Is it more natural to let your feet get cold in the winter-- e.g. "minimalist footwear"? Or is it better to really bundle up the feet and keep them warm-- e.g. fur-lined moccasins?
What is your favorite winter footwear and why do they work for you?
I live in Canada. Frankly my strategy in the winter is to wear Sorels, minimalism be damned. Walking is my main mode of transportation and cold, wet feet are horrible. I don't want to shell out for another pair of winter shoes, although I'm interested to read the suggestions on this thread. That said I've been okay in my Nike Frees down to about -1 C, but only if it's dry outside (a pretty rare occurrence in the winter here.) but even that's not really ideal. Maybe my feet are just whimpy or something.
A lot of people swear by Steger Mukluks, made right here in Minnesota. After many winters of wearing thrift store boots of varying quality, hopefully this year I'll be trying the Stegers out too!
I am outside a great deal due to using my feet and my bikes as transportation, so proper footwear and clothing are key.
For cool days that are dry, I wear these which I have in both brown and black. Amazingly, they're real suede for only $22 from Target. They have a very minimal, flexible sole. I actually ruined my first brown pair when I spilled black leather dye all over them. I'm going to try out waterproofing them with Nikwax. I'll post the results here. It would be nice to make them relatively waterproof.
When its really cold and wet, I wear Sorel rain boots with heavy Smartwool socks.
I think letting feet get cold (but not freezing cold of course) can be good for circulation. Sometimes, after a shower I turn on the full cold and put my feet under the faucet. It's a bit uncomfortable, yet feels nice in a way, certainly wakes me up too. After drying off, my feet and the rest of me feel quite warm, not chilly like after getting out of a hot shower. So many people like to be kept at 72 degrees all day every day, but letting the body get hot and cold is a good kind of stress, as long as you have a place to take shelter in an extreme situation...
I'd personally consider wearing my vibrams outdoors in temps down to maybe 40F, if the ground was dry. My whole purpose for wearing vibrams or going barefoot is comfort, so below that temperature, I wouldn't be exercising outdoors anyway.
I have to worry about this as well, in Chicago.
I wear thick "fur" lined standard boots, and keep a spare pair of Vibrams in the office. I've grown accustomed to wearing Vibrams all through spring, summer, and fall - but I can't abide cold feet in the cold Chicago winter.
I'd buy some minimalist boots, but frankly I just don't want the added expense.
If you are talking about truly cold temperatures and long periods of time frostbite is a serious risk... but I'm guessing you are not.
That said, I would get the least amount of sock you can get away with given the temperatures and your comfort level and then wear them in a xc-flat or something like the inov8s or new balance minimal stuff.
I have used minimalist shoes (Vivobarefoot Dharma and Oaks) in the winter. If you are not going to be out long they are fine, but if the ground is really cold, you will feel it. On certain days I had to wear real dress shoes or boots in to work. For boots I chose the L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Boots with gore-tex/thinsulate liner and they did a good job. With the liner I am able to get away with wearing thinner socks most of the time. (In reading reviews it seems the Maine Hunting Boots/Bean Boots are a favorite for the slushy/rainy winters, whereas in the Midwest and West with more powder people favor Sorel(before Columbia) and Mukluks).
It looks like Vivobarefoot has a few new models meant for off road, so it will be intersting how they stand up, although I cannot justify the full msrp.
Last winter was my 2nd winter as a barefoot runner.
I thought I'd wear my Invisible Shoes running sandals until it got too cold.
Well, next thing you know it was Spring! I made it through the whole winter barefoot.
There's a post on the Invisible Shoes site about running in the cold that's helpful, too.
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