers, a boot dryer and fans are other ways to effectively accelerate the drying process. While you should never place hiking boots close to direct heat, boots can be dried at a safe distance from a campfire.