I'm planning a short backpacking trip into the Smoky Mountains, and the trails have several creek crossings. Do you have any recommendations for a backpacking boot that is quick-drying but still has enough support? Sawyer Charleston, South Carolina
I recommend boots. Just about any boot, so long as its comfortable, fits well, and offers the support you need. With all due respect, when did crossing streams become such a novelty? Ive been hopping streams for more than thirt I mean, for many years, and Ive never sat at the trailhead and wondered if my boots were up to the task. We (meaning hikers) either find boulders to hop or a log crossing, or if push comes to shove we take the boots off and wade across. And once in a while my feet get wet.
Scarpa Delta M3 boot
Delta M3 boot
Because no matter what you wear, those are going to be your options. Quality bootsby that I mean well made, all-leather boots or newer light hikers with waterproof inner bootieswill easily keep you dry during the few seconds you splash through a stream. That is, until the water goes over the tops, which is the main risk. And when that happens, whether the boot dries a little slowly is almost immaterial because you also have wet socks with which to deal.
So Id simply buy good hiking boots. Asolos Fugitive GTX boots ($170; www.asolo.com) are comfortable, supportive boots with leather-and-Cordura uppers and a Gore-Tex lining. Lowas Renegade GTX Mid boots ($180; www.lowaboots.com) are similar in weight and design and also have Gore-Tex, but all boot makers use a little different last so they might fit differently than the Asolo boots. And Scarpas Delta M3 boots ($190; www.scarpa.com) are an increasingly rare treasure: really well made with all leather uppers and no waterproof/breathable lining.
To help you across streams, pack in a pair of Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters ($20; www.orgear.com). These fit atop the boot and around the ankle, keeping dirt, snow, and water out of the boots. Theyre not waterproof, but the water-repellent coating will easily shed the wet from a five-step stream hop.
So go forth, hike, and worry not about a stream or three.
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