How to Keep Your Feet Warm in Boots for the Winter

How to Keep Your Feet Warm in Boots for the Winter
You've purchased warm boots--the packaging said they'd be good to temperatures of 30 below. You're wearing three layers of warm socks. And yet your feet are probably ice cold. This is because keeping your feet warm in winter is, to a certain degree, a counterintuitive process. Instead of cramming as much insulation as possible into your boots, you want to strike a balance between insulation and wiggle room--literally--so that your blood, the body's real warming system, can circulate freely.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Wool or synthetic liner socks
  • Fleece or wool outer socks
  • Gaiters
Step 1
Check the labeling on your winter boots; make sure you're wearing boots that are rated for the coldest temperatures you expect to encounter. If you no longer have the labels from your boots, either call the manufacturer or try to find similar boots by the same manufacturer in a nearby shop and check the labeling on these boots to find the temperature rating.
Step 2
Put on a thin, light liner sock made of either wool or a synthetic wicking material like Capilene or polypropylene. Next, put on fleece or wool socks. Avoid cotton, as if it becomes damp it will not insulate your feet.
Step 3
Put on your boots. Lace them up as usual and wiggle your toes. If there isn't enough room to wiggle your toes at least a bit, the extra bulk of your socks is actually cutting off your circulation, which will result in cold feet and possible frostbite. Either switch to a larger boot or adjust your sock system--using two thin socks instead of one thin and one thick sock, or eliminating the liner sock and using only a fleece or wool sock.
Step 4
Add a gaiter over each boot. This helps to keep snow, ice and meltwater out of your boots. Your socks will stay dry and, thus, your feet will stay warmer.
Step 5
Carry extra socks, and replace the socks you're wearing, if they happen to get wet, with dry socks as soon as possible.

Tips & Warnings

If you have plenty of room in your boots to ensure adequate blood circulation, are wearing warm socks and the boots themselves are well insulated but your feet are still cold, try this trick: Activate a chemical "hand warmer" by opening the package and shaking the packet inside. Slip a hand warmer into each boot, either at your instep or on top of your forefoot. You can also slip the hand warmers between your liner sock and your outer sock to help keep them in place. You can also purchase special foot warmers--which are the same as the hand warmers but with adhesive to help hold them in place--to use in cold weather.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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