Hot Ideas for Cold Feet

There’s something wonderful about snuggling down into your sleeping bag at the end of an active day on the track.

Trying to get warm. Dexs Creek, Kanangra to Katoomba (K2K), Blue Mts NP
Trying to get warm. Dexs Creek, Kanangra to Katoomba (K2K), Blue Mts NP

But for ages I used to struggle with cold feet keeping me awake. I’m talking numb, aching ice-blocks attached to the end of my legs, kind of cold. Even though the rest of me was warm, for some reason I just couldn’t get my tootsies to be toasty. After a few experiments and advice from friends I developed my ‘two-step’ (Sigh, I crack myself up) hot tips for cold feet:

Warm Socks

I lost count of how many times I heard people telling me to just put some clean, dry socks on whilst getting into my bag. Nice idea, but it wasn’t until I started pre-warming my socks for an hour or so before bedtime that I found this idea to be even faintly useful.

Ascending Mt Bogong, Victorian High Country.
Ascending Mt Bogong, Victorian High Country. Nice warm days…
Let it snow! Ropers Hut, Victorian High Country. Dec 2004.
… bitterly cold nights. Ropers Hut, Victorian High Country. Dec 2004. (Photo: Maurice Smith)

During a particularly chilly Summer trip (Boxing Day to NYE) from Mt Bogong to Mt Feathertop in the Victorian Snowy Mountains, I developed my “socks on the boobs” technique as ably demonstrated by myself and Hiroko below. I simply popped the socks in there before dinner and by the time I came to get into bed, they were cosy and warm. Oh and yes, this was 2004 when Madonna was still in her Gaultier phase!

Pre-warming socks whilst having dinner... Bogong High Country, Victoria
Caro & Hiroko pre-warming socks whilst having dinner… Bogong High Country, Victoria

Hot Water Bottle

Apart from carrying a nice drop of red wine to enjoy with dinner, the trusty Nalgene style water bottle (which can also handle hot water) is perfect for making a hottie for your baggie. Simply boil the billy and after filling your bottle, pop it into a sock to prevent you burning your tender feet and then into the bottom of your sleeping bag. Oh and as the water cools down overnight, you don’t get cold water bottle shock!

Fill a Nalgene with hot water and pop it into a sock!
Fill a Nalgene with hot water and pop it into a sock! (Photo:
Crossing the Coxs River, Blue Mts
Crossing the Coxs River, Blue Mts NP – Wet feet can lead to cold feet!

I’ve even been known to use my sweaty damp socks from the daytime for this purpose as it dries the socks for the morning, particularly good if you’ve had any river crossings!

30 second triathlon

And I know I said two, but my third trick is to do a short burst of exercise before getting into your tent and bag. I reckon the best demonstration of this I’ve seen is on the Overland Track. It goes a little like this:

“Imagine you’re running a triathlon going as fast as you can; in 30 seconds and on the spot. First, 10 seconds of a swim (swinging your arms around your head in wild freestyle motion), then 10 seconds of cycling (really weird kinda jog motion), then 10 seconds of running on the spot.”

Timmy [Overland Track Guide]

Do you have any tricks and tips for keeping your feet warm?

Writer, producer and content creator by trade, search and rescue volunteer by passion, Caro Ryan started to inspire, teach and encourage people to get into hiking and the outdoors safely.

It’s all about connecting people to wild places in meaningful ways, so they can look after themselves, their mates and these precious places we visit.

She teaches wilderness navigation, authored the book, ‘How to Navigate’ and hosts, ‘Rescued - an Outdoor Podcast for Hikers and Adventurers.

In the bottom of her pack you'll find coffee grounds, instant noodles past their used by date and an insatiable curiosity.

Bushwalking & Hiking Tips from an Unexpected Outdoors Chick

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