We’re going for some collective “blogodacous” wisdom on this one, but I’ll mention the main trick first. When it comes to keeping your feet toasty in backcountry ski boots, fit is key. All too many times I’ve had friends and guiding clients with cold feet who had their randonnee boots fit like a performance alpine boot, with little room in front of the toes, and a toebox that immobilized their forefoot to the extent where their feet were getting numb or even damaged after a few hours of walking. In other words, their blood circulation was being impaired, and blood is the only thing bringing warmth to your toes unless you’ve got an external heat source.
|Fit your boots correctly, and you won’t have to resort to this, or have toes that look like this!|
Assuming we’re using thermo-form liners, here is how we get the hot fit at WildSnow HQ. We start with a bare foot, then build up tape over pressure points that have bothered us in the past. We then fold up wads of tape to a thickness of about 3/16 inch and stick those on the ends of our longer toes, and secure with a longer piece of tape. After that, we add folded tape between our outer toes to spread them a bit, but not too much. After topping all that off with a toe-cap made from the tip of a thicker sock, we mold the liner. The goal is a fit that’s snug from heel to mid-foot, then a bit more open down around the toes — and long enough for your toes to not touch the end of the liner. Test is with boot buckled you should be able to scrunch and wriggle your toes a bit, but not too much.
Beyond fit, here is a list of ideas we’re hoping to hear some comments about. Esteemed blog readers, let ‘er rip:
– Do the chemical foot warmers work, and do you need to mold them into the liner to prevent discomfort?
– How about the cayenne pepper applications? Psychological?
– Vasodilators such as niacin or medicinal alcohol? Blog readers, your take?
– Electric foot warmers on backcountry skiing boots, workable solution?
– Type of socks, wool make a difference?
– Vapor barrier to prevent wetting of socks and liners, effective? What’s your system?
– And yep, any other exotic tricks you blog readers know of? Yogic meditation on blood flow, stuff like that?
The list — 10 things to know:
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.