25 Tips to Keep Your Feet Warm and Dry in Cold Weather

We’ve all been there before. The forecast said sunny with no chance of rain; next thing you know your miles from home with soggy socks, drenched shoes, and cold feet. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, so I’ve put together a survival guide to help you through the tough times.

Keeping your feet warm and dry in cold weather is a fine art. These tips have been put together from my first-hand experience. I’ve put my body (or feet) on the line so you wouldn’t have too. I’ve tried and tested each one of these methods and given each one my seal of approval prior to publishing them.

Cold winter months, rainy nights out, snow storms and flooding, these 25 helpful yet sometimes unorthodox tips will help you through any weather condition to ensure you have toasty feet all year long.

1. Rain boots

We’ve all owned a pair of these at some stage in our lives. They’re the fashion accessory that’s never out of fashion. If you don’t already have a pair, I urge all of you to go out and get yourself a pair of rain boots to keep your feet and legs dry this rainy season. The thick rubber material is impenetrable to water, making them perfect for heavy downpours and even trekking through swamps if that floats your boat. Bottom line is, rain boots work. For the extra cautious person make sure you get lined and insulated rain boots for extra protection.

2. Shoes made from water-resistant materials

For those too fashion conscious to pull off the rain boot, a good alternative are any shoes made from synthetic fabrics. This can include nylon and Gore-Tex shoes which are just as effective and tough enough for moisture to saturate. Anything made as a one-piece build with no woven fabrics is ideal for that extra protection in a heavy storm. A waterproof-breathable shoe helps keep your feet warmer and dryer than any mesh-based shoe ever will.

3. Waterproof your existing shoes

If you’re not willing to fork out for a new pair of shoes a good alternative is to waterproof your existing shoe wardrobe. A silicone waterproof spray can make all the difference when faced with torrential rain on the way to the office. Sitting in a meeting, talking to clients is much less enjoyable when your big toe is submerged in freezing water. Squelch squelch. You may need to reapply your waterproofing agent more than once, especially if you live in the wetter parts of the world. Once a month should do the trick to ensure you have protection from the wet, but not spraying the shoe enough to damage the material. For leather shoes I recommend dubbin wax which will help repel water while also conditioning the shoe.

people getting rained on

4. Shoe covers

WARNING. THIS NEXT METHOD WILL REPEL MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and those measures are the shoe cover. Think shower cap but for your shoes, or a raincoat for your feet. It slips right over the shoe your wearing, fitting snugly against your ankle, providing some damn good protection from rain and water. Despite how ridiculous they look; the shoe cover is actually one of the most effective ways to keeping your feet dry and warm. It also means you get to wear whatever pair of shoes you want. I recommend arriving to your destination early, giving you time to slip the shoe cover off without notice. Jealous onlookers will only see your perfectly intact, dry shoes.

5. Plastic bags….

Ok hear me out on this one. Not everyone has shoe covers. And even if they did they’re not going to carry them around everywhere with them. This tip is for EMERGENCIES ONLY. As a last resort, with absolutely no other options available…it’s time to cover your feet with plastic bags. I know I know, I can hear you gasp. But would you rather a few minutes of humiliation or cold/wet feet? I choose warm and toasty every time. Let the haters laugh in their drenched socks. Simply put a plastic shopping bag around each foot and use some tape to secure it to your legs.

6. Ditch the cotton. It’s time to go wool.

If you want dry/warm feet I’ve got news for you. All those cotton socks in your drawer that mom bought you? Chuck em’ out. They gotta go. Cotton holds moisture next to your skin, compared to wool which has more ventilation and provides better protection from the rain. Even if you do slip up and get a bit of water in your shoe, wool dries much faster than cotton does. The breathable material means you can wear woolen socks in summer and be ready for the odd summer downfall (trust me it happens). 

7. Baby powder in your shoes

I warned you this list would be unconventional, but I stand by this tip. A little baby powder can go a long way. Simply sprinkle the stuff in your shoes and allow them to sit overnight. The baby powder will absorb moisture and keep your feet dry (with the added bonus of keeping sweaty food odour at bay!) This technique will keep your feet warm and dry while you’re wearing them.

man stuck in the snow with snowmobile

8. Always carry an extra pair of socks

Even if you’ve followed all of the above steps yet somehow still managed to end up with wet feet, fear not! Just remember to stuff an extra pair of woolen socks into your bag. I even keep a spare pair in my glove box in the winter months. You just never know when disaster will strike. You never need it until you do, then you’ll be thankful.

9. Double up on the socks

This is a personal favourite of mine. Why wear 1 pair of socks when you can wear 2! A winter classic that provides that extra layer of warmth; just don’t combine 2 pairs that are so thick you can’t get your shoes on. I recommend combining a regular cotton sock over the top of a knee high sport sock (think compression sock). A simple trick to keep your feet that little bit warmer this winter.

10. Toe warmers

One of my favourite things in winter. Toe warmers are small inserts that slide into your shoes and sit above or below your toes. They are a very thin fabric and provide a gentle heat when you need it most. Perfect to wear with sport shoes when taking a brisk walk. They block cold air from getting through while keeping your toes toasty warm.

11. Winter footbeds

Winter footbeds are foot insoles that keep cold air from creeping into your shoes, keeping the soles of your feet nice and warm. They prevent the cold from getting up under you. If warm feet isn’t enough to convince you, winter footbeds also work similar to orthotics in that they provide a stable support for your foot which is a nice added bonus.

a winter storm in a city street

12. Socks in the dryer

Mom would do this for me on cold winter nights. Throw your socks in the dryer for a few minutes and you’ll feel like you have toaster feet. I’ve heard of people using a microwave or oven however let’s try not to burn the house down for the sake of some warmth. Stick to the dryer. If you don’t have one, then ironing them will also do the trick. Same theory applies to your underwear but let’s not go into that.

13. Insulated slippers

Have you ever wondered what walking on clouds feels like? Wear a pair of insulated slippers and you’ll soon find out. Wool-lined or fur-lined slippers are both warm and comfortable. The perfect remedy for a cold winter night in. I must warn you though, every piece of footwear will never be the same again after you put on a pair of fluffy cloud like slippers.

14. Shoes on in the house

If you don’t own a pair of slippers than keeping your shoes on in the house is another great method for keeping feet warm inside. While not a popular option for the clean freak who doesn’t allow shoes on in the house, this method really helps conserve warmth and keep your feet toasty. Just promise me you’ll take them off before you go to bed.

A man snow blowing his driveway

15. Duct-tape method

This one is not for the fashion-conscious individual. I’ll place this one in the same category as the plastic bag method. As geeky as it may look, I swear by the duct-tape technique for keeping feet dry. Simply wrap circles of tape around your shoe all the way up to your ankle. Cover any part that might soak water in. If done correctly, no water will seep through the tape, leaving your feet and shoes nice and dry.

16. Weather-proof pants

One thing people don’t think about when it comes to keeping their feet warm and dry is what pants their wearing. However, if you’re caught out in the rain during an exercise session, a pair of weatherproof pants can make all the difference. The right pair will keep the rain from running down your leg and into your shoes. Ensure you buy a pair with taped seams to provide an extra layer of protection for your feet.

17. Insulate your shoes with paper

You can thank the Tour de France cyclists for this tip. A simple thing like a crumbled newspaper makes a fantastic disposable insulator. Many cyclists tuck newspaper under their shirts as they face the extreme weather conditions to give them insulation on a cold ride. Same theory applies for your feet. Grab a paper towel and fold it around your foot, then put on your shoes. One layer will do so as not to make it uncomfortable. The paper will absorb any water that seeps through your shoes while also providing a layer of insulation.

18. Hot water bottle on your feet

Hot water bottles are a great way to warm your feet up quickly. Heat it up and alternate between both your feet, re-heating it when it starts to cool down. I recommend using a cover otherwise it can get uncomfortable if too hot. Also, please don’t fall asleep with the hot water bottle on or you could wake up in the morning with a nasty burn.

a wet hiking trail

19. Heat up a rice bag and wrap it around your feet

I need to throw in some unorthodox tips to keep you guessing. If you don’t own a hot water bottle, then heating up a rice bag and wrapping it around your feet can be just as effective. Everyone has a bag of rice stored in the back of their kitchen cupboard somewhere. Go on, check. I’ll wait right here. Once you’ve found it, place it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, place it on your foot and let the good times roll!

20. Special tip for hikers – Gaiters

For those who like to go hiking in the rainy months this tip is a must. Invest in some Gaiters. Think a much fancier version of the shoe cover. For the hiking enthusiast you can get calf-height gaiters for extra protection from rain which will also protect you when trudging through snow. Gaiters are commonly made of plasticized synthetic cloth such as polyester, perfect for the long treks in difficult conditions.

21. Gore-Tex socks

Another one for the hikers out there. If you enjoy trailblazing in the freezing cold then it’s worth investing in some Gore-Tex socks. While woolen socks are great for keeping your feet warm, Gore-Tex socks are for those who know they are going to get a little wet. They generally have a stretch band on the upper section to prevent water seeping through. Wearing these with the Gaiter shoes mentioned above will ensure your feet remain as warm and dry as humanly possible during a nice wet mountain hike.

22. Avoid areas where rainwater has collected.

I can sense you rolling your eyes as you read this, “thanks captain obvious”. Let’s be honest though, how many times have you had your eyes glued to your phone instead of looking in front of you and as a result ended up ankle deep in a gutter of murky water. Avoid wet grass, gutters and for gods sake if you must walk through a puddle please do it on your tippy toes. If you’re out hiking, rethink the stream crossing. Your dry feet will thank me later.

two people walking with umbrellas

23. Run to escape downpours

Sometimes the fight or flight response kicks in and you just have to trust your instinct. If a sudden rainstorm starts and you want to keep those feet dry you best get those legs pumping and find the nearest shelter. The faster you run, the fewer raindrops you’ll be blasted with. Just do me a favour and don’t fall on the wet surface while running, otherwise it’ll be more than wet feet you’ll have to deal with.

24. I like to move it move it

An easy way to keep your feet warm is to move! Move your legs around, wiggle your toes, get the blood flowing. If you’re out for a stroll pick up the pace a little bit. Movement increases your blood flow from a faster heart beat which will help to warm your feet up.

25. Make your own foot warmer

For the DIY enthusiast it’s time to get creative. Grab a pillow case, pin the corners and make it into a small pouch. Grab your heat source (hot water bottle, heated rice bag etc.) and place it inside. Make sure it’s not too hot and then slide your feet into the toasty oven you’ve just hand made. Stick a fork in me, I’m done!

Mix and match the tips that works for your feet: We all have different preferences for how warm and dry we like to keep our feet. Work through these tips and pick the method(s) that work best for you. Whether you’re having a cozy night in, venturing out during a storm or facing a cold winter chill for some late-night exercise; these 25 tips will ensure your feet stay dry and warm when you need it most.

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