Questions & Answers

VFF's and Wet Winter Conditions

I’m an ultra-light backpacker, I’ve been wearing the NB MT10 since July 2011 as my everyday shoe. Now I’m beginning to wear a minimalist shoe on day hikes and want to start wearing them on longer backpacking trips. I tried the Merrell Trail Glove and Vibram FiveFingers KSO. The KSO feels better on my foot and trail and is the one I’m favoring for backpacking.

My question is if wearing the KSO’s how do I keep my feet warm and dry during the winter?

Keep in mind I’m not out for a run or day hike, I’m out for 2-3 days. Even on day hikes my feet are getting wet and cold to the point of hurting. Crossing creeks is another problem with cold and wet feet. I’m not concerned with summer and warmer temps.

When I wore trail runners I used plastic bags to keep my feet warm in wet conditions, some hikers use neoprene or Gore-Tex socks. But none of these options work with the VFF.

Do I have any options besides wearing a shoe with a toe box for winter backpacking?


Answers and Replies


Hello JJ,

I have experimented with this quite a bit for hiking and backpacking. I have found that once the temperature drops into the 30s F , that I need to have my toes together like a mitten in order to have any hope of warm feet.

I have also found that I need some insulation under foot as well, as the cold ground can really suck the warmth quickly. Usually some sort of thick insole or foam (i.e. cushioning) helps in this regard.

What kind of winter conditions do you get? Do you get much snow? Are you always on foot, or do you snowshoe?


Thanks Damien, sounds like I may need to get a slightly larger pair of minimalist to allow room for additional insulation under foot, and maybe try a neoprene sock to keep the cold water away from my foot at creek crossings. Yes, my feet will probably sweat, but they'll be warm. And save the VFF's for warmer weather.

I live near Atlanta GA, very little snow here, day temps are fairly mild but wet. North GA where I hike gets snow on the mountain tops, when the ground isn't frozen it's wet and cold. Last weekend on the AT leading to Springer Mtn daytime temp was barely above freezing and sunny, today it will be closer to 50°F.

Time to experiment :-)


One shoe you may want to experiment with is either the Altra Instinct or the Altra Lone Peak. They offer a flat (i.e. zero drop sole), a great anatomical shape (i.e. big toebox), but have cushioning under foot which would provide the insulation you need.


thanks, there's one store in the Atlanta area that carries Altra, I'll check them out and report back with what I think and decide.

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