Does Packing Boots with Newspaper Make Them Dry Faster?

When you are on the trail, it is hard to avoid situations with wet boots or shoes. This will make your socks wet, and increase chances for blisters and infections.

So does packing boots with newspaper make them dry faster? The answer is yes, many people will attest to this, but:

  • Make sure that you change the paper after a couple of hours.
  • Use a paper that absorbs water well.
  • Try to avoid paper with lots of ink.

On the other hand, where do you find so much paper when you are on the trail? So think about some alternatives as well.

Does Packing Boots with Newspaper Make Them Dry Faster - Top picture showing my mountaineering boots.
One pair of my mountaineering boots.

Why drying boots with paper works?

My understanding is that this is about capillary action. When you press balls of paper into the boot, it gets in contact with the boot’s body with moisture, and this moisture tends to spread into the new material (paper). So the water is effectively sucked out of the boot’s material.

From this you realize that the more contact the better. So put as much of paper as possible and compress it inside the boot.

For the same reason, it will help if you wrap the boots into a paper from outside. But not just wrap, make sure that you compress the paper to the boot so that there is a good contact.

Because this works as long as the paper has less moisture than the boot material, it is necessary to replace the paper a few times.

Newspaper absorbs moisture really well, but it may have lots of ink, and it is best to use a clean and soft paper. So think about using kitchen paper and also toilet paper.

You will see this method suggested also in this video:

What else to use to dry your boots on the trail?

The method with paper works, but this site is about outdoors and activities where you may not have paper at hand. Where to find so much paper on the trail?

Use water bottle with hot water to dry your boots

I mentioned this as a method to dry wet socks. There is no reason why this would not work with boots as well.

Not every water bottle is made for hot stuff, but with a Nalgene bottle this will be completely safe. So put it in the boot and let stay there as long as the water is warm. Replace water when it cools and keep it hot.

Use a candle to dry boots

It may be tricky to position a boot upside down above a candle. But if you manage, and keep it at a safe distance, it will work for sure. Try it and you will see.

Dry boots with your stove

If you have a stove, this should work even better than with a candle described above. So use your poles to place the boots above the heat source, similar to what you can see in this video:

Dry airflow will help as well

I would not discuss how to create such an air flow, but if you have a tool, like a micro electric pump used for sleeping pads, this will definitely help.

If you combine some of the methods mentioned here, you might get even better and quicker result. Test and find out what works best for you.

Can you use a hair dryer to dry shoes? No doubt you can, if you have it at hand. So this is perhaps something when you do car camping.


So these are some ways of drying your hiking or backpacking boots on the trail. But I wish to stress also that this is not only about drying.

If you are in a very cold environment, you do not want to let your boots freeze. You have seen the top picture above, those are my Scarpa mountaineering boots, they are already stiff enough. If frozen, they would hardly be useful. But if they are wet, they will freeze. So if nothing else, you will have to put your boots inside of your sleeping bag.

You might want to read also my text about getting wet when walking in clouds. Yes, there are places where you can get into real clouds.

Let me know if you have some better ways of drying your boots, there is a comment box below. You might want to bookmark this site and visit it again, you will always have new texts of this type added here.

Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

Me on Jalovec.Hi, I am Jovo, the founder of this OutdoorsFAQs site and several other outdoor sites. I have been mountaineering for almost 40 years already, and I have created this site to use as a reference for various questions that I receive in my sites. Being a theoretical physicist by profession, I tend to base my answers on facts and on my own personal experience.

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