/ Vapour barrier socks

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Garbhanach - on 18 Nov 2012
Vapour barrier sock system

Was thinking of doing some more bivying and camping this winter and in the past have had the pleasure of frozen boots in the morning, I don't want the expense and weight of double boots so was thinking of trying a vapour barrier sock system so I tried the poly bag between two socks however this made my foot slide about in the boot more, and on a down slope I was sliding to the front of the boot which I found uncomfortable. Some double sided tape might reduce this but haven't tried yet.
Another option Might be these thin rubber kayak socks http://www.chillcheater.com/aqshop/catalogue.php?id=2599&page=
I am told the foot stops sweating at 100% saturation and I could change the inner sock during the day to try and stay warm.
There will also be a Yeti gaiter to stop the insulation and leather getting wet from the outside.

Neddlesports do a vapour barrier sock but they say that it is not suitable for single boots or Scottish conditions

http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Technical-Clothing/Feet/Socks/Vapour-Barrier-Socks/VaprThrm-Hi...

From Needlesports

NB Please note that these socks are designed to be used in really cold places with double boots. Worn like this, the little sweat that is produced is kept warm and the feet likewise. Your feet stay warmer because the boot inners remain completely dry and stay so for days on end. With a single boot in milder conditions, your feet will sweat more and that sweat will chill as the boots will not insulate it enough. So, not suitable for Scotland in winter, but great for Alaska, Polar Regions, Himalayas, Alpine winter climbing etc.


So has anyone tried a vapour barrier sock system in British weather conditions and how did it work out for them?

jon on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Garbhanach:

Try the poly bag right next to your skin. By putting it between two socks it partly defeats its purpose. Sure, your boots stay dry, but you get the inner sock very wet, and therefore get cold feet. Having the VP right next to your skin also reduces the volume of air that becomes saturated.
Garbhanach - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to jon: Yes though with the bag next to the skin it's still makes the foot slide about inside boot looks like it might produce more heel lift as well. Will put anti perspirant on feet though.
Needs a poly bag without a shiny surface, the Reed Chillcheater socks don't slide about so much but get wrinkles down the heel so might have to wear a sock underneath them have odered a bigger pair to try with a sock as I already had a close fitting pair for Kayaking.
jon on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Garbhanach:

When John Barry and team did Mt Deborah, Alaska in the 80s two of them used a VB system and two didn't. The results were quite clear. I wouldn't imagine that back then their VB were much more than plastic bags! Certainly worth persevering, I think.
Robert Durran - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to Garbhanach:

I use VB's if out for more than one day in Scotland. I wear them over liner socks and inside big wooly socks with leather boots and gaiters. Liner sock gets saturated but stays warm, everything else stays dry. I carry dry liner socks for day 2 or keep liners warm for next day in my sleeping bag. Perfectly comfortable and very effective.
Garbhanach - on 18 Nov 2012
In reply to jon: Couldn't find a report on the web about that trip but some interesting stuff about John Barry and a disaster on the Eiger.

However Andy Kilpatrick has some interesting stuff on how to avoid frostbitten feet and other foot problems, he also mentions foot slippage
as a problem with vapour barriers

From Andy Kilpartick


BARRIER PROTECTION, Vapour barrier socks have been available now for donkeys years, acting as a barrier between your sweaty feet and the precious insulation in your socks and inner boots. They are usually warn over a thin liner sock, and removed at the end of each day to dry out. At the moment the most readily available sock comes from Black Diamond (£15.99) with Mountain Equipment’s 8000 metre range VB sock available as a special (£18.00). Tough plastic bags do the same job if your less well off, although there not as dependable and usually need replacing each day. With the advances in inner boot and sock insulation robustness, the vapour barrier technique seem less important know then it did in the days of absorbent inner boots and pure wool socks. Drawbacks include the likelihood of various fungal infections and trench foot with extended wear, so good foot hygiene is essential, rubbing the feet with snow, drying and using anti fungal talc each night should keep most unpleasantness as bay. Ammonia builds up in the inner socks quickly so carry plenty of spares.

Another drawback is a large increase in foot slippage due to the slickness of the sock, a real problem when wearing big boots on technical routes.

ANTI PERSPIRANT, By applying a good deal of anti perspirant to feet before embarking on a climb, sock saturation can be reduced considerably. A good spray usually lasts for two or three days depending on the type of climb, climate and climber. A great system for fast technically climbs were you want to avoid the slippage encountered with vapour barrier socks and it may be hard to sort out your feet each night. It can also be used in conjunction with vapour barrier socks to reduce the associated immersion foot problems.
NEOPRENE SOCKS, Neoprene socks have been widely used by American and Canadian climbers for a number of years now, only recently gaining a small following in this country. They basically act as a kind of insulating vapour barrier, worn in-between your inner and outer socks. Make sure you don’t buy them to tight, try at least one size larger then normal, and take into account swollen feet and some expansion of the air bubbles in neoprene at altitude. Gator (£19.99) and Heat Socks (£18.99) are the two main brands. Personally I find them less reliable then standard VB socks, providing very little insulation for there bulk when static for long periods.
WATERPROOF SOCKS, Gore-tex and Seal socks work well for some activities, but when it comes to keeping the foot warm and the outer socks dry inside a plastic boot I find other less high tech methods do a much better job.

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