Cold feet dilemma
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  1. #1
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    Cold feet dilemma

    I live in an area that doesn't get too cold during winter. The coldest I have ridden is was the upper 30s; this past weekend it was an average of 45 for my ride. For an idea, I wear cycling tights over my normal bibs, a wind vest over my summer jersey and some PI arm warmers and am comfortable after 15ish minutes. But the toes go numb and stay that way. I was thinking, since the rest of my feet seem to be okay, that toe covers would be best and then add wool socks for the colder days.

    But here is my dilemma: I wear a size 50 shoe. The toe covers I see don't go that large. Castelli Toe Thingy 2s are "one size," but come on....50?

    Some booties (namely Castelli Diluvio and PI Elite Thermal booties) have reviews where the reviewer says they wear size 15 (the same as a 50) and the XXL in these work okay. But being in the area I am in, I worry that they may be overkill and then I will just end up with damp, sweaty feet, especially when in the in-between temperature zone between numb toes and good to go (seems to be around 50).

    The DeFeet Slipstream things go fairly large (48).

    So, thoughts on a solution? Are booties overkill? I think I may be limited to those due to size restrictions.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Size isn't very important for toe covers because ... they only cover your toes.

  3. #3
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    I live in East TN where winters are generally mild but temps can get well below freezing. When riding in cold weather my feet/toes are always what gets cold first and that's always the limiting comfort factor riding in the cold. In general, I'll put the booties on below 45F and use toe warmers below 60F. I have the thick Pearl Am Fib booties and my feet are never too hot.

    I have Shimano winter MTB shoes I use a lot but they don't keep my toes warm. I've told myself that I'll get some super-toasty Lakes but it hasn't happened yet.

    In general, my feet never overheat, except for a couple of times where I wore medium thickness wool socks on a sunny day that got well over 70F.

    I say get the booties. Also, don't they make booties that aren't neoprene and are made for milder temps?

  4. #4
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    wool socks

    toe covers

    chemical toe warmers

    plastic sandwich bags over your socks covering your toes before putting on your shoes.

    insulated insoles

    winter shoes

    shoe covers

    any combination of the above
    Too old to ride plastic

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    Quote Originally Posted by ogre View Post
    I live in East TN where winters are generally mild but temps can get well below freezing. When riding in cold weather my feet/toes are always what gets cold first and that's always the limiting comfort factor riding in the cold. In general, I'll put the booties on below 45F and use toe warmers below 60F. I have the thick Pearl Am Fib booties and my feet are never too hot.

    I have Shimano winter MTB shoes I use a lot but they don't keep my toes warm. I've told myself that I'll get some super-toasty Lakes but it hasn't happened yet.

    In general, my feet never overheat, except for a couple of times where I wore medium thickness wool socks on a sunny day that got well over 70F.

    I say get the booties. Also, don't they make booties that aren't neoprene and are made for milder temps?
    I live in Northen AL, so probably a bit warmer than you, but similar. When you say toe warmers, do you mean the chemical things?

    I think the booties would be okay, but I am not sure I can get as much use out of them due to higher temps(?). I figure, without anything to justify my thoughts, that toe covers could be worn in higher temps than booties?

    Also, the thinner non-neoprene types (in fact, a PI guy a spoke with said to look at something similar) don't get very favorable reviews.

    Sounds like it might be booties for me...

  6. #6
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    If you take a plastic sandwich bag or trash bag, cut it to fit over your toes, put them over your socks before you put your shoes on..... that is just as good as toe warmers.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lightning33 View Post
    When you say toe warmers, do you mean the chemical things?
    I was referring to the 'cloth' toe covers, not chemical warmers.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
    Size isn't very important for toe covers because ... they only cover your toes.
    I'm size 43, which is right between M and L in shoe and sock sizes. My first pair of toe warmers were M and they were a b!tch to put on and take off. The second pair I got were L and they're so much easier to deal with. And the extra stretching to the M toe warmers really did stress them and add to their wear. I can imagine that putting a pair of toe warmers over size 50s would get old really quick.

    I only started wearing toe warmers about 6-8 years ago - a really nice wardrobe option, and I really dislike booties.

  8. #8
    xxl
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    There are toe covers that are made for athletes who need to soak their feet in ice water, and they come in wider size ranges than most bicycle-specific toe covers. The ones I've seen look to be made of neoprene. You might try those.

    FWIW, Sidi makes a winter shoe that's available up to size 52 W: https://sidi.com/en/products/cycling...beagle7sr-mega

    Lake also makes winter shoes for people with large feet: https://www.lakecycling.com/

    I live in a similar climate as you do, and also have large feet (48, but very wide, so most cycling shoes sized "48" are too narrow), and after years of dorking around with toe covers, booties, chemical warmers, and such, I plunged for a pair, and have never regretted it.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
    Size isn't very important for toe covers because ... they only cover your toes.
    Agree with this. They only cover the front third of your foot so if you can find a larger size that should work. I use a Giro Ambient size large cover on my size 48 feet with no issue. However, for the temperatures you mention, I would go with a shoe cover if you can find one in your size

  10. #10
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    I stopped trying to find the right combination of socks/toe/shoe covers years ago. I use the stick-on toe warmers anytime it's below 45 degrees.

    https://www.amazon.com/HotHands-Toe-...s%2C149&sr=8-4

    And yeah, trying to get "XL" shoe covers over a size 48 is a shitty way to start a ride. Toe covers are fine. Toe covers are fine. They just don't do much - especially with the added clip-in hassle.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    wool socks

    toe covers

    chemical toe warmers

    plastic sandwich bags over your socks covering your toes before putting on your shoes.

    insulated insoles

    winter shoes

    shoe covers

    any combination of the above
    This. And I'll add that my PI toe warmers as well as my PI AmFib shoe covers work just fine on my size 48s.

  12. #12
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    plastic bags over the socks worked great when I was riding in Kazakhstan with the chilling wind howling and not a single tree in sight.

  13. #13
    pmf
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    When I first started riding in the winter, I used neoprene booties. Most of my winter riding is riding to and from work -- about an hour each way. The booties worked OK, but they were a PITA to take on and off twice a day, and they wore out after a season or two. I then bought a Sidi winter shoes when they first came on the market. They worked about as well as the booties, but were a lot easier to take on and off. Three years ago, I went whole hog and bought a pair of Lake 303's. They're like a hiking boot with cleat on the bottom. They even have Vibram soles. I found that the real secret to these shoes is the insole. Its thick and reflective (what that does on the inside of a shoe, I'm not sure, but it does something). I bought as couple extra pairs of the Lake insoles and put one pair in my Sidi shoes, which did make them warmer. On a cool day, I'll wear the Sidis. On a cold day, the Lakes. If its in the 20's or below, my feet still get cold after an hour on the bike. I don't think you can escape it after that. Even chemical warmers aren't that great since they need oxygen to activate, and that's kind of scarce on the inside of a shoe with a foot crammed into it.

    Winter shoes are an indulgence, but they do last forever. My Sidis are 20+ years old. Probably the best bang for the buck is a plastic bag. I used to work with a guy who swore by old bread bags, He had a lot shorter commute than I do, but it worked for him. Oh, and he was kind of a cheap skate.

  14. #14
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    The plastic bags over wool socks works well for me. I had to clear my folks' driveway once but didn't have boots with. I had my running stuff along though so used some bags in my running shoes over wool socks and didn't have an issue. I was outside for about 45 minutes walking around behind a snowblower; it was -10F and howling wind. I use the same in my normal bike shoes for cold rides. I've also taped the ventilation areas on the toes of my shoes but it's tough to get the tape to stick and stay due to the shape of the shoes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    plastic bags over the socks worked great when I was riding in Kazakhstan with the chilling wind howling and not a single tree in sight.
    Plastic bags are slippery and don't breathe. How do you keep from slipping out of your shoes with those?

    IMHO, if you are getting numb toes, you need dedicated winter bike shoes. Neoprene booties or toe covers simply do not keep my feet warm enough.
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  16. #16
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    Here's another suggestion

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076B4PDZR...NsaWNrPXRydWU=

    As an aside, be careful when adding to the inside of the shoe, such as heavier socks, thicker insoles or something like these toe warmers, because tight shoes don't keep your feet warm.
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  17. #17
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    I don't seem to have much trouble with slipping. Ideally, I would have a pair of winter cycling boots, but I don't ride much when it's real cold and it just doesn't pay for me. I guess I sacrifice breathability for keeping the wind out in these cases. I tend to run hot and sweat a lot so most things that are "breathable" can't keep up with me anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Plastic bags are slippery and don't breathe. How do you keep from slipping out of your shoes with those?

    IMHO, if you are getting numb toes, you need dedicated winter bike shoes. Neoprene booties or toe covers simply do not keep my feet warm enough.

  18. #18
    wots...uh the deal?
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    Over the years here, many good suggestions have been made. Summary of what I learned to add:

    -Keep the core warm. Everything is warmed by blood supply from the core. If the blood cools before it gets to the fingers/toes, what you wear there don't matter. Always easier to unzip the jacket, jersey and base layer mid-ride than to add another layer.
    -Do not bind or get too tight. Sock snakes, too tight shoes, tights too tight around the ankles etc restrict blood flow. If you wear 2 layers of socks, make sure to buy shoes that allow this without being over tight (as above)
    -Many little things can add up and allow "tuning". Duct tape over your show vents is good for a couple degrees adjustment (Stop the wind from blowing the heat build up away) Toe covers, booties, winter cycling boots have their place. The more options you have, the better.
    -Plastic bags over the socks, inside the shoes buy you another 10* or so. But, they don't breath. (Same thing goes for latex/vinyl gloves do the same for hands, and if you talc them, one glove is the right size to stick a tube in. Used this a couple of times when the weather changed suddenly!)
    -Mylar and insoles. Someone here suggested to use mylar on your insoles (somewhat covered above, but that was a manufacturers insole)
    Get a mylar balloon, a new pair of insole and spray adhesive. Cut out the mylar to cover the top AND bottom of the insole and attach. Reflects heat up to your foot, reflects cold down. (get good mylar, not the $2 'emergency blanket' version)

    I can use my regular shoes, with the mylar covered insole and neo booties on my snow bike and be good down to -15*F. Below that, I can add another leg layer to keep the blood warm to the feet. If I am really going to ride colder than that, I would buy the winter boots (clip in, or just wear big 5 pound winter boots on platform pedals)

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    As an aside, be careful when adding to the inside of the shoe, such as heavier socks, thicker insoles or something like these toe warmers, because tight shoes don't keep your feet warm.
    ^^^Absolutely this.^^^

    From my own experience, sock liners are counterproductive for the very reason they restrict movement. Tight shoes mean less air space in between your feet and the outside. Just as you wouldn't pack insulation tight in the walls of your house. Air space is insulation.
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  20. #20
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    I found some LG Neo Protect III in size XXL, which goes to a 52. And, only $30!

    Thanks for the help and advice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Plastic bags are slippery and don't breathe. How do you keep from slipping out of your shoes with those?
    I almost always pull my feet out my shoes at the sprint points. Then I remembered to buckle my shoes, problem solved.
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  22. #22
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    Keeping your head and core warm helps keep your toes and fingers warm, lots of heat is lost through your head. When your core temp drops, your blood flow to extremities slows and they get cold.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Keeping your head and core warm helps keep your toes and fingers warm, lots of heat is lost through your head. When your core temp drops, your blood flow to extremities slows and they get cold.
    This is true, but not to the extent many believe. About 40% of body heat is lost through the head. However, what I have found makes a big difference in keeping the feet warm is keeping the legs well insulated.
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  24. #24
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by lightning33 View Post
    I found some LG Neo Protect III in size XXL, which goes to a 52. And, only $30!

    Thanks for the help and advice.
    These will make a big difference. If you like them, pick up another pair. I always went through neoprene booties pretty fast. As Srode says, keeping your head warm is kind of key. A balaclava is the best bang for the buck winter item you can buy IMO.

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