“All The Gear, All The Time (ATGATT),” as we say, and if your “all the time” consists of riding during the winter months, “all the gear” is often going to mean taking the extra steps to bundle up.
To keep your feet warm on a motorcycle can be a bit of a challenge, though. They are the closest to the road, and there is hardly anything surrounding you that protects them from the treacherous conditions that can make the motorcycle riding experience somewhat chilly.
And when the feet become so cold that they ache, there is no way for them to warm up until you finish your ride and return home. Unless you have a few helpful tricks that can turn the horrible experience into a much more enjoyable one, you will have to put up with the weather.
For most riders, motorcycle winter boots are still ahead of all the contenders when it comes to effectiveness. But if you’re trying to save money, or if you spend it all on your bike and gear, there are several cheaper ways to keep warm that won’t break the bank.
Why Is it Important to Keep Your Feet Warm?
With prolonged exposure to cold weather, motorcycle riding – especially at high speeds – will chill you to the bone faster than you ever imagined.
That puts you at risk of frostbite and hypothermia if you haven’t insulated properly. These conditions affect your control and awareness. In fact, they largely contribute to tripled motorcycle accidents during the cold season.
Low temperatures cause your blood vessels and arteries to narrow, restricting blood flow, which, in turn, makes it a struggle to get enough warm blood to their extremities.
You’ll then start to lose dexterity as the body rushes to conserve heat for your vital organs. Snow and ice can make traction worse and decrease visibility. And you don’t want less agility and slower reaction times when you need them at their best.
Put these things together and you’ll get the picture. Regardless, it’s your responsibility to know what you can expect and be ready to respond. Even when the temperatures drop below 32℉ (0℃), it’s still possible to enjoy an amazing ride as long as you keep your blood circulating and feet dry.
Keeping Your Feet Warm While Riding a Motorcycle
It’s no rocket science – motorcycle winter boots over regular boots are always a good choice on those cold mornings. And if you’re going to spend more than two or three hours riding through the winter, it seems a little irrational to do it in boots built for the summer.
Winter boots provide enough protection and comfort for long stretches of road, but their primary purpose is to prevent cold air and water from getting inside and keep your feet warm through the coldest and wettest months.
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Boots aside, there are lots of cheaper products of varying degrees of effectiveness ranging from heated insoles to shoe covers and everything in between.
Use Shoe Covers
VXAR Waterproof Shoe Cover Buy on Amazon
Covering your current pair of boots with shoe covers is a far less expensive alternative to investing in winter-specific boots. Overshoes add an impressive amount of insulation, keeping the chilly wind out while also protecting your feet from spray from the front tire and other road mud from soaking into your shoes.
You shouldn’t have to suffer as much if you can keep the wind and water out of your shoes and then off your feet.
These specialized winter coats for your feet are composed of a variety of materials, including neoprene (the material used in wetsuits) and GORE-TEX (waterproof, windproof & breathable fabric).
The thickness of the materials varies, providing different levels of insulation. But even a cheap pair of 3.5mm neoprene shoe covers will happily keep your toes warm in freezing temperatures.
Note that they must fit properly to function in their top-notch condition. For this reason, proper sizing is essential. Some feature zips to assist fitting – the fewer holes on the shoe and around the rear, the less chilly air may enter. These are Best Sellers Rain Boot Covers on Amazon.
Wear Thick and Long Socks
SEALSKINZ unisex Waterproof Cold Weather Knee Length Sock Buy on Amazon
The first layer of insulation is the most crucial, so excellent socks are an essential tool in keeping your feet warm. Today, there is quite a decent assortment of thick socks that are warmer for winter bike rides. A good example is woolen socks.
Wool repels moisture droplets. It can absorb up to a third of its weight in moisture without feeling wet, helps remove sweat, and absorbs odors. It’s also a natural insulator of heat, preventing the warmth from escaping your feet.
Avoid socks made of cotton; if there is going to be any water involved, your feet will get the brunt of it. Water is by far a better conductor of cold than air, which, as a result, causes the dreadful winter to freeze right into your flesh.
Most importantly, the woolen socks should belong, not be extremely thick, and fit perfectly so as not to squeak your feet out of your shoes. Don’t squeeze two or three pairs into your footwear that previously fit until they no longer do.
Pressing them into your shoes ensures they are tight enough to block any air pockets that might freeze your feet, but it may end up restricting blood flow to your feet, leading to the foot cramping up.
Use Heated Insoles
Thermrup Electric Heated Insoles Foot Warmers Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
What if you are using a motorcycle boot that lacks the technology to retain heat and distribute it across the feet? Well, instead of buying another riding boot, you can go for a cheaper option and get heated insoles. They are available in two options:
- The first option doesn’t generate heat from the heating elements in the boot. Instead, it functions as a heat insulator to distribute heat to the entire foot.
- The second type of heated insole is battery-powered. It generates heat within the sole and keeps the feet warm regardless of the weather. Besides, the integrated thermal technology ensures that you don’t have to fix it permanently on one shoe. You can always remove it and use a different motorcycle boot.
What About Natural Ways to Keep Your Feet Warm On a Motorcycle?
Eat a Nutritional Meal
“Feed your brain,” as we call it. If you don’t meet nutritional needs while riding, your body temperature will start to drop. Your body needs calories to burn to generate heat. For this reason, ensure you take a high-protein meal, with carbohydrates, and wash it down with water 2-4 hours before hitting a cold highway.
It will take longer for your body to get cold as compared to riding on an empty stomach. Besides, you can always stop for hot soup, tea, or coffee to align your body temperature.
Take Frequent Small Breaks to Warm Up
You can stop and take a short break or simply do some warm-ups after a good hour of riding continuously. Ideally, the main aim is to generate the required heat in your body.
A 15-minute ankle rotation, jumping jacks, and press-ups routine should be enough to keep the blood flowing to get the heat going again and prevent your foot muscles from going stiff.
Michael’s Summary and Conclusion
Your feet are often the first part of the body to feel the uncomfortable effect when riding in extreme cold-weather temperatures. And you don’t have to park your bike just because you’re short on cash and you fear freezing out in the cold. All you need to do is prepare adequately, dress warmly, and ride out at any time.
Ensure you put the above ways into consideration on your next ride and there is no doubt that you will experience exceptional results.
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I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational and non-profit organizations: