Camping 101: Feet Heat!

There’s an old joke about the guy who invents the electric boot heater that works like a charm — the only problem is: the extension cord is a mile long!

Tom Watson

I don’t know which is worse, cold hands or cold feet! Neither is very comforting and both can make even the shortest of inactive time in the field unbearable. And despite all the wool blend socks and insulated super boots, for many of us, our feet still eventually get cold and our toes go numb. Fortunately there are electric boot heaters out there and they don’t need a long cord to function!

Not counting the heat pack units, there are two basic types of boot warming units: imbedded heating coils in a full length sole and one that depends upon a heating coil pad designed to provide heat to just the ball/toe region of the foot. Both have their design advantages and work to a limited degree.

The full sole type I checked out was ThermaCELL’s “Heated Insoles.

These were a molded insole that incorporated heating coils within the sole pad. The power is provided by plugging the self-charger unit into connections at the heel of each sole. They claim up to five hours of energized heat. The output was steady and warm — not hot (110 (110°F on high/100°F at medium) and controlled by a small, wireless remote.

They produced a warm feel while idle – that time you want some heat between exertion.

The Heat Insole’s advantage (a wireless remote and recharge requiring no batteries) also infers a potential problem: there’s no way to re-energize/charge the unit in the field (unless you have a plug-in adapter for your car). Also while the molded sole was comfortable, such pre-forms can cause pressure points if not trimmed right. My foot is actually larger than the largest size offered, but the sole was comfortable, even for my extremely flat feet.

The other form of boot heater is a small coiled pad that fit inside the boot and heats just the ball/toe area of the foot. Cozy Feet’s battery power is delivered via a cord that feeds out from a spring spool and allows you to adjust lengths depending upon where you attach the battery housing (top of a boot or even all the way up to your pants pocket. The lead with the heat pad attached feeds down into your boot.

The heat is modestly warm and quick to radiate. The advantage of the pads is that you can instantly re-energize with fresh batteries. Another handy use of these tethered heat pads is that you could place them into chest pockets and even gloves for some fast, emergency warming options. I found the long trailing cord and the hanging wires clipped to my sock or cuff to be a bit of an annoyance.

I could see either of these types used to ward off the initial cold shock of boots pre-rise and shine in a chilly cabin or tent. Heated insoles or ball/toe pads are just two more options for keeping your feet (and possibly other body areas) a bit warmer when it’s cold outside.

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a great selection of Hand and Foot Warmers!

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