Even people who love snowfall and the quiet peace of winter occasionally find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having cold feet, wet feet, or cold, wet feet. Whether you walk to work or just spend some outside time shoveling the driveway, uncomfortable feet in winter can be a massive burden.
So how do you keep those feet warm, dry, and comfy?
Choose the Right Pair of Boots (and Properly Maintain Them)
One of the most important things you can do to boost your foot comfort in the winter is to choose the right pair of boots. Boots are going to protect you from the elements, and you'll be wearing them throughout the entire season, so it's worth splurging on them. If you make an investment in your boots, they'll provide you with better protection and last you longer, ultimately allowing them to pay for themselves.
· Material. Leather boots are typically the best choice for winter boots, and for several reasons. Leather is a tough, resilient material that's capable of withstanding the elements, and it has the potential to last for decades with proper care. However, it's also a breathable material, allowing air and moisture to escape as needed. Leather also tends to be thick, providing a hefty insulating layer that can keep your feet warm even in the coldest conditions.
· Shape and fit. You'll also need to consider the shape and fit of the boot. Boots that ride up higher can help you trudge through even the heaviest snowfalls, and if your boots fit you perfectly, you'll be much more comfortable walking around in these conditions. Keep in mind that some of our other strategies for keeping your feet warm in winter can artificially increase the size of your foot or decrease the functional size of your boot, so it's often worth getting a size larger than you usually get.
· Sole. Good winter boots have a thick sole that allows you to maintain traction while walking and remain insulated from the cold ground. Always look at the sole before making a purchase.
· Thickness. As you might imagine, thicker boots provide more insulation, and therefore keep your feet warmer in winter. Choose a material thickness that works best for your needs.
It's also important to take care of your boots, so they continue serving their purpose.
· Clean. After marching through thick snow and exposing your boots to both the natural elements and manmade salts, it's important to give them a cleaning, even if it's just a simple wipe-down. It will help your boots look and perform their best.
· Dry. Also, it's important to allow your boots to dry before you attempt to wear them again. Wet boots are only going to make you miserable. Don't dry them out in front of a heater; instead, use newspaper stuffing to wick the internal moisture out.
· Store. Store your boots properly if you want them to maintain their shape and condition. That means placing them in a room temperature, dry area and keeping them in a position that allows them to retain their form.
· Condition. Occasionally, it's a good idea to condition your leather. You won't have to do this after every outdoor activity, but you should do it at least once a year, if not more often.
· Replace when necessary. If your boots begin to break down, they're not going to be able to keep your feet dry or warm. Be willing to replace them when necessary.
Wear Thick, Wool Socks
Along with your boots, it's a good idea to wear thick, wool socks. Many people wear cotton socks by default, but these socks retain moisture exceedingly well, making your feet far less comfortable. Wool is a better material. If you don't have a thick pair of wool socks, consider doubling up to give your feet more insulative protection.
Add an Insole
Insoles are small inserts designed to serve a variety of purposes, such as improving the fit of the shoe, providing a layer of cushioning, or in our case, keeping your feet warmer. The insole can add another layer of protection between your feet and the ground, ultimately insulating them from the uncomfortable conditions.
Change Socks When Necessary
If your socks get too wet, or if you've worn them for too long, your feet are naturally going to become uncomfortable. That's why it's a good idea to change socks whenever necessary. After arriving at your destination, consider taking off your old socks, drying off your feet, and putting on a fresh pair. If you've been walking for a long time, it will feel like heaven. In longer expeditions, it may also be wise to change your socks at the halfway point.
Consider Using Hand Warmers
Hand warmers are typically small packs that use chemical materials to trigger a mild chemical reaction that produces a warming sensation. Despite the name, you can also use them for your feet.
Stay Active (Within Reason)
Finally, try to stay active. Moving around stimulates blood circulation and can help keep your body warmer. Just don't overdo it, or you'll produce more sweat, introducing moisture and ultimately nullifying the effects of your exercise.
The conditions of winter preclude you from feeling warm and dry 100 percent of the time. But with these strategies, you'll be able to do a much better job of protecting your feet.
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