Sunday, 14 November 2021

How to: Keep your feet warm in winter!

 Oops, I've just noticed that I haven't added any new articles for over a week - sorry everyone, I've been busy!

It always makes me laugh, when non-gardeners say things like "what do you do, in winter, when there's no work to be done in the garden?"

Hollow laugh, said she, rushed off her feet, trying to squeeze in all the extra jobs with the days getting shorter...

Anyway, a quick post today: cold feet.

Yes, we all suffer from this, some of us more than others. Trying to work with frozen toes is miserable, and takes all the joy out of working outside, and we had our first hard frost a couple of days ago, which means we were standing on icy-cold concrete, and trying to keep off the frosted grass, because if you walk across hard-frozen grass, it breaks the stems, and in a couple of days, there will be crushed, brown grass all over the lawn.

In this case, it wasn't really a hard frost, but was enough to make our boots wet, and our toes cold.

I wasn't too badly off, because I wear thick thermal socks, and I have extra insoles in my boots. Not the useless lambswool ones, I find they don't help at all, and after the first wear, the fluffy wool has packed down hard, so they're not exactly "trapping a layer of warm air" any more.

No, I use this type of insole, the sort you get in walking boots:

They slip inside your boots, over the existing insoles, and give you a layer of extra padding ("ooh! Comfy!") and because they are made of similar material to those camping mats, they are well insulated, so they help to stop the cold striking up through your soles.

So between them, the thick thermal socks, and my practice of doing some vigorous raking of leaves as soon as I arrive, I was moderately warm, right from the start.

My colleague was not so lucky, and was suffering with really cold feet.

Afterwards, being a helpful soul, I did some research into chemical hand and foot warmers: I've already discovered these wonderful gadgets for warming hands:

These are not for work - but I've found them to be great for standing around outside: and for going on long walks in winter, they can be slipped inside your gloves, keeping your hands nice and toasty.

"I wonder if they do them for feet?"

Yes, they do: but they seem to be small pads to go under the heel, or just under the toes, and I thought they would spend their whole time migrating up and down inside my boots, which would be annoying.


Further research found these ones, right:  which go under the whole length of the foot.

They are "single use" which is not very eco, but frankly they are wonderful! 

I found that if you take them out of your shoes/boots when you don't need them, ie lunchtime, and put them together face-to-face, then seal them inside a grip-top plastic bag, ie to exclude air, then they cool down and go inactive. 

After lunch, open the bag, slip them back in the boots, and in a very short time they are warm again.

Day 1: super warm, almost "hot" and, as it was not a particularly cold day, I was so hot all over by mid-morning that I took them out. I was down to working in a tee-shirt by then, I'm not sure how much "hot feet" contributed to that, as opposed to "working hard". After an hour or so, I put them back in!! Standing on wet grass was quite cold to the feet...

After work, I put them back in the plastic bag.

Day 2: opened the bag, flapped them about a bit to let the air get to them, hey presto, gentle warmth. Back in the boots, out we went, a second day of much more gentle warmth, but very pleasant. They were starting to feel a bit lumpy underfoot, but I found that I could squeeze any lumps between my fingers, and crush them. They appear to be granular.

Day 3: repeated day 2 - still some gentle warmth! Much less so, but enough to take the chill off the cold wet ground, and I was super-cosy all day long. Had a few "Princess and the Pea" moments, as they were definitely getting more granular underfoot, which necessitated a bit more squeezing and crushing with the fingers.

The instructions say to take them out for 15 mins every 3 hours to reactivate them, but they are so super-warm that I found that quite unnecessary.

And as you saw, they are very slim, and don't take up any room to speak of, inside the boot.

All in all, better value than expected, well worth it, even as a single-use item. Next time, I'll slip them straight into my boots and put the boots straight on, to reduce their exposure to the air, to extend their use.  Who knows, I might even get four days' use out of them!!

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