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Thread: Keeping toes toasty

  1. #1
    Member sherpakid's Avatar
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    Keeping toes toasty

    I've been trying to find solutions to help keep my toes toasty and warm on my next trip. My current hiking boots are not insulated. I wear the Smartwool Expedition Weight wool socks and a liner and my toes always do the "freezing hurting pain to numb" thing every time I go out.

    Does anyone have any recommendations/solutions to keeping toes warm or do I just have to deal with numb toes for the entire trip?

    -sherpakid

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherpakid
    I've been trying to find solutions to help keep my toes toasty and warm on my next trip. My current hiking boots are not insulated. I wear the Smartwool Expedition Weight wool socks and a liner and my toes always do the "freezing hurting pain to numb" thing every time I go out.

    Does anyone have any recommendations/solutions to keeping toes warm or do I just have to deal with numb toes for the entire trip?

    -sherpakid
    Get some toe or foot warmers.

    http://www.warmers.com/Category.aspx...Ids=CategoryID

    Toe warmers are enough for me.
    Tom Rankin
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    Senior Member spencer's Avatar
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    I know I'll get blasted for saying this, but I always thought that chemical warmers were a crutch. If you need them routinely are you prepared? Having them for an emergency is great but do you want to have to rely on them all day?

    I don't mean to fly in the face of the libertarian recreationist in all of us...

    I've seen zillions of those damn things not work when expected (too old, unlucky, whatever) and if you are counting on them for a trip in the woods without good footwear or handwear, you might just be SOL...

    of course, some clever person will likely say, aren't those fancy mittens you wear a crutch? why can't you be tough enough to do the trip naked

    now to the point: I often hike in the winter with my single leather boots and I realize when I wear them that I'm going to have cold feet but sometimes that isn't so bad on certain trips. Sometimes the extra comfort and flexibility (compared with my plastics) is worth the price. They are especially cold if they get a bit wet from sweat, which freezes, keeping your toes snuggled in with ice cubes!

    I don't see any way around it other than getting warmer boots. Remember, fit is important too. If they boots are too tight and your circulation is compromised you'll get colder. Of course, all my boots are too tight so I don't really know the difference.

    my three cents... fire away!

    spencer

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    I agree with both posts so far. Either use toe warmers (which usually work but now you're relying on a consumable to stay comfortable) or buy better boots.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bignslow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spencer
    If they boots are too tight and your circulation is compromised you'll get colder. Of course, all my boots are too tight so I don't really know the difference.
    I run into this problem with my snowboarding boots, my feet start fine, then get "cold", then eventually go numb (especially if I don't undo my bindings after each run). But when I take my feet out at the end of the day my feet are plenty warm. It might be worth experimenting without the expedition weight socks, it's possible you're cutting off your circulation by putting too much into your boot.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spencer
    I know I'll get blasted for saying this, but I always thought that chemical warmers were a crutch. If you need them routinely are you prepared? Having them for an emergency is great but do you want to have to rely on them all day?
    I'm not going to blast you. Warmer boots are an option, but if you are standing around at a camp site, or hiking downhill slowly at the end of a long cold day, your feet can still get cold.

    Also, as I get older, my circulation is getting worse. I really need these things for my toes and fingers. It doesn't matter how many pairs of mittens or socks I have on if I can't get warmed up again.
    Tom Rankin
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky
    I agree with both posts so far. Either use toe warmers (which usually work but now you're relying on a consumable to stay comfortable) or buy better boots.
    Since I put them on at the start of the hike, I don't need to worry if they are working or not. If they don't get warm right away, I'll either have to get another package open, or not hike! So far, I have not had a toe warmer failure, but I have had 1 or 2 hand warmer packages not work very well. Carry spares!
    Tom Rankin
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  8. #8
    Member sherpakid's Avatar
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    My boots (older Asolo 520 GTX) could be too tight, but they don't feel too snug. I did try the warmers in the past, but that only felt like they took up space and didn't warm them.

    I may just have to buy warmer, insulated boots. I had actually looked at them, but I was told by the sales person that 1. sole was too soft and flexible and they didn't work well with snowshoes and 2. they often times caused feet to sweat and making them go colder.

    Anyone try insulated socks or vapor barrier socks?

    It's not a huge issue because after they go numb, they are numb and I don't feel anything, but just thought someone might have a rec to keep them warm to avoid the pain transition before they went numb!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    First off, don't suffer with freezing toes. That's no fun and is potentially dangerous. If it's an occasional thing, try the chemical packs. I always carry a few for emergencies, but have not used them yet, even though there have been a couple of times I should have. I'm always fine when moving but the cold catches up quickly when standing around.

    Better socks might help marginally. Better/Winter boots would help, many people here hike in Sorel-type winter insulated boots.

    Here's something a bit radical, but not if your feet are always cold and you like your current boots: consider mountaineering overboots, like 40Below Purple Haze. I came close on ebay to getting a pair for myself for about $70 and you can get them new for about $125. These are "expedition" overboots (not gaiters) that you can still attach crampons, and certainly snowshoes, to.
    Dead Last > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start

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    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Space Age insoles

    And now for something completely different:
    Toasty Feet

    I have heard nothing but good things about these and just ordered a pair. One note of caution: their Customer Service advises that you should the order the regular insoles and not the cushioned ones, unless you have really roomy boots.

    Regards,
    Marty
    So when you reach the bottom line
    The only thing to do is climb
    Pick yourself up off the floor
    Anything ya want is yours


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    Year: 1985

  11. #11
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    I have Toasty Feet in my Degres. They've helped, but your toes are still "out there".

    I should have suggested VBL socks also. These are another thing I carry and have never used. The over boots might be a last resort. I am interested in them for ice climbing as well as winter hiking and camping.
    Dead Last > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start

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  12. #12
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spencer
    I know I'll get blasted for saying this, but I always thought that chemical warmers were a crutch. If you need them routinely are you prepared? Having them for an emergency is great but do you want to have to rely on them all day?
    Not by me, you won't. I agree 100%.

    I don't see any way around it other than getting warmer boots. Remember, fit is important too. If they boots are too tight and your circulation is compromised you'll get colder.
    I agree here too. Get some real winter hiking boots. (Yes, they are expensive. Tough. Still cheaper than frostbite or worse.)

    If you tried to come on one of my winter trips with summer boots, I'd reject you. (My college outing club had a policy that all beginners must wear Mouse Boots unless they can convince the leader that they had something adequate.) Anyone coming on a group trip with inadequate gear endangers everyone in the party.

    If your boots are at all marginal, carry booties so you can rewarm your feet.

    FWIW, I can both hike and stand around in my winter double boots. I generally only need to reach for my booties when I get into my sleeping bag.

    Doug

  13. #13
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marty
    And now for something completely different:
    Toasty Feet
    Insulating insoles may help, but don't forget that you lose heat from the tops of your feet and your ankles too.

    Doug

  14. #14
    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    Insulating insoles may help, but don't forget that you lose heat from the tops of your feet and your ankles too.

    Doug
    I agree with you Doug, but with every thing else being equal, insulating insoles certainly can help. I learned this from wading trout streams in early April about 35 years ago.
    So when you reach the bottom line
    The only thing to do is climb
    Pick yourself up off the floor
    Anything ya want is yours


    Song: Bottom Line
    Artist: Big Audio Dynamite
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    Year: 1985

  15. #15
    Member sherpakid's Avatar
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    new boots

    Ok, ok, I'll pick up some new insulated boots! And my wife thought I had everthing I needed and wouldn't have to buy more gear this trip!

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