Sometimes the best hiking boots aren’t necessarily the warmest.
Try a pair of alpaca felt innersoles to extend your boots’ wear in cold weather.
by Leon Pantenburg
This is my opinion. I was not reimbursed for this review, and at the company is not an advertiser with SurvivalCommonSense.com
My Danner Cougars are my favorite warm weather and general all-around hiking boots. But they aren’t the best when it comes to cold weather hunting or hiking. In fact, they can get damned cold. If I’m going to be walking most of the day, that’s not a problem.
But when it comes to sitting still for a couple hours in below freezing weather, my feet can get really cold in the Cougars. A while back, I tried a pair of Snuggly Toes alpaca felt innersoles during a late season elk hunt, and I think I’m onto something.
Cold weather hunting really requires two pairs of boots: one pair of lighter weight boots for walking and heavy, warm boots for staying put. It seems like I never have the right pair on.
So it seemed like my late season elk hunt would be a great opportunity to test a pair of Snuggly Toes, made by Springtime Farms. The company is based in Salem, OR, and all the products are locally made.
Alpaca fiber is warmer than wool, according to company owner Meredith O’Neil. Most natural inserts are wet felted, she said, but Snuggly Toes are denser because the fiber is spun, knit, and then felted. It creates a greater barrier between the bottom of your foot, she added, and there’s more of the warm stuff around.
“From my experience, Snuggly Toes are warmer than other inserts on the market,” O’Neil said. “Not only because they’re alpaca but also because there is more fiber in them.”
Snuggly Toes work well in any kind of shoe with a little wiggle room.
“You wouldn’t use them in a dress shoe, but anything that fits like a tennis shoe will work,” O’Neil said. “Something to keep in mind: they squish after you’ve walked on them for a short time….as short as a few days.”
So, if your shoes are tight with Snuggly Toes in them, it will get better quickly. If your shoe feel too tight at first, she added, a bigger pair of shoes is probably a better option.
“They are approximately ¼-inch thick when they are brand new,” O’Neil said. “Maybe half that when they squish.”
But all of O’Neil’s comments are so much hyperbole unless the product actually works, so I wore my Cougars to hunt the Oregon high desert on a cold, chilly day. The temperatures started in the low 20s. I started out wearing an innersole in my right boot, to see if I could find a difference in heat retention. The innersoles kept my feet comfortable while sitting on stand, and when I hiked in the afternoon, they didn’t get too hot.
O’Neil claims the innersoles would provide a good bit of cushioning, but in the soft desert pumice soil, there wasn’t much chance to test that.
Another application would be inside a pair of waders when fishing or hunting in frigid water. Generally, if any part of your foot is going to get cold, it will be your toes. An extra layer of insulation in the form of innersoles can only help.
But I did discover that the Snuggly Toes innersoles made a significant difference in how well my feet stayed warm elk hunting. The alpaca innersoles are well worth considering as part of your cold weather survival gear. They might also extend the season for your uninsulated boots.
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