Ways To Keep Your Tootsies Dry And Toasty (including plastic bags!)
I have always suffered from cold feet on bike rides in wintry weather.
Actually, come to think of it, I can suffer from chilly toes when I’m cycling at any time of the year.
Now, I really love biking in the wintertime. You get rid of the summer crowds – they’re all huddled up indoors with mugs of cocoa, blankets on their knees, and the heating turned up to the max. The air is crisp, and the roads are empty. Bliss!
What I don’t like though are the cold feet that I get. It starts off at the tips of my toes, and by the mid-point of the bike ride (i.e. the furthest away from that mug of cocoa) my feet, legs, and every other part of me up to my ears is freezing cold.
Quick Answer: Waterproof Cycling Socks
There are two issues that we have to address when it comes to cold feet. Both of which have a number of different solutions depending on your requirements, the depth of the winter you’re riding in, and the depth of your wallet.
First up we have the temperature. It’s an obvious one, but the reason why it affects your feet so much isn’t necessarily so obvious. If you were to go out for a winter’s run, you’d probably find that your feet stayed fairly warm. It’s different on a bike because your feet tend to stay fixed in one position throughout the ride. Your legs might be pumping up and down and round in circles, but your feet tend to have a much smaller range of motion.
The second issue is a particular problem in areas where you tend to get wet winters. Head out on your bike in wet wintry weather and you’re fairly certain to encounter a puddle before too long. If it’s smallish, then you might be able to avoid it. Or even bunny hop over it, if you’re on your bmx and feeling particularly energetic. I’ll probably leave that stunt for the kids though…
It’s the bigger puddles though where you really have an issue. You know those ones that span the entire width of the road? They’re about a foot deep and there’s no way round them. Of course, they’re just round a blind bend as well, so you’re going at full speed when you come across them. Then there’s no option but to plow straight through them, sending a tidal wave of water off to each side.
Now, Moses managed to part the Red Sea, letting him and the Israelites through safe and dry. Sadly, you’re not Moses and so lots of that freezing cold puddle is going to end up on you. And the bits that it’s most likely to soak? Well that will be your feet, of course.
So, I’ve been researching some of the best ways to keep your feet warm and dry in cold, wet and wintry conditions. Let’s take a look, shall we?
My Top Recommended Methods of Keeping Your Feet Warm And Dry
Let’s go through these in detail, shall we?
I’ve ordered the various options into a sliding scale for you. These range from “It’s a Bit Chilly” to “OMG, It’s Like Trying To Cycle Round Icebergs In The Arctic Ocean!” Pick the one that suits you, the conditions, and your budget.
Quite Cold and Not Wet: Quality Cycling Socks
On a crisp, but chilly day, the best defense against cold feet is a good quality pair of cycling socks.
If you’re anything like me then you’ll tend to wear socks till well past their useful life. When there’s more hole and threadbare patch than actual sock. By this point they’re wafer-thin and won’t do much at all to keep your feet warm on a cold day.
Invest in a decent pair of woolen ones like the Ride Elite thermal socks from Pearl Izumi and you’ll really notice the difference.
As the mercury drops (but the weather, mercifully, stays dry) we need to start bringing out the big guns.
Now, I’ve known about hand warmers for years. I’ve never really had a problem with cold hands though, so they haven’t been on my shopping list. However, some bright spark, (well done, you!) has decided to take these hand warmers, cut them into a different shape and, suddenly, I can’t live without them.
Simple to use, just give them a shake to activate, stick them to the bottom of your socks, pop your cycling shoes on and you’re good to go. They heat up in 15-30mins and should keep your feet toasty for 4-5hrs.
You never thought I was going to mention plastic bags, did you?
It’s funny really. This is one of those things that you read on the interwebs and think, “Let me just check the calendar and see if it’s April Fool’s Day”. It sounds like a load of rubbish. But actually it’s got some truth in it.
Apparently this is a trick that is regularly used by bike couriers. They tend to be out in all weathers and don’t necessarily have the cash to spend on expensive kit. The idea behind this cunning trick is that you put your standard cycling socks on, then put a thin plastic bag over the top, and finally put your bike shoes on.
This works best when the weather is cold and wet. The bags keep your feet dry when you’re splashing through puddles. If it’s too warm though, watch out. Plastic bags are not exactly the most breathable of materials, and so as temperatures climb your feet can end up feeling very sweaty.
That being said, the plastic bag technique is the most cost-effective technique for keeping your feet dry and you can keep a roll of bags handy with your cycling gear for any wet bike rides where you don’t have other options.
A step up from plastic bags are waterproof socks. I’m a complete convert to these.
These bring you the best of cozy socks (warmth) and wrap them up with the best of those plastic bags (waterproofing). All in a package that looks somewhat cooler than having both feet stuffed into shopping bags…
This pair of socks from Randy Sun is awesome. They’re lightweight, totally waterproof, and breathable. They’re slightly thicker than some standard cycling socks so it’s worth teaming them up with a looser pair of cycling shoes. The benefit is that that extra thickness gives you even more warmth.
When the weather is at its worst, then your best option is to go with a solution that keeps the cold and wet out of your shoes altogether.
Overshoes like this are designed to go over your bike shoes. They’re fleece-lined to keep the cold out and waterproof to keep the puddles out. If you’re using cleats then these fit neatly round them.
And that’s a neat way for us to finish.
Final word on keeping your feet warm and dry
Cold, wet feet when you’re out for a cycle can really take the shine off the whole experience, can’t it? Luckily there are plenty of options to keep those pedal pushers safe from the chilly weather and the big puddles.
Pick the best one for you. Buy it. Then head out on your bike and enjoy that wintertime cycle.
Keep those tootsies toasty.