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  1. #1
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    Aerogel - Insoles - Warm?

    Has anyone used Aerogel insoles to warm up their riding shoes? They are available for reasonably cheap and the science sounds really interesting. NASA designed for thermo insulation in space suits, super-light, nanotechnology, etc. etc, The stuff is used for sleeping pads and such. I read a short article on clothing that was made with the material, but people didn't like it because it was TOO hot. - just curious if anyone has tried it????
    Aerogel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  2. #2
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    stuff works great, though for this application we are mostly talking loss through the bottom of a shoe/boot, so mostly conductive heat loss prevention. If the area above the foot is losing too much heat, these will do little.

    Thus: Bottom of feet cold? Bueno. Tops of feet cold? No Bueno

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by zombinate View Post
    stuff works great, though for this application we are mostly talking loss through the bottom of a shoe/boot, so mostly conductive heat loss prevention. If the area above the foot is losing too much heat, these will do little.

    Thus: Bottom of feet cold? Bueno. Tops of feet cold? No Bueno
    Thanks - For me, the major cold intrusion seems to come through the boot sole - through the cleat mount and all the metal of the pedal. There's a major heat sink there. I'm going to pick up a couple pairs and try them out.
    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

  4. #4
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    I tried them, wasnt impressed.
    Jason
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    45NRTH had a tease on their facebook profile awhile back asking if anyone could ID the material, a bunch of people jumped all over it. I'm not holding my breath, but I'd like to see if they can make a good boot using the stuff. Maybe it would succeed at beating the clipless-pedals-as-heatsink-connection thing I've experienced.

    EDIT: I'm not pulling this out of my ass.
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

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    Have them, work ok. A little better than what came with my sorrel winter boots.

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    My Saloman boots (Tundra) have aerogel insulation - they work well and are lighter than other similarly-rated boots. I put superfeet red insoles in them, however, as extra protection. Not sure about just an aerogel insole or pad - but for a whole boot it works well.

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    Aerogel boots

    Salomon uses the material at least one of their boot lines. Lookup their Tundra boot.

    Super light and very warm!

    I haven't seen an insole. That would be cool!

  9. #9
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    I put a pair in some clipless hightop downhiller type boots I used to use in winter. They were OK, but not the best thing since sliced bread. I wish I'd tried them in only 1 shoe first for a good experiment. I switched to 5.10 impact hightops and flat pedals after an ankle injury and found my feet are much warmer.

  10. #10
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    I picked some Toasty Feet for my Lake MXZ302s this winter. I'd say they are as warm as the heavy felt/bubblewrap/felt liners the Lakes come with, but about half the thickness. So no, not as super awesomer as the marketing suggests. But for how thin they are pretty damn good.
    Slowly slipping to retrogrouchyness

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-reg View Post
    I picked some Toasty Feet for my Lake MXZ302s this winter. I'd say they are as warm as the heavy felt/bubblewrap/felt liners the Lakes come with, but about half the thickness. So no, not as super awesomer as the marketing suggests. But for how thin they are pretty damn good.
    Are they thin enough that you could put them in in addition to the original insoles?
    Latitude 61

  12. #12
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    I don't know. But my boots are over sized, so I plan on putting them under the insole and then putting the insole on top.
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  13. #13
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    They are 3-4mm thick, so depends on your shoes and socks.
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  14. #14
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    I didn't notice any difference between the Toasty Feet insoles and what I already had. I also said the same thing about Intuition liners. In my opinion the problem is lack of circulation, not so much lack of insulation. As long as my feet rest on pedals, even flat pedals, there is just enough pressure to cut off blood flow. Step off the bike for a minute or two, and boom, warm feet.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

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    Agree with Thirsty's post. Most heat lost through lack of circulation (compression on pedal and/or too tight of boots) and heat sink. Although I did cut some insoles out of a Therm-A-Rest Ridge Rest and they seem to work pretty well at improving the heat sink issue...providing you can fit them in your boot. Plus, you can get a lot of insoles out of a mattress.

  16. #16
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    I'll second the sleeping pad insoles. Easy to make, work really well. They do wear out after a few hundred miles for me, mainly in the heel, especially if there's a lot of pushing. Lay down on your sleeping pad and I'm sure you can find a few spots on it that you wouldn't miss. I prefer to use the cheaper, blue closed cell foam pads though.

  17. #17
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    Can you buy sheets of aerogel?
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  18. #18
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    I've got an email in to Aspen Aerogels, trying to get a hold of a small quantity of their Spaceloft. No response yet. I would imagine there are other sources.

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    " I prefer to use the cheaper, blue closed cell foam pads though"

    That is potentially why they wear out so fast. I used a green Coleman mattress and it didn't last at all. The Thermarest is thicker and I don't think it compresses as much as the blue pad.

    "trying to get a hold of a small quantity of their Spaceloft"

    For those special night rides with Tim R. and Paul?

  20. #20
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    You're thinking of space grass, TB. totally different.

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    Touche'. Let me know if you want to make a set of insoles. I think I have a lot of Therma left.

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    Cork?.

    A guy up at Fatbikes AK suggested buying cork off a roll at Lowes or Home depot and making an underlayer for the insoles. This assumed an oversized boot. Sounded like a good suggestion.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBerntson View Post
    Touche'. Let me know if you want to make a set of insoles. I think I have a lot of Therma left.
    TB: Sign me up!!!

  24. #24
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    I have tried the cork insoles from Birkenstock and like the shape. The metatarsal button under the toes is good. Not as good as getting off the bike though.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by thirstywork View Post
    I have tried the cork insoles from Birkenstock and like the shape. The metatarsal button under the toes is good. Not as good as getting off the bike and into a hot tub though.
    Fixed it for you, Greg.

  26. #26
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    That first picture (at the top of the thread) of a blowtorch under my insoles would do the trick.
    Not much of a hottub guy though Sean. I don't like the jellyfish floating around in there.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

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    How bout those lith/ion heated insoles? anyone use them? A friend says they work great, they have a thermostat and only come on when it's needed.
    Boz

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    the li-ion battery heated insoles work great, though they are wicked expensive. If you have the need though (due to poor circulation, previous frostbite damage, etc) they may be the only reusable option. Susceptible to water submersion, so consider the waterproofness of the footwear they are going in.

    There are also a few options that use multiple AA batteries, and those battery packs are less expensive, though much bulkier than the Li-ion.

  29. #29
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    my results with toasty feets inside lake mxz 302....big difference. warmer. better.

  30. #30
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    Since the thread popped up again... I traded my "as seen on TV aerojell" insoles for the 45N insoles. The 45Ns have held shape waaaaaay better than the cheapies, not actually any warmer but have maintained the anatomical purpose of an insole. They also cost 3x as much though.
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  31. #31
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    It's interesting how so many "winter" boots and shoes have come out with the cleat so close to the foot and with no real insulating material in between. I'd be happy to see like 10mm of aerogel put in there, even if it makes my feet higher up in the boots. The heatsink problem is the number one issue with any winter shoe, yet it seems those manufacturers barely address this, the lakes at least have a little distance and the WH seem to go even further, but this is an area where all resources should be thrown at the problem, not where you should barely just survive/minimal approach. Insert-able insoles need a decent amount of distance and non-conductive material. My heated insoles do great even when not heated due to this fact, because they are foam and relatively thick, spacing my foot further from the sink and insulating it further.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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    I put a set of the 45N ones in my Northwave Artics, it was a noticeable improvement. Prior to having the 45N insoles my feat would be cold after 2 hours of -20C, with them I've done 90 minutes of -24C, with lighter socks and did not think of my toes once.

    They could be the one 45N product that's worth the $.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kris View Post
    I put a set of the 45N ones in my Northwave Artics, it was a noticeable improvement. Prior to having the 45N insoles my feat would be cold after 2 hours of -20C, with them I've done 90 minutes of -24C, with lighter socks and did not think of my toes once.

    They could be the one 45N product that's worth the $.
    ^ Agreed!! the 45NRTH Jaztronaut Aerogel Insole added at least 10 degrees of warmth to my Northwave's. I've been able to ride in -10F with just snowboarding socks with them in the Northwave Arctic Celcius GTX boots.

  34. #34
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    Its been a few years since I heard about polymer aerogel, but it doesn't seem be used in clothing yet. The insoles are full of powdered aerogel (which I accidentally released some of while trimming a pair of insoles). They should be able to sew the polymer stuff right into a pair of boots and even sandwich it right into the sole above the cleat plate.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAGI410 View Post
    I tried them, wasnt impressed.
    Because they're not actually orthosilicate inserts at that price, just a tradename not based on it. Having worked with, made, and having a continued interest in aerogel since the late 90's, compression resistance in insole locales is NOT a property I would describe aerogels of having. Period.

    I'm curious what chemistry, or what similar (maybe some ghetto carbon aerogel based setup with non-autoclave requisite running... dunno) but in the wide array of applications for aerogel shoo/boot insoles didn't occur to me as a smart one.

    [ETA]
    Just read up - it's basically sol-gel processed supercritically dried bakelite, fairly insulative but the reason it works is because it's relatively elastic (but could honestly be beaten for insulative purposes by other existing foam products, especially if width isn't a critical measurement). From material science side, it's a cool idea, but there isn't a market for really high end aerogel stuff in consumer apparel applications unless there's a much cheaper way to manage supercritical drying (ironically may become affordable as pre-preg carbon fibre layup intended autoclaves become more common).

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    Quote Originally Posted by tehllama View Post
    Just read up - it's basically sol-gel processed supercritically dried bakelite, fairly insulative but the reason it works is because it's relatively elastic (but could honestly be beaten for insulative purposes by other existing foam products, especially if width isn't a critical measurement). From material science side, it's a cool idea, but there isn't a market for really high end aerogel stuff in consumer apparel applications unless there's a much cheaper way to manage supercritical drying (ironically may become affordable as pre-preg carbon fibre layup intended autoclaves become more common).
    So what are you saying - that 45NRTH Jaztronaut Aerogel or Toasty Feet probably are not significantly better than decent foam insoles for insulation? I hate always having to me the one to scientifically test everything, but there is no public test proving that these work better than normal insoles. I may have to buy one and use my thermal camera.

  37. #37
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    I think wool insoles work better.

  38. #38
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    I used a block of ice and compared the insoles from my new Shimano SH-MW81 SPD Winter Shoes to $6 Aerotherm aerogel-infused insoles from Amazon, and there was a significant difference in heat transfer.


  39. #39
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    Did you stand on the insoles while they were on the ice? Or just lay them on the ice for a bit?
    Slowly slipping to retrogrouchyness

  40. #40
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    Laid them on ice.

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    I redid it using more insole types and adding weights to the tops.

    This time I also used the insole from two types of Solomon boots:

    Aerotherm are 21g weight each.

    Salomon Men's Toundra Mid WP Snow Boot | Amazon.com (22g)

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PRSFBRM (15g)

    Even though the Aerotherm was 1g lighter than the Toundra insoles, they were 5.5 degrees F warmer on top. The Shelter CS was also about 5.5 degrees F colder.

    Aerotherm are confirmed as actually working vs normal insole foam.

    The real question is - since the Toundra are aerogel-insulated boots, why didn't they also use aerogel insoles? Maybe for cost savings. Maybe for durability.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsilvers View Post
    I used a block of ice and compared the insoles from my new Shimano SH-MW81 SPD Winter Shoes to $6 Aerotherm aerogel-infused insoles from Amazon, and there was a significant difference in heat transfer.

    You can't be on here! This is solely (ha) for people to spout opinions!
    Seriously, thanks for the dose of science. I added to your reputation and I'm ordering a pair.
    2 wheels

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsilvers View Post
    So what are you saying - that 45NRTH Jaztronaut Aerogel or Toasty Feet probably are not significantly better than decent foam insoles for insulation? I hate always having to me the one to scientifically test everything, but there is no public test proving that these work better than normal insoles. I may have to buy one and use my thermal camera.
    What I was getting at is that the insulation value has a lot more to do with how much void space can be in the material after it's fully crosslinked - in the case of silicates another amazing property is the combination of how much void is there (silicate aerogels are the lightest solid in existence, because it's 99% air), but as an mechanical shock absorber it works inelastically because it deforms - so impressively it's been used to catch particles at interstellar speeds, but for the types of uses where 10G loads of person weight with sustained pressure, that lack of elasticity means it'll wear out really quickly. The phenolic compounds, if they're as similar to bakelite as I'm blindly assuming, have a lot more elasticity which makes them preferable for this, along with being inherently hydrophobic, but the insulative value isn't going to match the really silly levels of silicate aerogels (where you can put an ice cube on a pretty thin block, place that over a bunsen burner, and not melt it), but it's going to be a high performance insulator for that application.

    For the cost (and also considering that under load the insulation value is probably affected, although this is try of anything) I don't think the performance is all that spectacular -- the higher elasticity is a good thing, but G-reg is on point for trying to figure out a way to rig it to measure relative insulation with heavy load on them. I suspect the aerogels are going to be really good, but then my concern would be longevity, considering what shoe insoles experience over time... although for the type of climate I'm at, I'd never wear them out if they were dedicated cold weather boots.

  44. #44
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    Perhaps a viable option would be a dual-compound insole, with silicates in lower-load areas like the arch of the foot and phenolics under the heel and ball of the foot.

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