of the secrets to keeping feet warm is to keep the legs warm.
The blood flowing around in the feet has to pass through the legs
to get there. Think about running an uninsulated pipe from your
hot water tank outside in the cold before it goes back inside
to your shower. I can't believe how many complaints I hear about
cold feet from people with exposed flesh on their legs! Insulate
I use different cycling shoes in the summer and winter. My summer
shoes are well ventilated, while the winter shoes are well insulated.
Also my winter shoes are larger. This way I can use thicker socks
or heavy insoles or inserts. Many people make the mistake of using
the same shoes and trying to stuff thick socks into them in the
winter. A shoe that is too tight restricts circulation and makes
the feet even colder. I used winter cycling boots from Sidi
for years with great luck, but found Lake
Winter Cycling Boots were even warmer. Mavic and Shimano also
make a winter cycling boot, but I haven't tried either.
I use wool socks year round. Defeet,
are my current favorites.
For the outer layer, I like Goretex
booties. These do a great job of keeping my feet relatively warm
and dry. I've been searching for years for overshoes that will
hold up. Most have flimsy soles that wear out quickly if walked
on, but I have found a few in my travels with thick rubber soles
- which hold up much better. My favorite overshoe is no longer
made. It had a good rubber sole with a cutout for the heel and
the cleat, and a Velcro closure in the rear to make it easy to
get on and off and adjust for different size shoes. I really like
not having a zipper to get clogged with mud. The lesson
here is when you find one you like, buy a spare or two, since
they may no longer be available when you need new ones!
maker of waxed cotton cycling apparel and saddle bags also make
wax cotton shoe covers and spats. The spats cover the shins, and
theoretically when combined with fenders and a cape should keep
the legs and feet dry. Unfortunately they don't stay up on my
legs, but others have reported better luck.
I avoid neoprene totally. Every time I have tried it, I just
end up sweaty, wet and cold. Some people tell me it works well
for shorter rides, but I have had no luck with it, and avoid it
completely. Given how much of it I see in shops, it must work
for some folks - I'm just not one of them.
But this isn't always enough. Sometime it gets downright cold!
There are various types of foot warmers available. For about $1
a pair, Grabber
makes disposable hand and feet warmers. There are specific ones
made for toes that are small enough to fit in a shoe comfortably.
They last about 5 hours and are terrific. I keep a couple of extras
in my saddlebag throughout the winter for emergencies. I have
given them away often and recipients have always wanted to know
where to get more. REI carries
them, as do many other outdoor and sport shops. I've even noticed
them in convenience stores.
Years ago, I used a battery powered electric insoles, but after
a few years the batteries stopped taking a charge. With good leg
coverings, wool socks, Lake shoes, overshoes and warmers, I have
been fine even on long rides in temperatures well below freezing
and have not felt tghe need to try newer electric foot warmers.