Author Topic: cold feet! Recommendations?  (Read 8085 times)

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Offline morleyruth

cold feet! Recommendations?
« on: December 14, 2009, 08:23:04 pm »
Hi everyone, it's my first time to post a message on Adventure Cycling. 

I'm training a lot with a friend these days, with the Southern Tier as our goal beginning late March.  I did my first century 2 weeks ago...yay!    However, here in Ohio, my feet are freezing during most rides.

Any suggestions?  I'm not used to cycling in the winter, so this is new for me. 

Right now I am wearing 1 pair of thin liner socks (which worked well for skiing in the past), a pair of wool socks and a plastic bag on each foot (suggested by another friend).  But still ice cube toes.

Can you recommend any shoe covers that have worked for you?  We really want to continue training throughout the winter, if there's no snow.


Offline johnsondasw

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2009, 11:11:53 pm »
Shoe covers help, but they're not the whole answer.  I have some "Sidekick " ones that are fairly thick but they ride up off the toe often and if you don't notice, your toes start to freeze.  Then I have Pearl Izumi thin and hard to get on ones that help and do not come off the toe, but more insulation would be nice.  My latest trick is to but those little hand/foot warmer chemical pads that warm up when exposed to air.  I put one in the toe of each show so my toes go over it.  That helps a lot.  A friend told me to put a layer of aluminum foil under the shoe insert.  I think the real solution is to get larger shoes for winter (they make a winter bike shoe--looks a little like an ankle top hiking boot) and with that you could get thicker, warmer socks in there.  I haven't wanted to spring the $100 or more for them.  When the tempurature's under about 38 degrees or so, I just keep my rides down to about 20 miles or so.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Galloper

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2009, 05:19:18 am »
I have a pair of North Wave boots, they were quite pricy but with a goretex lining do a good job of keeping my feet reasonably warm and dry.   An alternative is an inexpensive pair of lightweight walking boots with a pair of Sealskinz socks.   Works quite well but you can only use flat pedals.

I must admit, I like the idea of chemical foot warmer pads.

Offline staehpj1

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2009, 06:48:05 am »
I have found the neoprene ones to be pretty warm.  The material is like that of a wetsuit.  That said lately I usually just forgo the bike and run when it is cold.

Offline DaveB

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2009, 08:53:29 am »
I have found the neoprene ones to be pretty warm.  The material is like that of a wetsuit. 
Neoprene is indeed the most suitable material for "booties" or socks.  I have both SideTrack neoprene booties and "Supersocks" neoprene socks and together they let me tolerate an hour or so in 20° weather.  There are several similar brands.

For the truly dedicated or those with extremely cold sensitive feet, there are battery heated socks sold to skiers and hunters that will let you tolerate almost anything.  For occasional use, the single use "heat packs" sold in sporting goods stores can be place inside your shoes and will provide several hours of warmth.

Finally, insulated, wind resistant tights go a long way toward keeping your feet warm since keeping your legs warm allows the blood flow to your feet to be warmer.


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Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2009, 08:58:38 am »
I will add a reminder about the old aphorism, "When your feet are cold, put on your hat." Try a helmet cover and whatever will fit under the helmet: ear band, thin beanie, ... I once tried a thin poly balaclava, but it restricted my vision too much.

There is good physiology behind that saying. Your body reduces blood flow to the hands and feet when your head is cold.


Offline John Nelson

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2009, 01:18:37 pm »
For the coldest temperatures (anything below 30 degrees F or so), I use liners, wool socks, chemical toe warmers, and neoprene booties. No problem with this setup down into the teens. For warmer temperatures, I just start backing off all those things.

Chemical toe warmers are sold in sporting good stores for about $1.50 a pair, but can be had in boxes of 30 to 50 in some of the big box stores for about 50 cents a pair. They are God's gift to cold-weather cycling.

Offline waynemyer

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Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2009, 06:48:56 pm »
For temps from 34F down to -20F (the coldest ride I ever took), I use 1 pair of heavy wool socks, a neoprene overboot, Sidi Dominator 5, and Hotronic electric insoles with the M4 (high capacity) battery.  For temps -20F to about 10F, I use a sock rated for -30F.  Any warmer and that sock is uncomfortably warm.  The electric insoles are not warm, per se.  Instead, the Hotronics kick out just enough heat to prevent the body from cutting off the blood supply.  This combo has held me for as long as two and half hours.  At the end of those rides, my toes were lacking pain and numbness and the rest of my foot was sweaty and warm.

I also used a piece of aluminized (shiny) mylar below my insole.  This has helped, but the minor friction wore off the coating before too long, and negated the benefit.

There is a lot of talk elsewhere about switching to a platform pedal, but I like my cleats.  I find that the plastic body of the Speedplay Frog helps prevent the cleat from becoming as much of a heatsink as an SPD cleat.  (user:waynemyer)

Offline bogiesan

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2009, 08:48:42 am »
Neoprene and other other waterproof materials can, in extreme conditions, cause your sweat to freeze inside your socks. You've simply got to be careful in the sub-freezing range. Stop and check your circulation. Search for cross country skiing forums and blogs for really good suggestions on keeping feet warm.

My physiology is completely weird, docs tell me it was likely caused by stupidly staying out in the snow way too long as a kid. My brain just shuts down my fingers and toes at about 20-25 F. It's not a question of insulation, the blood flow is reduced to a trickle and to keep my extremeties from turning white, I must add warmth. I do this by sitting on my hands (recumbent) and stopping to swing my legs vigorously to force warm blood to my toes.

david boise ID
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline morleyruth

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2009, 03:48:24 pm »
Thanks to everyone for the great ideas.  I guess I'm just going to have to spring for a pair of bigger shoes for winter, to fit in the toe warmers, wool socks, etc.  Normally, I'd let the cycling slide during the winter months, but this year I've got to get in some sort of training so that I can hit the road big time the end of March.

Thanks again!

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2009, 01:10:45 pm »
Lake winter shows helped me make it through the winters of the Boston/New England. While expensive they are a quality product:

Offline kevinglennrhodes

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2010, 01:07:49 am »
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Offline RichH

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2010, 10:18:27 pm »
As Sheldon Brown stated in his web page, I have found that if you wear wool socks and do not crush the pile they are the warmest thing going. I ride in wool socks and sandals as long as it is not wet.

Offline Reinout

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2010, 12:21:59 am »
I use Lake winter boots that are about a 1/2 size too large. I wear wool socks and most importantly I have room for the heating pouches. And here is the trick. After a ride, I stick the warmers in a ziploc bag, squeeze out the air and roll them up tight. The chemicals stop producing heat and will restart when taken out and shaken a little bit. This way I can use the 8 or 10 hours warmers about 3 days on a 1 hour one-way commute.

Offline John Nelson

Re: cold feet! Recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2010, 09:56:28 am »
Yes, I have also used the trick of sealing up the half-used chemical warmers for more use on another day. It does work.