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keeping legs, feet dry

i'm not really a beginner, but this feels like a beginner question...

i've been hiking/backpacking in the pacific nw for years and yet only this summer have run into the problem of getting my pants and then subsequently my boots soaking wet from brushing against wet foliage trailside. 

i've always thought of gaiters as snow season gear, but would they work in eliminating some of this moisture?

not sure how i had the luck of not having this problem sooner...thanks for your patience with such a question.

Perhaps just "give in" to hiking with wet feet.  I moved a few years ago from the SW to the NE and finally accepted that I will be hiking with wet feet.  So abandoned gtx and hike/backpack in mess trail runners where the water can drain.  I let my feet air 1-2 times on long hiking days and always have dry socks to wear at night (and plastic bags to slip my feet into should I need my hiking shoes while in camp).  

Took several trips to get my head around wet feet but nothing I tried, including gaitors and waterproof shoes worked.  And come to find out my worries of blisters and other foots malady's were just that.  As long as I can air and dry my feet at night, wet feet work as well as dry feet and I don't spend half my hiking time worrying about where to step, how to avoid damp vegetation, short, wet feet increased by NE hiking enjoyment.

Like most any water barrier, gaiters will keep rain, dew and snow off what's inside them, but they will also greatly restrict air circulation that permits sweat to evaporate.  So pick your poison.

Maybe wear waterproof shoes or boots with low gaiters and use chaps to keep your legs dry. I’m assuming that if the backs of your legs get wet it’s mainly from moisture wicking from the front. 

You can find lighter weight gaiters to wear in warmer weather. The really short ones that UL folks prefer won't help as much with the wet grass thing though. They are better at keeping dirt/rocks/debris from getting in your shoes but leave most of the leg exposed. Taller ones that do protect more of the leg will hold in heat and moisture so there are trade offs as with most things.

I like tall gaiters year round for several reasons including the wet grass/brush thing the OP mentions. They also are nice for keeping my pants mud free, add a layer of shin protection and combined with waterproof boots allow for a step or three in deep water without getting your foot wet. Also makes a nice foot mat under my hammock ;)

Thanks for the replies...

i can can handle getting a bit wet, but these recent trips had my pants soaked through and my boots full of water from running down my pant legs. I'm kind of shocked this hasn't yet been an issue for me in the NW, maybe my luck with weather has been exceptional?

i am also a heat pump and tend to sweat a lot as it is - still may try gaiters. Any brands recommended?

I use tall Outdoor Research gaiters for off trail brush but on trail I still prefer low ones. I generate heat like you I guess. None keep me all the way dry but they do avoid the absolute soaking of the legs. Boots are now quick draining rather than waterproof except in winter. I left my gaiters behind this weekend knowing it would be nice to be wet in the heat, but I was testing a pair of long pants for durability in the brush off trail. It's the wettest they got in 5 months of trips so gaiters must help to a degree.

In coastal Alaska, a lot of people wear knee-high rubber boots.

In the wetter parts of NZ, some people wear knee-high rubber boots (gumboots), but cut holes in the toes to let the water back out.

I really wet conditions, you may be able to delay getting wet feet for a little while, but that's about it. You can expend an awful lot of energy dancing around the puddles, but they'll get you sooner or later. Sometimes the best thing is to find a big puddle first thing in the morning and step right in.

got a pair of OR gaiters today, may see some rain later this week. i'll try them out if warranted.

I like Stevet's comment.  I used to hike in the PNW on the West Side all the time studying forestry and backpacking.  It is going to be wet so just get used to it.  SE Alaska is even wetter.  We had to ford rivers all the time and walk through muskegs. 

I wore Filson's in the brush, but for backpacking I like the nylon pants made by companies like Ex Officio. They dry fast. I wear them on boat trips where we are in and out of the water all day long.  

If your pack is light enough, you can try the water shoes.  Many companies make them now.  Some are even mid level or high tops.  The canoeists use some really interesting shoes for portaging in the wet.  You can wear wool socks. For cold weather rafting I like the fleece  socks with water shoes. 

I like the OR Rocky Mountain High Gaiter. It is water resistant and breathable.

Peets shoe dryer is required equipment in some locations. 

January 19, 2021
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