If you wear thermal socks and a good pair of overshoes, you might not need them. But, for many with poor circulation in the extremities, these can be the difference between being able to cycle in the cold and getting too cold.
Little Hotties hand warmers – 10 pairs, £8.99 or 40 pairs from £21.99
Hot pads for cold feet – pack of 40 for £28
Hand warmers – pack of 10 for £12
It doesn’t matter if you buy hotpads for feet or hands, they are 100% interchangeable.
This has been one of the mildest winters so far and I haven’t needed to use too many. But, the cold spell this week (less than 5 degrees) means I definitely will be using.
I have poor circulation in both hands and feet. I feel the cold more in the feet because the toes are mostly immobile whilst cycling. When the temperature drops below 7 degrees, my feet can’t survive for more than an hour without extra heat. – (no matter what combination of socks and overshoes I try)
I have had electric socks, but last year they broke and so stick to these hot pads. (at Amazon.co.uk)
Basically, when you take them out of a plastic wrapping some chemical reaction creates heat which lasts for seven hours. I put them in my cycling shoes just above a pair of socks. They are great for long rides.
They can be expensive if bought individually, you can pay up to £2 for a pair. But, buying them in bulk means I can get them for 50p a pair. They are disposable, so its a little extravagant, but before I found these I used to really suffer. I used to wear about three pairs of socks and overshoes and go from cafe to cafe warming up my icey feet (which actually puts you at risk of chilblains)
Also, when you’re feet get very cold, the temptation is to wear several layers of socks, but when you squeeze into your cycling shoes, the socks can actually constrict your blood flow, a key factor in making you cold.
Review of Hotpads
They really do work. It’s not a gimmick. They are 100% reliable. Even after 5 hours, you can still feel the heat. I always use a thin layer of socks, then put the hotpad and then a thicker layer of socks to keep the heat. This particular brand is good because the pads are quite small, but provide just the right amount of heat to avoid feeling scorched, but also to provide a heat source.
Also, useful if you get a puncture in freezing weather and have to take off your gloves to mend a puncture.
I will use them in some early season races. I’d rather have the extra weight than toes going cold and cramping for lack of blood.
Alternatives to Hotpads.
I have tried the re-usuable hotpads. You can re-energise them in hotwater or microwave – depending on the model. However, these tend to be bigger, and much more difficult to get into a pair of cycling shoes. Also, I find they may only last for one or two hours.
My philosophy is that winter cycling is tough enough. I always try to do anything to make the ride more comfortable, enjoyable. Hot pads are my saviour for winter riding. If you have very good blood circulation, you may not need them unless it goes below freezing. But, if you do suffer from cold hands and cold feet, definitely give these a try, buy a box – forget about the cost. And then you have one less excuse for not going out in winter!