How Do You Dry Wet Socks when Hiking and Backpacking?

If you are on a long tour, it is essential to keep you feet in the boots dry, so here you can read about several practical ways that you can use for this purpose.

To keep you feet dry, first, you must have a pair of extra socks. As for those that are wet, you can dry them i) on the go, and ii) in the camp. Here are some possible ways for both situations:

  • Keep socks attached to the backpack as you walk.
  • Put you wet socks under your jacket, preferably next to your skin.
  • When you are in the camp, dry them above your stove.
  • Use a votive candle and dry the socks above it.
  • Use your water bottle with warm water and put it in your socks to dry.

The methods mentioned above are given in no particular order, any of them may do the job, so apply what you can.

How Do You Dry Wet Socks when Hiking and Backpacking. Top picture with my hiking boots and socks.
One pair of my hiking boots and socks.

Keep socks attached to the backpack as you walk

This is an on-the-go method and it will work assuming that it is not raining. This method you can use for any piece of your clothing, in particular underwear.

So if you have changed your socks, you can wash the used ones and attach to the pack, or simply attach to dry without washing. From my experience, I am fine with socks used two days in a row without washing.

Put you wet socks under your jacket, preferably next to your skin

This method can be used on its own or in combination with the one described above. It can be used on-the-go and also in the camp.

It is not pleasant to put your wet and cold socks next to your skin, but this is just an initial feeling so simply ignore it. The method works for sure, the socks will dry because of your body warmth.

When you are in the camp, dry your socks above your stove

With this you can dry the socks at least partly. For example, if you want to save fuel, when they become warm and partly dry, you can put them under your jacket as described above.

But if you have fire, then dry them completely of course. Both these ways can be used to dry your boots as well.

Use a votive candle and dry your socks above it

It is always good to have a votive candle at hand. They are inexpensive, light, and compact. But how much heat does a votive candle give off?

Well, I am not sure about this. Some claim it is about 70 to 80 BTU. In terms of wats this is around 20 – 23. It is sure that it produces heat, and it can help in drying wet socks.

How long do votive candles stay lit?

Think about several hours. I have seen the rate mentioned around 8 hours per ounce, but cannot confirm if this is correct or not.

In any case, you can put your socks on the tips of your trekking poles and the other ends of the poles put into your boots. Then use your pack to raise the poles so that socks remain at a safe distance above the candle.

Use your water bottle with warm water and put it in your socks to dry

It is well-known among backpackers and campers that you can fill a water bottle with a hot water and put it in your sleeping bag when you feel cold.

So there is no reason why not using the same trick to dry your wet socks. Nalgene bottles are the best choice for this purpose. If you have only one bottle, put both socks on it. With two bottles as in the picture it will be faster.

Drying socks with warm water bottles.
Drying socks with warm water bottles.

But can you put boiling water in a Nalgene water bottle?

The answer is yes, no worry. In 2008 they switched to a plastic that is free of BPA, BPS and phthalates. The bottle will perform well, no need to think about it. You will see them recommended also by Healthline.


So these are some ways of drying wet socks when hiking and backpacking. You can use this also on your mountaineering tours and anywhere outdoors. Choose the way that suits you best, combine a few if you have to.

There may be more ways, so let me know in the comment box below. Bookmark this site and visit it again, you will always find new texts added here. Check in the category Hiking and Backpacking for more stuff of this type. Thank you for reading.

 
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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