Commuting 101: Winter Cycling? Don't Get Cold Feet!

I was talking with a fellow cyclist at church the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving. I asked him if he was still riding and he told me he had hung it up for the season; he said his feet get too cold. What a coincidence!

A little over a year ago Jason left a brief comment on a post about cold weather gear that was a huge help to me last year. I’d forgotten all about it until the morning after Thanksgiving when the temperatures were in the teens. I headed out on some non-shopping errands and it didn’t take me long to remember the sage advice Jason gave as my toes started to freeze up: cut the corners off plastic shopping bags and stick them in your shoes.


Last year this tip really paid off for me. On really cold mornings I wear two pairs of socks and I put the plastic bag corners between the two pairs. The best part of this … they’re free!

Bag & scissors
First, find a clean, flat surface and gather the required tools.

Oh, who am I kidding? Just cut the corners off a couple plastic bags and you’re done.

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0 thoughts on “Commuting 101: Winter Cycling? Don't Get Cold Feet!”

  1. Kaz Kougar says:

    Great concept but what about booties? The Center for Appropriate Transport here in Eugene makes a bootie that I have so far found to be completely waterproof and highly wind resistant and extremely breathable not to mention very easy and non time consuming to get on and off. And they’re only $37 which is dirt cheap compared to other booties on the market that won’t perform half as well as these. They make the booties on-site and this time a year it may take a few weeks to get them but trust me, it’s worth the wait and while you’re waiting you can use plastic bags. Here’s the link-

  2. AIdan says:

    In Toronto it is cold! I use neoprene toe-covers over booties, but the cold still comes up through my clipless pedals, so I cut me another layer of insole from a 5mm ensolite closed cell pad!

  3. Fritz says:

    Cutting the bags is too much work, Warren. I’ve always just tucked the bags inside my pants. Sometimes they balloon out a little and look a little goofy, but I’d think most cyclists insane enough to continue biking through the winter are beyond the “look a little goofy” stage anyway.

  4. AIdan says:

    Didn’t mention the gore-tex oversocks over the wool socks, did I? That’s inside shoes, inside booties, inside toe-covers, with two insoles: seven layers!

  5. TJC says:

    Does this garbage bag corner cutting method placed between 2 pairs of socks really work?
    I am in Chicago, where it is obviously getting cold! I went for a 25 mile ride yesterday, and decided I can’t do that again this winter without some sort of foot freezing relief!!!!


  6. Tim says:

    Incorporating the same cheap plastic technology, I use and reuse plastic sandwich baggies. Same concept. I use baggies for above 25F. Below that, my setup is thin wicking sock/Sealskinz neoprene sock/thick wool sock/Lake sandals or cheap Target hikers. If it’s colder I use a medium wool sock under the Sealskinz.

  7. Schmucker says:

    Another good solution (especially with clipless) is to put on a rubber overboot and cut a hole for the cleat to access the pedal. Works great with eggbeaters.

  8. TJC says:

    …I think I need clarification regarding eggbeaters? What are they?

  9. CaptCanuck says:

    eggbeaters are one type of clipless pedals see

  10. TJC says:

    My GF gave me new specialized cycling shoes as well as Pearl Izumi shoe covers for Xmas!!! These 2 items alone gave me a whole new interest in winer cycling I though I’d never have… Awesome. I think the 2 items totaled around $150. Worth ever penny

  11. Rick says:

    I use PI booties and when it’s below freezing I put in Tostie Toes. They are like hand warmers but thin and shaped to fit in the toe box of your shoes. I’ve ridden the road bike in the teens for an hour and my toes were fine. I’ve also begun riding the mountain bike off road on the grass area next to the railroad tracks, front yards and golf courses most of the way to work. It slows me down (less wind chill) while still providing a good workout (one of the reasons I commute).

  12. Fraser says:

    I commute in Calgary down to about -30C. Booties are good but the best thing to keep your feet warm is a felt insole in your shoe. They cost $5 and will give you more warmth than anything else hands down. Combine with thick socks and booties for when the temperatuure dips way down and you should be good for 30 to 45 minutes of riding. After that you’ll need a pair of SPD compatible Sorels.

  13. samantha says:

    man i’m so happy i read this i’ve recently started biking to work and stuff cuz my car died not to mention gas is a pain in the butt but like this is gonna be one loooooooong winter for me all my friends here are all bikers but this is my first winter doing nothing but biking 7 miles into town then home so like if n e of yall got ideas for me i’m more then happy to take advice

  14. Raf says:


    I’d invest in arm warmers and leg warmers.
    The “Super-Roubaix” fabric is great. I can ride in 30+ degree weather with those and my Cycling bib/jersey and a puma running jersey as a base layer and feel comfortable after about 10 minutes of cycling…and eventually even start to get hot.

    My arm/leg warmers are Hincapie. – They’ll run you @ $70 together but well worth it.

    When it drops below 30 – I’ll wear some gore-tex cycling pants and a cycling jacket over the stuff I have listed above. These can cost a lot of money but I’d say it’s worth it for some wind/water proof material that keeps you warm. The hardest thing about cycling in the winter isn’t staying warm…it’s regulating your temperature to be comfortable. You should start riding being a little bit chilly and when you get going your core temp rises and you produce heat. Unzipping a jacket etc, is great for not overheating.

    I also wear a Seirus “Combo Clava” – to keep my face and head warm. I wear snowboarding goggles over the clava to keep all the heat in.

    You can get gloves liners and wear thick winter/snowboarding or hiking gloves to protect your hands.

    Make sure the stuff you’re wearing is some material that has moisture wicking properties, esp. base layer clothes that are close to your skin. Polyester, lycra, smart wool. Don’t wear cotton as it get’s cold when it gets wet.

    You can get cycling booties to keep your feet warm. You can get decent Pearl Izumi ones for @ $50.

  15. NK says:

    Hi we have just had our coldest Christmas for about 20 years in the UK down to minus 15 ,Centigrade that is (not Farenheit that would be cold !). I would echo the comment about felt insoles, I would recommend the type with an aluminium reflective surface on the underside which reflects the cold out with the felt keeping your body heat in. A thick pair of hiking socks combined with the insoles seem to do the trick .The type of shoe is important too again I find hiking boots the best for mountain biking due to the ankle support keeping warmth in and their being windproof The breathable goretex type seem to be the most comfortable.Kept on going most days over the holidays with that lot no problem and to be frank it made a pleasant change from our usual British speciality of mud and rain in the winter.

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