Riding in winters can be a tough and uncomfortable task. Keeping yourself warm is a challenge every motorcycle rider faces. There are many ways that you can keep your body warm, but not so many methods to keep your feet warm.
From my experience, I believe keeping your feet warm and insulated from high winds and changing environments is key.
While some of the answers may be common knowledge to most people, there are a couple of things that may have caught the attention of experienced riders as well.
Read on as I explain each point in detail and suggest a few products that I have come to use over the years. This will ensure that you know a number of ways to keep your feet warm and enjoy that long ride on your motorcycle.
1. Wear Long Waterproof Boots to keep air and cold out
An effective way to keep your feet warm while riding in the cold is by using long waterproof boots.
Although these boots are made of a variety of materials, they all have a primary purpose, which is to keep cold and water away and to protect the whole leg from twisting and breaking. So how do waterproof boots help keep your feet warm?
Waterproof boots prevent water and cold air from getting inside and keep the leg warm. They are designed to be properly fit around the feet, without allowing any openings for water or air to get trapped within.
As a result, it reduces the chances of getting cold on your foot or freezing if temperatures fall below the freezing point.
Water within the shoe can end up drenching your feet. This can make you feel unusually cold especially over long rides. It can also be a safety hazard as your foot may slip within the shoe, causing accidental application of the pedals which can lead to an accident.
However, if temperatures drop below 32℉ (0℃), the water will end up freezing. This can cause severe pain and discomfort to the riders while making your feet feel extremely cold. As a result, you will not be able to continue riding for long periods of time.
Waterproof boots eliminate this possibility by ensuring that no water is stored between the feet and the shoe. This helps keep a small pocket of air that is warmer than its surroundings, helping keep your feet warm and comfortable.
2. Wear Thick and Long Woolen Socks
One of the most common ways to keep our feet warm is by using woolen socks that are thicker in nature. Wool is a natural insulator of heat, which prevents body heat from escaping and thus keeping us warm. It also ensures that there is sufficient ventilation, preventing sweat and body odor from causing discomfort.
While riding motorcycles, it is a good idea to wear thick socks that are longer in length. The thicker the material, the warmer your feet will be. This will keep you comfortable on longer rides, especially if the temperatures are closer to freezing.
Longer socks will ensure that not just your feet, but your lower legs are also kept warm and insulated from wind chills. This also helps if you do not have rider pants that are designed to withstand cold temperatures and the wind.
Another useful application of long socks is that they prevent accidental leg shakes. These are caused when tension builds up in the muscle due to long periods of inactivity and can lead to accidental pedal application in rare cases.
However, do not wear multiple layers of socks or an extremely thick pair. It may end up restricting blood flow to your feet. This will lead to the foot cramping up, forcing you to make an unplanned stop to recover before you proceed.
Extremely thick socks will also reduce the feel of your foot, which can lead to improper or incorrect application of the brakes. Always keep some room inside the boot so that the body heat can stay there. Very tight boots cannot keep the body heat kept inside.
3. Use Heated Insoles
Heated insoles are another novel way of keeping your feet warm while riding in the winter. These soles can replace the regular soles of your boots. They are made of heat-insulating materials that help retain heat while absorbing moisture and sweat from the foot.
Heated insoles are extremely helpful if you have older shoes and motorcycle boots. They may have older insoles that lack the technology to distribute heat across the foot. As a result, you may have external protection but still, feel your feet freezing up on the inside.
Heated insoles are available in two types. The first type of insoles does not actively generate heat from heating elements. Instead, they act as efficient heat insulators, redistributing the heat to the more sensitive parts of the foot like the heel and toes.
— Also read: Here’s How to Keep your Knees Warm on a Motorcycle?
- An example of this product is the JobSite Warm Feet Thermal Insoles manufactured by 3M. Made of 3M Thinsulate technology, it helps keep the cold out and traps body heat within the sole, giving users the perfect opportunity to keep their feet warm. (Read more about this product from Amazon)
Another advantage of these insoles is that they do not need an additional battery pack or power source. This allows it to fit comfortably in most shoes, thanks to its different sizes. It also ensures that users do not feel any kind of discomfort due to its addition.
- The second type of heated insoles that are sold is the battery-powered types. These actively generate heat within the sole, helping keep the feet warm irrespective of the weather outside. These soles are usually operated with the help of a remote or wired control unit.
The ThermaCell Rechargeable Heated Insole is one such product that caught my attention. It has a small footprint and multiple sizes that allow customers to get the perfect fit. It also has an integrated lithium-ion battery that fits within the sole itself, ensuring no discomfort to users while using it. (Click here to go to Amazon to know more about it)
Its wireless thermal technology ensures that users do not have to install it permanently in a particular shoe. It also offers users three different heating modes to keep their feet comfortable and warm.
The water-lined sole allows it to be water-resistant, making it a durable choice that offers good utility for users.
4. Use Vapor Barrier Socks
If you are someone looking to go for long motorcycle trips in winter that require you to spend extensive time on the road, then you are most likely to experience cold feet at some point of time.
Your toes will feel especially cold as heat from the outside will dissipate before reaching this part of your foot. This will leave you in quite some discomfort as a result.
Vapor barrier socks are a great way to help keep your shoes dry from the moisture produced by your feet. These socks are made of a synthetic material that traps the moisture within the inner lining.
As a result, the shoes and socks do not get drenched and act as more effective insulators for long periods of time.
Vapor barrier socks are used mainly by hikers and winter sports enthusiasts. However, they can be used by motorcycle riders as well to keep their feet warm, without reducing the feel of your foot while operating the pedals. How do you use vapor barrier socks though?
Wear a thin synthetic sock that is in direct contact with the skin. Cover this sock with the vapor barrier socks. Ensure that the sock is long and covers the foot up to the shin.
Wear a thick woolen sock or you can wear a thin sock as well above the vapor barrier to add a layer of heat insulation to keep the cold out. Finally, wear the boot and ensure that the foot is comfortable.
Bread bags and thick plastic covers make for good temporary vapor barriers as well. However, they are not recommended for long rides as they will not let the foot breathe, causing odor and other hygiene-related issues.
- Product: Rab Vapor Barrier Socks are a good product to consider if you want to buy a new pair of these socks. Made of waterproof nylon, they do a good job at retaining moisture.
They also have top locks and elastic cords to ensure a proper fit, while the elastic ankles give you flexibility while moving. (Click here to go to the official website of this product to know more about it)
5. Use Heated Socks
With developments in modern technology, a number of brands figured a novel way of keeping the feet nice and warm.
They decided to add heaters to the socks themselves, giving users a layer of insulation while allowing the sock to produce heat of its own. Many of you may wonder though; How do heated socks work?
Heated socks are powered by electric batteries, with a heating element placed at the toe end of the sock. The fabric of the sock allows it to retain the heat produced, keeping it warm and cozy irrespective of the weather outside. The batteries are rechargeable and the socks can be washed, allowing it to be reused without any hygiene concerns.
Heated socks are primarily used by skiers and people participating in winter sports. However, it finds another very useful application when it comes to motorcycle riding. Thanks to the battery pack, these socks are usually long in length, offering great protection from the cold as well as high winds.
They also eliminate the need to wear thick woolen socks, improving the feel of the rider while riding for longer distances. These socks can be perfect for those who don’t like to wear thick woolen socks.
Here are a few heated socks that I came across during my research. I have also listed a few features that make them products to consider if you encounter cold feet while riding your motorcycle.
- IFWATER Rechargeable Heated Socks
Made of a mixture of cotton and spandex to provide users with maximum comfort. The 4 layers of the sock allow the foot to breathe, giving riders proper ventilation over extended periods of usage.
Three-level temperature setting which takes just a minute to get to the right temperature. The heating element is powered by dual 3.7V rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for quick and long-lasting usage. The carbon fiber heating elements are safe and do not get damaged while washing.
Padded reinforcements around the heel and toe give users extra support while wearing these socks. It also gives riders better protection for their feet, giving them a comfortable overall experience. (Click here to go to the official Amazon page to know more about this product)
- Rechargeable Comfy Heated Socks
Elastic mixture along with cotton gives the socks improved durability and better fit. The 3 layers; windproof, heating element, and warm layer ensure that the user has a comfortable experience without being hindered by the heating mechanism.
Three-level temperature settings give users the opportunity to choose the amount of heat they need to keep their feet warm. It is powered by a 7.4V 220 mAh battery or 2 AA batteries which heat the socks up in 30 seconds.
The far infrared fiber heating element ensures users do not get hindered by the heating element. It also allows users to wash the socks without damaging the heating elements, making it a much more hygienic and comfortable choice for motorcycle enthusiasts. (Click here to go the official website of this product)
6. Use Boot Heaters before leaving
The most traditional way of keeping your feet warm is by heating the entire boot itself. In the past, bonfires by the side were the primary source of heat for this purpose. However, modern advances in technology have allowed for electric boot heaters which are much more efficient.
Boot heaters are available in two different models. External boot heaters are large and bulky pieces of equipment. These machines channel hot air through the entire shoe with the help of a blower and tubes or vents.
While these machines can effectively dry and heat a variety of riding gear, including gloves and boots, they are extremely bulky and difficult to carry around. This makes it inconvenient for motorcycle riders looking to travel light. Such heaters are used more commonly by skiers and winter sports enthusiasts.
- If you are going on a long trip and carrying luggage with you, then you can definitely consider this option. The DryGuy DX Forced Air and Boot Garment Dryer offers superior performance and great value for money.
It has four vents that allow you to dry multiple boots and gloves at the same time. It can also be used for drying up a wet boot from the inside. (Click here to read the reviews left by the customers who used it as well from Amazon)
It has a timing switch and usually takes only two hours to dry even the wettest boots. It also helps remove odor due to sweat and moisture, giving riders fresh boots that feel great when they resume riding.
- The second type of boot heater involves connecting a heating element to the sole. These types of heaters must be connected to a battery pack near the boot, and warm the feet while the rider is wearing them.
These boots are much more convenient for riding and do not require you to make stops to keep your feet warm.
One such product is the Hotronics FootWarmer S4 Custom Boot Heater. (Click here to go to the official Amazon page of this product). While this product is on the pricier side, they include a custom sole designed uniquely for your feet.
However, the heating elements must be connected to the battery, which must be fastened externally to the boot. This may slightly offset the balance of the rider, which may affect them during the ride.
- Another product that you can consider if you are on a tight budget is the Therm-ic Heated 3D Insole. This product has an EVA foam insole that can replace the existing insole and provide the user with a comfortable experience. (Click here to go the official website of this product)
Its 3D-shaped arch and heel structure ensure improved insulation for the entire foot. The heating element is located closer to the toes, helping your feet feel warm for longer periods.
It can be connected externally to a battery which can be attached to the boots. It is also compatible with Bluetooth batteries that allow you to change the settings wirelessly.
Dangers of riding with cold feet
There are dangers of riding with cold feet, it is uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t do anything to prevent it. It can be dangerous for you and your health.
If you didn’t do anything to prevent the cold air from getting inside your shoe, then at first it can be uncomfortable but after some time, it can lead to the numbness of the feet.
Blood circulation will be lower to your feet, and that can lead to a slow reaction, which means it will be more difficult to move your feet. You cannot apply the brake on time when you needed it the most which will be dangerous for you as well as for others.
Exposing feet for a long time to the cold air can cause frostbite as well, which will be irreversible, and you will not be able to ride your motorcycle anymore. So, don’t ride for long with cold feet.
What To Do When Your feet Get Cold?
You cannot predict the weather, and if you are in a motorcycle ride and suddenly the weather starts to change. And now you are feeling cold on your feet. And if you are unprepared for this kind of weather and thinking about now your feet will froze.
At that time, you should head to your home, because if the weather goes worse then this can lead to some more serious problems, that no one wants to face like, numbness on your feet, and then you cannot feel anything more.
If you cannot go back to your home then head over to some warm place and then remove your shoes and move your feet in rotation so that blood can reach your feet fast, and if possible start rubbing the bottom of your feet to generate some heat with friction.
You can go to any gas station and buy some warm socks or if they don’t have anything, then try to get a plastic bag and put it after your socks and then wear the shoe back, it will trap the body heat inside your shoe.
And prevents any kind of water from getting inside your shoe, it can lead to hypothermia, which can lead to more serious problems. We will recommend you warm your feet completely before hitting the road again.
- Can you wear Hiking Shoes to Keep your Feet Warm? Yes, hiking shoes are designed to provide users with protection from harsh weather like rain and wind. They are also designed to be rugged and durable in rough terrain, ensuring that the feet remain warm and get the required grip while walking.
These requirements are similar to those required by hikers and nature enthusiasts, who prioritize comfort and durability. However, motorcycle riders must be equally concerned about the protective nature of their footwear. Hiking shoes are not designed to withstand high-speed impacts and crashes.
As a result, they cannot provide the rider’s feet with enough protection in such situations, which can lead to serious injury and abrasions in such situations. Therefore, one can use hiking shoes to keep their feet warm while riding but may end up sacrificing the safety aspect as a result.
- Is it Safe to Ride Motorcycles in Winter? Riding a motorcycle in winter is safe as long as the temperatures are not below freezing (0℃ or 32℉). You may encounter issues like cold starts and wind chills, but they do not directly affect the safety of the rider.
Temperatures below the freezing point will result in ice formation on the road. As a result, it can lead to slippery roads and lower traction while riding. Riders may also encounter fog in the early part of the day, which could lead to reduced visibility.
For more information about riding a motorcycle in winter, you can read our detailed article.