Thump, thump, thump…The sound of boots hitting the ground, but you don’t even know it. Why is that? Quite possibly because you have lost the very feeling in your toes. Oooff. Not a good situation to be in, let alone think about. While we have all been there before, we inevitably do a poor job to avoid it. There are certainly a plethora of ways to keep those million dollar feet warm throughout the course of a work day. Then, why can’t we just make it easy on ourselves? Truth be told, there are easy solutions but we either ignore it or just haven’t been informed yet. Since our feet are the furthest extremity from our core center of heat, it beckons for insulation and warmth. So I did some web hunting and tracked down not only the best ways to keep your feet toasty and dry, but solid motivation to do so.
Think it’s just for comfort? How ‘bout avoiding the Flu?
No doubt, it’s a given that cold, wet feet are insanely uncomfortable. It reminds me of going to my first NY Giants game at the Meadowlands. After tailgating for a few hours, we all shamelessly made our way into the game. The first step that I took crossing one of the parking lots landed my foot directly in a puddle of slush. Needless to say, I wasn’t wearing a good pair of insulated boots. Although I was freakin’ uncomfortable throughout the game, I did my best to enjoy. Enough said there.
Not only can cold feet impact your comfortability and mood, but they can lead to the onset of several sicknesses. And the most common is the Flu.
Didn’t think that cold feet had anything to do with the flu? Sorry to say, but cold feet aren’t just a sad expression. In fact, a study from 2005 proved that you are 30% more likely to get the flu when your feet are cold for only 20 minutes during the flu season.
In addition to the flu, other ailments related to cold and wet feet are trench foot, hypothermia, chilblains and frostbite.
Alright, you get the picture. Let’s jump in and talk about some ways to keep those bad boys warm and dry.
Warm Feet, Dry Feet: 5 Keys to Working Comfortably in the Cold
You’ve probably heard a lot on this topic before. But I wanted to spice it up a bit and sprinkle some remedies into the mix of ways to keep your feet warm.
Now, this has nothing to do with my obnoxious addiction to all things spicy, although I’ve pretty much coined Tabasco as a verb in my household. Not enough flavor? Just tabasco it!
Well, how can this spicy something keep your feet warm? Capsicum, aka Chili or Cayenne Pepper, has been proven to increase blood circulation throughout the body. By improving this circulation, your hands and feet will stay warmer when exposed to cold conditions. There are 2 ways to use it:
- Combine some talcum powder and cayenne pepper and rub it on the sole of your foot. (Avoid getting it on the top of your foot or on cuts, as it can cause some irritation and burning.)
- Eat it. Ok, so I have an iron stomach. At least for now. And I love all things spicy. So if I am going to be pushing it to the limit on the cold work site, I keep some spicy sauce handy for breakfast and lunch. However, if you aren’t keen on the heat in your mouth and just want to focus it on your feet, you can take a cayenne supplement. I’ve even read that bicyclists take some before a big race like the Tour de France.
Plastic Wrap: Not Just for PB&Js
When you’re done wrapping up that PB&J for lunch, don’t put that saran wrap away just yet. Instead, wrap it around your feet. This is an easy, at home solution to insulate your feet during a long work day. It will help trap the heat you generate while keeping the cold out, especially if you are lacking the proper footwear.
The most effective use is to wrap it around the toe area of your socks. Don’t just wrap your bare feet. The key here is to insulate without causing sweat. So you will want to also keep your heel and middle of your foot unwrapped, as this will help maximize breathability.
Wiggle dem toes
It can’t be overemphasized, so it won’t. Blood circulation is essential to keeping your feet warm in the cold. Despite the fact that you are probably hauling ass throughout the day in those work boots, you might be neglecting your toes. And that’s just not fair. So what if they are the last thing attached to our body? Keep them moving, and they will help keep you warm. That’s why you should wiggle them as much as possible to get them moving. But don’t just try to give them an “ehh” wiggle. Instead, imagine yourself finding a $100 bill on the floor with your hands tied behind your back. Then practice your toe grab method in your boot. This will really get your toes moving and warm ya up right away.
We have probably all double layered socks to keep our feet warm, but I advise you to not go that route. While putting on 2 pairs of socks will keep your feet warm, it can cause your feet to sweat and you will lose that comfort space in your boot. So get the right pair of socks instead of 2 pairs of lousy ones.
A few easy tips on the right socks:
- Stay away from cotton
- Invest in wool or polypropylene
Why? Sticking to these tips will prevent your feet from sweating and will do a solid job at keeping your feet warm. Here’s an excellent pair that I have purchased before if you want to figure out where to get started.
Lace up your boots: Insulated work boots that is…
When it comes to keeping your feet warm, there is truly no match for the best insulated work boots. While there are quite a few factors that go into choosing the best work boots, there are two that truly stick out.
Insulation, Insulation, Insulation
Waterproof: As important as it is to keep your feet warm, it is just as important to keep them dry. Sounding like a broken record yet? That’s why you want to stick with a solid pair of leather boots that are waterproof. Leather naturally helps to wick water from the boot and keep your feet dry. You certainly don’t want to end up with trench foot, chilblains or some other foot rot issue because of wet feet.
The foot construction type can also determine if your boots are great waterproofers. The top options are the Goodyear Welt Construction and the Direct-Attach method.
One last feature to consider is Gore-tex. This is a waterproof line developed by a separate company, Gore-tex, and is featured on many waterproof boots. As good of a job as it does to keep moisture out, it has designed its material to create breathability in the boot. So a true win win here. However, a waterproof boot featuring Gore-tex is obviously going to cost you a bit more coin than your standard waterproof boot.
Insulation: Waterproof helps keep moisture out, but too much insulation can create moisture inside your boot. So there is a healthy balance that you will want to find. Because getting sweaty feet will not only cause some funky smells in your boot, but they will really do damage to your feet. That’s why you need to know a bit about something called Thinsulate insulation and how many grams of insulation are right for you in your situation.
Thinsulate: Insulated work boots and Thinsulate has pretty much become synonymous. Or at least for the work boots that are worth looking at. Ever heard of a company called 3M? Well, they are at it again. It seems like yesterday I was just buying their adhesive hangers from Home Depot and now I’m writing about their insulation innovations. Anyway, they have concocted a type of insulation that is:
- Super Warm
- Moisture Resistant
There are a few reasons why Thinsulate is so successful. The key to insulation is to trap air that moves in, while holding in the body’s radiant heat. Since Thinsulate is ten times smaller than the fibers used in most synthetic insulations, it is able to outperform them with this simple insulation method listed before. To boot, Thinsulate not only keeps your feet warm due to it’s thinness, but it absorbs less than 1% of their weight in water as a result. With its compression resistance, Thinsulate will keep its insulation integrity for years to come, even after pounding the cold wet pavement. If you don’t take my word for Thinsulate’s effectiveness, what about Porsche and Jaguar. Yes. These are just 2 of the many large companies that are using Thinsulate in other things than boots.
So how about the hole grams of insulation thing? For those more technical readers — not I — the number of grams used in a Thinsulate boot is referring to grams per square meter of insulation. While there are many ways to explain how grams of insulation relate to warmth, the amount you need boils down to 3 factors:
- Activity Level
- Body Heat Generated
Yes, I could sit here and write you a vague and obscure explanation of what each gram level equates to, but I decided to put it together in an easy to read chart. So here it is.
To clear any confusion, the scale is from 1-5, with 1 being the warmest temperature, lightest activity, and most minimal body heat generated.
And there you have it. You now not only have some easy to implement remedies on keeping your feet warm at work, but have the keys to determining the proper insulated work boot. However, as always, I’m going to throw your way a couple of insulated work boots that I would seriously recommend if you are intent on getting some badass insulation action.
P.S. When searching for work boots, don’t be misled by searching for “insulated work boots.” Often times the search will pull up boots insulated from electric shock or some other form of insulation, not specifically geared towards cold working conditions.
Want the best insulated work boots, look no further. This one has it all, and for a great price. Starting from the top, they feature Waterproof Nubuck leather with 400 gram Thinsulate Ultra Insulation. Yes! Warm & Dry! To reinforce the waterproofing, the boot’s construction is direct-attach which keeps out water. Not only will you be warm and dry, but you will be comfortably energized. That’s because the durable polyurethane midsole is lightweight and flexible, preventing fatigue and increasing agility. Oh wait, I forgot to mention that the sole is oil, water, abrasion, chemical, heat, and slip-resistant. There ya go!
Don’t worry. I’m not going to forget about a safety toe. As much as you want to keep them toes toasty, you want to keep them toes. So how about this steel toe insulated work boot from Timberland? With 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation, some top notch waterproof leather and a direct-attach seal, your feet are sure to stay warm and dry. So long as you aren’t working on the frozen tundra. Round that out with a rubber lug outsole which will give you some solid traction on those wet surfaces. I’ll just throw this in here too, but it has an anti-microbial lining which will help to reduce foot odors and athletes foot. Let’s just say that your girlfriend or wife will be happy with that.
Boots Over Suits, Over and Out.