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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 12-29-07, 02:16 AM   #1
Nickel
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-75F boots?

My toes get pretty cold and I found these extreme comfort rated boots. I figure they don't need to work at that cold of temperature but I'm sure they would be great to -20F. They are about 2.5lb per shoes. They are pretty tall so I can use them for winter hiking and not get snow in them, windproof and waterproof. I like that I would get more than 1 use (i.e. just cycling) out of them.

Am I being ridiculous for getting such a boot and would I be okay with something only rated to -20F? I don't use my clipless pedals since I can't stay in my road shoes, despite neoprene booties and a heavy wool sock. I can't stuff more in there without smushing my toes. I can use a chemical warmer but I would rather not do that every time I cycle. I also like using platforms during the winter since it puts my mind at peace.

I am missing my rides of 3-4hrs because of my toes so any advice is appreciated!
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Old 12-29-07, 02:25 AM   #2
StephenH
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If they work, go for it. The rating could be optimistic in the first place- I've found that with sleeping bags. Or they may make your feet sweat- I've had that happen with mittens.

I haven't run around in -20 temps much, but would also be concerned about frostbite of exposed areas on a bike.
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Old 12-29-07, 02:38 AM   #3
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Once you get to -75F boots, you're looking at the heavy-duty Sorels ( http://www.sorel.com/ ) which the oil riggers use when they work in the winter up north ... or even around this area. You're talking one serious (and very expensive) boot.

http://www.sorel.com/Product.aspx?to...t=110&prod=127
http://www.sorel.com/Product.aspx?top=1&cat=110&prod=68
http://www.sorel.com/Product.aspx?top=1&cat=110&prod=51

I did a century a few years ago at about -25°F, and wore my Snowlions (similar to the Blizzards): http://www.sorel.com/Product.aspx?top=1&cat=120&prod=58 which were fine for keeping my feet warm, but my feet tended to wander all over the pedals.

For temps that are not quite as cold as that, however, have you had a look at my "Cold Feet" page?
http://www.machka.net/whatworks/coldfeet.htm
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Old 12-29-07, 02:40 AM   #4
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I've found the best way to keep warm in extremely cold temps in by using an expedition weight sock liner under your socks of choice.
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Old 12-29-07, 04:40 AM   #5
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I tried everything to keep my toes warm. Two toes and one finger turn white very quickly when exposed to the cold. Probably some type of frostbike damage. The chemical bags were cramping my toes. This year I bought some Hotronic heated insoles. I think they cost around $200. (They are sold worldwide for downhill skiers.) I wished I had bought them earlier and stopped wasting a lot of money buying everything else under the sun. The Hotronic heaters work on high for 4 hours. I use them with mountain bike shoes and neoprene booties.
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Old 12-29-07, 08:35 AM   #6
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I use Browning® GORE TEX® 1,200 gram Thinsulate™ Ultra Insulation Boots when it gets real cold and they keep my feet warm as toast.
http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/cb.aspx?a=226386
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Old 12-29-07, 10:42 AM   #7
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Is a polypro sock the same as the wicking cycling socks usually worn during the summer?

I suppose my issue is that I have my bike shoes + booties, a pair of hiking boots, and a pair of wintery/galoshes type of shoe. The bike shoes aren't really large enough that I have a lot of flexibility in putting stuff in there. There is a bike swap coming up and I thought if I could find a cheap pair of one size larger shoes, I might have more luck with keeping a lot of space in the shoe. I am using a wool mountaineering sock and I think it is just too thick for proper space. However, I don't run clipless all winter but that would buy me time when it is cold and not snowy/icy.

My hiking boots are a cheap old pair from my days in a warmer place that are barely waterproof. I might treat them but they also don't have much room for my toes + thick sock.

I have been borrowing my partner's boots which are waterproof but have a very thin sole and stink for biking. I have lots of room for my toes and sock but they did not work very well at 10F. I think the sole is the problem there.

I've seen the heated insoles before and I think they are pretty interesting but I'd like to see whether actually having winter boots would make a difference. If I was committed to clipless all year, I may more strongly consider them.

Thanks for responding Machka. Sorel was one brand I was looking at and another was Kamik (also known as Arctic Cat I think?). Have you heard anything about that brand before? I didn't know the info about the ankle wrap and that is really interesting. I will definitely try out the ankle warming technique.
Honestly, I think I won't really have to worry much below -20C. I just figured to be generous with the ratings as I have heard that sleeping bag ratings tend to be exaggerated and wasn't sure how it worked with shoes.

Another reasoning was that many of the -20C shoes I have found are more like a hiking boot or sneaker and don't have much coverage of the lower leg. It gets really messy with the snow/slush and it would be nice to have something to protect my snowpants. Plus it would be great for snowshoeing so I wouldn't get snow in my boot.

Here are the boots I am considering. I will check out the Gore-tex style boot as well. I usually look at men's boots since they have more selection my larger size.

Kamik Norway 100 Pac Boots

Arctic Cat Ultimate Pac Boots

Sorel Alpha Track Buckle Boots

Kamik Massif Pac Boots

Columbia Bugabootoo™ Insulated Winter Boots

Kamik Greenbay 4 Insulated Boot

Sorel Blizzard II™ Winter Boots
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Old 12-29-07, 12:29 PM   #8
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Is a polypro sock the same as the wicking cycling socks usually worn during the summer?
No, very different. The polypro sock is much warmer ... the wicking socks are usually coolmax or something like that, designed to keep your feet cool.

And the key is to get shoes or boots that give you quite a bit of toe room ... enough to be able to wiggle your toes with a thin sock, and a heavy wool sock that comes right up to your knees, and the ankle wrap, and possibly also chemical warmers, if necessary. When you have room, and your feet aren't mashed into the shoe, the air around your feet can warm up a bit and that helps keep your feet warm.
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Old 12-29-07, 05:10 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info. Did you get your Snowlions a size larger than your normal shoe size or did you find that they fit well with a thick sock?
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Old 12-29-07, 06:35 PM   #10
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I have some cheap "gum" boots, that are 2 sizes too big.
With a thin neoprene sock, covered by a loose fitting wool knit sock, these things stay toasty.

It's funny how we treat boots differently than any other exterior clothing...
We wouldn't expect one thick outer layer on our torso to keep us warm.

Think of your cold weather boot as a windbreaker for your feet. It has to be waterproof, and big enough to accommodate whatever number of layers the weather dictates.
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Old 12-29-07, 07:10 PM   #11
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Thanks for the info. Did you get your Snowlions a size larger than your normal shoe size or did you find that they fit well with a thick sock?
I think they are about half a size bigger than my normal shoe size (I take a size 8.5 and they are a 9), but they've got that thick felt inner which is flexible, and also traps air between the fibers. I can use them with a thick sock over a thin sock, but did not need to use my ankle wraps with them. They were warm enough.

I spent two winters (and summers) in Manitoba working for Canada Post on the weekends. I'd spend hours walking, or just standing when I worked with those large mailboxes they've got in newer areas. So I got to know what worked and what didn't work for being out in the cold. The Snowlions were wonderful!

However, unless it was really, really cold, I wouldn't recommend riding with them ... they're awkward. And if you go with the ones rated to -60, -75, -100, etc. they get even more bulky and awkward.
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Old 12-29-07, 07:58 PM   #12
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I bought a pair of Kamiks last year around this time. I thought they would be great for all sorts of activities, and they had the added bonus that the toes would fully fit into my toe cages. I took them out on a weekend winter camp. They broke after 45 minutes. They had buckles, not laces. By the end of the weekend, 4 of the six buckles on the pair had cracked. Poor, poor QC. I exchanged them for the -100 sorels that machka posted the link to. Love them, haven't needed to use them for cycling yet.

Where are you located? the type of cold varies from location to location. I commute 32km round trip, and so far the coldest has been -22 C. I use a thinsulate lined leather winter boot with two pairs of socks, a liner, and a thick winter sock. For anything colder than -18C, I use a chemical warmer between the two socks. No problems yet.
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Old 12-29-07, 08:58 PM   #13
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I would like to avoid leather if possible. I am in Minnesota. It doesn't get bitterly cold like for you hard core Canadians, but most of the lower rate temperature boots have the tall windproof upper which would be really great when it is wet, windy and slushy here. I'd like to avoid chemical warmer use as well and I'd like to just get one pair of boots. Thanks for the info on the Kamiks!
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Old 12-29-07, 09:52 PM   #14
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I've resigned myself to the chemical toe warmers so I took an old pair of insoles, cut off the toe section and use them in my bike shoes. The cut insoles leave enough room to keep the warmers from taking up too much room.
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Old 12-30-07, 08:27 PM   #15
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http://www.baffin.com/

These are designed for polar explorers. They wick very well and I find them toasty and cozy as slippers. I use the Vermonts for general freezing temps and have a -40 rated boot for the extremes. The neg 40s are bulkier. I haven't had to try them out yet. After the first ride with the VTs down to about the teens I never again gave a thought to my feet other than... oh! That's just delicious!
winterfootwear.com and something called 6pm carry good sales.
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Old 12-31-07, 04:52 AM   #16
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One thing that does NOT work is those battery powered socks. My wife kindly bought a pair for me. What a goofy contraption. They take C-cell batteries which clunk around on your calf until they eventually pull the sock down to your ankle.

They don't warm your feet, but they burn your skin just above your ankle. Of all the silly damned things...
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Old 01-04-08, 02:11 PM   #17
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I tried everything to keep my toes warm. Two toes and one finger turn white very quickly when exposed to the cold. Probably some type of frostbike damage. The chemical bags were cramping my toes. This year I bought some Hotronic heated insoles. I think they cost around $200. (They are sold worldwide for downhill skiers.) I wished I had bought them earlier and stopped wasting a lot of money buying everything else under the sun. The Hotronic heaters work on high for 4 hours. I use them with mountain bike shoes and neoprene booties.
+1 I splurged and got the lithium batteries for 10+ hours of run time.
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Old 01-09-08, 12:07 AM   #18
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I invested in the Sorels...now I need it to get cold!
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Old 01-09-08, 02:22 PM   #19
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Personally, I hoping you jinxed it and a glorious early spring follows soon.
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Old 01-10-08, 04:03 PM   #20
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I'm pretty sure I did...all the snow is gone and I'm left standing in a muddy field with a pair of snowshoes.
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Old 01-17-08, 09:28 PM   #21
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I picked up some Columbia sport boots, they have an active temp rating of -45F/-43C.

most days, I'm good with a pair of heavy wool socks, when it gets colder, I wear another pair of merino wool socks under them. The boots are size 13, I wear a size 12 normally.

I have gone on rides in -35c weather with this.

I have to take my boots off when I go inside, or end up standing in a pool of sweat!
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