Preventing frozen boots overnight?

Paul in Idaho

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I'm planning on a backpack mule deer hunt in mid-October above 9000 feet elevation. I found an area that has no motorized access, surrounded by high hunting pressure. In previous years, bucks have appeared to stay high until the rut starts. I expect temperatures at night to be well below freezing.

Several years ago I had to leave a hunt due to boots freezing solid overnight, with no way to thaw them. (I could have built a fire if other factors hadn't contributed to giving up.) This time I want to plan ahead and be ready for this problem. I don't have a backpack tent with a stove. Sleeping with my boots on doesn't sound restful.

I have thought about putting a fuel handwarmer in each boot when I go to bed, or building a fire to heat rocks and putting a warm rock in each one. Have any of you tried something like this, or have better ideas?

Thanks.
Paul
 

rmyoung1

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I’ve heard of sheep hunters putting them in a garbage bag and stuffing them in the bottom of their sleeping bags. Probably not the coziest setup but definitely better than frozen boots.
 

SFC B

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I military winter ops boots always went inside the sleeping bag. Just make sure not to bring moisture in.....
 

twsnow18

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The hot rock might work for a couple hours. Idk about all night. The big hand warms might work for 6-8 hours, seal the top off.

If you don’t do this already, never tie your boots tight immediately in the morning. It leaves no air pocket to heat up. Put your boots on right when you wake up and just tuck the laces in. Leave them untied while your making breakfast and getting ready. Then tie last, they heat up much, much faster.

If you can figure out how to keep water from freezing let me know, headed in Saturday for 8 days up pretty high, weather looks decent but brisk.
 

SnowyMountaineer

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I've dealt with frozen boots quite a few times. The chemical warmers inside doesn't work, I can tell you that. I've usually just thawed out the laces and tongue enough with a jetboil to wedge them on. The handle of a Ti spoon is a great tool to cram your foot in there.
The best solution I've used is to put them in a bag and keep in the tent, as suggested. That's usually good enough, but leaning on 0* and below they will still freeze. I'm often pushing my bag temp rating so I dont like the idea of putting them in my bag. I'd rather just thaw them over gas if it comes to that. Good luck, and stay hydrated...helps keep the frost bugs away. :)
 
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belshawelk

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I use an old fashioned rubber hot water bottle ( like your grandma had). I boil water and put it in the bag. I put it in my sleeping bad and it keeps me warm most of the night. I bet if you did the same thing and put the boots in a bag with the bottle it will keep them warm enough not to freeze. The rubber water bottle rolls up and weighs very little. You do need to be by water, or snow which Is where I try to camp
 

Gr8bawana

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What I'm wondering is how do your boots get so soaking wet that they freeze solid? I wouldn't want to wear a boot that wet even if it isn't frozen.
 

BrentD

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Just pull them open at night so when they are frozen in the morning you can put them on an do what tesnow18 suggests.
 

2rocky

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Wear rubber bottom hunting pacs instead of leather boots. Put the liners the foot of your sleeping bag.

Or like the sheep guys do, go plastic


Boots can't freeze if they aren't wet.
 

Redman

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Dealt with it in the past, but now that I use a Seek Outside with a wood burning stove no longer an issue.
 

Paul in Idaho

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Thanks for the ideas. I'll pack some heavy duty trash bags, extra stove gas, and look into a hot water bottle. I just heard about those plastic boots on a podcast a couple weeks ago - didn't know such existed before. The pac boots I have seen wouldn't do well in the rocky steep terrain I'm usually in, but it sounds like it would be worth looking for some with a more rugged and rigid build.

I have been tempted by the Seek Outside with a stove, but recently spent all my gear budget on a new 3-season ultralight tent. Seek Outside might return to my shopping list soon though.

As for how do boots get wet enough to freeze ... here's a photo from the hunt I mentioned above, the evening before they froze solid. I walked about 10 miles in wet snow that day, while sweating inside them like BrentD mentioned. I slept in my truck with a camper shell, and boots in with me by the tailgate. The truck thermometer read 12˚ when I woke up. After quite a struggle, I managed to wedge my feet into them but it was too painful to walk much.
PB120110.jpg

That was before I learned about gaiters and Obenauf's boot wax, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad now.

It snowed in my unit today at 6500', so I'm anxious to find out what happened at 9,000+. My hunt plans might change a lot.
 
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Nunyacreek

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The hot rock trick actually works amazingly well. I have boiled rocks and pebble in water. Pour out the water and the rocks are nearly immediately dry. I don’t think it would dry them totally but definitely a relatively safe way to thaw them. The boiling water ensures that they are hot but hopefully not hot enough to melt boots.
 

LuketheDog

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Dealt with it in the past, but now that I use a Seek Outside with a wood burning stove no longer an issue.
This is the best answer! I wake up a few minutes earlier, start the stove, then lay there in my sleeping bag until the tent (and my boots) are warm. Then I get up, and my day is so much better because I don't start it by freezing my butt off in a cold tent...
 

MTGomer

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What I'm wondering is how do your boots get so soaking wet that they freeze solid? I wouldn't want to wear a boot that wet even if it isn't frozen.
Boots get wet from moisture. Examples of moisture would be water and snow and sweat. It can come over top the boot on a crossing, seep under your gaiters in wet brush and run down your leg or simply penetrate the leather and/or membrane of the boot- which wears out overtime, faster if the boots aren’t sufficiently greased.
A new way I discovered to get boots wet is to accidentally pull out an eyelet early in the hunt.

Said moisture will then freeze when it reaches a temperature of 0C, or approximately 32F.

That is how boots both get wet, and freeze.
 
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Gr8bawana

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Boots get wet from moisture. Examples of moisture would be water and snow and sweat. It can come over top the boot on a crossing, deep under your gaiters in wet brush and run down your leg or simply penetrate the leather and/or membrane of the boot- which wears out overtime, faster if the boots aren’t sufficiently greased.
A new way I discovered to get boots wet is to accidentally pull out an eyelet early in the hunt.

Said moisture will then freeze when it reaches a temperature of 0C, or approximately 32F.

That is how boots both get wet, and freeze.
Gomer you're always such a breath of fresh air, or perhaps a just smelly shart.
 

270elk

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I own a seek outside with a titanium stove and love it. They are light and bombproof. The stove works great and is really nice for cold weather. Keep your boots save your money and get a small seek outside tent and stove.
 
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