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Discussion Starter #1
Plain and simple, I dont have money for good winter shoes this year. I made out ok last year with thing wool and some produce bags with thicker sock on top. These are in taped up xc shoes and thin (2mm?) zip up covers that wont stay on the toes. Its mostly my toes that get cold. I really want to get some longer rides this winter and Dont want to be too far from home with frostbite.

Im handy with a sewing machine and planned on making a insulated cover that glues to the sides of the shoe instead of looping around the foot as the deep snow always pushes them off(mine are pretty hacked up though). Or, just buy some covers that might stay on the toes better then what I have and still glue and insulating layer to cover the vents ect in the shoes.

The shoes are a size too big but still tight with two layers of socks.

Any hacks you have used?
thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sorry, should mention I dont ride flats. Ive tried, im terrible in the snow lol

Although I havent tried the warmers yet. Im worried about lack of space as it is.
 

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Rippin da fAt
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Machine,

Is there used sporting goods store in your neighborhood? Places like that get good things in and can be cheaper than a rework.

Just a thought.

As for clipless, how does one do a balance check with em? Platforms do require some getting in the groove with but are superior for stepping of in a pinch.
 

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All fat, all the time.
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Sorry, should mention I dont ride flats. Ive tried, im terrible in the snow lol

Although I havent tried the warmers yet. Im worried about lack of space as it is.
Usually best to not pack too many layers of socks if it's a tight fit already. try 1 set of good wool socks, and a toe warmer under the toes in each shoe. They usually put out heat for 3 - 4 hours easily.
This may sound weird, but have you tried anti-antiperspirant on your feet? If you stop the sweating your feet will stay dry & warm.
 

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Can you find a very large, heavy wool sock to put on outside your shoes? Cut a hole in it for the cleats. We used to do something similar with cross country ski boots back in the day.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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Sorry, should mention I dont ride flats. Ive tried, im terrible in the snow lol

Although I havent tried the warmers yet. Im worried about lack of space as it is.
Pick 1:

-Cold feet on SPDs
-Spending money on real winter SPD shoes and shoe covers
-Flat pedals and warm snow/hiking boots

Unless you go to some pretty extreme measures, clipless pedals are a losing battle, the cleat is usually very close to your foot (even on many of the winter SPD boots), which helps draw heat from your foot to the cleat, which when combined with the pedal and the lack of of your foot flexing to force blood into it, means that your feet are going to get cold. In other words, they are great heat-sinks. It's hopeless with summer shoes and even winter shoes at times.

I do ride most of the time with SPDs, down to around -20F, but that was a race where I wouldn't be able to sustain my foot temp over a longer time than I was out, when I want easy warmth or it's going to be super cold, I put my flats on and wear regular boots. Otherwise, when it's cold, I use my Lakes or my Wolfhammers, with shoe-covers, with thick wool socks (preferably merino, I'll spray my feet with antiperspirant to keep them from sweating, sometimes use a thin silk sock as a base layer, my hotronics battery packs will be attached to my boots (the insoles have the heating elements) and I'll put snow gaiters over everything, which eliminates any snagging issues with the drivetrain and also boosts the heat a bit. I'll also stick them in the oven on warm before a real cold ride from my house. I find just the Lake/Wolfhammer boots are usually good down to somewhere in the 20s, although sometimes in the 20s it's great and sometimes they suck. Going colder takes some of the additional methods. I hate cold feet too, but unless you are willing to go to some pretty extreme ends IMO, it's inevitable with clipless pedals.

I've tried the plastic baggie vapor barrier thing, it doesn't stop the heat conduction and heat sink effect. Footwarmers haven't been super effective for me in the cold either. That relatively unprotected front of your boot can be in the -F temps, and you are relying on a layer of thin insulation between your toes and that cold rubber? (this is why shoe covers help) The heat conduction still happens and still sucks heat out the cleat, which makes my toes cold.

When I go running in the cold, I find it takes sometimes a few miles before my feet are warm, I suspect that is just the effect of my body/feet heating up the entire shoe, or at least enough of the shoe that it's not overcome by the contact with the cold surface. Once I've reached that "operating temperature" I'm good, but I don't think the same thing happens with mountain biking, because with running, you are forcing bloodflow each time you strike your heel and rotate your foot up to launch off the ball. It's established that your calf muscles act like secondary hearts while running, to move blood, these are what are actuating your feet though, moving you forward. This doesn't happen when riding, your ankle rotates, and that's about it.
 
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Closed cell neoprene has worked wonders for me. Not the thin stuff you get with socks and toe warmers. I used a much thicker neoprene sheet to make soles for my racing shoes (thin leather shell with no liner), added a winter shoe cover, and enjoyed long rides through winter nor'easters back in the early 90's.
 

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I think Jayem pins it.

With clipless you have a major heatsink close to your foot. Anything that works to keep your feet warm when they're next to a hunk of metal sucking out the heat is going to be bulkier and clumsier than using ordinary cold weather footwear and flats.

Attack the problem at source, remove as much of the heatsink as possible, and you have solved a major part of the problem.

I use old fashioned track pedals instead of flats because there is less metal contacting the foot. This means I can use a less clumsy setup with a decent walking boot.

A much cheaper solution.
 

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Used my leather hunting boots last year, this year I'll be using a pair of winter boots. I got some heavy wool socks to use with them. If worse comes to worse, I put in the toe warmers that you can buy at pretty much any gas station, walmart, or sporting goods store.
 

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Start your ride with warm, dry feet. Spray or roll-on a goodly amount of antiperspirant to keep feet from sweating. Sprinkle a pinch of black pepper into the toe box of high quality wool socks (pepper irritates the skin just enough to increase blood flow- never use cayenne pepper!) and put on warm, dry shoes. I use this trick for teaching and patrolling down to 0 degrees, and it works really well.
 

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Intact bubble wrap is a great insulator - just don't pop it! This is good for windchill and, as it's waterproof, might be best on the outside of the shoe, leaving a gap for any cleat.

You can buy those emergency thermal foil blankets and wrap your feet in them before putting your shoes on.

Of course, neoprene overshoes are great too.

These will keep you warm but you can generate a lot of sweat. I have found no solution to this but have realized that more insulation, as above, can give you much longer before the sweat goes cold and starts to work against you.

Keeping your core/head temperature high will give your extremities much more of a fighting chance so don't skimp on those sections or your body will move blood away from your hands/feet more to prioritize other regions!

One final tip is to wear waterproof trousers to prevent water/snow running down your legs and into the shoes.

I've never had any success with toe warmers but, again, they may give you much more time to spare before things get really bad.
 

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Flats and my Keen winter hikers have been more than sufficient down to single digit temps. When I rode clipless I was never really comfortable under about 20* even with great winter specific shoes, heated insoles and warmer packets.
 

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If you really want to get this to work, I think you need to start with bigger shoes. One size bigger is not enough. Do some searching for shoes that are a couple of sizes too big. Check all the usual places, Ebay, MTBR, Pinkbike, local clubs, whatever. As others have said, you need to do something about the cleat area with a layer of insulation between your insole and the cleat plate, and you can only do that with a shoe a couple of sizes too big. Next, you need to do something about all the vents. If you can find an appropriate material, I thing gluing something over all the mesh areas might work. Glue needs to be flexible or else it will just delaminate. Then do as others have said, antiperspirant, thin liner sock, thick wool sock. You can also experiment with a vapor barrier between the 2 socks, works for some people, not for others. I guess you could get or make covers to go over the whole setup as well.

Even after all of that, you will have a marginal setup. A good pair of winter boots are worth the investment. Sell some stuff you don't need and use the proceeds to buy a used pair of winter specific cycling boots.

Or just go to flats and use a pair of winter boots you already have.

I know what I would do, I have a pair of Wolvhammers in the mail as we speak...
 

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Warm Legs = Warmer feet, whenever I skip a layer on the legs, my feet get cold. If the blood looses all of its heat on the way to the feet, it's not going to do it's job.
 

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This may sound weird, but have you tried anti-antiperspirant on your feet? If you stop the sweating your feet will stay dry & warm.
That is a great idea! When I have to drive to the trail I usually pack extra socks with me and put them on just before the trail. I will try antiperspirant next time!
 

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I appreciate your willingness to hack a solution, but I would just offer..

if staying clipped in buy the $200-300 boots, done and you are clipped in, waterproof, etc. nothing to worry about delaminating or falling off or getting wonky on your ride. I know that price is high.... but... pay to play..

I clip in until Winter is here, then flats and a good hiking.winter boot. even with really cold temps, some stream crossings don't go as planned, so having water tight footwear is worth it.

now the obvious, if you have to buy some good flats $50-80 and a good winter boot 80-120... you are closer to the price of those nice spd winter boots.

again, love to try an hack and make do, and cut corners, but respect your toes

the foot warmer chem pouches, love them, get the specific toe kind, don't really take up much room, and makes me toes very happy.
 

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As others have said, whatever you do use these too, placed over your toes, on top of your socks (not directly against your skin). toe warmer.png Also, avoid really thick socks as they will reduce circulation which will make your feet get cold.
 

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Attack the problem at source, remove as much of the heatsink as possible, and you have solved a major part of the problem.
I just recently bought some upsized wolfhammers, big enough I can insert another insole on top of the one already in the shoe. So far this is creating a nice barrier. It won't be enough by itself when it really gets cold, but so far it's been positive.
 
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