Nothing ends a day on the slopes more quickly than cold feet. When your feet chill, your muscles tighten, making it almost impossible to achieve a fluid and comfortable skiing motion. Cold muscles are more prone to injury; maintaining the blood circulation in your feet helps maintain warmth. Because prolonged poor circulation and cold can lead to varying degrees of frostbite, which can permanently damage the tissues in your feet, keeping your toes toasty becomes more than just a matter of your immediate comfort.
Wear socks made of a fabric that wicks moisture, such as Merino wool or a synthetic such as polypropylene. Avoid cotton socks and stick to one pair as too much bulk inside your boots can create pressure points and hinder circulation. Pull your socks up over your calves to keep them from slipping down into your boots.
Wear properly fitted boots, which should feel snug but not painful. Unbuckle your boots while you ride the lift to increase circulation in your lower legs and feet. Wiggle your toes whenever possible to promote blood flow, but don't clench them inside your boots.
Position inexpensive single-use air-activated warming packs between your socks and ski boot insoles; they provide heat for six hours or longer. Add a slightly more expensive pair of reflective insoles to your boots for even more heat; the manufacturer of one brand guarantees an additional 20 degrees of warmth versus socks alone. Install boot heaters to the bottoms of your footbeds if all else fails. Battery packs attached to the backs of your boots fuel the heaters, which cost quite a bit more than the other options (approximately $200 at time of publication).
- Stand in your boots and mimic the motion of skiing to gauge how they may feel on the slopes. They should feel snug but not painful. The inner foam liner warms up and stretches as you wear the boots, conforming to your foot.
- If cold feet continue to be a problem, neoprene boot gloves add one more layer of external warmth that could make a difference.
- Never leave ski boots in the trunk of your car overnight. Keep them as warm as possible until you are ready to put them on.
- Know the signs of frostbite and take breaks at regular intervals to get out of the cold.
Nancy Smay has been writing for more than 12 years, focusing on health, fitness, wine and travel. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA.