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  1. #1
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    New question here. Winter shoe inserts/insoles

    I chronically struggle with keeping my feet from freezing when fat biking. Toes/feet, hurt, go numb, etc. I end my ride if I start to loose all feeling (numbness goes away and you tap your foot and can't feel anything) in my feet which has happened a couple of times. When done riding, they are white, mostly on the soles of my feet and it takes 30-60 minutes to warm them up after the ride with the truck heater blasting. I have tried many different fixes(shoes, socks, toe warmers, etc.). Looking at trying a different insole for my Lake 303s that might insulate my feet better from the cleat and cleat opening. Anyone tried any types that work better than the stock insoles. The stock ones look like they insulate with air pockets.

    Thanks,
    urmb
    “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a \mountain or fat/ bike.” ~ John F. Kennedy

  2. #2
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    I use aerogel inserts in my boots. Also, I don't do clipless in the winter, so I can choose well insulated boots

  3. #3
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    Insulated boot insoles plus $1.97 whole sole heat packs do wonders. I just added Bontrager JFW winter shoes to the mix to have semi-unbreathable shoes to help but the heat generating packs are critical. Spd all year for me.
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  4. #4
    Human Test Subject
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    Lake 400s are a lot warmer than 303s but you lose some mobility and they're so big they dont feel anything like regular shoes anymore.

    I wear my regular custom orthotics for my flat feet in whichever Lakes the temperature dictates.

  5. #5
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    I have Giro boots and got cold feet with SPD's. I tried flats with warmer boots, but could not adjust, as my heels kept wanting to rub the chain stays. My wife had a extra pair of these from a pair of Mukluks, and they helped me a lot with the Giros. I still get colder feet but not nearly as cold as I used to.

    https://www.mukluks.com/Wool-Felt-In.../#.XCvj_2jYo3E

  6. #6
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    Also keep your shoes loose. I was tightening my 303s too tight which caused a loss of circulation and cold feet as a result. A slightly thinner pair of wool socks and keeping the boot loose helped a bit.

  7. #7
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    I have lake 302s and they are fall/spring/DH shoes for me, they don't even come close to cutting it in the winter. First, they need to be a couple sizes bigger, not just one IME, you can build up the insole then with thicker and more insulating insoles, but the lakes fall victim to the usual issue, that the cleat is so damn close to your foot and just sucks the heat out like crazy. We use sheepskin insoles we get at the Alaska Leather (motorcycle) shop, they help. Some people like using vapor barriers, but they just make my feet cold-soak in sweat. There are also some pretty beefy shoe-covers out there that will help, although sometimes the improvement isn't as much as you'd think, since heat is still being sucked out the bottom of your foot. I have these ones, they are pretty beefy and a good step up from the thinner and less durable shoe covers (notice the rubberized toe).

    When it's in the 20s, I use my Wolfhammers, they work "ok", they have the shoe covers on them. They'll usually be acceptable down to the teens, but my toes can still get a bit cold over a long ride. When it's going to be below that, I take my Wolfgars. So far, I've had really good results with these, toes have not gotten cold when I've used them. I didn't put on a ton of time on them, but I got them after freezing the hell out of my toes on a 120 mile race last winter where although I could feel my toes the entire time, I kept squeezing them to keep blood circulating and they got very cold soaked and I ended up with some nerve damage in my toes. A few months later that did heal up, but it was clear the Wolfhammers were no good in the negatives for me.

    I occasionally use hotronics S4 heated insoles and those do work pretty well for me, they give me a good amount of heat for many hours, around 8 or so on the medium setting I believe in practice. Not long enough though for that 120 race, so I'm trying to wean myself off having to use them. Interestingly, my feet never get cold when skiing or snowboarding, but that's probably a lot due to more flexing of the heel and arch that helps to pump blood into the foot, but the wolfgars are definitely constructed more like a snowboard boot or similar, which seems to also make a big difference.

    I've had mixed results with chem heaters in my boots. I've had a ride that was very cold, so I put some in mid-ride. It didn't make my goes warm up and the act of taking off the boot probably netted me more lost heat than I gained from putting the chem heaters in. That's probably a red flag that back then I wasn't using warm enough boots. I've also had rides where I put them in and they were BURNING my feet, as in too warm. I'd rather have this than too cold, but not comfortable. I still carry them for this purpose and handlebars (hands), but i find they are more effective/consistent around my handlebar than in my boots. Maybe it's that it just takes a bit more planning and consideration to the temps and when to pop the chem heater in. I definitely wouldn't say avoid these, they do work, they are relatively inexpensive and useful for many things. Crack open a pair when you are standing around and drinking beer on a ride, put them in your pockets and hold. Put them in a pair of mittens in your frame bag when you think it's too cold for your gloves, let them heat up, then pull out toasty 160°F mittens for instant gratification. I do use them occasionally for feet, but I don't like the lack of control or that you have to take your boot off to "install" them.

    In the end, this is a tough one, your boots are sitting there in the air stream, constantly pounded by cold air, your foot isn't really flexing, except at the ankle, so you'll get various degrees of non-circulation of blood based on the individual, to where for some of us it pretty much shuts off to the toes, then we use heat-sink cleats on heat-sink pedals, sometimes attached to heat-sink cranks. I doubt the pedal and the crank makes *that* much difference, but go grab your cheat on your shoes indoors and you'll notice it's cold to the touch, and that's indoors!, then think about what it does when it's actually cold outside. You also need a little room in the boot WITH thick socks on and built-up insoles so your toes aren't pressed up against the toebox, which will turn into another heat-sink if your toes get cold.

    Other things like using anti-persperant, some cayenne pepper on your toes to "trick" them into flowing blood, chem heaters, silk socks as the first layer, pre-heating your boots (I used to use an oven, now I use my boot-drier) if starting from home, and a few other things can help. I feel pretty confident going out into negative temps on my clipless pedals, but it's not to be taken lightly IME, it's probably the hardest part of your "kit" to figure out for the various temps and it's usually easier in the end to go to flats and just use some Sorels or similar. It's definitely not impossible to use clipless in cold temps, but IME it does take spending some money and making some hard decisions. I probably never should have bought the lakes and gone with something better, but I do find them useful for the shoulder seasons. Things like wolfgars are expensive, but they do work pretty well and once you are out in those temps ENJOYING the ride, rather than fighting a losing battle where you know you simply can't stay out for more than an hour or two, that's hard to put a price tag on.
    "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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  8. #8
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    What we really need is regenerative brakes that power a battery that heats up your cleats/pedals The long descents are usually the worst for getting cold-soaked.
    "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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  9. #9
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    Heated socks. Spensive but if that is what gets you out there its worth it.


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    ... this is a tough one, your boots are sitting there in the air stream, constantly pounded by cold air...
    Lot of good stuff in that post.

    I found that having full fenders on my bike made a huge difference.

    The airstream is obviously part of the problem, but your wheels chuck up a very cold fine spray even in dry snow. When your pedal is forward, you're copping it on the front of your foot and shin, and when it's back you're getting it on the heel area and back of your calves.

    On days when it is slushy the fenders are at their best. It makes the difference between being out for only a short time, or being able to stay out all day.

    If we could cut the airflow, I suspect it would be very effective too. Just look at the difference even an uninsulated set of pogies makes. I've had all sorts of daft ideas to fix that, but the problem is, you still have to be able to ride the bike normally. I suspect more insulation from the knee to the ankle would make a big difference because your blood is getting cooled on its way to your foot.

    I minimise the heat sink problem by using track pedals instead of flats. There's not much meat in them, they're inexpensive, and don't clog.

    I've considered carbon cranks to reduce the heat sink but primarily to insulate the pedals from all the metal in the BB and frame - that's a huge heat sink, and if there's an easy path from your foot to it, it's bound to have an effect.

    I wonder if the spd problem could be fixed with a full carbon pedal and cleat - obviously it may be too delicate for normal use, but for those who prefer to be clipped in, it would reduce the heat sink effect in subzero.
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  11. #11
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    Before winter bike shoes/boots were invented I used 2 layers of overshoes, one my size and one too large.

    It is important to make sure your boots are thoroughly dry between uses. They may not dry by just being indoors. There are cheap boot dryers, and you can use a hairdryer in a pinch.

    Chemical packets will not "make" your feet warm. You need to start your ride with them already activated. You need to put them above your toes.

    Thermic boot insoles are well made and give good arch support. They are about $60. The battery packs are another $75. Alkaline batteries work best(highest voltage) but rechargeables are cheaper in the long run if this solution works for you.

  12. #12
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    Search Amazon of insulating insoles. Plenty to choose from and many 4+star rated under $15. I used some in my Lake 302's and they helped. I recently added a pair of Heat Holder socks to the equation and they help as much if not more.

    If your shoes fit tight like typical cycling shoes, nothing you try will help. You need some air space.

  13. #13
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    A thin liner sock, bread bags and then your regular sock works pretty good. I’ve also tried Nifedipine this winter on a few longer rides, it’s a common blood pressure medication that has an offf label use for Raynaud’s. The medication is not what I want to take all winter as after a few consecutive days it seems to slow me down a bit so I think I’m going to invest in a pair of Lenz or other heated socks.

  14. #14
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    you can buy wool insole. it works for me.

  15. #15
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    One of the instructors on a wilderness survival course I was on this spring talked about how he makes his own insoles. He said he buys the cheapest 100% wool sweater he can find in a thrift-shop (cue Macklemore in your head... now) and pursposefully shrinks it with several hot wash/dryer cycles. The shrinking makes all the wool fibers mat together which stops the thing from unravelling. He then cuts insoles out of the sweater and puts them in his shoes. He swore by them. The one he brought to show seemed like it would work well to stop heat loss through the sole.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surestick Malone View Post
    One of the instructors on a wilderness survival course I was on this spring talked about how he makes his own insoles. He said he buys the cheapest 100% wool sweater he can find in a thrift-shop (cue Macklemore in your head... now) and pursposefully shrinks it with several hot wash/dryer cycles. The shrinking makes all the wool fibers mat together which stops the thing from unravelling. He then cuts insoles out of the sweater and puts them in his shoes. He swore by them. The one he brought to show seemed like it would work well to stop heat loss through the sole.
    This is too much ghetto.

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  17. #17
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    The trouble with an absorbent fiber insole insulation is as a rider we compress and sweat as we pedal. Most materials can insulate adequately while dry but if sweated will conduct. In the same token some of my hunting style boots also stipulate do not use thick socks as it will promote sweat retention.
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  18. #18
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    I use ThermaCell rechargeable heated insole. From me they are a game changer as I have always struggled to keep my feet warm for the whole ride. Chemical heaters worked ok, but when they didn't it was bad. With the current setup I can ride for hours in 10 degree days with light wool socks.

  19. #19
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    Thanks all for the excellent replies. Today I rode in single digit temps for about 3 hours. I used new insoles and used toe warmers on top of my toes and under my toes. As for socks, I used a thin wool under a medium wool sock. Feet did get cool, but did not get numb and painful. The insoles have a rubber base and seem to insulate better than the original Lake insoles. Jayem can I be a co-contributor to your book?

    Captain Ame, how long have you been using the thermacell insoles. Curious as to their durability
    “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a \mountain or fat/ bike.” ~ John F. Kennedy

  20. #20
    The White Jeff W
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    I had a pair of the thermacell insoles. They're very thick and for me made my boot too tight, cutting off circulation and negating the effect of the insoles.

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  21. #21
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    Tried bread bags?

    Rab makes these sock barrier liner socks, they are nicer than bread bags.


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  22. #22
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    Thanks for the suggestion. Those are new to me. The Rab sock concept looks interesting but probably too big for my Lakes.
    “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a \mountain or fat/ bike.” ~ John F. Kennedy

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by urmb View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion. Those are new to me. The Rab sock concept looks interesting but probably too big for my Lakes.
    They are like windjacket material bags, super thin for between socks.


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  24. #24
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    I started using heated socks from Amazon for $30 with my Lake 303 boots. It's been a blissful experience in 20 degree temps!

    Mine have heating elements on top of the foot rather than the bottom. In my Lake 303s I found the cold finds it's way in through the upper which has almost no insulation.

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