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Crocs and Socks for winter rain commuting: an elegant solution.

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Crocs and Socks for winter rain commuting: an elegant solution.

Old 11-05-20, 05:46 PM
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Helldorado
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Crocs and Socks for winter rain commuting: an elegant solution.

I commute in the rain. A lot (I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA - vary rainy in the winter). In years past I used traditional foot gear: enclosed cycling shoes (clip-less) with overboots of many kinds - I've tried them all. Many times my feet would stay dry and warm, but many times not. Water would eventually seep in, even after sealing the sole cleat screw holes with silicone rubber. And the shoes would stay damp, making for an unpleasant ride home from work. It was a hassle and it took an extra ten minutes in the morning to get it all ready.

But no more. I switched to flat platform pedals and now I ride in thick wool socks and a pair of crocs. Plenty of grip for the pedals. And despite the fact that the crocks are "open" and full of holes (great ventilation), the wool socks keep my feet warm and comfortable despite getting soaked all the way through by the rain and spray. I've ridden three times so far, 20 miles per commute, in 45 degree rain, with no problems. At work I just slip the crocks and wet socks off, put on a dry pair of socks that I packed for the ride, and I'm done.




Rather than fight the weather, I embrace it. Simple. Cheap, It works.

Once the weather starts dipping below 40 degrees I will switch to a new pair of water-proof socks that I just purchased - the Showers Pass "Crosspoint" socks. Also wool, but with a breathable/waterproof middle lining. Can't wait to try them.

Oh, one last thing. Don't let the fender manufacturers tell you that you can't fit wider tires under their fenders. I own the Planet Bike "Cascadia" plastic fenders in the 45 mm width, which their website says only fits 700c tires up to 35 mm. Baloney. I'm riding on some 42mm Teravail Ramparts and they fit just fine (my calipers tell me the tires are just below 43 mm at the widest part of the tire).
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Old 11-05-20, 06:09 PM
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Thanks for the idea. I've been thinking of trying sandals this winter. I need to find some very warm socks. How low (in temperature) do you go when you ride?
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Old 11-05-20, 06:09 PM
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I started at the same point, but ended up going with hiking boots and wool socks for my PNW commute.

Now my commute is a walk across the hall. I look out at the rain with mixed emotion; I'm kinda glad I'm not riding to work in that crap, but I kinda miss it as well. My commuter bike is so sad.
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Old 11-05-20, 06:13 PM
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I use some Keen CNX sandals, but also with wool socks. This will be the first time where I try to see if I can use them all through the winter (i'm in Denmark, so it can be a very mild winter, or really cold one). I've bought some "rain gaiters" (high, from Vaude) just in case I actually need something more to help with the cold if needed at some point during these coming months - they will also keep the shins somewhat dry, I hope.
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Old 11-05-20, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Thanks for the idea. I've been thinking of trying sandals this winter. I need to find some very warm socks. How low (in temperature) do you go when you ride?
I ride as cold as it gets here (usually in the 20s here in Tacoma) - as long as it is dry. If I know that the streets will be icy, I don't risk it and I drive in. But that's not a frequent problem.

The socks work like a wet suit does for a SCUBA diver - I think. They trap a warm layer of water next to the feet. Wool is amazing.
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Old 11-05-20, 07:22 PM
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I tour in Crocs. Rain is not an issue. In a very short time after the rain stops, my feet are dry. No soggy shoes.
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Old 11-05-20, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I started at the same point, but ended up going with hiking boots and wool socks for my PNW commute.

Now my commute is a walk across the hall. I look out at the rain with mixed emotion; I'm kinda glad I'm not riding to work in that crap, but I kinda miss it as well. My commuter bike is so sad.
I wish I lived in PDX. So much better bike infrastructure there than up here in Tacoma. Lube up your bike and git ridin'!
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Old 11-06-20, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Thanks for the idea. I've been thinking of trying sandals this winter. I need to find some very warm socks. How low (in temperature) do you go when you ride?
This is what I did for 15 years. If temps got below freezing 32f/0c I would use Keen cycling shoes. My sandals were Lakes, great sandal....RIP. I never used Gore-Tex over-socks but think that would be a good combo for the 45-32f temp range when raining. I find crocs are too slippery for raining situations.
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Old 11-06-20, 08:10 AM
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Hmm. I think of 45F as spring or fall temperatures rather than winter.

Also, what's the rain rate (inches per hour) you've ridden through?
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Old 11-06-20, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Hmm. I think of 45F as spring or fall temperatures rather than winter.

Also, what's the rain rate (inches per hour) you've ridden through?
I agree (had to convert the degrees to Celcius to know how cold or not they were).
Those temps are more shoulder seasons here too.
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Old 11-06-20, 11:07 AM
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This reminders of a friend in college. During the Bay Area winter rainy season, he simply wore swim trunks to class (it was still usually above 60F and short rides). He'd get off his bike, brush the water off, and be perfectly dry.
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Old 11-06-20, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
This reminders of a friend in college. During the Bay Area winter rainy season, he simply wore swim trunks to class (it was still usually above 60F and short rides). He'd get off his bike, brush the water off, and be perfectly dry.
Temp was 38F (3C) this morning when I left for work. Feet felt fine, warm even, using thick REI house-brand wool hiking socks with the Crocs.
So far, so good. It should get rainy again in a few days. The experiment will continue...

Last edited by Helldorado; 11-06-20 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 11-06-20, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post

Also, what's the rain rate (inches per hour) you've ridden through?
"Rain rate?" Is there an app for that? Is that something you expect the average cyclist to know or figure out? You must be a meteorologist. It was raining sufficiently hard to completely soak the socks for the duration of the 50 min ride. All the cars I passed had their wipers on steady rate (not intermittent).
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Old 11-09-20, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Helldorado View Post
"Rain rate?" Is there an app for that? Is that something you expect the average cyclist to know or figure out? You must be a meteorologist. It was raining sufficiently hard to completely soak the socks for the duration of the 50 min ride. All the cars I passed had their wipers on steady rate (not intermittent).
Don't know about an app. You might have to look at a tablet, or even (gasp!) a computer. Look up your location and get the local conditions on weather.gov, then click on the 3 day history.

As to relevance, it makes a big difference IME whether my socks are soaked 5 minutes into a 45 minute commute or 40 minutes into the commute. 5 minutes of wet wool socks is no big deal; 30 minutes at 35-40 F is miserable.
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Old 11-09-20, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Don't know about an app. You might have to look at a tablet, or even (gasp!) a computer. Look up your location and get the local conditions on weather.gov, then click on the 3 day history.

As to relevance, it makes a big difference IME whether my socks are soaked 5 minutes into a 45 minute commute or 40 minutes into the commute. 5 minutes of wet wool socks is no big deal; 30 minutes at 35-40 F is miserable.
According to US weather history, between October and March, Tacoma can expect upto 18-19 rain days with upto 6.7" of rain per month. It's technically located in a rainforest.
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Old 11-09-20, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Don't know about an app. You might have to look at a tablet, or even (gasp!) a computer. Look up your location and get the local conditions on weather.gov, then click on the 3 day history.

As to relevance, it makes a big difference IME whether my socks are soaked 5 minutes into a 45 minute commute or 40 minutes into the commute. 5 minutes of wet wool socks is no big deal; 30 minutes at 35-40 F is miserable.
You seem to know a lot about this. Could you please post a link to some sort of published nomogram that correlates rain intensity with sock soak time? Like on the vertical axis it would show percent sock saturation (probably determined by sock weight change over time) and on the horizontal axis it would show ride time. A different line would be plotted for different rain intensities and different sock thickness and wool content. And yet another nomogram for ambient temperature and wind speed and direction. That would be Science!
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Old 11-09-20, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bOsscO View Post
According to US weather history, between October and March, Tacoma can expect upto 18-19 rain days with upto 6.7" of rain per month. It's technically located in a rainforest.
In other words, it rains a lot? Yeah, that's what I said earlier.
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Old 11-10-20, 12:24 AM
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I also ride and commit year round in the PNW, 2 hours daily (1 hour each way). I’ve found that toe warmers + PI pro shoe covers sprayed with DWR work to keep my feet dry.

alternatively I’ve also in my rotation neoprene shoe covers + waterproof socks that do a fantastic job of keeping my feet dry and warm in temps down to 30F.
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Old 11-10-20, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Helldorado View Post
You seem to know a lot about this. Could you please post a link to some sort of published nomogram that correlates rain intensity with sock soak time? Like on the vertical axis it would show percent sock saturation (probably determined by sock weight change over time) and on the horizontal axis it would show ride time. A different line would be plotted for different rain intensities and different sock thickness and wool content. And yet another nomogram for ambient temperature and wind speed and direction. That would be Science!
Oh, how precious!
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Old 11-10-20, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Oh, how precious!
No doubt. But so was your original post asking me for "inches per hour" of rainfall. Precious indeed.
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Old 11-11-20, 06:54 AM
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It rarely rains “hard” in the PNW. When I lived in Texas and Florida, 1 or 2 inches an hour was common. I’ve seen six or seven inches in an hour, and that is sufficient to soak clothes and sock in seconds. Even the common inch an hour rainfall may only drop a quarter of an inch because that level of rainfall rarely last for more than 15 or 20 minutes.

I would bet that Portland only sees one or two days a year with more than an inch of rain (for the day, not hour). Raining often and raining hard are not the same thing.

When choosing clothes for Portland, I don’t choose for inches of rain per hour, I choose hour how many hours I need to repel a slow soaking rain.
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Old 01-15-21, 12:09 AM
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Wow, this is great! Would have not thought of wearing crocs to be honest.
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Old 01-15-21, 04:03 PM
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Sometimes I use the Birkenstock sandals. Everyday is a good day for sandals on bike.
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Old 01-25-21, 06:13 PM
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We spend so much time on BikeForums disagreeing about tires and saddles and stuff, it's nice to see people arguing about sock saturation rate. For a change. Very Refreshing. Carry on!
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Old 02-07-21, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Vizu View Post
Sometimes I use the Birkenstock sandals. Everyday is a good day for sandals on bike.
I get some weird looks around town and sometimes at work, but for the past few years I've been wearing Birkenstock closed-toe sandals year-round. In winter I wear thick wool socks (Smartwool, REI, etc) and I ride in any weather. Firstly, the thick suede upper is pretty water resistant, so the fronts of my feet don't get wet. Secondly, if my heels get wet because they're exposed, I don't feel it because the wool wicks it away. Usually after just walking around for a few minutes it all dries up because there's always air circulation. I rarely have to change out my socks, although I keep a few pairs of spares at work just in case.
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