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Avoiding shoe odor in trail shoes and ski touring boots

GEAR | 29.05.2018 | Dennis Forte

Whether ski touring or trail running, if you are active in the mountains at higher intensities, you will sweat. That regulates your body temperature. Sweating is healthy. Ancient people knew that, too. Indeed, sweat can become a burden and every mountain endurance athlete also knows that. The burden is actually more on your fellow athletes -- those who have to bear the pungent odor while ski touring or trail running.

Adriano Rossato - Product Manager Footwear Dynafit & Mountain Guide

Either running shoes or shells and liners from ski touring boots can be rinsed and brushed with lukewarm water and a mild soap. However, allowing them to dry completely after that is enormously important! Footwear prefers indirect heat and low temperatures.

I don’t let any chemicals near my feet

As described above, careful care is also the best way to guard against shoe odor. With ski touring boots, the liner must be allowed to dry separately from the shell after every wear. That’s true also before storage after the season.


To completely dry out trail running shoes, the footbed must be first removed. The preferred location is an open, ventilated area with fresh air. Generally, I advise against chemical agents that you can buy in a shoe store. They only offer a short-term solution.

Javier Martín De Villa – Dynafit Brand Ambassador & Mountain Guide

As a former member of the Spanish National Team for ski mountaineering, I have learned to work around shoe odor. In my opinion, there is only one method...and that is drying them out and using fresh air. I try to avoid heaters and special shoe dryers.

Fresh socks are essential

I never wear athletic socks more than once. I find it important to always wear fresh socks. Doing that allows you to not only decrease shoe odor, but also blisters on your feet. When the smell from liners and running shoes gets a little too intense, then I toss them into the washing machine. But I actually do that quite infrequently and when I do, I use only cold water and a gentle cycle, plus I use only organic, biodegradable detergent.

Harald Angerer – Blogger at & passionate Alpine Runner

My experience has shown that you have to rid your shoes of moisture as quickly as possible. In the summer, on nice days, not a problem. I leave my running shoes at my door in a warm place, but not directly in the hot sun because they don’t like that at all! As soon as they are dry, the odor is usually also much reduced. Fresh air also contributes to this in part. In rainy weather, you can leave the shoes in the bathroom and stuff them with newspaper so they dry out quicker.

Insider tip: alkaline foot soak

For ski touring boots, it is key to never leave them in the car. I take out the liners immediately and then as before put them in a warm place. But the same is true here: not on the heater ... Too much high heat damages the materials.


If the running shoes or ski touring boots are dry, I also use the little packs from the company SmellWell. You just stick these in your footwear and they absorb the moisture and leave a nice smell.


Alkaline foot soaks are another tip. Not for your footwear but for your feet. The body loves to store toxins in the feet. Those are then responsible for overly acidic sweat and thus a more intense odor. An alkaline foot soak just once a month works wonders. If the odor is more intense, then you should do a foot soak more often. Doesn’t hurt at all and is in fact quite relaxing after a long trail run or tough ski tour.


In sum, according to our experts, the following points are essential to ensure your trail shoes or ski touring boots don’t get terribly stinky.

• Allow running and ski touring footwear to dry well after every use.

• Avoid direct heat such as heating elements or direct sunlight.

• Take advantage of fresh air which works wonders for stinky shoes.

• Without fail, remove footbeds and liners for drying.

• Now and then, wash your footwear either by hand or using a gentle machine cycle.

• Avoid chemical agents. SmellWell is natural and works well.

• Consider alkaline foot soaks as a prophylaxis for odor.

• Wear fresh socks since they protect against blisters and reduce shoe odor.

During mountain endurance sports, highly technical fabrics ensure that moisture is wicked away from the body. That happens mostly with clothing. And if your sport duds start to stink, they can get tossed in the washing machine without further ado. But with shoes it’s an entirely different story. Ski touring boots and trail running shoes should not be washed so frequently. And, of course, the feet is where most athletes sweat even more. We face quite a dilemma! So, what do we do?


We asked around in our Dynafit circles about shoe odor and found three people who know a bit about it: