Here’s a complete guide to how to keep your feet warm and dry for winter cycling. Your challenge is to keep rain and snow out, and keep your body warmth in. It’s very hard to keep your feet warm and dry while cycling, and I have spent far too much time with freezing, numb feet. Not only is this unpleasant, but it can be downright unsafe if you cannot feel your feet when you have to come to a sudden stop on a slippery road. However, a combination of very good shoes, shoe covers, warm, woolen socks, lamb wool inserts, and possibly even plastic shopping bags, can keep your feet warm even while cycling in extremely cold and wet conditions.
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Pro Tip for Keeping Your Feet Dry in the Rain – Free
Try wearing a plastic shopping bag between your boots and your socks. This sounds odd, but it’s FREE, and you won’t even notice they are there – and they will guarantee that your feet stay dry. But do check there are no holes in the bags you plan to use, as water will worm its way through any hole it can find. Then you will be wearing a bag of water on your foot … not ideal! I actually use this method all the time, and it works like magic.
Of course plastic bags offer no breathability, but I would rather have warm, sweaty feet than freezing cold, wet feet.
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Recommended Shoes for Winter Cycling, to Keep Your Feet Warm
When the going gets cold, some of us prefer to forgo those 2 oz. performance cycling shoes. Instead, consider wearing a strong, waterproof pair of boots. Depending on where you live, you might be able to get away with lightweight leather boots such as Chrome Cycling boots (reviewed here). These are comfortable and stylish, and can be worn all day as they are just as good for walking as for cycling. I often wear mine on non-cycling days, because there’s nothing not to like about lightweight waterproof comfortable shoes!
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If you cycle in very cold conditions, you may need a stouter pair of leather boots. My personal favorites are my Blundstone boots, which do remarkably well as cycling boots, keeping out rain and snow pretty well. They come in a range of heel options – for cycling, you want something with less clunky heels, so your boots don’t hit the crank shafts.
There are also these Merrell Men’s Moab Rover Waterproof Boots, which are designed for hiking, but do very well for cycling as well. They are made from 100% waterproof leather, and are very highly rated.
There are a few companies, including Lake Cycling, which sell insulated winterized cycling shoes that are compatible with your clipless pedals. I have to say, I do kind of LOVE these Lake MXZ303 Winter Cycling Boots! They are recommended for cycling in mud and snow.
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Shoe Covers can Help to Keep Your Feet Warm for Winter Cycling
If your shoes alone don’t keep your feet warm, you can add neoprene shoe covers (cycling booties) to increase insulation and keep in warm air. These almost always come with a reflective strip on the back, which is a nice little safety bonus. These shoe covers are good quality and best sellers. If you want to use cycling booties, make sure you have lots of clearance between your toes and your front wheel when cornering. Also, they obviously are made to fit over cycling shoes, not over a chunky pair of boots.
You could also add toe covers over your regular cycling shoes. These just cover the front of your feet, keeping your feet warmer by shielding them from oncoming icy air as you cycle.
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What to Wear Inside Your Cycling Shoes
Start with Great Socks to Keep Your Feet Warm
The most important thing is to start off with great socks. I have recently discovered some amazing socks, called Heat Holders and billed as the ultimate thermal socks, with superior moisture wicking and heat retention. Plus, they have this super soft, fleecy inner lining. Apparently the lining is a “unique, extra-long looped cushion pile to hold in more warm air.” All I know is that these socks feel super soft on my feet, and my feet have never been warmer, even in sub-freezing conditions.
I recall that Maggie was shocked to discover one day that I was going hiking without gloves or a scarf. Then I realized that because my Heat Holders were keeping my feet so super-warm, the rest of me felt warm too! I really love these socks, and never actually want to take them off.
Oh, and they also don’t cut off the blood to my feet, which is important for not getting numb feet while cycling (which can be dangerous). I have chunky ankles, and most socks are uncomfortable for me, but these socks are just like wrapping my feet in comfort.
Maggie’s favorite socks are Woolie Boolies. She loves woolen socks because wool is warm and it breathes.
There is also such a thing as waterproof socks, as I discovered recently. I notice these are popular.
You may find you need to wear two pairs of socks – although then you will need large shoes. You don’t want to cut off blood circulation to your feet – riding with numb feet is no fun at all! One time, I very nearly fell off my bike on icy streets one late afternoon when my feet became completely numb. I tried to put my foot down at a stop street, and could not feel when I made
Extra Foot Insulation to Keep Your Feet Warm
Apart from socks, you can also add extra insulation inside your shoes. For example, woolen shoe inserts are a great way to increase the insulation between your feet and your pedals. I especially love these lambs wool shoe inserts. They’re soft, cozy, and cheap. You can just cut them to fit your own shoes.
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