Everyone has one part of their body that gets cold first. For some its their ears, others its the hands. For me, it’s my feet. I don’t get particularly cold anywhere else, but riding my road bike at any temperature below 5 degrees I know it’s just a matter of time before I’ll be suffering. Regardless of how many pairs of socks, shoe covers, special insoles or layers of aluminum foil I would still end up stumbling around in pain when I get home and pry off my shoes after a chilly ride.
That all changed when I received a pair of heated socks for Christmas.
My socks are from Amazon but brands such as MEC and Home Depot have started carrying similar products as well. Almost all heated socks (regardless of price) do the same thing. They heat the bottom of your foot, mostly the forefoot and toes, using thing wire threaded into the fabric. The wire leads up through to the top of the knee-high sock and connects to a rechargeable battery pack which sits in a built-in pocket.
Some of the premium heated socks are also bluetooth enabled, allowing users to “wirelessly control temperature and check battery levels from your smart phone.” None connect to your Garmin yet, but I’m sure soon enough they will.
Riding in (warm) luxury
The first time I rode with heated socks I was a little sceptical. Nothing I had tried yet had actually kept my feet warm on rides— this was my last attempt to stay warm before switching my pedals to SPDs and sinking a chunk of money into winter cycling boots.
I so charged up the battery packs and plugged in the wired and put the heat up to the third, and highest level. I then put on my winter bibtights over the socks. Say what you will about that fashion choice, but in this case I figure it’s better than flaunting my knee-high socks. Regardless, my legs still looked a little odd if you stared hard enough—the battery packs holstered on my calves gave my legs a bit of a horse-like look.
During the first half of my cold two hour ride I didn’t think much about the socks, or my feet. Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t in pain, and this time it wasn’t because my feet had finally gone completely numb. The socks were maintaining an ambient temperature and keeping my feet pleasantly toasty.
At one stoplight towards the end of the ride I wiggled my feet a bit and realized that they were a bit uncomfortable, not from the cold but from the heat. Thankfully the heat levels on these socks are indicated by lights I could see through my tights so I simply turned them down one level.
The heated socks worked.
On many subsequent outdoor winter rides I wore a thin pair of cycling socks underneath them, to add a barrier between the heat and my foot and to keep them a bit cleaner as they’re hand-wash only. Wearing the two socks fits tight, but it’s not uncomfortable the way toe warmers can be.
With my excuse for not riding in the cold gone, I now have to attribute any lack of outdoor rides to laziness (“my bike is already on the trainer,”) or extreme weather. I feel like I’ve unlocked a few more months of outdoor riding per year.
I’ve worn the socks off the bike too. On a winter hike in unexpectedly deep snow, on walks around the city and sitting in my chilly tiled kitchen. The charge lasts for hours and I’ve never had them unexpectedly die on me.
Do thy look a little silly? Sure.
Am I going to keep wearing them well into the spring? Unquestionably.
Do I also use the sock’s small portable charger to charge my phone or other electronic devices while on the go Inspector-Gadget-style? Absolutely, this is a product that just keeps on giving.