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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 01-01-18, 05:08 PM   #1
wipekitty
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Chemical Warmers and You

I decided to try something new today...chemical warmers for my boots. Usually my feet are just fine, but knowing that I was going to be outside for 2+ hours at 0F, it seemed like a good idea. I got a pair of Hot Hands footwarmers - the toe warmer kind that stick to the bottom of your sock. Out of the package, they started heating up...on the sock and into the boot they went!

They didn't seem to do much. With about seven miles left to go and pretty cold feet, I pulled out a pair of hand warmers (designed for hands) and sort of stuffed them in my boots around my ankles. It helped a bit. When I got home and took my boots off, the hand warmers were warm...but the toe warmers were cold as ice. I put the toe warmers in my shoes to wear around the house, and they've heated up a bit now, so they obviously weren't defective.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has had good luck with chemical warmers. Would it be effective to use the (obviously much warmer) hand warmers in boots? Or are warmers in boots just a lost cause, given the low oxygen environment?
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Old 01-01-18, 05:34 PM   #2
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How snug do your boots fit? I went up a size when I got my winter cycling boots and the toe warmers are working for me. Same with my hiking boots. I use the Hot Hands brand toe warmers.
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Old 01-01-18, 07:37 PM   #3
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The hot hands toe-warmers have been pretty abysmal for me as well. I don't think there's enough material in them to allow them to create heat in spaces that do not have very good airflow. The handwarmers in shoes work better but are still much less effective than when used in open air or in gloves.

I did discover that placing the handwarmers on the major arteries in the front and rear of my ankles between my sock and shoe-cover, seems to work much better than trying to warm my toes. They seem to get additional airflow and stay hotter as well.
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Old 01-01-18, 07:48 PM   #4
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Note that these depend on oxygen from surrounding air to work. They're basically finely ground iron which rusts when exposed to oxygen and therefore gives off heat. In a tight-fitting shoe they might not be getting enough air to generate enough heat.
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Old 01-01-18, 08:27 PM   #5
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I did discover that placing the handwarmers on the major arteries in the front and rear of my ankles between my sock and shoe-cover, seems to work much better than trying to warm my toes. They seem to get additional airflow and stay hotter as well.
Nice - I was thinking this might be an option, so I'm glad that it worked out.

The boots I wore are not particularly tight, but are rather tall. Perhaps something lower would allow enough air to keep the toe warmers in action.
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Old 01-01-18, 08:52 PM   #6
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It helps if you can crack them open perhaps an hour ahead of time. And also placing them next to your bare skin works better, and for the toes, place them on top of your toes instead of underneath.
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Old 01-02-18, 09:25 AM   #7
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Note that these depend on oxygen from surrounding air to work. They're basically finely ground iron which rusts when exposed to oxygen and therefore gives off heat. In a tight-fitting shoe they might not be getting enough air to generate enough heat.
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I did discover that placing the handwarmers on the major arteries in the front and rear of my ankles between my sock and shoe-cover, seems to work much better than trying to warm my toes. They seem to get additional airflow and stay hotter as well.

This has been my experience as well. They don't seem to work when stuffed between sock and tight fitting shoes. There isn't enough air flow for them to activate.


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Old 01-02-18, 10:35 AM   #8
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toe warmers for mildly cold days, hand warmers for the brutal stuff. despite instructions I put them on top of my toes. the hand warmers require masking tape. if using a sock liner & thicker sock over, put the warmer in between them



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Old 01-03-18, 06:43 PM   #9
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Another vote for on top of toes. They really don't put out the heat of the hand warmers.
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Old 01-06-18, 09:33 PM   #10
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I tried chemical warmers for the first time this holiday. They were Hot Shots hand warmers stuffed into my boots. Outside my socks on top of toes to start, but ended up crunched into the toe box as I didn't adhere them.

It was -11C/12f and 45 minutes in I had to start actively paying attention to and warming my toes by vigorous wiggling etc. I suspect this is an improvement to not having them at all, and I had read about the airflow issue prior, but I was still hoping for better. 3 hrs later I got home after the last 1/2 hr of hiking the bike due to miscalculating the snow fall (I'm on semi slick tires) with one foot warm and the other what felt like brink of frostbite.

Looks like I found my cold limit with my level of gear/body.

Last edited by Mounttesa; 01-06-18 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 01-06-18, 10:46 PM   #11
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It helps if you can crack them open perhaps an hour ahead of time.
This was great advice. Thank you.


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Old 01-07-18, 11:54 AM   #12
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I use them for winter commutes/rides. I almost never put them in my shoe unless it's extremely cold out and then they're on top of the toes. Usually they go between the top of the shoe (by the toes) and held in place by thin shoe covers (as in toes/front of shoes only). Then I cover that with another (full) shoe cover and then garneau neo protect neoprene covers. If it's really cold (like these past couple of weeks in NY I went w/ the toe warmers in the shoe, on top of the shoe and instead of the first full shoe cover I went with the neo protect covers and on top of them were some old performance neoprene booties (which are much thicker). It makes for a bulky setup but it works, feet were nice and toasty.

I also let the toe warmers warm up for 1/2 hour before I put them on. It's interesting what people say about using the hand warmers instead - I find they're a total waste. They don't stay warm at all in that enviroment - no airflow. The toe warmers are designed to work in low oxygen environments (if you read they wrapper). I've actually used them in gloves because I found them to actually work - although I have electric heated glove liners that have replaced that fiasco.
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