Trench Foot

Keeping Warm In Winter – best Foot Forward

A friend pinged Jon this note recently struggling to get warm feet during winter rides…

I have been going out for a ride over the last week or so and my enjoyment has been greatly diminished by wet feet, rapidly becoming veery cold feet.

I imagine the root issue is that I am wearing my fabric running shoes.  What is your solution?  Stay indoors?  Man up? Stout leather brogues? Magic socks? Galoshes?

Jon’s Advice

My top tip for warm feet in winter is to ride with long mudguards when it is wet, if you can. They prevent water from spraying onto your feet from the front wheel. Even with a road bike you can fit CRUD mudguards like these which Immy uses.

For footwear I use walking shoes which have lots of grip. The shoes don’t slip on flat DMR-style pedals or when walking in mud off-road. They are also comfy if you have to walk for a bit or fancy some sight-seeing on your outing. The tops of walking shoes are robustly built, so they are warmer than fabric running shoes. They aren’t as stiff as MTB shoes, but are more versatile. I don’t bother with waterproof shoes – it adds a lot to the price and the water-proof membrane invariably fails before other parts of the shoe wear out.

Another important factor in keeping toes warm is to keep legs warm with Roubaix tights (fluffy on the inside leggings) or normal tracksuit bottoms and long walking socks. This is even more important when riding off-road without mudguards which can clog.

I do have waterproof overshoes and waterproof socks but I don’t use them very often. Overshoes are not designed to go over walking shoes and are difficult to get on and then walk in. For on-road commuting they are good with cycling shoes, as you may need to put your gear on again before everything is dry, so keeping shoes and socks as dry as possible is worth it.

On the types of wet off-road rides I’ve done with Roubaix tights, walking shoes + warm socks I’ve found that the combo acted like a wet suit and although soaked and caked in mud my feet stayed warm, at a high work rate. However, H – who joined me on that ride – stayed much cleaner and drier as he had some great mudguards.

Walking shoes and warm Roubaix leggings & mudguards come at a variety of price points so there is no need to break the bank.

Hoping for a dry January, meteorologically, when it might be nicer to get out.

Main Picture: Mehmet Karatay, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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