When you're roughing it in the great outdoors, it's very important to have dry socks and boots. Your health and comfort depend on it. Fortunately, if you drench your only pair of boots, you can dry them out using some basic camping gear and a few items from the wilderness.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Any durable metal container (coffee can, bucket, etc.)
- Large tongs or fire-retardant leather gloves
- Small rocks and pebbles, preferably from a stream or lake
Pour all excess water out of your boots. Shake them well to get the last droplets out. If there are removable insoles inside your boots, remove them now.
Stick the corner of a towel down into each boot and pat the insides dry as best as you can. This won't get them nearly dry enough, but it will help you get started.
Put several pebbles and small rocks into a metal container like a coffee can or bucket. Keep in mind, however, that you're about to heat this container over an open flame. Choose a container that can take the heat. If you brought along a skillet or Dutch oven, you could use that instead. Just make sure the rocks are as clean as possible and be very careful that you don't scratch the non-stick coatings on your cookware.
Prop the container up near or over your campfire. If you place it next to the fire, turn it every few minutes to ensure even heat distribution. Heat the rocks for several minutes, until you're sure they're very hot.
This is the moment of truth. You'll need to put your boots to the test to make sure that they won't melt under the heat of the rocks. Pick up a single pebble with your tongs or using your fire-ready gloves. Hold the pebble against the inside sole of your boot for about five seconds, then remove it and examine the area. If it looks OK, try it again for ten seconds. If it still looks OK, try the same procedure against the side of the boot. If at any point the material on the inside of your boot looks like it's melting or scorching, stop. You won't be able to dry them in this way. Fortunately, most boots designed for camping and hiking will stand up well to this extreme heat.
When you're ready to move forward, use your tongs or gloves to put half of the pebbles inside one boot. When the rocks are in the boot, shake the boot continuously back and forth so that the rocks don't sit in one place. Keep shaking for several minutes until the rocks have cooled. Then dump the rocks on the ground.
Repeat Step 6 with the other boot.
Allow both boots to cool completely. Feel inside to determine the level of moisture. If it's much dryer but not yet completely dry on the inside, it may be worth a try to repeat the hot rocks procedure.
Tips and warnings
- Synthetic materials are the most likely to melt or burn with this procedure. Fortunately, synthetic materials are much more commonly used in snow boots than they are in camping or hiking boots.