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There is nothing like cold feet to make you feel miserable on the slopes -- except perhaps falling flat on your face. It’s an all too common problem for skiers, especially for new skiers who have yet to learn the tips and tricks to keep themselves warm.
If your toes are cold, not only is it uncomfortable but it can also affect your skiing and ability to edge control through parallel turns. The warmer your feet, the more comfortable you’ll be and the more time on the slopes you’ll get before having to leave early to warm up.
There is no reason that your feet should be cold while skiing if you follow the advice below. Here are the best ways to keep your feet warm while skiing:
Wear thin ski socks!
It’s counter-intuitive but thick ski socks are not necessarily warmer. In fact, thinner ski socks at like a second skin and allow your feet to breathe. While socks that trap moisture can cause your feet to bet wet and cold.
Cold is more often than not a result of dampness from inside and out, or too much wind getting through outerwear…Overdoing insulation and getting sweaty, then cold, is as bad as under-doing it.
Brom Kim, Noric Ski Instructor
Obviously, there is a limit to how thin you want your socks, but be aware that thicker is not always better. Key point: Look for breathability.
If you’re using very thick socks and still have cold feet then you should try a day with thinner socks and see if you notice a difference.
Always wear ski specific socks (typically made from nylon, wool and elastic). These socks will keep your feet breathing, wicking away moisture from sweat (you’re feet still sweat when they’re cold) and providing insulating warmth.
Don’t over-tighten your lower buckles.
This is one of the most common reasons for cold feet on the slope. Most people hear that they have to have tight ski boots and mistake this for doing up all the buckles as tightly as they can.
In my article, How Tight Should Your Ski Boots Be? Get The Perfect Fit Every Time, I explain the most important buckle is the one that locks your heel into place.
The bottom buckles around your toes are not as important and most people over-tighten them.
Most people need to tighten them up to get the top buckles onto a nice fit, but once you have your heel locked into place, you can loosen these bottom buckles to reduce the pressure on the lower part of your feet.
If you’re wearing the correct size boot and you have your heel locked into place then you don’t need too much pressure placed on the rest of your foot. You want it snug but you don’t want to restrict blood flow to your feet.
Most cold feet are caused by an over-tightening of the lower boot buckles because it restricts blood flow.
Wear the correct size ski boots ✅
It goes without saying, but to fit the boot properly it needs to be sized correctly in the first place.
Try boots on in a shop or measure your feet (trace their outline on a piece of paper and then measure the width and length) at home to get an accurate measurement.
Boots that are too big for you will not only restrict your ability to progress as a skier, but you’ll also have large gaps of negative space inside your boot. This space will keep your feet cold and not properly insulated.
Likewise, boots that are too small for you will restrict blood flow and cut off circulation -- leaving to weakened, pale and COLD feet.
Replace old boot liners
Old boot liners from hand me down boots or well-used ski boots will eventually wear out and become overly compacted.
As the material degrades, the insulating properties are reduced and the ability of liner to wick away moisture to the outside shell.
Old boot liners that are deformed or out of shape will also not hug the foot profile as they once did, meaning more negative space (reduce skiing performance) to hold cold air.
Unbuckle at lunchtime 🎿
During breaks or at lunchtime, unbuckle your boots and open up the boot tongue a bit. This will allow trapped moisture to exit and bring in fresh warm air (if you’re sitting inside a heated restaurant or ski lodge). If you’re inside, take 10 minutes and warm up your feet before hitting the slopes again.
If you’re having a break outside, loosening the buckles will also help reduce cold and aches by reducing the pressure exerted on your feet.
If you take your feet out of your boots, be careful not to step in snow or water puddles as wet socks will make your feet colder.
That reminds me, always put on a dry pair of socks each day!
Wear dry socks 🧦
When you get home after a day skiing, put your socks and boot liners out to dry. Internal sweat (and sometimes snow from the outside) will penetrate your boot and make it wet.
Your accommodation might have a special boot dyer that allows you to dry your boots and liner. Otherwise, you can put your upturned boots near a heater or radiator (don’t put your boot or liner directly on the heat as this can cause it to melt or reduce the lifespan of the fabric).
Bring at least a couple of fresh pairs of socks, so you can wear fresh, bone dry socks each day.
The dryer your socks and boot liners, the warmer you’re feet.
Whenever possible, keep your boots, boot liner and socks inside at room temperature. If they’ve spent the night in the trunk of your car or outside, then the materials core temperature will be much lower.
Give your feet a fighting chance and put them into warm boots!
Keep the rest of your body warm 🌡
Make sure you’re wearing a warm ski jacket, thermals, and a base layer to keep the rest of your body and you’re core temperature elevated.
While feet tend to have their own micro-climate, the overall core of your body WILL affect how fast your feet cool or warm.
Don’t over-layer as this can trap moisture and lower your temperature. Here’s what you need to wear to stay warm:
- Base thermal layer
- Fleece or warm mid-layer
- Thick ski jacket with high breathability (over 15k) and waterproof (over 20k)
- Ski trousers with high breathability (over 15k) and waterproof (over 20k)
- Warm ski gloves
- Ski helmet (safety and warmth -- most heat escapes from your head)
- Neck warmer or gaiter
- Keep your core warm, and the blood rushing to your feet will also benefit. Wear ski clothing that has high breathability (20k+) and a high waterproofing. Breathability wicks away internal moisture and waterproofing protect you against the outside elements (rain & snow).
Install a ski boot heater 👌
If you’ve tried the above methods but your feet are still cold, you go skiing in a very cold part of the world or you’re a cold-blooded person, then it might be time to invest in a foot warmer.
The Hotronic footwarmer 24 Universal on Amazon is not cheap but it is guaranteed to give you warm feet.
You’ll need to replace your entire sole, and cut the Hottronic with scissors to fit your boot. It uses rechargeable batteries to heat the sole and provide a full skiing day worth of warmth.
The best thing about the foot warmer is the rechargeable aspect, you can plug it in your room each night and have a warm ski boot ready to go the next morning.
It offers three heat settings and a heat blast mode. It fits all boot sizes.
What NOT to do
Now you know what to do; here is a bite-sized recap of what you should not do:
- ❌ Wear thick non-breathable socks
- ❌ Wear boots that are too big or small
- ❌ Wear deformed boot liners
- ❌ Keep your boots tight all day
- ❌ Wear wet socks
- ❌ Not wearing warm enough clothing
There is absolutely no reason that you need to suffer through cold feet. Here’s a recap of what to do:
- ✅ Wear thin ski socks!
- ✅ Wear the correct size ski boots
- ✅ Replace old boot liners
- ✅ Unbuckle at lunchtime
- ✅ Wear dry socks
- ✅ Keep the rest of your body warm
- ✅ Install a ski boot heater
If you enjoy this or know someone always complaining about cold feet, give this a share.