Cold Feet, what layers?

My dry suit didn’t come with the built in booties. I’m not in the market to replace it yet. I own neoprene socks, wool socks, NRS Workboot Wetshoe neoprene lined boots, and those Seal Skinz “water blocker” socks (that aren’t worth a crap). What is the best way to layer my foot wear or do I need something different? I paddle WW canoe mostly and often I am kneeling in water which seems to keep an ever replacing cold water supply to my feet. I like to paddle all winter, and man my feet get cold.

Replace your dry suit – with booties
If all that neoprene does not solve your cold feet, I doubt if anything will, short of dry feet with equally dry wool and/or fleece insulation. Soaking wet wool or fleece will not help.

So, I know you don’t want to get another dry suit, but “man my feet get cold” bespeaks a level of urgency.

Try a Dive Shop
They should be able to graft a pair of booties unto your existing suit. The key to staying warm is staying dry; once you’ve got that, wool, especially merino, is the bees’ knees for warmth. We like our socks a little loose-fitting, and layer up two pairs when it’s really cold. An over-boot that keeps the booties dry helps too. We use the boots and lower legs from old divers’ drysuits that a dive technician friend salvaged for us. Worth asking…

drysuit wants dry feet(material)

– Last Updated: Dec-18-09 8:35 PM EST –

An idea...will need some glueing with seal-strips of some sort. The feet/lower-legs of used flyfishing waders...glue together with drysuit and seal with strips of the waders glued over the attachment lines. Find the glue that'll work with both materials and I would think you're close to being home-free...(would guess = materials being pretty similar)..y/n? I know some stocking-foot waders are neoprene...but are layer to stay dry...the same as some? diving material.


No need to replace the suit

– Last Updated: Dec-18-09 11:41 PM EST –

You can just replace your ankle gaskets with latex booties. Order them from Kayak Academy. Should take you about half an hour, and cost $30.

I wouldn't waste any more money buying other footwear solutions.

I’ve used thick neoprene booties
sized just a tad loose (not easy for size 15 feet). On really cold days I may wear wool or polypropelene socks.

Three things. First, how low are you kneeling? Do you have fabric bunched behind your knees? I used to paddle decked c-1 with a 6" pedestal. Now I am in a Millbrook with a 9" saddle. Less knee constriction.

Second, obviously you should make sure your ankle gaskets aren’t too tight, and trim them if needed.

Third, you have to make your head and body almost TOO warm so that your nervous system will pump blood into your fingers and toes for relief. Try just a little more body insulation, and some sort of helmet liner.

Latex booty replacement = easy.
Replaced the ankle gaskets on mine with booties. Worth doing and not difficult. It’s the answer, IMO.

K Mart and Walmart

– Last Updated: Dec-19-09 5:32 AM EST –

both will sell you Warm Hands or Warm Feet chemical-tea-bag thingies that make heat for several hours. They're cheap and they work. Don't put them right against the skin. Too hot for that. You don't know cold toes 'til you ride a road bike in under 25 degrees. I put the Warm Hands between the shoe and the neoprene booty that covers the shoe. It helps a lot.

Hey, I've biked over the James River a couple times on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I think that's a 13 mile climb out of that valley. Yowza.

Get the booties installed
I have blood pressure drug induced Raynaud’s in my feet, and before I put booties on my original drysuit, I could almost not bear the thought of paddling in the winter, because the gaskets alone made the problem worse. It was like walking on frozen blocks of ice instead of feet, and when they woke up…the pain was quite bad.

I still have huge issues with my feet going numb and white even in what us New Englanders would call decent spring and fall weather, but it’s manageable with dry feet that don’t have any blood flow restricted by a gasket. I can even manage it in the dead of winter if I’m careful now.

recommend the booties
but if you don’t go that route, and seeing your in OC, you should be able to wear a pair of mukluks. I wear mukluks with drysuit booties and wool socks in OC, and my feet are good to go.As long as you don’t swim, your feet should stay dry with the mukluks.

Have you ever considered layering up : polypro socks …wool socks( thin knee-hi downhill skier socks , then a heavier wool sock over them ?)…then knee-hi neoprene boots like the Chota Mukluks with the drawstring tops? The more distance you can put between your feet and the source of the cold , the warmer your feet will be.Buy the boots oversized enough to layer up the socks underneath. I have also seen socks with heat packet pockets over the toe area. They might be a option.

I recently bought the Chota Lite boots…normally i take a size 9 but i ended up w/ size 8 and that was with wearing a medium/ave. weight wool sock underneath…The chota lite’s seem to run undersized. Also…are the gaskets on the drysuit so tight that they may be impeding the blood flow to the feet?

If you want photos and instructions…
…I have some in my “Dry Suit Repair” album on Webshots at:

As others have said, it’s easy, but it will take more than 30 minutes to do a pair, especially the first time. You can order latex socks in the size you need from OS Systems.

Only one solution here ADD THE BOOTIES. As fast as you can you will love it. As others have said you can do it your self or send it back to the manufacturer or dive shop.

too many layers on de feet
tend to make for a very tight and constricting fit/ less circulation. Maybe that first polypro sock is going to be tight but everything else needs some breathing space to warm the air pockets.

Simple as it sounds, wiggling your toes and pushing off with your feet when you paddle seems to help.

Pricing varies
I notice the item pricing varies quite a bit. Anyone know any other good sources?

Booties, yes
I am using and enjoying my drysuit much more since I put latex booties at the end of last year. Put the booties in for ease of use if for no other reason.

But actually, my foot comfort isn’t much different from when I just wore neoprene socks with a neo bootie, which was tolerably cool. Uncomfortably cool, but tolerable. Maybe I need another layer of sock under the booties. I’ve just been wearing one pair of wool.

I put neoprene socks over the booties, and they invariably get wet. I am putting the neo socks over the booties because I’m afraid of getting a rip in the latex, which seems like a strong possibility when bushwacking through ankle-wrapping shiggy.

If I put another pair of socks under the booties, I will need bigger shoes. I guess I just need to get bigger shoes.

Is my concern about ripping or puncturing the latex booties misplaced? Is latex tougher than I think?

Dagger, what happens when you swim with those mukluks? I assume they fill with water. Don’t they get heavy, wet, and cold?


Cold Feet
Why not just get a pair of those NRS Boundary Shoes’s which I use when paddling in cold weather plus they protect the Goretex socks.

Bigger Shoes
Hi Chip - if its really cold, I wear a pair of polypropylene liner socks, a pair of heavy wool socks and then a pair of neoprene socks - all inside the booties. I have a pair of high-top neoprene water shoes that are a size bigger than I usually wear. Everything fits fine, and it keeps my feet nice and warm - I hate having cold feet.

Lost one of my shoes back in Oct. when I did the New Boston section of the Farmington with Matt. Took a swim in the rapid just below this one, and a loose-fitting, low-top water shoe came right off

Not the best choice of footwear - had to finish the run with just one shoe. I was concerned about getting a leak in the bootie, but didn’t. I guess the booties are tougher than they look, but I wouldn’t push it.

That’s Matt’s son Aaron in the foreground of the video. I took three swims on that run. Aaron didn’t swim at all, and I don’t think Matt did either. Here’s Matt making the Bear’s Den Rapid look easy (I swam this one too)

He doesn’t seem to swim with those mukluks as much as he used to.

That NRS price on booties is good
I don’t know how they compare to what OS Systems makes, but at nearly half the price, they’re worth a shot. You have to replace them every few years, regardless.

Lucky for me, my new dry suit (recently replaced under the Gore warranty) has Gore-Tex socks. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I doubt that my feet will stay any drier, but they’re thinner than latex and slide into footwear much easier. It’s really too bad that nobody makes an aftermarket replacement.

Today’s layers
Predicted high temp today was 32. I think it was warmer. Could it be today’s layers on the feet that made if feel that way, or the bright sun and windless day? I don’t know the water temperature. There’s lots of snow and ice all around, so I assume the water is cold.

So, today I went with:

  1. Nylon dress sock
  2. Thick wool sock
  3. Neoprene sock

    Then the drysuit. I wore “Warmer” brand neoprene bootie over the drysuit, leaving about an inch of exposed latex bootie.

    I think I need a bigger bootie for this combo. The bootie felt tight. This was the warmest combination so far, although my feet still felt cool. I spent about 15 minutes standing in the water at one point, and my feet felt cool–about the same as out of the water. Overall, I was warm to hot over the rest of my body, which I am sure helps the feet stay warmer.

    A little bigger shoe seems key. The effectiveness of the insulating layers has to be compromised if the whole sandwich of layers is compressed.