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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 11-01-07, 06:26 AM   #1
Pond Life
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Cold feet....like really cold

I suffer from really cold feet when I'm out. I wear 2 pairs of socks and goretex wrap overs....but my feet still freeze. What can I do?
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Old 11-01-07, 06:56 AM   #2
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How about some electrically heated socks? See:

http://www.cabelas.com/prod-1/0005479820754a.shtml
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Old 11-01-07, 08:05 AM   #3
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Also, make sure you have some wiggle room for your toes. Sometimes too many socks don't combat the cold at all. Think circulation as well as keeping your core and head warm. You probably know that but worth mentioning.
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Old 11-01-07, 08:09 AM   #4
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Here's my article on Cold Feet ... http://www.machka.net/whatworks/coldfeet.htm

Maybe some ideas in there might help you.
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Old 11-01-07, 09:15 AM   #5
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Feet are somewhat similar to hands in the fact that they benefit most from having a roomy "nest" to reside in. For the hands, mittens are preferred because they cause no constriction of the fingers and this allows them to stay warmer.

The feet are the same principle. Make sure you have TONS of wiggle room in your boots. I say "boots" because you will be hard pressed to find any shoes that have tons of wiggle room, especially cycling shoes. Go at least one or maybe two sizes bigger than normal. YOu of course will need to block wind and you will need some insulation, but most people over do the insulation and pack there feet into the boot.

That's where cold feet come from.
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Old 11-01-07, 12:11 PM   #6
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I get cold feet as well, but this has helped:

1) Blocking off some of the air vents in my shoes with duct tape.
2) Making sure my body core stays warm. Good helmet liner, etc.
3) Shifting around in the saddle to make sure blood is flowing where it should go. I find that the extra winter layers or thickness between me and the saddle can cause problems.

Last winter my toes were so cold on one ride (it was in the high 20's and I forgot my booties) that I had to stop and stuff plastic bags in my shoes. It got me home, but I was miserable.
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Old 11-01-07, 06:56 PM   #7
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I ride with Lake boots, and they help a lot.

However, in hindsight, I wish I'd gotten a larger size for the "wiggle room" several folks have mentioned.

I find that layering doesn't help if it gets compressed by the inside of the boot.
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Old 11-01-07, 07:13 PM   #8
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I like to wear big honkin' snowmobile boots.Not much of a fashion statement but they're warm,waterproof,and come up pretty high on the leg.Even then some times(here in Canada)my toes get cold.I just get off and walk for a bit.Gets the circulation going in the feet and they warm right upand then carry on my way.
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Old 11-02-07, 09:03 AM   #9
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I've used the neoprene booties before but my feet still get cold after a while and when I get home I find that my socks are wet, the booties seem to be too tight (difficult to get on and off) and I don't have a lot of wiggle room in my mtb shoes. I ordered a pair of boots for this season from MEC and I bought them a size larger to give more space for wool socks.
I'm still trying to run my SPD but if these boots don't do the trick I may need to go back to the platforms and my snowmobile boots for winter riding.
Good tips from everyone above and some great reading on your site Machka, thanks to all.
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Old 11-02-07, 11:21 AM   #10
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Lots of room, polypro under socks, wool socks and winter boots (mine are water proof) are what I use up here. My feet go numb in a few minutes without that combination. Had moderate frostbite 40 years ago and it just gets worse. I have found that even if you use chemical toe warmers or electric socks, you need lots of room. Chemical warmers shut down for lack of oxygen and electric socks seem not to be very effective in tight/normal toe room either, although I don't know why. (I stop biking at 0 deg F.)
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Old 11-02-07, 12:50 PM   #11
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I have found substantial benefits with going at least one size larger.Tight fitting shoes contribute significantly to cold problems. Personally I don't like the way loose fitting shoes feel but I can't argue with results. I have a pair of Lake 300s I wear in a 47, I wear thick socks inside and when it gets seriously cold (below -15F) I put on a set of neoprene booties on top. A windblocking bootie over the top of a normal shoe should be adequate down into the 20s.
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Old 11-02-07, 05:14 PM   #12
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For temps much below 25f I go with more insulation in the boot, not more sock on the foot. If your boot is good enough you shouldn't need more than a thin liner for a sock. I've routinely gone with nothing more than that in my bunny boots and been toasty. The sock is really just there to wick up any sweat. The warmth comes from the warm air around the foot, and you need boot insulation to keep that intact. The old style felt boots are hard to beat for insulation but very bulky. For this side of -40f. you can find boots with enough thinsulate to keep you warm.
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Old 11-02-07, 06:09 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Pond Life View Post
I suffer from really cold feet when I'm out. I wear 2 pairs of socks and goretex wrap overs....but my feet still freeze. What can I do?
You need to buy a pair of cycling shoes 2 sizes large so you can wear two pair of thicker wool socks and the shoes still be a bit loose fitting. Try some toe covers instead of the shoe covers if it is dry as this allows your foot to breath which will keep them warmer. If it is wet substitute a neoprene sock next to your skin and a thick wool sock over that then the shoes and the full shoe covers. You need the neoprene sock as a vapor barrier since most of the shoe covers are not breathable and are designed to be mostly water proof or water resistant. This also means that it wont let your foot breath either and so you need to trap moisture from your foot next to the skin to keep the wool sock dry.

This works pretty good. IF this doesn't work for you down to 30F or lower then you may need to use a winter cycling shoe two sizes bigger with the shoe covers over them. Or a winter lightweight hiking boot with some platform type pedals.

ALso, the Goretex shoe covers don't add any insulation so they are probably not warm enough for conditions below 45 degrees.
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Old 11-03-07, 10:00 AM   #14
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Despite what the Who-AHHs say, our Seattle winters are getting colder with more snow. The *Only* thing I've found that works below 32F is a Cabelas waterproof hiking boot with a wide toe box and a single wool sock.

At speeds over 15mph, RPMs over 90RPM, with steady streams of traffic wizzing by at 45MPH...Have never had success with the cleat and various combos of socks, b$$ties, baggies, or emergency blankets scraps. Too much wind! Maybe a chemical hand warmer would work...I donno
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Old 11-03-07, 02:53 PM   #15
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I use regular hiking boots with think wool socks. As stated before, you really must have adequete room, loose is better than tight. Putting chemical handwarmers at the base of your ankle/top of your foot may help, it warms the blood as it goes down to the feet without taking up room in your shoe/boot. Are your feet actually sweating with all the stuff you have on, then getting cold??? If that's it, you have too much on. I agree with cosmoline
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Old 11-03-07, 09:06 PM   #16
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All good advice, to which I'll add one question: do you cover your ankles?

If your trousers stop above your ankles and only have socks to cover your ankles, then they will be cold and your feet will be cold. Either wear commercial gaiters or make your own with old wool socks. Cut the toes off and wear the "socks" over your ankles.
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Old 11-03-07, 10:03 PM   #17
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Good tips from everyone above and some great reading on your site Machka, thanks to all.
Thanks ... that's all based on many years of experience living and cycling in the cold.
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Old 11-04-07, 05:41 PM   #18
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booties don't cut it for me, my feet still freeze.

the only solution for me was a pair of winter cycling boots, a couple sizes larger than my normal shoes, and a mix of different socks(wool, fleece, neoprene). feet aren't toasty warm, but they aren't uncomfortably cold, either, and I was able to do quite a few 2.5-3 hour rides last year in temps down in the mid 20's.

I got a pair of Northwave Celsius boots from http://www.gearandtraining.com/index.asp
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Old 11-04-07, 08:08 PM   #19
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Despite what the Who-AHHs say, our Seattle winters are getting colder with more snow. The *Only* thing I've found that works below 32F is a Cabelas waterproof hiking boot with a wide toe box and a single wool sock.

At speeds over 15mph, RPMs over 90RPM, with steady streams of traffic wizzing by at 45MPH...Have never had success with the cleat and various combos of socks, b$$ties, baggies, or emergency blankets scraps. Too much wind! Maybe a chemical hand warmer would work...I donno
This scenerio really does illustrate that conditions vary a great deal and that everyone has a different foot cold tolerance. There will be a point with everyone where cycling shoes just won't keep your foot warm. They don't have enough insulation in the sole of the shoe. At this point you have to go to a non cycling shoe solution.
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Old 11-06-07, 10:46 AM   #20
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Different things work for different folkls...

Don't forget that if you're riding clipless (pedals/cleats/less-than-warm-shoes), the pedals/cleats act as heat sinks, sucking heat from your shoe/feet. One way to help with this is to pull out the insole of your cycling shoes and place a piece of nonconductive materials directive over the cleat, inside the shoe. Replace your insole and test it.

I rode clipless in 21F degrees this morning using this technique, a set of chemical warmers sandwiched between two socks, AND Pearl Izumi AMfib shoe covers. My feet were still bitter cold in some places so I'm still experimenting for a better solution.

Good to read the suggestions posted here...
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Old 11-06-07, 06:21 PM   #21
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For temps much below 25f I go with more insulation in the boot, not more sock on the foot. If your boot is good enough you shouldn't need more than a thin liner for a sock.
+1 I've had both Diadora and Garnae "winter" boots (waterproof). Both were sort of double lined. Neither fared well below even 35F even with a Showers Pass outer bootie. Heard the Old fashioned "TOTEs waterproof boot over the top of the winter biking boot... works well for blockng wind. Has anyone had good success with temps below 32F?
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Old 11-06-07, 07:11 PM   #22
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Has anyone had good success with temps below 32F?
Yep ... frequently and well below 32F. That's only 0C.

But I don't use cycling boots, I use the methods I've mentioned on my website.
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Old 11-06-07, 09:10 PM   #23
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Yep ... frequently and well below 32F. That's only 0C.
But I don't use cycling boots, I use the methods I've mentioned on my website.
Because many of us are trying the suggestions on your website with limited results, perhaps it's the combinations of things you're wearing that's working. Like how heavy are the Kodiaks? ...have not seen such a knee-high sock around these parts. Is it all wool? And what is the fiber content of the thin sock?

I tried slipping a swatch of wool in between two layers of the boot at the ankle pressure point. No difference. Guess the neoprene has to be next to the skin?

Thanks Hot-Foot
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Old 11-06-07, 09:41 PM   #24
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Because many of us are trying the suggestions on your website with limited results, perhaps it's the combinations of things you're wearing that's working. Like how heavy are the Kodiaks? ...have not seen such a knee-high sock around these parts. Is it all wool? And what is the fiber content of the thin sock?

I tried slipping a swatch of wool in between two layers of the boot at the ankle pressure point. No difference. Guess the neoprene has to be next to the skin?

Thanks Hot-Foot
The Kodiaks are HEAVY ... they aren't common wool socks. They're "fuzzy", not really knit, and you won't find them in a women's department. I get them in the men's department of Walmart or Superstore. They are also not 100% wool ... they are 60% wool, 20% acrylic, 20% nylon.

The thin socks are polypro. I believe I got them from either Sierra Trading Post or Mark's Work Wearhouse. I'm thinking it was Mark's Work Wearhouse. I also think Walmart carries them for about a month somewhere around December. I have also used a very thin nylon/cotton blend ... basically, a dress sock found in the ladies department of Walmart.

I do not put neoprene next to my skin. First the thin socks, then the Kodiaks, then my neoprene ankle braces, then my large shoes (my shoes have to be large for me to fit all that in), then my booties (nylon for warmer days, neoprene for colder days). And then, if I'm still cold ... chemical handwarmers.

But at 0C/32F, I'll just wear the thin socks, Kodiaks, large shoes, and nylon booties. I won't bother with anything neoprene. By the time -5C comes around, I'll be into the neoprene ankle braces, and much colder than that, I'll be into the neoprene booties.

I've attached a photo of the packaging for the Kodiak socks.
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File Type: jpg KodiakSocks.JPG (94.7 KB, 19 views)
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Old 11-06-07, 09:59 PM   #25
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And these are the socks ... you can get them in a couple different colors, grey (like these) or a greyish navy.

The first shot is with them with the right side out. The second shot is inside out, so you can see what they look like inside.


I'll just add that I have a bit of trouble wearing those socks around the house or to work or school ... my feet get too hot!

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File Type: jpg KodiakSocks_Inside.JPG (78.7 KB, 8 views)

Last edited by Machka; 11-06-07 at 10:06 PM.
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