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How practical are those foot warmer things?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I know this is a really dumb question, but they are predicting sub-zero temperatures (without the wind chill!) for this weekend when I have my race. My toes are always cold, even with a double layer of socks. My boots came with a foot warmer thing, but I tore it out and put in a different footbed because they were clunky and required an after-market purchase for them to work.
SO, I was just wondering how well those foot-warmers (those things that you get in the shop for like $2 and crack to activate) work? I remember I used them as a kid and they hurt my feet a ton so I just took them out. I was also wondering if they will affect me during racing? Lastly, I have a heat moldable liner, and was concerned that they could somehow negatively influence the liner?

Thanks for your advice, and stay warm!

one last thing...do I put them above or below the footbed?
post #2 of 22
They work OK for basic skiing in very cold weather but I don't think that racers would use them because it would be an annoyance. I don't race but I assume they do not use them.

They do not get hot enough to screw up your footbeds.

A shop I went to this week for an alignment will actually put the heating element in your custom footbed if you want.

I don't have it integrated in my boot or want to purchase a Hotronic for $150 but if you have the custom liner and the heating element somone should be able to rig it if you pickup a battery pack.
post #3 of 22
I don't understand how you could possibly have enough room in race boots for those footwarmers. I have never used them, though, so can't help you there.

I have found that the biggest problem for me is the leaks around the overlap that allow the liner (and thus my feet) to get wet. You might want to consider duct-taping the front of the overlap if you notice that your liners are wet at the end of the day when you take them out to dry. I've been using boot gloves, and they seem to make a big difference in keeping my feet dry (and thus warmer). They also provide some insulating effect, so you may want to consider them.
post #4 of 22
Originally posted by PMZ:
I know this is a really dumb question
Not dumb at all. They worked for me for about three hours, but I agree with ssh, I dunno how they would fit in a boot with a smaller toe box. A friend of mine put them on the top of her toes, so I did that and it made a difference. At the time, I had some Technica's with the room. Now, with the Lange L10's which are really comfortable and fit nicely, I am not sure if there would be room to be comfortable. I was looking at them again today at AnyMountain because it's been cold (well, not really [img]smile.gif[/img] ) in the Sierras these days. My toes were cold yesterday, but one run down Scott's Chute seem to warm them up
post #5 of 22
One other thing to remember is that the type of warmers we are talking about here require oxygen to continue the oxidation reaction which produces the heat. I don't have any direct experience with using warmers in boots but I assume they would not work well in a semi-sealed environment like a tight ski boot, besides making the boot uncomfortable.
post #6 of 22
I'd say losing a layer of socks would be a good start.
post #7 of 22
Epic's suggestion gets my vote, too. The more bulk you wear, generally the colder your feet. And if you've got enough room to wear 2 or 3 socks your boots aren't fitted properly, further compounding the problem.
My cold feet problems went away when I got an expert fit and switched to wearing light weight non-cotton socks (100% polyester or poly/wool blends).
Comfort level is a very subjective thing, but the only time I ever notice cold toes anymore is maybe on a chairlift when it's colder than 5 below zero.

Q: In which decade did skiers reach the milestone of skiing "100,000 vertical feet in one day"? 1940's, 1960's, 1980's, or the 1990's?
A: http://SkiStreak.com
post #8 of 22
I missed the double-layer-of-socks comment in my earlier reading. Lose the second layer, for sure! I find that I am most comfortable in a very thin poly ski sock (Ultramax and Columbia liner are my current choices). Circulation and keeping the feet dry are real keys, and too much sock thinkness will both reduce circulation and cause perspiration which will turn into cold, clammy boots. Boot fit is key for all of this, of course.
post #9 of 22
I'll tag on to what Epic and Endless said.

All too often, cold feet are largely a result of boot fit. There really shouldn't be enough room in your boots to wear extra socks or especially to fit one of those chemical warmers. Proper fit is critical, and it seems like that might be where you want to start.

You want a boot fit that doesn't restrict the blood vessels over the top of the instep. It's just my opinion, but I think most people tighten their front two buckles (the toe one and the instep one) way too much. Just barely snug from the instep forward and fairly tight from the ankle up seems to work best for me. Along with that, I wear a very thin synthetic sock.

Despite a good fit, some people (like my wife) simply don't have great circulation in their feet and suffer from cold feet. My wife has used Hotronics for years and probably couldn't ski without them for a fair portion of the winter.

Good luck,

post #10 of 22
Toe warmers have worked for me-sometimes above,somethimes below.Make sure your boots are warm before you start out.Open a pair of hand warmers before you go out and put them in your boots for awhile. If you stop for lunch inside take off your boots and put those handwarmers in your boots during lunch.Change socks during the day if your feet perspire and/or spray them with anti-perspirant in the morning before you leave your house.Boot gloves work well-only if you start with warm boots.
post #11 of 22
Bob.Peters, epic and ssh nailed it. :
post #12 of 22
Lose the second pair of socks. Use a thin woolen dress sock if your boots are real tight. Use the toe warmers if you have room, but put them on top of your toes. I've also heard that you can get disposable heaters to stick on your thighs to warm the blood supply to your feet, but I haven't seen them yet.
Warm feet are more sensitive than frozen feet, and good feel for the snow makes you faster.

Regards, John
post #13 of 22
Originally posted by John Dowling:
I've also heard that you can get disposable heaters to stick on your thighs to warm the blood supply to your feet, but I haven't seen them yet.

I haven't seen them at any mountain shops yet, but I have seen them at the local REI. I bought a pair, but didn't get to try them yet. I have put traditional handwarmers on my calves, just above the boot line on really cold days with some success though...
post #14 of 22
I have two anecdotal supporting reports regarding the boot gloves mentioned earlier.

One was a friend with whom I taught at an area that sticks right up into the wind off Lake Michigan years ago. He was a diabetic with some circulatory problems and he swore by the boot gloves for warmth.

The other is a guy I talked to a couple days ago who was wearing boot gloves on a Zero (F) ski day. He said he uses them more for their keeping water out of his boots than for the cold, but that the resulting dryness AND the insulating value made them fine for cold feet.
post #15 of 22
I was out skiing this weekend during the deep freeze in VT and did just fine at staying warm and comfortable. On my feet, I use thin poly socks in dry boots that have custom cork foot beds in my ski boots. Having ski boots that fit well is another key to warm feet. My ski pants have inner skirts that cover over the ski boots that ensure that snow stays out of my boots.

The old schoolers are right when they stress keeping the core warm to have warm hands and feet. Toasty expedition weight poly long johns and tops over a thin inner poly layer do the trick for me (I'm not racing). I use mittens, synthetic liner gloves and hand warmers to keep the hands warm in deep freezes, but don't use the toe warmers. The neoprene boot gaiters work well from what I hear.
post #16 of 22
I guess it depends on the person. My wife used to use them and my son uses them on very cold days but both my daughter and I thing they are actually TOO hot. I think it's mostly a toe-box roominess issue.

This past week in Park City, I bought my wife a new pair of boots withthe built in heater attachements and she loves them. they charge each night and her toes were fine all week. There were several days where it was below 5 degrees on the mountain in the early morning.
post #17 of 22
I use them on 20 degree and colder days and they work great. Just went mountain biking yesterday with regular socks and toe warmers. My toes stayed comfortable the entire ride.
post #18 of 22
As a thin wiry guy, my extremities tend to get cold easily when temperatures drop below say 20 degrees F. Over the years regardless of which of several boots I've owned, my toes tend to get cold most easily. For almost 20 years I've used one of those cork impregnated orthotic footbeds which has quite a bit of mass. Once they get really cold, it is a losing battle. The front toe of ski boots get the main brunt of moving cold air against it when moving down a ski run or sitting on a lift thus receives effective wind chill beyond the air temperature. Also snow has a way of piling up and continually sitting atop ones boot's at the toe especially on stormy powder days.

What I have effectively been doing to reduce that ice box area is application of black sponge rubber weatherstripping. The type with adhesive on one side. The type I have on my current Lange boots is 3/8" thick by 3/4" wide made by MD Building Products, part number 06635. Something available at any building products store like HomeDepo:

http://www.mdteam.com/prod_category3.cfm?mastercat_no=1&prod_sub_cat_no= 20&product_catalog=yes

I cover every bit of surface of the top and side toe areas of my boots except where the bindings come against. -David
post #19 of 22
I used the toe warmers this weekend and they were ok. They work better when applied to the top of your toes, rather than below them. First time I ever used them. They were ok, but I would not say they dramatically helped. The certainly don't get as hot as the hand warmers can.

My wife has the battery operated ones that go into the footbed. She loves them.

Other things that help - do not put your ski socks on until you are in the lodge and ready to boot up. Where a different pair of socks until then. Helps keep them dry.

Put antiperspirant or gold bond powder on your feet just before putting your socks on. Helps keep them dry

Two people I skied with this weekend had a "boot glove". They said it helped them a lot.
post #20 of 22
I used a pair of the toe warmers this past weekend, first time I ever used em. Worked great, my toes were perfect all day. I put them under my feet and I wear thin poly dress socks. I like the idea of using them for mountain biking, I've had problems with cold feet before, especially if they get wet.
post #21 of 22
I agree 100% with Christopherstow. Those chemical warmers, which *do* work quite well in gloves, do not do so well in boots due to the reduced O2 supply. I actually find they only work in the boot if my foot is not in there with them.

Am actually considering a pair of hotronic inserts.... but not sure how well they work.

post #22 of 22
My wife used the disposal chem packs for a few seasons with ok results. 2 years ago, I bought her the Hotronic system. She liked them so much, I bought a set for myself. I have custom footbeds so my insert is slightly different than hers. The big advantage is you can regulate the heat. High while on the lift and low while skiing. They are great for those -15 days.I'd give Hotronics 4 stars
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