Camp booties help keep feet warm and toasty in the coldest weather when winter camping. They consist of a polypropylene outer shell and a warm insole, and are lined with a synthetic insulating material. Usually they are worn over socks, and help contribute to the layering effect that keeps the body warm. The outer shell has a low permeability and high vapor loss to block the wind and cold but still allow moisture from sweat to wick away from the body.
Most camp booties have a rubber sole with a dot or other textured pattern on the bottom for light traction if the wearer has to walk around camp on packed snow or ice. The insulating material goes all the way around the foot to protect it. A removable foam insole provides a cushion when walking around, and can be taken out to reduce bulk when wearing the camp booties inside a sleeping bag. The booties typically have a ribbon lacing that feeds through loops on the sides and adjusts to the right fit.
Campers usually wear socks inside camp booties, but the right kind is critical. Cotton is a very absorbent fabric and is not recommended for layering, as it will suck up any moisture exuded by the body and takes a long time to dry. This will chill feet, hands, and limbs instead of keeping them warm. In extremely cold weather this can contribute to hypothermia and even death. A synthetic blend is recommended, and campers should bring extra socks to allow rotation while the other pair dries.
There are booties that contain goose down, but while down is an excellent insulator, it clumps and collapses when wet and is difficult to dry. A savvy camper looks for camp booties with a good synthetic insulation material. The dead air space between the fibers helps hold in body heat to keep extremities warm. The thin synthetic fibers typically don’t absorb water and provide fill power very close to that of down, without the worry of clumping.
Winter camping can be fun if basic rules of safety and care are followed. There are plenty of websites that carry camp booties of all types, or they are available in outdoor wilderness stores. Before buying, especially if they are new to cold-weather activities, campers should read reviews of products and talk to others who are experienced with winter camping. They will undoubtedly have recommendations for the best products. If good booties cost a bit more, it may be worth the money to avoid losing toes to frostbite.