Nothing ruins a hike faster than issues with moisture.
Inclement weather, river crossings and sweat while thru-hiking come with the territory. Prepping for that moisture will save you some serious misery on the trail. The great debate regarding waterproof versus Water Ready footwear is one Astral will take head on. At Astral, we believe that a breathable, Water Ready shoe will keep a hiker’s feet the happiest and healthiest on the trail.
We caught up with Astral athlete Jennifer Pharr Davis to find out why she prefers a Water Ready hiking shoe:
1. There is no such thing as waterproof.
If you walk through pouring rain or ford a river your feet and your shoes will get wet. Waterproof shoes will hold the precipitation longer, but once they get wet it takes days for them to dry. Meanwhile the skin on your feet will be red and itchy, if not cracked and bleeding from the moisture (And, no, unless you have packed specific water shoes, you should never ford barefoot. I have seen hikes end when individuals try to cross a channel in bare feet and injure their feet on sharp rocks, broken glass and rusty fishing hooks).
2. Waterproofing limits breathability.
Forget rain and rivers, what about foot sweat? It's not the most pleasant subject to address, but if you are hiking all day in high humidity, your feet are going to work up a sweat. If you are wearing wool socks and breathable shoes, the moisture will wick away from your feet and evaporate. If you are wearingwaterproof shoes, your feet will become damp with perspiration.
3. Waterproof boots are heavier than the quick-drying trail shoes.
Weight is weight, no matter where you carry it. On the trail, the more weight you carry the more challenging it becomes to travel fast, far or efficiently. Even when you don't plan to travel quickly, it's nice to have the option - especially when a storm starts rolling in.
JPD put Astral’s TR1 Trek to the test on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail this past year. Here’s her take on it: “I’ve never had a shoe that’s as breathable as the TR1 Trek. In the beginning, we had lots of rain with the hurricanes coming through and my feet were soaked constantly, but as soon as the rain stopped – the shoes dried out. I’ve had no blisters and haven’t struggled with moisture at all. In addition, the TR1 Trek performed on both the road and trail. For such a lightweight shoe, they’ve held up really well...I’ve gotten 600+ miles out of them!”
On the trail (and in life), dry feet = happy feet.
Written by Astral & Jennifer Pharr Davis