Q:

What type of running shoes can stand up to Canadian winters?

I desperate to find a pair of good winter runners suited for Canada’s extreme winter conditions. I went out yesterday and wore one pair of heavy wool socks, put plastic bags over them, and stuffed them in my runners. After half an hour they were cold, then they hurt, and then, thankfully, I did not feel them any more. Got any recommendations? Edie Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan

Dec 18, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Integral Designs Vapor-Barrier liner socks

Vapor-Barrier Liner Socks

A:

My friend Phil, who recently moved to Kelowna, B.C., sends the occasional e-mail in which he regales me with “tough Canadian" stories. Tough Canadians doing impossible mountain-bike descents; tough Canadians skiing gnarly ravines, tough Canadians staring down the neighbor’s Dachshund. That sort of thing. But you, Edie, go beyond tough. What do you do after your morning “run," warm up by climbing into the freezer? And how many bits of frozen lung do you spit up after one of these morning “runs?"

To be honest, I’m not sure there is a good solution for your foot/shoe dilemma. Running shoes are by nature light, uninsulated things, and I don’t think you want to don mountain boots.

You either need more of what you’re doing, or something different. For the “more," I’d definitely layer up on the socks, starting with a light liner of wool (REI Merino Wool Liner Socks, $9; rei.com). Over that, maybe something better suited for the purpose than a plastic bag, but with the same idea: Integral Designs Vapor-Barrier liner socks ($30; integraldesigns.com). These do the same thing as a plastic bag—put an impermeable layer over your feet so evaporating moisture doesn’t cool the skin. Over that put your heavier wool socks. You might also need to size up your shoes. You don’t want your sock kit to cause a tight fit, as that will reduce blood circulation, and then you’ll really risk frostbite.

For the “different," you might try neoprene socks such as the Gator Neoprene Sock ($23; gator-sports.com) over the wool liners. These socks are popular with cyclists thanks to their very warm closed-cell insulation. They might do the trick without any extra wool or vapor barrier socks.

The only other thing I can think of is to do what I suggested to a Marine on winter maneuvers who wrote in a few weeks ago; get insulated insoles (Insolator winter insoles, $8; campmor.com), which add a layer of neoprene to the bottom of your feet, helping protect them from cold from the ground.

What do you do during the summer, wear a sweat suit for your noon-day runs when it’s 100?

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