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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, 08:08 PM   #1
mazdamax
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Electric socks

Has anyone had experience with electric socks? I just purchased a pair of Nordic Gear Lectra Socks for $20 at Dick's Sporting Goods and although I haven't field-tested them yet, I have serious doubts.
The heating element in each sock has a resistance of about 1.5 Ohms, so when powered with a 1.5 volt battery, it should put out a toasty 1.5 watts. How is this enough to do anything? Since I can barely feel the warmth with my fingers, how will my toes notice it in low windchill conditions? The manufacturer claims that these socks were designed to keep the feet of North Sea fishermen warm, but I don't see how. Maybe I'm underestimating them.


Does anyone know if it's possible to use a 3 volt power source without burning out the heating element?

Another thing I don't appreciate about the socks is the battery holster at the top of the sock: If the wearer is running or cycling, the weight of the heavy D-cell has a tendency to pull the sock down to ankle level. I wonder if there are any better brands in the same price range.
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Old 12-29-07, 09:17 PM   #2
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I used to have some of those type of socks close to 40 years ago (yes, I'm older and they've been around that long) for winter hunting and they actually worked quite well. As you say, for cycling the battery hanging off the top would not work that great. Now I use the chemical toe warmers for each ride.

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Old 12-30-07, 10:46 AM   #3
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I borrowed a pair one time to try them out in the low 20F temperature range and they weren't hot enough. The battery weight and location wasn't really noticeable, but then I usually view more weight as a better workout. Best so far is a larger shoe or boot so your toes are not pinched, with two pairs of socks and the chemical warmers under your toes between the sock laters. That works for hours.
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Old 12-30-07, 06:45 PM   #4
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I tried the battery heated socks and sadly, I had no luck with them either.

I use chemical warmers between 2 layers of socks. You have to make sure that the air can get at the warmers to work properly.
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Old 12-08-08, 07:35 AM   #5
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What's a chemical warmer? I biked in today and half way through my toes started to freeze. I thought I was getting frostbite. I just couldn't believe how much my toes were freezing. I did have two thick wool socks on...it made my feet very tight. I could barely move my toes....but I thought that would be better.
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Old 12-08-08, 08:05 AM   #6
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What's a chemical warmer? I biked in today and half way through my toes started to freeze. I thought I was getting frostbite. I just couldn't believe how much my toes were freezing. I did have two thick wool socks on...it made my feet very tight. I could barely move my toes....but I thought that would be better.
Check 'em out here.

You shake them and put them inside a glove or boot. They do need air ciculation to work properly, so don't use them inside any sort of wind sheild (water proof sock, bag or toe cover).

I've had varying degrees of success with them. Typically they work good, but, again, need air to work properly.
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Old 12-08-08, 08:10 AM   #7
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My wife tried the electric socks a few years ago and found them to be useless.

Performance Bicycle has the chem foot warmers.
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Old 12-08-08, 08:38 AM   #8
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My wife tried the electric socks a few years ago and found them to be useless.

Performance Bicycle has the chem foot warmers.
Yeah, I've tried them also with no luck.

Friggin' around with batteries and, well, they just didn't heat up enough.
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Old 12-08-08, 11:45 AM   #9
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What's a chemical warmer? I biked in today and half way through my toes started to freeze. I thought I was getting frostbite. I just couldn't believe how much my toes were freezing. I did have two thick wool socks on...it made my feet very tight. I could barely move my toes....but I thought that would be better.
If you squeeze all the air out of the socks, they lose their insulating capability. I'll bet you'd find your feet are warmer with just 1 pair of the socks and your feet not being jammed into your shoes.
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Old 02-22-09, 05:06 PM   #10
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Cold feet is my greatest setback to cycling in the winter. What has helped most for me is the use of doggie poop bags. Yes , I am not kidding. I get the bags from the city park. you can also use freezer bags or bread bags, but the ppoop bags fit my feet.
So, I put on a pair of wool socks, slip on a poop bag, then my cycling shoe. The cycling shoe has a neoprene winter cover. Over that I will then put one or two more poop bags over that.
The bike clips go through the bags when you clip in.
It doesnt look really stealth, but it has allowed me to ride on days I normally would not be able too.
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Old 02-23-09, 03:44 PM   #11
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Cold feet is my greatest setback to cycling in the winter.
Same here. Once I get the cold toe problem solved then I've got this winter cycling thing licked. This is my second winter of riding. And this year the problem that stands out is the cold toes. Last year was choosing the right snow tire. For me it's the Hakka 294. But this year we've had temps in the single digits, which is no problem. But then we had some sub-zero stuff. Which my feet really felt that. I did find this link which seems to have some merit to it.
http://winterschool.org/faqs.html#8
I tried the bread bag trick. It kept my feet warm, but, the one sock buried in the plastic bags were a little damp when I arrived at work. I also found these.
http://www.rbhdesigns.com/product/34...lated-sock.htm
I'm going to wait till I get more feedback on these until I decide whether or not to get them.

But, I was looking at the heated socks on Amazon. And they had mixed reviews on them. A lot of people complained about the battery holder being a big inconvenience.
Another thing I'm considering is the "Toasty Feet" Insoles. They have had good comments on those. Walmart has them for about $13. But seeing as how the cold season is winding down in these parts, I'll wait till next year to field test all of those things.
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Old 11-27-10, 11:48 AM   #12
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i find more use of wool socks. You just put 2 layers of them. More..
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Old 11-27-10, 12:34 PM   #13
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I had a pair of the electric socks ~25 years ago, I went snowmobiling using them and sneakers, my feet stayed warm enough.
I haven't tried them cycling. I still have two pair of them, permaybehaps, I will try them this winter.
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Old 12-01-10, 01:25 PM   #14
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Nordic Gear Lectra Socks

I have a pair of these just out of curiosity I put a battery in one sock and put them on today. I am driving my car for today yet my foot that didn't have the battery got cold and the one that did only got slightly cold.. They do work but how well who knows, is it worth the extra weight, would another sock layer do more? Why only 1.5v?

I find them a more attractive technology with rechargable batts than chemicals warmers but with the chemical warmers there is no doubt about the heat being effective..
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Old 12-02-10, 12:12 PM   #15
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I use Hotronic M4 when I lived in Vermont and occasionally since I have moved to Portland. They actually work, although the point of the Hotronic warmers is to prevent the body from cutting off blood, rather than provide actual warming effect. They have a hot-level that does provide a temporary boost of heat in case you do get chilled. The setting can be set for "continuously hot" but it is really too hot for me.
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Old 12-03-10, 01:46 PM   #16
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Hotronic's are $200 bucks for the M3 and more for the M4 but cetainly an option.

I rode in with the Nordic Gears D battery socks today under regular answer speedster shoes and front mounted neoprene toe cover all was well at 34 degrees F.
I'll report in again next time I try it in lower temperatures.
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Old 12-04-10, 02:59 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by kv017000 View Post
Cold feet is my greatest setback to cycling in the winter...
Same issue here. I think I've finally got it licked this year though after trying various combinations:

Ultra thin base layer sock
Wool knee length socks
Chemical warmers stuck to shoe insert below toes
Chemical warmers stuck to wool sock above toes
Dr Scholl's foam insert below stock shoe insert
Neoprene shoe covers
Shoes kept very loose to avoid pinching feet

This combined with tights and gore windblock leg warmers seems to do the trick. I rode Tuesday night at about 26 degrees and was very comfortable for about 90 minutes. Tomorrow we're doing the first snow ride of the season, 20 degrees at the start - that should be the real test.
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Old 12-04-10, 05:20 PM   #18
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Good tips and the cold feet are a big deal.
AEO? in the tips and tricks sticky left this link I thought I was very well written.

http://www.machka.net/whatworks/coldfeet.htm
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Old 12-05-10, 11:43 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
What's a chemical warmer? I biked in today and half way through my toes started to freeze. I thought I was getting frostbite. I just couldn't believe how much my toes were freezing. I did have two thick wool socks on...it made my feet very tight. I could barely move my toes....but I thought that would be better.
You do realize that if your socks/shoes are that tight you're restricting blood flow to your feet, right?

Once you do that there's not really much of ANYTHING that's going to keep your feet warm. There's not enough blood flow (bringing warmth from the body core) to replace whatever heat you are losing. Combine that with the earlier poster's comment about the fact that the air pockets in the cloth is what keeps you from losing heat as fast and you've squished most of them out and you have a bad combination.

Get boots a size larger than normal so that you maintain adequate blood flow with multiple pairs of socks!

I don't even wear winter boots... just waterproof workboots. As long as I have room to wear two pairs of socks comfortably I'm good down to around -10F.

I find that under almost all conditions I tend to have more trouble with overheating than anything when I ride in the winter.
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Old 12-07-10, 11:56 AM   #20
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my toes and thumbs are my current problems

i use wool socks and plastic bags. will try to make an overboot soon, can't justify the $60 REI is asking and they feel so thin! I don't want to try the chemical packs because 2 rides/day the cost will add up and i don't have any more room in my shoes
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Old 12-07-10, 12:27 PM   #21
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my toes and thumbs are my current problems

i use wool socks and plastic bags. will try to make an overboot soon, can't justify the $60 REI is asking and they feel so thin! I don't want to try the chemical packs because 2 rides/day the cost will add up and i don't have any more room in my shoes
I bolded your key problem there.

The chem packs can be used longer if you seal them in a ziplock back immediately. They're air activated, but if your shoes are crammed they'll be useless.


If you're using a summer shoe, and you're getting anywhere, a neoprene shoe cover will do wonders for you. Buy one. The main thing to check is that the system you put it on with isn't horrible. I bought a Trek pair a couple years ago, zipper in the back and the zipper couldn't be fully separated: Terrible to get on, and I busted the zipper in short order.

I find that baggies do very little. They maybe make 45 degrees okay instead of 50. Shoe covers will drop me down to around 40. Below that I break out winter shoes. I'm still experimenting with keeping my feet warm below freezing.
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Old 12-07-10, 12:34 PM   #22
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I'm very interested in hearing about the electric socks. The hotronic stuff is too overpriced. The design looks good, but the price is absurd. I'd happily pay $40 for the system and provide my own batteries.

My biggest concern with the electric socks is that they'll brake too quickly to be worth it. My trouble with chem warmers is they deactivate in my shoes. I have to constantly squirm to keep them working. An electric source would always give me something. But I suppose at $25 it's worth the experiment. I spent more than that on wool and silk socks this year...


My understanding of electric heating is that all of the good materials are brittle. So you can't just coil the wires in a sock, you need to provide something solid to keep them from being bent and snapped. And, of course, they're only going to put out 1-2 watts. Probably less than half of what a toe warmer, iron based, pad puts out sitting on the counter: But maybe not a lot less than it puts out sitting in your mostly air tight shoe.
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Old 12-07-10, 02:10 PM   #23
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Same issue here...

Ultra thin base layer sock
Wool knee length socks
Chemical warmers stuck to shoe insert below toes

Shoes kept very loose to avoid pinching feet

This combined with tights...
Got a set of Lake winter road boots a size larger and some Craft winter tights. Sold some unneeded bike parts and musical instruments for the fundage. That plus the fact I was making consistant money for a change allowed me to make the investment(s). Working 2nd shift I ride home in 0-20F often here in Mid-TN.

Posted this on another thread, but keeping one's pulse points warm will allow warmer blood to travel to the extremities. The wool socks I wear are knee high w/a addtional layer of material on the shin area. An added layer of windblocking material like Gore-tex on the lower leg will likely contribute to keeping one's toes warm as well.

I always keep a set of foot warmers handy on longer recreational rides. Haven't needed them since I got this combination of gear. Don't really ever need them on my commute as it's an hour and change for 20 mi one way.
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Old 01-27-11, 10:23 AM   #24
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i think heated socks are great if you have cold feet all the time. Lot of people have bad blood circulation so the socks help them. I read good staff about socks here.
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Old 01-27-11, 11:21 AM   #25
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If you ride with platform pedals, insulated hiking boots seem to work well (for me at least). It was -2 F and my feet weren't cold when I got to work. In my regular shoes, they start getting cold at 20 F.
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