By Helen Olsson
Frosty toes are the bane of snowsports.
Kids seem especially prone to cold feet, and there’s nothing worse than loading the chairlift to the squeaky refrain, “Mom, my feet are cold.”
That’s going to be one long lap back to the lodge.
There are a number of ways you can keep little toes (and big toes, for that matter) toasty. And warm feet mean happy skiers.
1. Dry out the boots. Every day you go out on the slopes, you want to start with dry boots.
Even when it’s cold out, your feet sweat, so at day’s end, ski and snowboard boots end up wet.
Get a boot dryer, plug it in, and it’ll dry boots overnight with a gentle flow of either cool or warm air.
The Hotronic Snapdry boot dryer has the added benefit of a timer, so if your boots are just a little damp, you can set it to turn off automatically after a few hours. Therm-ic makes a dryer that folds up compact enough to stow in your suitcase.
2. Start with dry socks: If you’re traveling a few hours in the car to a ski resort, have kids wear a different pair of socks during the ride.
Feet get sweaty in the car. When you arrive at the mountain, put on the dry socks and boots, and you’re good to go.
3. Wear a real ski sock: Cotton sucks up moisture, so never—I repeat, never—wear cotton socks when skiing or snowboarding.
Get a good performance ski sock, either synthetic or wool from companies like Ultimax, SmartWool, and Point 6. Thicker is not necessarily warmer.
If your boots are tight to begin with, you’ll want a thin sock so you have a little insulating layer of air inside the boot.
4. Stock up on toe warmers. An affordable solution is to buy toe warmers in bulk.
Costco, Target, and Walmart carry boxes of them for less than a buck a pair.
You can get packets of toe warmers at the resorts, but they’re expensive to buy onsite, one at a time.
Be sure to open up the packaging 15 minutes or so before your kids put their boots on. The chemical in the warmers takes a while to activate in the air. An adhesive backing keeps toe warmers stuck to the bottom of your socks.
The downside to toe warmers is that they can feel bulky inside the boot.
If you have a race fit with ski boots, you simply won’t have enough room to squeeze them in. Most kids’ boots are roomy enough to allow for toe warmers.
Look for Little Hotties, Grabber, and Toasti Toes.
5. Splurge on boot heaters. More effective, though also more expensive, are electronic boot heaters.
With Hotronic boot heaters, a round heating element goes under your toes inside your boot.
The disc is connected by a wire to a rechargeable battery unit that clips on the outside of your boot.
If you buy boot heaters for your kids, be sure they can articulate body sensations (i.e., that their feet are getting too hot).
Therm-ic makes a $100 kids’ boot heater that runs on AAA batteries. Most models run upwards of $200, but at least all those toe warmer packets aren’t ending up in the landfill.
6. Bundle up the core: When the mercury dives, your nervous system acts to protect your body’s core by restricting blood flow to the extremities.
That’s why the first place you feel the cold is the toes and fingers. Keep your core warm with extra layers, maybe a nice down vest, and your digits will stay warmer longer.