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SSasquatch
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Edit: It is snowing hard in Manchester, NH and I am the only one in the office, so I apologize for the long windy-ness, but I am bored.

About 10 years ago I managed to get some serious frostbite on my toes and have had circulation problems ever since. My toes are the first parts to get cold and it can make my ride miserable. Instead of moving somewhere warm in the winter and being unable to convince the finance department (wife) that I really need a pair of winter specific riding boots, I have tried a bunch of different low budget approaches to make my winter rides more comfy. My winter setup is as follows from the foot out:
1. Thin wool socks
2. Sealskin waterproof socks
3. Biking shoes
4. Full cover neoprene booties

This setup works pretty well down to about 20 degrees, then all bets are off. After reading some posts about using chemical toe warmers, I decided to try them on colder days. My first impressions are that they are more expensive than the hand warmer type. Secondly, they don't seem to get as warm as hand warmers. I guess it is because airflow is restricted in the shoes. When I used them, there didn't seem to be any appreciable warmth difference from when I didn't use them.

Anyway, someone suggested to try putting the hand warmer type between neoprene booty and shoe (not in the shoe) and see if that helps. Last night I decided to test out the theory by using the same setup listed above but putting the foot warmer type in one shoe as directed, and then putting the hand warmer type in between booty and shoe.

When I left the house at 8pm it was 12 degrees F and spent about 1.5 hours crusing local trails. I forgot to check temp when I got back, but since it was clear and calm, I expect that it didn't get any warmer while I was out.

The result: The hand warmer between the booty and shoe was the hands down winner. In fact my toes were actually getting hot at times, while the toes with the foot warmer in them were decidedly unhappy at the end of the ride. I will be going with the hand warmer between booties from here on out, they are cheaper and absolutely kept my toes warmer. The one thing I didn't include in this experiment was the 'wet factor'. I didn't do any major stream crossings and most of the normally wet spots are pretty well frozen up so I don't know how they will perform when wet, but I suppose I will find out....
 

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SSasquatch
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nat said:
Somebody try these electric socks then report back to us please:
.
When I was a kid I had a pair similar to those, but washing them was difficult, and the wires broke pretty quickly. I saw some recently that were integrated into insole, and I thought they might be more durable, but they were expensive.
 

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I've recently been putting the little warmers between my booties and shoes too! I can get the warmers from walmart for like 1.50 for 6 or so. They work great are cheap and the wife didn't ground me for buying new 200.00 winter shoes ;)
 

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My experience..

First, in terms of brands, I have had better luck with the Grabber-MyCoal brand of chemical warmers. Some of the cheaper ones available don't feel as comfortable and/or don't seem to keep me as warm. I use their toe warmers down to about 20 degrees and use the full foot warmer down to zero or below. I use them with heavyweight bike socks or lightweight Smartwool hiking socks (heavyweight hiking socks won't fit in my mtb shoes). I learned from skiing long ago that if you pack your feet in too tight (with heavy socks) you actually reduce warmth because there is no air space. The chemical warmers do a pretty good job in conjunction with the neoprene covers I use (Gators from REI - only thing I could find to fit over a standard mtb shoe). When it's really cold, or on days when my feet are cold from the get-go, I use a pair of Seirus Stormsocks (similar to Sealskinz) in place of socks.. they can make my feet pretty hot so I don't use them very often. They're actually better for the days when it's in the 40's-50's where I wouldn't use chemical warmers or the shoe covers.

If you search the web, you'll find the toe warmers for about $1.25-1.50/pr. and the full foot warmers for about $2.00-2.50/pr..

For other ideas, have you checked out the icebike web site? here's a link to their reviews on various cold weather clothing options:

http://www.icebike.com/Clothing/footwear.htm

One thing on this site that I have been eyeing is the Hotronic electric shoe warmers.. all the reviews I have read point to these as being the best in terms of heat, battery power and weight. They are not cheap but, over a couple years, could cost about the same as what you'd spend for chemical warmers.

For me, the next frontier is hand warmth.. I've tried a lot of combinations of things and am still not satisfied. I am toying with the idea of creating a grip warmer (similar to a snowmobile).
 

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SSasquatch
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
For other ideas, have you checked out the icebike web site? here's a link to their reviews on various cold weather clothing options:

http://www.icebike.com/Clothing/footwear.htm
I had forgotten about icebike... Definately a good resource.

One thing on this site that I have been eyeing is the Hotronic electric shoe warmers.. all the reviews I have read point to these as being the best in terms of heat, battery power and weight. They are not cheap but, over a couple years, could cost about the same as what you'd spend for chemical warmers.
The Hotronic shoe warmers are what I posted above, and your right that over a couple of years the cost ($179 at REI) would be re-couped, but it's the initial outlay that gets me into trouble.

I learned from skiing long ago that if you pack your feet in too tight (with heavy socks) you actually reduce warmth because there is no air space.
Absolutely correct! Unfortunately I am a sasquatch with size 14 shoes so space is usually at a premium. I don't have the luxury of buying a size up so I can layer my feet as much as I'd like.

For me, the next frontier is hand warmth.. I've tried a lot of combinations of things and am still not satisfied. I am toying with the idea of creating a grip warmer (similar to a snowmobile).
As far as hands go, I have a pair of loose fitting fleece gloves underneath a larger pair of fleece mittens. On really cold days (<5 F) I tape a hand warmer to the backside of the inner pair of gloves, then put the mittens over that. That seems to do the trick for me (I have grip shifters so finger dexterity is not much of an issue).

I am toying with the idea of creating a grip warmer (similar to a snowmobile).
The snowmachines that I have used used in the past had grips that were heated by engine heat, so I am guessing you suggesting some sort of electric element grip?
 

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Yep

galleywench said:
The snowmachines that I have used used in the past had grips that were heated by engine heat, so I am guessing you suggesting some sort of electric element grip?
My vision would be to have something longer & more slender than the round Hotronic "pad' and flexible enough that it could be 1) inserted in the bar end, 2) mounted underneath a losse-fitting grip, or 3) mounted over a grip and wrapped with tape. I use trigger shifters - don't think 2 or 3 would work for grip shifters. And, like a light, have them hooked up to a battery that I could store in my bottle cage or back in the pack on my seatpost rack.
 

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These are hitting the REI shelves.
$3.50 a pair.



I read the instructions and it says that it was designed for shoes with reduced circulation. It explicitly said not to use with ventilated shoes. Hmm...
 

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SSasquatch
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
BadHabit said:
Sealskinz are not breathable at all. That thin wool sock is soaking up moisture and keeping your feet cold.
I have found that using breathable goretex socks didn't help and if anything made my feet colder. Goretex works well if it can move the water somewhere, but when stuffed into a plastic shoe shell covered by a full neoprene booty, they don't seem to have any benefit. My reasoning for wearing the sealskinz is similar to that of a wetsuit... keep a thin layer of water (or foot sweat) around your feet and allow your body heat to warm up the water. I use the wool underneath knowing full well that they will become wet but since wool retains all of its thermal properties when wet (unlike cotton), they provide an additional layer of protection.
Not saying that this is right for everyone, but it seems to be the best combination for me.
 

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SSasquatch
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Big K said:
My vision would be to have something longer & more slender than the round Hotronic "pad' and flexible enough that it could be 1) inserted in the bar end, 2) mounted underneath a losse-fitting grip, or 3) mounted over a grip and wrapped with tape. I use trigger shifters - don't think 2 or 3 would work for grip shifters. And, like a light, have them hooked up to a battery that I could store in my bottle cage or back in the pack on my seatpost rack.
Sounds like a fun winter project.
 

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I live to bike
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Little trick

Another trick you can try is to spray antiperspirant between your toes and on your feet. It will keep your feet from sweating, which may help since often while still warm, before you really get into the cold, your feet sweat in the socks, then the sweat gets cold.

I had an incident with cold feet recently--was out riding and ended up stepping off my bike in the middle of a stream, so I got both of my shoes soaked. Feet began getting cold--it was right around freezing temp. I thought it was warmer out because the rest of my body was quite warm, so I figured my feet would warm up in a few minutes. Nope. They just got colder and colder. Finally, I stopped, took of my shoes, wringed out my socks and put them in my Camelbak. Then I took out the long sleeve t-shirt that was in my 'bak (I had taken it off earlier b/c my upper body was getting too hot). I proceeded to cut the sleeves off to make myself some makeshift socks. It worked! My feet warmed up in just a few minutes.
 

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Big K said:
First, in terms of brands, I have had better luck with the Grabber-MyCoal brand of chemical warmers.
I read the the grabber was rated best by better homes/gardens or something like that

also a tip for saving the warmers for later use if your ride was shorter than what they are rated for: Put them into a zip loc bag and then into a tupper ware container. Basically put them somewhere air tight. This stops the oxidative chemical reaction that is creating the heat.

Take them out again for next use and they'll fire right back up.
 

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Foot warmer

I've tried everything living in Minnesota. For rides above 20 degreee normal shoe covers are fine. Between 10-20 add the hotpacks (I just use the normal hand warmers) under the shoe covers. If you have time, let the hotpacks get warm first, if you drove to where your riding, put them on the dashboard where the defroster is blowing out hot air. I also have a pair of the "Hotronics" heating elements......by far the best but I don't use them that often because the hotpacks are easier. The "Hotronic" heat elements can be found at ski and camping stores on closeout at the end of the season...I paid like $60 for mine....biggest issue is what to do with the battery pack....I ended up using a velco strap around my calf but it usually works it way down to my ankles.
 

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So what is the trick with keeping handwarmers warm for several hours. When I put these under my toe covers they work great for the 1st hour, then they quit working. When I remove them at the end of a 2 hour ride they are no longer warm and my toes are freezing. Soon as I shake them and leave them sitting out in the open they become warm again for several hours. It is like the toe covers prevent them from getting air so they stop working after a while, until they are exposed to air again. I have tried using these in my shoes but had the same problem, so I was hoping using them under toe covers would help. In group rides there are no opportunities to stop and take these out of my shoe covers to allow them to heat back up. Any ideas on how I can keep these warm for several hours?

extralight said:
I've tried everything living in Minnesota. For rides above 20 degreee normal shoe covers are fine. Between 10-20 add the hotpacks (I just use the normal hand warmers) under the shoe covers. If you have time, let the hotpacks get warm first, if you drove to where your riding, put them on the dashboard where the defroster is blowing out hot air. I also have a pair of the "Hotronics" heating elements......by far the best but I don't use them that often because the hotpacks are easier. The "Hotronic" heat elements can be found at ski and camping stores on closeout at the end of the season...I paid like $60 for mine....biggest issue is what to do with the battery pack....I ended up using a velco strap around my calf but it usually works it way down to my ankles.
 

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Klydesdale
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Brooks04 said:
So what is the trick with keeping handwarmers warm for several hours. When I put these under my toe covers they work great for the 1st hour, then they quit working. When I remove them at the end of a 2 hour ride they are no longer warm and my toes are freezing. Soon as I shake them and leave them sitting out in the open they become warm again for several hours. It is like the toe covers prevent them from getting air so they stop working after a while, until they are exposed to air again. I have tried using these in my shoes but had the same problem, so I was hoping using them under toe covers would help. In group rides there are no opportunities to stop and take these out of my shoe covers to allow them to heat back up. Any ideas on how I can keep these warm for several hours?
The trick is not to use handwarmers in your shoes but rather use footwarmers. Footwarmers are specifically made to produce more heat in low oxygen environments like shoes and boots. And some brands of warmers - hand and foot - work better than others. I, too, have had my best success withGrabber MyCoal brand.
 

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Wolf nipple chips
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they're not bad

i tried these the other day for the first time, after letting them warm up in my shoes, i was pleasantly surprised to stick my feet into warm shoes (my feet had gotten pretty cold while getting ready in the parking lot.) on a day that was high 20's/low 30's, my feet were good to go during a 2 hour ride. very slim, so much so that my non-winter specific shoe was able to accomodate my sealskin sock, and the warmer just fine.

CF

Lost81 said:
These are hitting the REI shelves.
$3.50 a pair.



I read the instructions and it says that it was designed for shoes with reduced circulation. It explicitly said not to use with ventilated shoes. Hmm...
 

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One more product that looks promising:
http://www.footsmart.com/Product.aspx?ProductId=2655

A press release that I got:

With Toasty Feet™ insole liners, a person can stand on a block of dry
ice with a temperature of -106°F and the temperature on the other
side of the Toasty Feet™ liner will be a comfortable 72°F. The
insulating power is provided by Aspen Aerogels using patented
nanotechnology.

Introducing Toasty Feet™ The World's Only Underfoot High-Performance
Insulation Material

Northborough, Mass. - December 20, 2005 - Forget heavy socks this
winter, ToastyFeet™ insole liners have just been introduced by Polar
Wrap.

"Most people don't realize it, but beyond heavy socks, there is no
real underfoot insulation for cold feet," said Bruce McCormick,
president of Polar Wrap, the company that created the insole liners
using patented nanotechnology from Aspen Aerogels.

In fact, ToastyFeet™ just might protect you from cold symptoms.

As reported by Reuters on November 14th, British researchers claimed
that exposing bare feet to cold water for 20 minutes increases a
person's chance of getting cold symptoms. The researchers said that
cold feet causes a constriction to blood vessels in the nose which
can aid the cold virus, according to Reuters.

"It's clear that to keep from getting a cold, you need to keep your
feet warm," said McCormick. "In the winter, it often feels like
you're standing on ice. That's because the soles of your shoes or
boots are where your feet need to be protected from the cold the
most."

But why isn't your footwear keeping out all of the cold?

"Because most insulation requires loft - like the loft in a cotton
ball or fiberglass house insulation," said Marc Lebel, vice president
of Aspen Aerogels, "but when you step on it, it gets compressed and
loses its loft and therefore its insulating power."

But Aspen Aerogels' insulation doesn't require loft. Its structure
contains nanometer-sized pockets of air that can maintain thermal
protection and shape even when you step on it. In partnership with
NASA, this same flexible aerogel technology is being developed for
next generation space suits.

"We are delighted to put an end to cold feet with this new, space-age
technology," said McCormick. Recently the company tested its product
by having people step on a block of dry ice with only the Toasty
Feet™ insole as a barrier. "No one felt any cold," reported McCormick.

Toasty Feet™ is available now at Wal Mart and Kroger stores across
the country.

About Polar Wrap LLC
Polar Wrap LLC is the technology leader in cold weather comfort. Its
other products include the Heat Exchange Mask that traps warmth from
exhaling breaths in order to warm cold air as it is inhaled.
About Aspen Aerogels, Inc.
Aspen Aerogels supplies nanotechnology-enabled aerogels with
insulating properties that outperform traditional materials by 2 to 8
times. Unlike other aerogel material providers, Aspen provides the
thermal and acoustic performance of aerogels in a ready-to-use
blanket impregnated with the silica nanostructures. This blanket
format makes it easy for Aspen customers to conserve energy and save
money in oil and gas recovery, LNG shipping and storage, apparel,
military, aerospace and energy industries. In addition, Aspen is
actively developing applications in the building/construction,
automotive and fuel cell markets.
 

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galleywench said:
My winter setup is as follows from the foot out:
1. Thin wool socks
2. Sealskin waterproof socks
3. Biking shoes
4. Full cover neoprene booties

..
I would try adding Patagonia Capilene sock liners to the equation. Capilene IMO is a miracle material;-)
 
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