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Waterproof shoes?

Will I need waterproof shoes on the RS 10 day Scotland tour in later May? I have looked at the average weather charts and such so sure rain is possible but will normal comfortable walking shoes be enough?
After Scotland we go to London for another week into June so should I consider cooler sandals too? I’m determined to pack light.

Posted by
6786 posts

In any place where it rains frequently (like Scotland), even if I don't plan to be out hiking in it, I prefer to have good footwear that won't get soaked if I simply walk across a grassy or muddy area for a minute or two. I live in such a place. I know it only takes a couple steps in the right kind of place (like stepping in a shallow puddle, or just walking across wet grass, a muddy parking lot, etc.) to soak some shoes. Once wet, most shoes stay wet or at least damp for many days.

For Scotland, I'd bring some sort of light hiking shoes. At least "water-resistant" (a euphemistic marketing description that I often find yields disappointing results), or better yet real Goretex.

Posted by
13881 posts

Best of Scotland, specifically the day from Oban to Mull to Iona and back is the only day on 11 RS tours and 11 Road Scholar tours that I wished for waterproof shoes and rain pants. I did get my shoes dry by taking the insoles out and putting them on the floor under the large heated towel rack in the bathroom. I sink wash so I went ahead and washed my jeans since they were soaked anyway, lol and they dried on the towel rack as well!

I'd also recommend light glove liners. I like the Smartwool liners but if you don't live where it's cold don't spend that much money $$!! The ones I took (different brand from the Smartwool) turned out to "attract" moisture for some ungodly reason. I put them in the charity shop bag when I got home.

Waterproof jacket is a must. An umbrella is mostly useless in the wind as are rain ponchos. If you are interested here is a link to my Trip Report from my tour starting June 6, 2018. BTW, the day we went to Iona the Mull bus driver (what a character!) said they'd had 3 weeks of perfect weather until the day before.

Posted by
222 posts


We will be in Scotland the 1st two weeks of May. I am taking a pair of Sperry duck boots so we will see how they hold up in puddles and potential rain. I did buy a Columbia waterproof jacket and have sweaters and fleece. I will let you know how they hold up but might be too late.

As far as London a week into June....Well I have been there two times and I found it to be cold, windy and rainy as well. I was there both times the first two weeks of May and it was a chilly 50-60. Not sure if the temp will turn around and be warm enough for sandals....

Posted by
5835 posts

...Sperry duck boots so we will see how they hold up in puddles and potential rain.

Duck boots, and the similar LL Bean Boots with seamless rubber foot and sole are waterproof. LL Bean Boots are great for snowshoeing and shoveling snow. (That said, I would use a Sorel Caribou for snowshoeing). But duck boots can be too waterproof for late spring hiking. If your boots are not breathable, your feet can get soaked from body moisture that is trapped in the boot when your feet sweat. Visualize hot and sweaty feet. If you wear rubberized waterproof boots, use wool or synthetic socks, not cotton. If your boots are not well fitted, and your feet hot and damp, your feet are more susceptible to blisters.

The better alternative are properly fitted boots with Gore-Tex or similar membrane that is breathable and the boot outer surface treated with a water repelling compound.

Hiking in waterproof duck boots would be almost as bad as hiking in Wellies (Wellington boots).

Posted by
13881 posts

Edgar, good assessment of the duck boots, and yes, I'd prefer my Sorels for snowshoeing or winter hiking.

There is not a lot of free time to hike on the Best of Scotland tour so boots would be overkill in my opinion. For the OP I'd go with waterproof walking shoes or even waterproof athletic shoes. I've got Altra Lone Peak waterproof low cut athletic shoes that would have been fine on that tour trip.

Posted by
67 posts

Thanks All 😽. I’m still ever so amazed and delighted with this forum. I live in central WA so familiar with cold and snow but not that much wet rain so Thanks for confirming my suspicions. I’m looking at a Sorel waterproof leather bootie rather than rubber duck type shoe. I can wear them rain or shine without sweaty feet. It has removable insoles so if they get wet I can dry them out. I have my hooded rain jacket and lightweight wool under tshirt and legging for layering.
We will be taking a few extra days in St Andrews for golf. My husband will play I will peruse history. Hoping to get some walks on the beach in too.
Going on to London by train for another 5 days so lots of city walking there will require comfort. Hope the Sorel will carry me but will pack a lighter weight sneaker for the mostly indoor days.

Posted by
14 posts

On our trip to Spain, I wished that my water resistant shoes actually were. We were caught in a downpour in Barcelona.

For our trip to Scotland, I plan to take my Ahnu waterproof low hikers. They are in fact waterproof. They don’t look quite as nice as my Ahnu walkers, but they pass. I highly recommend them if they fit your feet. I am on my second pair. I.e.

Posted by
5835 posts

Interesting reviews on the REI Ahnu link. Reviews are either love or hate. 14 Five Star ratings bs 9 One Star rating. For example:


5 out of 5 stars. Plumas Sally · 2 years ago

Great hiking and work boot

These Ahnu Montara III boots are the best hiking boots I've ever
owned. They were comfortable from day 1 especially when worn with
light weight hiking socks. I have small wide feet and the size 7
worked perfectly. I have hiked all my life and at 64 I appreciate a
pair of boots will take me 6-8 miles on granite ridges and into a
brewery afterwards with feet feeling fine. If you want a solid, high
performing work/hike boot (water proof as well!) this is the one.


1 out of 5 stars. elvasgotit · 11 months ago

Worst hiking shoe ever!

I wore these several times trying to break them in and they ended up
breaking me. There is a serious design flaw. They used THE stiffest
leather around the heel grab and it tore my ankles up. Tore the skin
right off on a six mile hike. I couldn't walk for months without pain.
Still have scars today months later.

Posted by
3940 posts

Edgar - as someone who sold shoes for a decade - it sounds like the person who hated the hiking shoes wasn't fit properly.

I live in Blundstone boots and before I got my current pair (my 4th), I got a pair that was a half size smaller than my normal size because they were on clearance and they didn't have my size left. After wearing them a half dozen times and wrecking my heels, I knew it wasn't going to work no matter how much I wanted to keep them, and they were non-returnable - luckily I sold them for about 80% of what I paid for them and put that towards getting a proper fitting pair. I looked around local stores and everyone had half size bigger or smaller - I knew trying them on that they weren't going to work. Finally ordered correct size and been happily wearing them for 2 yrs now.

This is why it's SO important to be properly fit for shoes! I would highly recommend people go to an actual store if they can - I've only ever ordered online if I'm replacing same with same.

Also - I wear my Blunds in all weather - puddles, messy slush - and have never had a leak.

And as for taking sandals - if you can fit them in, take them. My one regret from our trip in 2010 was thinking things would be cooler the first few weeks of Oct in Germany/Italy/other places - I didn't pack sandals and regretted it so much - we had many really warm days.

Posted by
4780 posts

Regardless of the footwear you ultimately choose consider this. Take an extra pair of dry socks in a zip-lock bag in your purse or day bag. If you run into unexpected wetness they will come handy. Saved the day for us a time or two.

Posted by
20 posts

Take an extra pair of dry socks in a zip-lock bag in your purse or day bag.

+1 on this for anyone who will be doing any serious amount of walking. A mile in wet socks is like 10 miles otherwise.

Posted by
32660 posts

not sure you will need sandals in June. You may, but just as likely you won't.

Posted by
8322 posts

I'm one of those who love my Ahnu Waterproof hiking shoes. I live in a rainy climate and my feet are warm and dry all winter. They are comfortable enough to wear around town. I've been so happy to have dry feet when I've accidently walked into a big mud puddle.

Posted by
222 posts

As for the Sperry Duck Boots.... these are more to give me a little dry protection and mud protection. These are insulated as well so not just rubber against skin. I love scenery but I am not taking long professional hikes in the rain. Too much stuff for me to get into. We will have a car as well and will have the option to change shoes, socks whenever we please.

Posted by
222 posts

Also, the Rick Steve’s 10 day Scotland has no extensive hiking that would require “hiking” shoes as well hiking was not really mentioned in the OP. My friend did the 10day RS Sept 2019. She paid $200.00 for a pair of waterproof hikers and said it was pointless and not needed. She just needed something to keep her feet dry. I think if I was going to climb Ben Nevis or be roaming up Old Man of Storr for hours THEN I would invest and change me thought..

Posted by
67 posts

Nope no hiking plans but Yes lots of walking. Maybe rain, always be prepared so i do carry extra socks in my day bag. Thanks to all who have been on this tour for their first person experiences. I will be doing a Sun Dance the day before the Iona/Mull leg of our adventure.

Posted by
13881 posts

"I will be doing a Sun Dance the day before the Iona/Mull leg of our adventure."

Oh yes, do that, lol!! This tour isn't heavy on churches so this may be the best you can do! The rest of us will keep our collective fingers crossed for fair weather for you!

Posted by
4144 posts

I'm the broken record here. For those who have seen my links to my favorites, you can go on to something else.

These gray Ahnu Montaras kept my feet warm and dry through puddles, mud, wet grass and sideways rain for 6 weeks (all of May and the first half of June in 2016) in England and Scotland. I wore them all day every day for lots of walking and standing, over rough terrain, cobblestones, city sidewalks and museums. They are as good for comfort and support as they are for wet weather. I have an older, more well-traveled pair in blue. Surprise: I wear a size 10 and they make my feet look small.

There are still some of the original Ahnu boots and shoes available on Amazon and similar vendors. I've also seen reviews that comment on the decline in quality since Teva bought Ahnu, so spending the time to find originals would be a good thing. Always read the reviews, most recent first, no matter what shoes or boots you're researching.

Having said that, I wore these ankle-high Teva Arrowoods on a 5+ week trip to Amsterdam, Portugal and Spain last summer. They are supposed to be waterproof. I had no experience with anything wet on that trip, so I can't verify how they perform under wet conditions, but they are very supportive and comfortable.

Sockwell graduated compression (15-20 mmHg) socks help keep my feet warm (or cool) and dry (32% Merino Wool, 31% Rayon from Bamboo, 32% Stretch Nylon, 5% Spandex) as well as provide support and help prevent fatigue. Many seem to think compression socks are only for old people and to help prevent blood clots on long drives or flights. They actually were created to help with athletic performance.

Most of mine are circulators like these, but there are lots of fun designs like these or these. Note that the men's size Medium/Large 7-10 is the same as the women's size Medium/Large 8-11.

For me, wearing footwear that I anticipate requiring to dry out by the next day is a non-starter. That's too iffy for me, especially in Scotland in May.

Posted by
15 posts

I have had a few pairs of Keen Terradora waterproof hiking shoes over the years and I love them. They are a bit bulkier than normal tennis shoes but not so much that you’d feel silly wearing them around town. Good traction control as well. I’d strongly recommend them for Scotland.

Posted by
46 posts

Hi all.

I am another big fan of the Ahnu low hikers. I wore them through mainland Europe in rainy May a couple years ago. They are super light weight and easy to fit in my backpack.
My second pair of shoes are Clarks leather over the ankle boots. A bit "dressier" than the hikers.
We traveled by trains, walked all day, and carried our backpacks. I switched pairs every day to give my feet a change. Both pairs were extremely comfortable on all road surfaces and weather. I purchsed both pairs 1/2 size bigger than usual. This worked out great if my feet decided to swell throughout the day.
I will be taking the same shoes to Scotland for three weeks this May.

Happy travels!

Posted by
220 posts

Whatever you do- don't bring something large and cumbersome--- I've done that, a massive waste of luggage space.

If you really insist on bringing hiking boots- I'd recommend some Merell Ontario Mid waterproof shoes- as comfortable as wearing sneakers, but not.

Then again there are sneakers. Yes. Your regular sneakers. You can spray them with waterproofing material like 'Nanoman' which worked wonders for me. Do it ahead of your trip by about 3 weeks and have at it. I did this the last time I went to England and was walking about soaking wet high grass in April and it didn't get through to my socks at all. I picked a pair of shoes that still had decent tread out of my closet and sprayed them (the tops were mesh btw). Held up great. I'm doing it again for my trip this March.

Really depends how crazy you want to get- if you think you are going to be going through a bunch of mud, invest in a good pair of lightweight waterproof hiking shoes that "behave" and feel more like a sneaker. But please, skip the duck boots, they are usually heavy and unnecessary.

Posted by
1445 posts

I second Clarks for a general walking shoe. Real enclosed leather uppers with nice thick water proof soles and arch supports. Unless you are really in a downpour they will get you through sidewalk puddles OK.

Posted by
222 posts

For the love of.....

The “duck boat” that I am referring to is a lightweight Sperry boot that is insulated. It runs higher than a bootie above the ankle but not even close to being near the knee. I think maybe a difference in style and comfort may be age and health dependent. I tried on a pair of Ecco Soft 7 that everyone raves about and I hated them. I tried so hard to love them and could not.

Posted by
67 posts

Thanks All for the wet shoes advice. I took a chance and ordered a Sorel waterproof boot online. They arrived one day later, free shipping, end of season price and they fit perfect. No wet weather here but I’ve been wearing them out and about and they are very comfortable. I stepped into a little pond near my gym and they stayed perfectly dry. They are slim and just at the ankle so they will pack well. All your comments and advice is truly appreciated.

Posted by
111 posts

I was in the Best if Ireland tour last Ictober. It was cold, windy and rainy. I took Sorel waterproof walking shoes and Teva water reisistant ankle walking boots. Both served me well trampling around the wet Irish countryside. I am also glad I brought my Columbia water resistant pants and my Eddie Bauer Weather Edge jacket because we went to the Aran Islands in a sleeting rain and all kept me warm and dry while my tour mates got soaked.

Posted by
5835 posts

I heavy wind driving rain severe enough to need duck boots you would need to have waterproof rain pants. In heavy wind driven rain, the water runs down legs and socks into the boots. Side zip rain pants ease putting them on in the field but it seems that the size zip is an entry point for water. Pack dry socks in a water proof bag for mid-day sock changes.