Any Tips for Heating Cold Toes

Hi All

Just wondered if any of you have any methods you use to keep your toes warm when cycling outside?

I’m not talking about a decent pair of socks or over shoes…I mean outside of that box.
I find that anything from 4 degrees and below my toes are painfully cold. The rest of my body, including my hands, will be absolutely fine but my feet will be painful after 20 minutes. I presently have two pairs of woollen socks , my shoes and overshoes and feel like ice. My hands have a pair of standard gloves and my fingers are fine.

It’s worth noting that even on an indoor trainer my toes feel chilly and in day to day life they are the only part of me that regularly feels unpleasant are my toes so I am either hyper-sensitive or have poor circulation in that area.

So if anyone knows anything above and beyond the usual, I would dearly love to find out as my toes are actually deeply painful for 80% of my rides and it’s so off putting.

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

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Since undergoing chemo a year and a half ago which destroyed my circulation my feet are constantly cold. Thankfully that on the bike I don’t actually get a problem. Making sure I get no wind chill to the feet/toes/ankles is the main thing for me and keeping them as dry as possible is also important. I close my shoe vents, wear a reasonable pair of socks and a good close fitting pair of neoprene or wind proof over shoes. Is it possible that you are overdoing the socks and getting warm sweaty feet initially but that’s cooling down and leaving you with damp feet and they’re exposed to the wind leaving you cold🤔

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I wear normal socks and cycling shoes but wear two pairs of overshoes for a total neoprene thickness of ~7mm with a little air between the layers.

One is a form fitting neoprene Castelli brand one that I think is about 2-3mm thick.

The second overshoe is the Arctic GripGrab 4mm neoprene one.

Given how much better this worked than either pair of overshoes in isolation, I’m tempted to add another layer for very cold rides. I don’t mind looking like a goof to avoid painfully cold toes.

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Cold extremities are the bane of my life from sitting in the office (my right hand now is noticeably cold) to climbing or riding.

One thing I’ve also found is keep your core warm and have warmers on wrists/ankle area - both these areas have blood flowing very close to the surface so if not covered adequately can loose heat quickly. Often I have toe warmers on my shoes under overshoes or by themselves well into spring. Two pairs of socks might, counterintuitively, be reducing blood flow which doesn’t help, a single warm pair would be better.


I think one particular issue is that people end up with their feet tightly packed in because they are wearing thicker socks, and possibly even a compression due to overshoes, leading to poor circulation and less effective insulation from the layers. My recommendation would be a good pair of winter cycling shoes/boots that are sized well enough to allow thick socks without compression.


Winter ankle high cycling boots (totally sealed) with enough room inside for 2 pairs of socks (1 thin, 1 medium) has worked well for me down to -5C or so even on long rides. I’m in UK and it doesn’t really get colder than that.

If there really is no sock/shoe/cover solution then next step would be adding heating. Either cheap single use chemical warming inserts (e.g. HOTHANDS Foot Warmers - 5 Pairs - 8 hours of heat - Air activated - Ready to use: Sports & Outdoors) if this is an occasional problem, or you can get battery powered heated insoles as a more expensive but reusable option. Know a couple of people who have used ski sole inserts for this purpose.


Old school TDF riders would wrap their feet with newspaper, if I am remembering the anecdote correctly.

The idea is sound in any case. Plastic bags, tin foil, whatever gives you an extra barrier.

I use some neoprene toe covers that go over the socks, but inside the shoe. They help, somewhat

These will solve your problems 100%.

It’s just a very thin (1mm) heating element that goes under your toes and maintains circulation. The flat ribbon cable isn’t noticeable once you start riding, and clips to your bootie no problem.

Back when I used to do 3 hour rides in any weather, it turned cold feet into a total non issue. It was never in your mind for a second to think about your feet. Amazon has them, as do most good ski shops. Pricey, but a complete problem solver.

On the fat bike with temps in the low teens F, I wear two pair of socks and winter hiking boots on flats. I start with thinner wool socks then a chemical toe heater on top of my toes followed by thicker wool socks. Toes may be cool be not cold. The chem toe warmers are good for 4-6 hours.

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My winter shoes/boots are a size bigger. With two pairs of socks on I can still wiggle my toes.

I use chemical toe warmers. Https://

Stick them on the top of the toe box on the outside of your shoe before putting on your booties.

See this at 4:50 where Ted King copies my technique before a 200 mile winter ride :wink: What Exactly is the 200 on 100? Ted King Rides Straight Across Vermont on a Wintery New Year's Day - YouTube


I stopped riding below 5 degrees outside and spend 99% of my winter riding indoors. No cold toes!

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I ski with those since years, and have installed probably 5 sets in alpine ski boots. Not sure how they’d fare in bike shoes, in particular the flat ribbon cable and battery installation. The cable-to-connector bit is pretty fragile.

These are more flexible for that kind of application.

Not cheap either. My wife uses them for skiing and trail walking/snowshoes.

I do have poor circulation (gone through all the auto immune tests etc). Although it does affect my hands as well, the game changer for me was Winter Cycling Boots - I have Northwave Raptor GTX. I got them for gravel biking, but they’re so good (but expensive) that I swapped to spd pedals for the winter road bike too.

I either use Galibier Firefeet socks or I have some ski socks. I actually tend to go for the ski socks (under tights) as they go to just below the knee.

The other thing I’ve been told by medical professionals is that keeping my core (or trunk :wink:) warm will help my hands and feet circulation in cold weather. If your core is cold the body concentrates blood flow there, apparently.

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Bontrager old man winter boots and $30 heated socks off Amazon. #Gamechangers:)

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They work great, the crew I used to ride with had tons of guys with hotronics. No issues with durability.

yeah… your feet are mostly bone and tendon, so there’s not a lot of mass in there needing blood supply relative to the heat being lost.

  1. DON’T double up on socks. Squished insulation = no insulation. Air pockets (layers) keep you warm, not the material that makes up the insulation. As soon as you compress something, no insulation value - What is Aerotherm | AeroTherm . Also, this lowers waters ability to get out of your shoe, you want to get dampness (sweat) away from your foot as quickly as possible.
  2. Winter insoles - the only ones worth a damn are the Lake Syskol ones because they minimize the contact area with the bottom of the shoe. Syksol Insole – Tagged "winter"
  3. Primaloft socks seem to work better than Merino because they don’t asorb as much water. Hourly sock changes otherwise.
  4. Hot hands/electric inserts. The disposable ones work (basically be exposing iron powder to oxygen -rusting) , last long, but cost a bit for each use and are something to throw away. They are probably a lot safer for the world than the electric inserts.
  5. Good shoe covers. Instead of doubling up on socks, put the insulation outside of the shoe (also lets the shoe work better). I’m using Gore’s Winstopper overshoes…expensive, but they work better than winter shoes by a lot and are more comfortable. They are also way better than cheap and medium priced ones with respect to comfort and performance. C5 GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Thermo Overshoes | GORE® WEAR | US The overshoes allow a little airflow through, which dries your socks out a bit. Similar to the way bar mitts work, putting some ‘standoff’ distance between the windshield and your insulation does wonders here too.

Winter shoes - I tried a bunch… they all suck. They just trap in moisture and don’t insulate worth ****. These seem to be better for UK / Seattle winters where it is moist, but above 40f. They are better at keeping rain out, but at the cost of keeping moisture in.


In the Pac NW / UK where it is always raining/ misting? Fenders only keep water on the ground out.

In the winter where you have freeze / thaws, there’s also a lot of water than doesn’t get handled by the fenders.

Cool, some useful ideas so thank you. Will look into some of your suggestions. I’m happy to spend some money on better material as I’m getting to the stage where I wont cycle outside due to how unpleasant it’s getting.
I check out those Gores!

Will definitely look into this. Could be a cheap and viable option :slight_smile: