There’s plenty of options for getting your feet back up to temperature after a cold, wet ride. You could slip your pinkies into a pair of cosy down booties or encase them with primaloft stuffed slippers or even just a thick pair of wool socks will soon have your feet feeling like they’re attached to your ankles once more … preventing them from getting cold in the first place can be a little more difficult.
Cold feet and hands can usually be ignored or at least they can be, until they reach a certain point. This point is different for everyone but once reached, a switch just below your left ear will be flicked and in doing so your brain will stop telling you that you’re content and will tell you that you’re miserable, very unhappy and actually wished you’d not bothered coming.
A combination of cold and wet is a very difficult thing to deal with. Trying to keep your feet dry is easy, having any degree if success is much harder. I’ve largely given up trying, that doesn’t mean I wade through every water course I can find, it just means that at some point, on most trips my feet are going to get wet … and as long as I don’t allow them to get too cold, the switch below my left ear will remain on ‘happy’. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not advocating wearing sandals, by all means give waterproof socks a whirl and invest in some waterproof boots but do remember that they’re waterproof in both directions … water that finds its way inside, can’t get out. Your foot will act like a wrinkly immersion heater, in the milder months that’s fine, it won’t take much to warm the water to the ambient temperature but in winter … oh, how different things will be.
My usual first line of defence in the cold war is merino wool socks. Now, forget all this ‘they’re warm when wet’ stuff because they’re not. What they are is ‘warmer than a sock produced from man-made fibres when wet’ because wool retains a higher percentage of its thermal properties when soggy, than most materials. Depending how cold it is and the thickness / quality of your socks, they might be all you need or then again. Just before Christmas I went for a ride, it was a 130 mile ride and I didn’t plan on stopping until ‘the end’. I knew ‘the end’ would be the day after ‘the start’ which obviously meant riding through the night and in December it might be cold. Something else I was aware of was the likelihood of wet feet quite early on. I toyed with the idea of carrying some spare socks but deep down I knew that I wouldn’t bother stopping to change until it was too late. Neoprene overshoes were another option but they don’t tend to fair well with flat pedals or hike-a-bike … eventually I gave up and consigned myself to a little suffering.
|You may look like you’ve just escaped from a lamp … but you’ll be warm.|
A couple of days before my departure, I popped into ‘the shop that sells everything’, for some meths. While queuing up to pay, my eye was drawn to a stand, I didn’t know it at the time but that stand contained my feet’s saviour. Although the old dear behind me made it clear she wouldn’t let me back in, I sidestepped out of the queue and went for a look … I rejoined the queue (at the back) with a pair of Bama thermal Sokkets.
My pre-conceived thoughts about the ride turned out to be correct, with one exception … I did arrive at my destination the day after setting off. My feet did get wet within the first 20 miles and it was cold, cold enough to warrant big winter mitts and a a buff covering everything but my eyes BUT my feet were warm, well, maybe not warm but certainly comfortable. I’d worn my new found friends over the top of a medium weight pair of meriono socks inside my usual shoes. The Bama ‘booties’ claim to keep your feet warm and dry and although they’re not ‘waterproof’ they appear to do a good job on both counts. I can’t deny that they look a bit ‘special’ but seeing as they live in your shoes, it doesn’t really matter. They do feel quite snug when you first put them on but after a few minutes you genuinely forget you’re wearing them. Obviously there’s the issue of extra bulk to consider but I’ve found that if your shoes can accommodate a decent thick pair of socks, then you shouldn’t have any problems fitting thinner socks plus the booties in there.
I’ve worn them on most rides since their first outing and am still surprised by how well they work … if you suffer with cold feet, they come highly reccomended.
Available from shops that sell everything and the internet, expect to pay around £10.