How to Dry Your Hiking Boots (Quickly)

dry wet hiking boots
I've lost count of the number of times a hiking route has seen me wading through a river. And what's worse than finishing your hike with wet feet is spending the best part of a week waiting for your hiking boots to dry after. So here's my rundown of tried and tested methods of drying your hiking boots FASTER!

Contents

I remember right at the end of a long hike up CMD Arête to Ben Nevis we required a river crossing to get back onto the main path back to the North Face car park. All the online guides had previously suggested the best thing to do is just take your boots off and roll your pants up. But in honesty, it had been so incredibly wet that day that my feet were already saturated. We waded through the river, boots on, and it made literally no difference to how wet my feet already were.It took me 6 days to dry my boots 🤦‍♀️And the reality is that it doesn’t matter how water proof your hiking boots are, if you have to wade through a river at any point (or you miss a stepping stone, step in a bog or have to walk through really swampy boggy areas) you’re going to suffer wet feet at some stage.I’ve tried absolutely everything I can think of when it comes to the boot drying game so here are some tried and tested methods on how to dry your hiking boots fast.

Prep First

Don’t just let them dry straight out of the river.
  1. Give them a clean (Boot Buddy for the absolute win here)
  2. Remove insoles (where they are removeable) and laces
It sounds a pain, I know. But it’s absolutely worth it. If your insolves are removeable, getting them out means you don’t end up with slow drying soles beneath the insoles and lots of trapped moisture

Drying Hiking Boots – My Tried and Tested Methods Rated

So, you want the quick version? Here you go:
Hiking Boots Drying MethodEffectiveness (Out of 10)ProsCons
The boot dryer9Hands down, best method ever. Fast. Machine is portableRequires electricity to run
Radiator7Relatively fast drying, boots left warm
Who has their radiator on in summer? Seen the price of central heating?! It’s also generally advised by footwear brands not to use direct heat like this to dry them
Direct Sunlight8Can be fast! And it’s free
I live in the UK. Direct sunlight is a luxury we don’t often get. Also, footwear brands generally advise drying shoes/boots in direct sunlight can cause excessive wear
Newspaper in your boots4Cheap. Easily done.Takes an age
Air dry3Natural drying. Least harm to footwearTakes 90 million years to dry your boots

The Best and Quickest Way to Dry Hiking Boots…

It’s the boot dryer.Confession. I didn’t even know this was a thing until 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks! Why had I never thought to look this up until 2 weeks ago.I use this one but others are available:

Pros of the Boot Dryer

Cons of the Boot Dryer

drying hiking boots on the boot dryerYou’ll notice my boots are dirty here… I wasn’t actually drying them in these photos. I was just using the boots to demonstrate how it works and also as a size comparison.The thing I’m most disappointed with it, frankly, how many years I’ve hiked for and never known about these devices. But this really is awesome.I hiked Conival last weekend, staying at a hostel in Inchndamph on my return. I took the boot drier with me because I have one pair of hiking boots I’m truly in love with (and spares I tend to cast aside). I knew the hike back down from Conival would be a bog fest and indeed I had very wet feet on my return. Knowing I’d want my boots the next day meant I was buzzing to have remembered the boot drier.I washed them down in the sink first, but left the laces and insoles in in this case (non removable insoles and too lazy to shift the laces). So they were totally saturate when I put them on the drier and it took less than 2 hours for them to dry.Now, I’ve got an EV with a plug socket in it. So I could use this even without accommodation with electrical sockets. But if you were staying on a campsite with no electrical hook up it would be useful to have a USB option so you could use a portable power bank to run it. Pretty sure if you were wild camping though, no matter how portable it is, you wouldn’t want to lug it.Honestly though, I will never dry my boots another way again when I have this option.

Direct Sunlight Method – Second Best

The other way I’ve previously dried my boots is direct sunlight. Now, I know this ruins leather boots but I don’t wear leather hiking boots. That said, most manufacturers will advise against leaving footwear out in direct sunlight because it can cause excessive wear.
However, I do it anyway on the rare occasion that we get enough direct sunlight in the UK (there’s about 5 hours per year I reckon) and it is fast and effective. And it’s also free!

Newspaper in Your Boots

Low cost. Relatively effective. But this isn’t a method that will get your saturated boots dry overnight in my experience. It’s by no means a bad idea if you’ve got a couple of days though!

Air Dry Your Hiking Boots

If you’re not in a rush, then let them air dry. Aside from being low cost, it also means there’s absolutely no risk of wear, or heat damage and so forth.So if you have a week between hikes, then let them air dry!

Can You Tumble Dry Hiking Boots?

So I have never done this but before I discovered the boot drying machine thingie, I did look it up. Apparently the heat in a tumble drier can melt the adhesives on the boots so the advice is not to.

How do you dry your hiking boots?

So come on – what magic methods have I missed? I’d love a super speedy drying method that didn’t rely on power! I use this one but others are available:

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