How to Keep Your Feet Warm Hiking in Winter? (14 Expert Rules)

Keeping your feet warm while hiking can be a challenge, but it can be easily done with the right gear and preparation.

I’ll discuss some tips on keeping your feet warm while hiking and what gear you need to make it happen.

So whether you’re just starting on your hiking journey or are looking for ways to improve, read on for some helpful advice.

#1 Wear layers on your feet

Layer your feet for hiking!

You’ll be more comfortable and able to adapt to changing temperatures.

Here are four types of layers you can wear on your feet when hiking: 

1) A liner sock: This sock should be lightweight, synthetic fabric like polyester or nylon. It goes against your skin and helps keep your feet dry.

2) A medium-weight hiking sock: This sock is designed to insulate and cushion your foot. It’s usually made from wool, cotton, or a synthetic blend.

3) A waterproof shell sock: This sock keeps moisture out. It’s often made from Gore-Tex or a similar material.

4) An overboot: An overboot is a waterproof and insulated boot that goes over your hiking boots. They’re great for cold, wet, or snowy conditions.

When you’re layering your feet for hiking, choosing the right materials is important.

Tip: Be sure to read my article on what you should wear when hiking. Just click on the link.

#2 Invest in good socks

Think about the last time you went hiking.

Remember how your feet felt by the end of the hike?

Dirty, blistered, and sore, right?

If you had invested in a good pair of hiking socks, your feet would have been much happier.

By investing in a good pair of hiking socks, you’re investing in your feet’s comfort. And when your feet are comfortable, you’re more likely to have a good time hiking.

There are a few things to look for when buying hiking socks:

1) Material: The best hiking socks are made from wool, cotton, or a synthetic blend.

2) Fit: Hiking socks should fit snugly but not too tight. They should also come up high enough to cover your ankles.

3) Padding: Some hiking socks have extra padding in the toes or heels. This can help prevent blisters.

4) Breathability: Hiking socks should be breathable to prevent your feet from getting too sweaty.

5) Durability: Hiking socks should be durable enough to withstand wear and tear.

By investing in good socks, you can keep your feet warm and dry, preventing blisters and making your hike more comfortable.

Tip: No matter how well you prepare, there’s always a chance that your feet will get wet or cold while hiking. That’s why it’s important to pack extra socks. You can change into a dry pair if your feet feel wet or cold.

#3 Use vapor barrier liners in extreme weather

If you’re hiking in extremely cold weather, you can use vbls (vapor barrier liners) to keep your feet warm.

Vbls are insulated socks that fit over your regular socks.

They add an extra layer of warmth, which can be the difference between cold feet and happy feet.

When shopping for vbls, make sure to pick a pair that’s comfortable and breathable.

You should also make sure that the vbls are the right size.

If they’re too big, they’ll make your feet look bulky.

If they’re too small, they won’t provide enough insulation.

#4 Get thermal insoles

Thermal insoles are a great way to keep your feet warm while hiking.

They fit inside your boots and provide an extra layer of insulation.

Thermal insoles come in different thicknesses to choose the right level of warmth for your needs.

Some thermal insoles even have a built-in battery that heats the insole.

This can be a great way to keep your feet warm in extremely cold weather.

#5 Don’t compress your feet

While hiking, compressing your feet can lead to a “hiker’s foot.”

A hiker’s foot is caused by the compression of the foot, which leads to a loss of circulation.

This can cause numbness, tingling, and even pain in the affected foot.

And you guessed it, this can lead to cold feet while hiking.

To prevent hiker’s foot, wear socks that are not too tight.

You should also take breaks often to give your feet a chance to stretch and move around.

If you feel any numbness or tingling in your feet, stop and rest immediately.

#6 Buy the right boots

Heading out on a hike with the wrong boots is setting yourself up for failure.

The wrong boots can cause blisters, bunions, ankle injuries, and cold feet.

That’s why it’s so important to buy the right boots for your feet.

When shopping for hiking boots, make sure to:

  1. Consider the type of hike you’ll be doing: Are you on a short day hike or a long backpacking trip?
  2. Get your boots fitted: Make sure to get your foot measured and try on different styles of boots.
  3. Consider the weather: Will you be hiking in hot or cold weather?
  4. Break in your boots: Wear your boots around the house for a few days before heading out on your hike.

This will help prevent blisters and other foot problems.

Following these tips will help you find the right boots for your feet and prevent cold feet while hiking.

There’s a lot of hiking gear on the market these days, and it can be tough to sift through all of it.

When it comes to boots, there’s a lot of hype.

Just because a boot is popular or expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you.

Do your research and buy the boot that will work best for you and your needs.

In my other blog post, I explain what you should look for when buying new hiking boots.

#7 Wear waterproof boots

Waterproof boots are a great way to keep your feet warm and dry while hiking.

They’ll also protect your feet from any mud, moisture, or debris you might encounter on the trail.

When choosing a waterproof boot, pick one that’s comfortable and has good traction.

You should also make sure that the boot is breathable to prevent your feet from getting too sweaty.

Boots are an essential piece of gear for any hiker, so invest in a good pair.

Tip: You should know the difference between waterproof and water-resistant. What the exact differences are, I explain in another blog article.

#8 Know when to wear insulated vs. non-insulated boots

Knowing when to wear insulated vs. non-insulated boots can differentiate between cold and happy feet.

Generally speaking, you should Insulated boots for cold weather and non-insulated boots for warm weather.

However, there are a few other factors to consider when choosing which type of boot to wear:

  • The temperature: If it’s cold out, you’ll want to wear insulated boots. If it’s warm out, you can get away with non-insulated boots.
  • The terrain: If you’re hiking on snow or ice, you’ll want to wear insulated boots. If the terrain is dry and free of snow and ice, you can get away with non-insulated boots.
  • Your activity level: If you’re hiking at a high activity level, you’ll want to wear non-insulated boots. This will prevent your feet from getting too sweaty.
  • Your personal preference: Ultimately, wearing insulated or non-insulated boots comes down to personal preference. If you’re not sure which type of boot to wear, err on the side of caution and go with insulated boots.

When in doubt, always go with insulated boots.

This will ensure that your feet are warm and dry no matter what the conditions are like outside.

Tip: Maybe you will also find my post about hiking boots for the winter helpful? Follow the link to read the article.

#9 Don’t put on boots until you are ready to hike

One of the worst things you can do is put on your boots before you are ready to hike.

This will cause your feet to sweat, which will lead to cold, wet, and uncomfortable feet.

Instead, wait until you’re about to start hiking before putting on your boots.

Get your stuff together, and make sure you’re ready to go before putting on your boots.

This will help keep your feet dry and prevent them from getting cold.

#10 Get feet off the ground

Whenever possible, try to keep your feet off the ground.

This will help prevent your feet from getting cold by keeping them away from the cold ground.

One way to do this is to hike on snowshoes or cross-country skis.

Another way is to bring along a camping mat or something similar to put your feet on while taking a break.

#11 Keep core warm

Keeping your core warm is essential to keeping your feet warm.

If your core body temperature drops, your feet will be the first to suffer.

Dress in layers and pack an insulated jacket to keep your core warm.

You should also eat plenty of food to keep your energy up and drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated.

If you feel cold, stop and take a break to warm up.

#12 Wear gaiters

I like gaiters because they help keep my feet dry and debris-free.

They also add an extra layer of warmth, which is always a plus.

If you’re going to be hiking in snow or through thick brush, gaiters are a must-have gear.

Just make sure to get a pair that fits well and is comfortable to wear.

#13 Have a contingency plan

No matter how well you plan, there’s always a chance something will go wrong.

That’s why it’s important to have a contingency plan in place if you get cold feet.

Pack extra socks, a space blanket, and some hand warmers.

If worst comes to worst and your feet get cold, you’ll be glad you have a plan.

This could be the difference between frostbite and a minor case of cold feet.

Bring a fire starter.

If you can build a fire, do it.

A fire will help keep you warm, but it will also dry out your boots if they get wet.

Just make sure you know how to build a fire safely before you head out into the wilderness.

#14 Keep moving

Moving is the key to keeping your feet warm.

If you stop moving, your body will start to cool down, and your feet will be the first to suffer.

So, even if you’re tired, keep moving.

It’ll help keep your blood flowing, and your feet will stay warm.

Tip: Read my blog post about other equipment I recommend for hiking in the winter.

Happy hiking!

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Hi, I'm Dave. I'm an avid outdoors and sports enthusiast who loves to share my passion with others. I publish the experiences I've gained over the years on Outdoormeta to give beginners helpful tips and bring people closer to the outdoors.

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