Feet and Winter Cycling

A repost and article by the Professor

Here is yet another article on keeping your feet warm cycling in Winter.


I spend quite a bit of time outdoors in the winter,  ice climbing, back country skiing, snow shoeing, camping, hiking, and so on. I agree with Jill Homer that a soft flexible boot or shoe can be  warmer than a heavy stiff boot. With ice climbing and winter mountaineering, this is not really an option because you have to have rigid boot to support crampons. But for just about everything else, (except downhill and alpine touring skiing), you can use softer, flexible boots or shoes. Movement is what keeps the blood flowing and keeps your feet warm. I have run in the winter in temperatures down to the single digits with just a lightweight gore-tex trail runner with thin merino wool socks. Of course, if you have to stop for too long, your feet will get cold. Think about the type of footwear that northern native peoples, like the Inuits wear—soft, flexible, relatively lightweight mukluks. Being able to wiggle your toes and flex your feet is essential to keeping your feet warm. I have a musher (dogsledding) friend in Idaho who swears by NEOS overshoes. He wears a pair of lightweight trail runners with an insulated NEOS overshoe over these and he says his feet are warm down to 20 below zero. He says that NEOS are pretty common in the musher community. I’m not sure how well these would work for winter cycling as they are kind of bulky. But I do like the fact that they are very lightweight and flexible. I may give them a try this winter. I like that you can literally slip them on over any kind of footwear, from running shoes to boots.

You can check out NEOS overshoes here:


The other essential thing to keep your feet warm in winter is to keep them dry. I can only wear a gore-tex boot or shoe if it is really cold as my feet overheat and sweat a lot if it is too warm. You either get wet from the outside, or wet out from the inside from sweat. You have to find a balance. For running, snowshoeing, camping, and other winter activities, I like to wear a lightweight gore-tex trail runner. If the snow is deep (and I am not running) I will wear a relatively lightweight all leather gore-tex lined boot. These are soft and flexible but have a high top to help keep snow and slush out.

It is not winter here yet, but I have been riding in temperatures down to the mid 20’s, sometimes in the rain and mud, and so far my gore-tex trail runners have been plenty warm. On a bike it is especially important to have wind protection for your feet, and a gore-tex lined works well keeping out the wind and water.

The other thing you will have to decide is whether to use clipless pedals or use platform pedals. People usually have strong opinions one way or the other. I have used clipless pedals on my road bikes for years and wouldn’t want it any other way. I have also used toe clips on my old mountain bike and found that to work well. I have tried clipless pedals on my fat bike and was not too crazy about them, though I’m not completely sure why. I have been using platform pedals and so far am pretty happy with them. I like being able to wear a variety of different footwear with platform pedals. If it’s warm, I can wear a mesh shoe with sticky rubber, and if it’s cold I can wear my gore-tex trail runners. In the deep of winter I anticipate wearing boots. I like that flexibility, that, and not having to buy several pairs of clipless compatible shoes. Winter cycling shoes can be very expensive, but worth the cost if you are committed to riding clipless.

We’ll see how it goes riding this winter in the snow.


  1. Did you give the Neos a go…?

    1. I didn’t. The only time I had uncomfortably cold feet was when riding the Fat Pursuit race where it was -1 with -28 wind chill. If i ived in Minnesota, or Alaska, or Canada I would have to get something warmer.

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