How To Keep Your Feet Warm During Winter Bicycling
Make sure you have the right socks for warm feet
Getting cold when cycling in the winter is no fun
Whether you're a beginner cyclist or an elite athlete there's one thing that can really take away your enjoyment of cycling during the winter- cold feet.
Knowing how to keep your feet warm for winter cycling can be a big challenge; However if you consider and follow the tips below you should be well on the way to toasty tootsies when the mercury drops.
Below are a set of tips which will help you keep your feet warm while cycling in cold weather.
Tip 1: Keep your feet comfortably warm by investing in some good quality winter cycling socks
We all wear socks to try to keep our feet comfortably warm. Many of us have cotton socks in our drawers at home. Cotton socks will hold moisture in the fibres which will keep our feet cooler- not an ideal property for winter cycling socks.
Invest in some good quality winter socks for cycling in fabrics such as Merino Wool which not only has thermal properties but also has the ability to wick moisture away from the body for enhanced thermic properties. As they're a natural fibre you'll find that merino wool socks tend not to experience awful odours as well.
Additionally consider winter socks which feature a wind resistant membrane to deflect cold air away from the foot and ensure additional warmth as a result.
Just because you're cycling doesn't mean that you must have a specific pair of functional cycling socks. Walking socks often feature a padded footbed which gives comfort whilst riding and provides additional warmth.
Invest in some quality winter cycling socks for warmth
A great wool cycling sock which is designed for the demands of winter riding. These are the warmest cycling socks in specialist manufacturer Defeet's range and offer great value for money with a high cut for additional warmth.
Tip 2- Layer thin socks on top of each other for extra foot warmth
Many cyclists find that layering two pairs of thin woolen socks on top of each it creates an additional amount of warmth when compared to one single pair of heavier weight winter socks. The pre-text works in the same way as layering clothing to create additional warmth.
A second pair of socks will provide the thermal properties of the socks while also trapping a layer of air between the pairs of socks which can provide additional warmth.
You may also wish to consider a thicker sock as a base with a thin sock over the top to give additional warmth for cold weather cycling.
Click here to view a great assortment of winter cycling socks at Amazon.co.uk.
Invest in quality winter cycling socks
Tip 3- Invest in some quality cycling overshoes
The next step in keeping your feet warm for winter bicycling is to invest in some cycling overshoes which will help provide a barrier to cold wind and rain while helping to trap in some of the heat created by the feet.
A good quality cycling overshoe will often feature a rubberised finish which will prevent water being absorbed and ruin their thermal qualities.
There's a great selection of Winter Cycling Overshoes at Amazon.co.uk
Cycling Overshoes offer great protection from the elements
Tip 4- Metal cycling cleats can conduct heat and cool your feet down
If you use clipless cycling pedal systems such as Shimano's SPD pedals or Speedplay Zero cycling pedals your cleats are likely to be responsible for some of the cooling of your feet while you ride.
Metal is very conductive and cools very easily. If you suffer from cold feet during the winter months it may be a worthwhile consideration to move to a pedal system like Look Keo road pedals which utilise plastic cleats which are less able to cool your feet.
Alternately you could consider using traditional flat pedals with clips and straps which negates the need for cleats and would allow you to use a set of shoes which do not feature air inlets in the sole which can be responsible for heat loss during cold weather riding.
Tip 5- Consider some winter specific cycling shoes
Most cyclists use their regular cycling shoes during the winter. However there is an alternative option- Purchasing some winter specific cycling shoes could be the answer to keeping your feet warm in cold climates.
A good brand to look out for is Northwave who make great value winter cycling shoes which include a dependable Gore-Tex membrane which blocks out rain and cold winds while thermal insulation helps to keep your feet toasty and warm.
Tip 6- Dress your whole body ready for the elements
Before you leave the house make sure that you're correctly dressed for winter cycling and according to the weather you're likely to experience. It's recommended to check the weather forecasts before you head out and dress accordingly
If you're cycling in cold conditions you will actually find that the more comfortably warm the rest of your body is the likelihood that your fingers and toes will be warmer as a result. Dressing correctly for the weather means you're keeping your core body temperature from dropping which can have disastrous consequences.
Consider using a buff for winter cycling warmth
Clothing strategies to keep you warm for winter cycling
Consider whether you need the below for comfortable and warm winter cycling depending on the weather requirements where you live.
Headwear for winter cycling- heat escapes from your body particularly through the head
Winter hat or Skullcap (fits snuggly if you're wearing a cycling helmet over the top)
Snood/ neckscarf- helps stop cold air from dropping down your neckline onto the chest.
Balaclava- If you really suffer with your face
Alternately consider the purchase of a multi-functon Buff which can convert from skull cap to balaclava to snood depending on your requirements.
Upperbody clothing for winter cycling
Consider a 2 or 3 step upper body layering system for winter cycling warmth
1. Long Sleeve Thermal Base Layer- a thermal base layer will provide warmth for the body to maintain core temperature while wicking any sweat away from the body. This will stop the body from getting damp.
2. Windproof Thermal Cycling Jacket- a quality windproof thermal jacket will hold warmth into your body while wicking sweat away from the core and it will have a resistance to the cold biting winds that can cut through regular cycling jerseys. Look for fabrics labelled as Gore(TM) Windstopper or Windtex.
3. Waterproof Cycling Jacket- If the weather gets wet and the rain starts coming down you need to consider a waterproof cycling jacket to protect your warmth and the properties of your clothing. Water is extremely conductive and can therefore cool your skin and body temperature very quickly.
Lower Body Clothing for keeping warm in the winter
Legs- consider a pair of theraml cycling bibtights which will provide warmth while being close to the body to hold in a layer of air for wamth
If a pair of bibtights isn't enough warmth consider a windproof membrane cycling trousers or bibtights. Or alternately you can layer a set of waterproof trousers over the top for further warmth and weather protection
Feet- follow the guidelines and tips above for warm feet during your winter riding.
Alternative strategies for extra foot warmth
There are a number of other strategies that some riders consider to keep themselves warm over the winter.
Wearing plastic bags over their feet- a diy approach to warmer feet involves wearing a plastic shopping bag over each foot. This method will stop heat escaping from outside the plastic bag to keep your feet warm. However the fact that your feet can't breathe through the plastic bag means they will likely end up saturated in your own sweat and look like you've spent your whole ride with your feet in the bath!
Try chemical hand warmers in your toe box- If there's plenty of room in your shoes (or your can find some hand warmers on the small side) you could slide them down the front of your shoes to give you extra warmth while riding. A real downside of this approach is that the warmers could be forcibly exposed to your feet for extended periods of time and for those with sensitive skin it can burn.
Good luck with your winter cycling
Have you any strategies we haven't mentioned? Please share with us in the comments box below as you'd love to hear from you
Liam Hallam (CyclingFitness)
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