Trail Tales Blog

Curing Cold Wintry Feet

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Timmy two-socks had it all wrong.  It was almost fear mongering of cold snowy days, and the only way to beat it, layers, heavier materials, and strategically placed plastic bags between my socks and boots.  Oh the good ol days, and it worked.  I knew of no other clothing alternative and the presence of snow was so energizing, that the adrenaline of a good snowball fight or climbing the sled hill for the 43rd time kept us warm and distracted.  Being distracted wasn’t always the most intelligent way to battle the cold, the result being frostbitten limbs or near hypothermic body temps.  I’m having a flashback to burning finger tips grasping a steamy mug of mom’s homemade hot cocoa and scarfing down a half dozen slices of buttered toast, then repeat. 


Fast forward 30 years and 30 various pairs of winter specific socks for any outdoor occasion, from hanging out at Whitegrass’s Jack Frost party to working 12 hour shifts making snow for ski resorts.  My toes knows what works in the quest for warmth and comfort.  The last sentence in itself is the first step in the right direction.  If your feet are uncomfortable from the get go, no matter the reason, you best bet on a day of misery, blisters, and of course, chili feet.   In writing this Blog it occurs to me, maybe toasty feet in the winter has nothing to do with the actual socks themselves, but the preparation and mental state that has to be top notch, and your Smart Wool is just a compliment.  Ok, ok, getting to deep and Zen like here, back on track.  


Start your day cool and dry.  Leaving the house toasty warm, pre geared up, and ready to conquer subzero conditions, while tempting and convenient, yields unproductive results.  Stay cool and wear cotton socks.  Avoiding perspiration during your over heated drive and suit up time is imperative.  By wearing cotton socks during this time water will be absorbed from sweaty feet up to the point your scientifically, technical, laser fit socks are wrapped around your lower extremities.  A pre-sock sprinkle of talcum powder massaged around foot is an added bonus in keeping dry; this is no time to begin philosophizing on life, get your expedition wears on and head outside.  Embarking with a low body temperature is clutch, feeling a little chilled is good thing.  Let the body’s core temperature rise as a result of your activity, not because you hung out in the lodge too long telling anyone in ear shot how epic the privious day of skiing was.  Dressing in layers and adjusting on the fly in order to control body temperatures will do more for you and your feet than the clever marketing guru’s at Under Armor.


Whether you like them short or tall, thick or thin, maybe you like two socks at once, either way there is a sock for any occasion.  The best starting point is thin to medium thickness and mid height on your shin.  Keep in mind if long underwear is being worn in conjunction with proper sock height; or the fact that the thicker the material, the tighter a boot fits, resulting in less blood flow to the bottom extremities and icy toes.  I really like wearing Merino Wool socks that are strategically padded in the heel and toe box, yet very thin elsewhere.  It is important to note how tight the fabric is woven together.  A loose weave will be too bulky and not fit ergonomically, not to mention the sign of poor quality sock that will degrade quickly.  A good rule of thumb is if your outdoor foot wear resembles your bedroom slippers and is immediately the most comfortable thing in existence, on couch performance will be out of this world and nacho cheese stains will come out no problem.

Now don’t be scared, get out there and feel Mother Nature in the winter.


Cheers.  Brian


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