Am currently using Sealskinz Waterblocker socks which are OK until the cold winter weather sets in. Even though they are “waterproof”, the outer layer holds water and my feet eventually get chilled. Waterproof boots are ruled out because I must wear booties to have enough room for my big feet. I always wear thick wool socks under the Sealskinz, but from December till March the cold water is a little to much to take at times. Any suggestions for a good knee high waterproof sock would be appreciated. Thanks.
Variation on what you’re doing now
Given that mukluks are out of the question due to foot fit in your boat, how about wearing thick wool socks under a long neoprene sock? I’ve bought “hunter’s” neoprene socks (available at the usual big box stores), cut out holes for bike shoe cleats, and worn those over the cycling shoes (to block winter wind). Cost me all of $9 per pair.
If you can find a pair large enough, you could seal the seams with AquaSeal and just pull the neoprene socks over your wool socks. They wouldn’t have any ankle support or outsoles for walking much, but they should be warmer than the water-holding Sealskinz. And they would be more likely to fit in your boat than mukluks would.
Are your feet getting
cold because of them resting against the bottom of the hull which sits in the cold water? If that is the case then add a sheet of 1/2" closed cell foam under your feet. My wife and I each have a sheet inside the cockpit of our yaks and it does work for us.
I’ve also tried taking a small/lightweight synthetic blanket and laying in on a foam pad where my feet will be and then wrapping it around my feet in cold weather. It does help.
Some folks seem to swear by the little heat pads that one can put in their socks. You might also try the hunter’s socks that use 9 volt batteries…you can get em for about $10 at KMart.
I’m having IR add latex socks to a pair of their Paddling Pants for me. They usually have neoprene ankle gaskets but I too get cold feet and dry feet is the best. Plus, the heat from my legs can be channeled to my feet. So instead of socks, perhaps you should consider this option. Any dry pant with latex ankle gaskets could easily be modified to latex socks with a sock repair kit. I really love the IR pants I borrowed which is why I am having them do the conversion for me because it isn’t as strait forward.
Latex booties are best for cold feet
I started having the same problem last winter - no matter now much I insulated my feet, once they got wet, they got cold & stayed cold.
I cut out my latex ankle gaskets and installed a pair of latex booties from NRS. The first time out, my mukluks filled with water landing in surf and I didn’t even notice till I got onto dry land and felt the water sloshing around. What a wonderful feeling!
I also discovered by accident, when my Carry Creek seat wouldn’t fit in any of my hatches, that it makes a fine insulating pad on the floor of the cockpit. Then you take it out and sit on it for lunch - sure beats a sandy butt (or worse, a punctured one)!
Wow! Gimmicks and gizmos that actually work!
I have a pair of Cabelas neoprene socks that I like a whole lot better than my Sealskinz. I’ve had hundreds of hours paddling the cold winter waters of PA and the Cabelas socks are far and above the Sealskinz. A friend of mine takes plastic bags (like from the grocery store) and puts them on her feet under the socks and they keep her dry and warm and she swears by this inexpensive and recyclable method!
As one poster suggested, nothing beats booties on a drysuit. Before I had them I used to use Sealskins socks too. I used to put a plastic bag (produce dept. type) over them and tuck that under the ankle velcros on the dry suit - that helped. My socks were loose so I could put two layers of socks on too. When I launched, I tried to never flood the boots by not stepping in too deep. I used the normal diver type of paddling boots/ no zipper.
Are you saying that your wool socks inside the sealskinz eventually get wet? Or that the wool remains dry but isn’t enough insulation to keep your feet warm, against the cold of the outside wet layer?
Either way it sounds like a bummer, given the price of the sealskinz. Something is clearly wrong – you should not be suffering from cold feet. That’s a problem that can be solved, to keep you on the water year round.
A couple questions:
What do the sealskinz instructions say, to wear an inner layer or not?
Are your wool socks identified as “wicking”?
Are you sure the moisture isn’t coming from above the top of the socks? You say you have the Waterblocker version – do you have the calf seal tight?
Do you wear a wet suit or dry suit in winter?
The problem is…
From what I understand the Sealskinz socks are three layers. The waterproof layer is the middle layer, which doesn't make sense to me, so the outside layer will absorb water. Even though my feet are in the water very little, it is still enough for the outer layer to soak up some water. Usually it doesn't bother me to much but from December to March when the water is the coldest is when I have the most trouble. My feet stay dry, but get cold from the outer layer holding water. Would like to find some 100% waterproof socks.
The water isn't coming in from the top as I am usually not in water that deep, and the few times I have gone in to deep, water hasn't come in from the top.
The suggestion of some neoprene socks sounds like a starting point, but I always have cold feet in the winter, so I might have to learn to live with it.
No dry suit or wet suit, just splash pants and splash top with neoprene cuffs to block water out and they do a very job. Will probably be condemned for that, but that does the job for me. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
If your feet are staying dry, then a thicker layer of insulation would theoretically solve the problem, if you had unlimited room inside the sealskinz. Do you have room to add a 2nd pair of wool socks, maybe a thinner pair? Neoprene in place of the wool ones might help, if neoprene is a better insulator per-unit-of-volume than wool is, but I don’t know that to be true.
Another approach would be to limit the water that gets in the sealskinz. You could do that with another layer outside the sealskinz which compresses it, thus limiting how much water it carries.
Or add a plastic bag layer outside the sealskinz to try to keep that layer dry. You could get some heavy duty leaf bags and put them on over the sealskinz, then add another layer of something thin but tough over the bag to keep it in place and protect it from being torn. Make this final layer thin so it won’t hold much water on its own.
You might also try wearing warmer clothes on other parts of your body too, even your head (scarves and caps and such). I’m not sure why this works but it does, at least for me. I also suffer from cold extremities in winter, and I find cold feet aren’t nearly so bad if the rest of me is a little too warm.
Mukluks for winter
Some, including Chotas I think, are waterproof unless you let water into the top by not cinching the starp tight enough. Drysuit with them even better, but if no dry suit at least these boots will be a lot warmer (and drier).
One Answer: Cheat!
It sounds to me like there's not much you CAN do, clothing-wise. What you need is thicker insulation. As much as companies like to brag about how well their special insulatation works, if it's a thin layer, it never works all that well (especially at pressure points where heat transfer is rapid). If insulated paddling boots (which really are NOT very thick and not particularly well-insulated compared to other kinds of winter boots) won't allow your feet to fit in the boat, I'd recommend trying chemical heat packs in a size small enough to place inside your footwear in the problem areas. They even come in special shapes to fit under the ball of your foot and toes, but almost anywhere else you put them, the shape of the pack won't matter. You might end up spending two or three dollars on heat packs per day, but for warm feet it might be worth it. It'd sure be a lot cheaper than getting a boat big enough to allow you to wear warm footwear.
I've yet to try this, but I know people who swear by them.
My Sealskins leaked about the 3rd time
I wore them.And got cold. Fortunately, I can wear my Chotas when I paddle.
if your feet are cold
put on a hat
If your feet are still cold, put on a warmer hat
Depending what you paddle
Drysuit with integral socks or waders are the only ways I know. Have gotten creative with plastic bags and had some success. Sealskinz are trash.
The Clintons asked me about this,
and I told them it would be better to just train Socks to quit drinking from the White House toilet.