FEET. OMG. (sweaty cold feet in the winter)
January 8, 2015 8:43 AM   Subscribe

How do I keep my feet dry and warm throughout the day in the winter? I am typically traveling by subways and city buses in suburban Toronto and I go in and out of heated spaces for work. Thin socks won't cut; thick socks are sweated through by lunch.

A bit more info- at work I am on my feet all day, and very often don't have a place to leave my things, so bringing indoor shoes probably won't work. I also often have to walk or wait for the bus for about 20 minutes outside.

I wear Blundstone boots that are breathable, and have been trying SmartWool socks with them, but it's often still not enough.

any ideas, solutions, etc., is welcomed! I am a bit desperate at this point. The only thing I could think of is to bring a few pairs of dry socks to change into, but feel a bit awkward changing socks in public.
posted by atetrachordofthree to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Foot Powder. Gold Bond or what ever brand appeals to you. It absorbs moisture better than it "medicates". Just dump some into your socks before you don them in the morning and it should last most of the day.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:55 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Pair thin synthetic liner socks with medium weight wool outersocks.
posted by Jahaza at 8:58 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Cornstarch or baby powder will help. And/or, wear the heavy socks for to/from work, and just ball them up in your pocket once you're in out of the cold.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 AM on January 8, 2015

Liner socks made for hikers. Wear them between your feet and your regular socks.
posted by stowaway at 9:14 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Maybe too left-field (and I've never done this myself) but -- wrap your feet in plastic wrap, then put on your socks. Because the reason your feet get cold is they were hot, then too hot, and they began to sweat. But the sweat doesn't evaporate, like it would on your bare skin on a hot day, and those thin socks don't wick it away. So now your feet are wet, and your sweaty socks gets cold. Therefore, the objective is to reduce the sweating, and keep your socks dry. How? If an individual sweat gland has a drop of sweat on it, it won't produce any more sweat. Therefore eliminate the chance of that drop evaporating by wrapping your feet in Saran wrap.
posted by Rash at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2015

Baby powder works for me. Usually it's enough to sprinkle it in the shoe itself, but in more desperate situations I sprinkle it right in the sock before putting it on.
posted by bananana at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2015

Um, keeping your feet wet all day with Saran wrap sounds like a recipe for some kind of foot fungus. Just, you might want to read about this a bit more before doing it.
posted by amtho at 9:56 AM on January 8, 2015 [15 favorites]

If the insoles in your boots are removable, you might try replacing them with wool insoles (either felted wool or shearling). Get a couple pairs and rotate them so they dry out completely between wearings.
posted by drlith at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Therefore eliminate the chance of that drop evaporating by wrapping your feet in Saran wrap.

I've tried this. Don't do this. It won't work, and your feet will freeze.

What has worked well for me in the past - get a second/third pair of boots and alternate the days you wear them. It's actually pretty hard to get boots to dry out fully, and overnight just won't cut it unless you use a boot dryer.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:01 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

How about changing your socks once or twice a day and doing it in the bathroom?
posted by bdc34 at 10:56 AM on January 8, 2015

I relied on baby powder when I lived in a cold place while depending on public transport and a lot of hoofing it between A and B. I fell in love with plain old unscented talcum or a very gentlemanly-scented variety (LOVE Clubman, smells like a barbershop but is very unisex), so I didn't smell like a toddler (e.g. Johnson & Johnson's) or a nursing home (e.g. Gold Bond) all the time. SUCH a relief.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:26 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a similar problem. My feet are almost always frigid even when I feel warm, and they sweat even though they're cold. I tried Gold Bond one year, but I don't actually recommend this because if you're like me you will just make the Gold Bond wet with your foot-sweat, and then it will soak into your socks, and the menthol in the Gold Bond will make your feet feel absolutely freezing and slightly painful until the next time you shower (and it is extra-agony if you have a cut on your foot - ask me how I know).

You may not be able to bring extra shoes, but can you bring extra pairs of socks? You could bring a "waiting for the bus" pair, take them off at work, wear maybe two or three pairs at work (depending on how sweaty your feet get, and when) and then put the warmer socks on again after work?
posted by Urban Winter at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2015

I've tried the powders and they don't work for me. My feet still just sweat through the powder and feel slimy by the end of the day. YMMV. If you can't bring a change of socks, I would try a pair of THIN wool socks. That way, your feet don't get overheated and can still breathe.
posted by subtlemel at 11:56 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Silk or synthetic socks on the inner layer with wool on the outer is the critical invention discovered by hikers everywhere ages ago.

Basically the silk or synthetic acts as a moisture wicking substance which pools the sweat away from your feet and then wool has a ton of properties that standard cotton socks simply don't in terms of helping for a moisture and heat barrier around your feet.
posted by vuron at 12:48 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

Bamboo socks work wonderfully for those of us who can magically have sweaty feet in freezing weather. It's a natural fiber too. Breathable and your feet won't get clammy even if wet.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 1:02 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get some cream antiperspirant like this, and put it on the soles of your feet after you shower. This does a better job than powder for reducing sweating, and the effect lasts much longer. Then wear 2 pair of socks -- a thin liner of polypropylene or silk, under something thick, fluffy and wooly. Also, be sure your shoes are large enough to allow some air circulation. This little system has been working well for me for decades.
posted by Corvid at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2015

I don't know if they would suit everyone's feet, but I've been wearing the hell out of the fuzzy microfiber socks that you get at dollarama. They are always warm, soft and comfy, and may have enough thicknes to help keep your feet dry. If nothing else, they cost about $2, so you don't lose much giving them a shot. They look like this.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2015

Best answer: In Toronto, when weather gets like it has been for the last few days, you basically need to be wearing full on winter boots when you are outside for any length of time. When I wear my Sorel Caribous, my feet are always warm and dry, but never too hot. I can wear thin businessman socks in them (or even go barefoot) on the coldest days.

The real problem seems to be that you can't bring indoor shoes. That's not really a reasonable policy in Toronto winters. Is there some way that you could arrange to have somewhere to leave a hefty pair of winter boots during the workday? Renting a locker near your work? Or would it be okay for you to wear winter boots all day? I'm perfectly comfortable spending 10 hours in my Sorels.
posted by 256 at 1:26 PM on January 8, 2015

Have you ever worn Explorer socks? I often have a problem with wet socks when wearing most other socks but have naver had that issue with Explorers. I wear the classic thick kind.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:38 PM on January 8, 2015

Best answer: Smartwool is good but I need the REALLY thick ones. They are absorbent and also don't let feet get re-chilled. Also, I think they provide support and warmth for legs while standing...with the longer elasticated tops. So Smartwool hiking socks? That's my suggestion and I have similar issues. Maybe these ones? For winter only, otherwise they are too much. Then downgrade to the lighter Smartwool versions.
posted by bquarters at 4:32 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Medication was giving me sweating side effects making for cold wet feet in winter. But I sorted it with "Gehwol Fusskraft Mint" (It contains menthol, essential oils of mint, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, mountain pine). I apply a thin coat of cream at night, after shower (in a warm room it dries in 2-3 minutes) and enjoy toasty feet all day.
posted by yoHighness at 4:30 AM on January 9, 2015

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