3 Layer Thermal Tent Boot Ensemble
As always, we're looking at this tent boot ensemble from the point of view of long distance trekking over tough terrain.
Test subject: Foot Size = 9, Foot Width = Medium
Test item(s): Various
Kit Tests: Winter
Disclaimer: None required (items not provided by manufacturers)
|Outer Layer: Gul 4mm Neoprene Power Sock||Manufacturer Page|
|Material: 4mm DURA-FLEX neoprene||100%|
|Mid Layer: Gul Stretch Drysuit Oversock||Manufacturer Page|
|Material: Nylon / Spandex||92% / 8%|
|Inner Layer: Latex Socks 3D||Reputable Dealer|
|Material: 3mm Latex||100%|
|Weights (Sizes: Outer=XL + Mid=L/XL + Inner=L)||138g + 33g + 205g = 372g|
|Manufacturer RRPs||£15 / £10 / £6|
Introduction: Setting the Scene
It's Winter, it's freezing - minus many degrees, you're finished for the day, it's getting dark, tent pitched, you've changed out of your wet clothes, you've eased your boots off and they're bagged and stuffed down inside your sleeping bag to stop them freezing overnight. All good.
You need to get some water from the stream, use that hole in the ground you dug, whatever ... "do I really need to get my boots back on?" No, someone invented the tent booty !!!
Now, we've tested the ultralight polythene bag "oversock", the heavy duty British Army ECW Tent Boot, and everything in between and there's plenty in between from Primaloft Fireball Footie Socks to Down Hut Booties, but in British and European Winters, there's all sorts of damp and cold nastiness and quite frankly for all their thermal wonder these tent booties are exactly what they say they are: TENT boots, and they all fail immediately you step outside your tent and they fail for two simple reasons: 1) they are not tough enough, and 2) they're not waterproof. But they are warm.
I had a chat with someone from an outdoor online retailer (I won't name names) who was trying to help solve this problem, and all he could come up with was carry an extra pair of shoes. Weight issues aside, the whole point is to give ones feet a rest after 12 hours on the go, once your boots are off, you want to keep them off.
So, what's the solution?
What we're after is something that weighs substantially less than a pair of warm, waterproof shoes, but is warm, durable, waterproof and is a boot not a shoe (i.e. if you step in a shallow stream, icy bog or snow you don't soak your spare warm socks that you'll be sleeping in later).
In winter, a sane person will already have a spare pair of warm socks to sleep in and to use in emergencies. We like the NATO Issue RM ECW Arctic Socks, they're woolly, warm, soft and comfy, and not too heavy, size medium = 120g):
A Solution in 3 Layers:
So, a warm pair of socks, that's one layer of warmth. The most annoying thing is getting these soaking wet, so first we need a waterproof layer (nb. it says a lot about British weather that to solve a trekking problem requires a visit to a watersports store):
Layer 1: 3D Latex Dry Suit Socks
3mm of latex provides warmth and waterproofing (the wellington boot layer). To save a little weight we cut about an inch or two off the top (so it's just a little taller than the neoprene boot).
Layer 2: Gul Stretch Drysuit Oversock
This layer provides a little warmth, but it's main purpose is to make the latex Layer 1 slide easily into Layer 3.
Layer 3: Gul 4mm Neoprene Power Sock
Finally 4mm of Neoprene provides additional warmth, but also makes the ensemble very durable.
The Power Sock has a tough sole, meaning that any stones or undergrowth has to go through the reinforced sole, 4mm of Neoprene, the fabric oversock and then puncture 3mm of latex. It's not impossible, but even if does happen, the beauty of latex is that it's very simple to mend. If you use any kind of inflatable sleeping mat, you'll likely also have a mini repair kit, also gaffa / gorilla tape etc. will provide a good temporary repair (this is also the reason we rejected the Goretex Boot Liner option; these fabric options are too fragile, and when pierced are a pain to effectively repair).
So far, this combination has been perfect. I've stood in a frozen stream, walked through snow and icy bogs and my socks have stayed dry and my feet warm.
There are a couple of downsides, one is the weight. Much lighter than a spare pair of even lightweight shoes, but also heavier than all the booties pictured above. The 3 layers (for a size 9) total 372g.
The other problem is that this dry/wet suit apparel was never meant to be used like this. Consequently, Gul only make this particular Neoprene Power Sock up to XL for size 10-12, but those sizes don't anticipate wool socks and a latex inner. So this solution won't work for those whose feet are larger than size 10.
Conclusion & Rating
This tent boot ensemble costs less than a pair of Montane's Prism Booties (weighing 160g and costing £40). Personally, I'd happily pay more and carry the extra ~200g for something that actually functions in and around ones tent in the midst of a British Winter. In dry cold conditions where down sleeping bags are a sensible option, I'd surely choose from the options pictured above, but for northern European winters - no chance - I'll go with neoprene, latex, nylon and wool every time.
- Far more durable than insulated tent booties.
- Fully waterproof.
- Multilayered. Wool socks, latex, nylon + neoprene keep feet nice and warm.
- Allows wearer complete freedom outside of the tent so boots, once off, can stay off.
- Pack down small.
- Actually work in real British / northern European winters.
- Water can be wrung out of the Neoprene outers, which can be put on even when frozen (this is the benefit of having multiple layers; water doesn't saturate the latex layer so it doesn't freeze up)
- Far easier to repair in the field than traditional tent boots.
- Not the most breathable solution. But in cold weather we've found this is not a big issue. Easy to slip off and on, so once inside your tent you just take them off.
- Not as light as traditional insulated tent boots.
- Not as warm as some of the more extreme down options.
- Size limitations. Beyond size 10, an alternative XXL Neoprene sock would be required.
Rating (out of 10)
* The value score is derived from two factors:
1) Competitive Market Price (CMP). This represents our judgement of a competitive online price point if we were to stock the item. e.g. if we feel we would need to sell an item at 40% off (i.e. 60% of its full RRP) to be competitive, then our CMP score will be 6/10.
2) Customer Value Price (CVP). We then make an honest appraisal of the maximum price we would be willing to pay for the item (and we're mean). So if we'd pay 80% of its RRP our CVP score would be 8/10.
We then average the two scores to get our final value score, which in our example would be 7/10.
Last Updated: 05/12/17