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How to Dry Hiking Boots – Our 4 Best Tips!

How to Dry Hiking Boots – Our 4 Best Tips!

How to Dry Hiking Boots? The journey on a hike is as important as the scenic views you see along the way and the view from the top of the mountain.

I clearly remember one hike I was really looking forward to. While on the trail (or so I thought since I got a bit lost), I had to trek through a small river.

I’m sure by now you know how this story goes … Yes, I lost my footing (silly slippery rock!). My boots were all wet, and let’s just say I wasn’t a happy hiker the rest of the way. When I got home, I discovered I had 3 blisters!

But I’ve learned that knowing how to dry your hiking boots is important, even though I had to wait until I got home after my day hike to get my boots dry for my next hike.

Wet hiking boots are no fun. They are uncomfortable and the chance of blisters forming is high. Keeping your hiking boots dry when out and about in nature isn’t a surety.

How Do You Dry Hiking Boots?

How to dry hiking boots depends on the material they are made of, but general drying tips include starting the drying process as soon as possible by removing dirt, debris, insoles, and laces. Then stuff newspapers in the boots and replace these when they are saturated, and if the boots are really wet, towel-dry them. Place the boots where there is airflow, so a breeze or fan works well.

How Do You Dry Hiking Boots?
How Do You Dry Hiking Boots?

A Guide to Drying Your Hiking Boots

When I do day trips, I can quite easily dry my hiking boots at home and then go hiking again when they are fully dry. Out on the trail on a multi-day hike, a boot that’s 60-70% dry is better than one that is still water-soaked.

Step 1: Start as Soon as You Can

I’ve learned that when out on the trail, there isn’t much I can do, except finishing the hike, keeping a pair of sneakers or flip-flops in my car, and then starting the drying process for my hiking boots when I get home.

So, as soon as I’m home, I get my hiking boots and put them on a window sill where I know there is always a late afternoon breeze so they can air dry. Air drying anything takes time, and for hiking boots, this can be quite time-intensive.

Male hiker sitting on car boot tying hiking boot laces, Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach,
Start cleaning hiking boots as soon as you end your hike

Step 2: Remove Debris and Dirt

I prefer clean and dry boots before I set out again. So while my boots are wet, I remove any dirt and debris on the outer parts. These include grass, mud, leaves, and more. I don’t want these drying on the boots and I definitely don’t want any stains (if I can help it).

My sister, who is also an avid hiker, once shared the story of her hiking boots that got eaten.

She was still a newbie and went hiking through a boggy marsh. Not knowing that the ground there is quite acidic, she didn’t clean her boots, only to find that the acid was slowly eating her boots.

Had she known and cleaned her boots, she wouldn’t have needed a new pair of hiking boots after only 3 hikes.

Hiking boots in a barn
Clean the hiking boots by removing any debris and dirt

Step 3: Remove the Insoles

Not all pairs of hiking boots have removable insoles. If yours can be removed (mine are glued into my boots), then do so.

The insoles should air dry separately. This ensures the surface area of the boots is maximized, allowing more air to circulate, thus speeding up the drying process.

Thermal Insoles
Remove the insoles

Step 4: Remove the Laces

I either entirely remove the laces on my hiking boots or I just loosen them a lot so more air can flow through the inside of the boot.

Hiking shoes
Remove the laces

Can You Speed up the Hiking Boot Drying Process?

Yes, you definitely can. Since air drying is a lengthy process, I usually place crumpled-up newspapers on the inside of my boots. The purpose of doing this is so the newspaper can soak up excess moisture. Once saturated, I replace it with dry newspaper.

As my boots start drying more, I find that I don’t need to replace the newspaper as often. In general, the newspaper absorbs quite a lot of moisture within a 24-hour period. As I said before, semi-dry boots are better than wet ones.

When I don’t have newspapers, I have also used face cloths and pushed these inside the boots. I also sometimes towel-dry as much of the boots as I can before air-drying them.

I’ve also switched on a fan (or two — hey, I was really desperate) to help with the drying of my hiking boots. I also use a fan on days when there is no breeze.

Hand warmers also work really well. The same principle as stuffing the boot with newspapers applies here. And then there are always boot dryers when I’m home.

Don’ts for Hiking Boot Drying

Whether I’m out on the trail or at home, the temptation to place my boots in front of a fire or other heat source never goes away, even though I know these heat sources cause damage to my boots.

Confession: I have been very desperate for dry hiking boots during one particular hiking trip so I placed my boots in front of the campfire.

However, I made sure to place them quite a distance away — so I could just feel the warmth of the fire without it being too hot. This also ensures no embers or hot rock rings can shorten the lifespan of my beloved and trusty boots.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Dry Hiking Boots

What can I do when my hiking boots get wet?

When your hiking boots get wet, clean them. Cleaning depends on the material your boots are made of, but in general (and if you can), open a tap and let the water run over the boots. Use a small brush, like a toothbrush, and brush dirt off. Remove the insole (if you can) and laces.

How to dry hiking boots?

To dry hiking boots Ball up newspaper and stuff the inside of your hiking boots so the paper can absorb the water. Place your hiking boots in a warm room so they can dry out. If the boots are still wet, then replace the wet newspaper with dry newspaper and repeat.

How long do hiking boots take to dry?

Hiking boots may take up to 48 hours to dry. However, there are various ways to speed things up. For example, you can crinkle up newspapers and place these inside the boots. Once the newspaper is wet, replace it with dry newspaper. A fan also helps to dry out your hiking boots as it moves moistures and encourages airflow.

Conclusion About How to Dry Hiking Boots

Every hiker knows that wet hiking boots are par for the course and not something you can always avoid, whether it is because the weather turned and it started raining or because, like me, you slipped as you were going over a stream or river.

Drying hiking boots isn’t as complicated as it sounds; just ensure you follow the tips I’ve shared and you’ll be back to hiking soon.

Happy drying!

About Me

Hi, this is Kent Walker. I am an outdoor enthusiast. I love fishing, hiking as well as kayaking. I write about my adventures in the wide open and what I learned about it.