Winter Boots - How many grams of insulation?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Beemersailor, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. Beemersailor

    Beemersailor Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Northern VA
    I've been thinking about buying some insulated hunting style boots for winter riding. I'm in Virginia, so I'm not talking frigid conditions, but something that will keep me comfortable for a day long ride in the upper 30/lower 40 degree temperatures. Looking around, everything seems to be rated in grams of insulation. One site says 3M gives these recommendations for selecting Thinsulate for footwear:
    • 200 grams for cool conditions or high activity levels.
    • 400 grams for cold conditions or moderate activity levels.
    • 600 grams for very cold conditions.
    • 800 grams for extremely cold conditions with light activity levels.
    • 1,000+ grams for extremely cold conditions with light to minimal activity level.
    Has anyone had any experience with selecting these types of boots? I want to be warm, but I don't want something that is going to be hot either. In addition, the higher levels of insulation tend to mean thicker shoes, and I prefer to avoid that, as they can be somewhat clumsier with the controls. I was guessing perhaps the 600 gram boots, but it is just a guess.
    #1
  2. bomber60015

    bomber60015 tikkun olam

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    39,421
    Location:
    Chicago-ish
    while insulation is certainly one area of interest, I'd alos be concerned about wind-rpoofedness -- the last couple of pair of non-riding boots I used (for riding) were pretty warm while standing and walking, but let so much wind through it was like riding barefoot.

    two cents.
    #2
  3. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Jack of all trades, master of none...

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Oddometer:
    6,059
    Location:
    Ft Likkertail , USA
    Good point bomber60015. Wind makes all outdoor clothing less effective, unless you have a windbreaker material involved somewhere.
    I'd think that 600 would be a good number for riding boots, provided the rest of the boot is wind resistant. Don't forget that the extremities such as feet and hands cool off long before the rest of your body does. Maybe heated socks or insoles in your existing boots may be another option to look at. YMMV
    #3
  4. ultane

    ultane sqeezin the bag

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,335
    Location:
    The dry side of the blood brain barrier
    Seven years ago i bought some 400 gm Danners. They are about 10 inched tall, have leather in the toes and heal area and cordura elsewhere. They also have a Gortex liner. I always use the thickest SmartWool socks. I have ridden 700 miles in near freazing temps, with rain, slush and sleet coming down in buckets. They never leaked until last year, and that was fixed with some spray sealer. I don't remember the name brand, and I'm too lazy to get up and go to the garage to check, But I think it was a 3M product. I have no complaints of the danners for winter riding....

    I have also hiked in a foot of snow at 7000 ft chasing elk and mule deer, and my feet were noticeable colder while hiking around the mountains than riding around on Gretchen.







    I may be wrong, just ask my X...
    #4
  5. bomber60015

    bomber60015 tikkun olam

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    39,421
    Location:
    Chicago-ish
    I think Ultane's on to something here -- I live in Northern Illinois, and I ride in temps down to the high 20s pretty regularly . . . . the only adjustment I make to my foot-related gear is socks . .. . My Sidi On-Road Sympatex are definately windproof, and good wool sox of varying thicknesses make the ride enjoyable -- silk liners add even more warmth.

    And always practice safe socks.
    #5
  6. Minnesota

    Minnesota Conform or be cast out

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,060
    Location:
    The far unlit unknown
    Have you found that your feet get cold in these temps? I can ride all day long in the temps you describe with just my regular riding boots on. Granted, it takes a lot to make my feet cold, and I also ride a BMW GS, which sheds a great deal of heat off the cylinder heads to my feet.
    #6
  7. Beemersailor

    Beemersailor Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    Northern VA
    I normally ride in hiking boots, not motorcycle boots. Just personal preference, as I never found the right pair of motorcycle boots that were comfortable enough, and I got tired of blowing $2-300 a pop just to find the right pair. I have large feet, size 13's, and that has also limited my selection a bit last time I looked.

    Regarding the engine heat, I used to ride an 1100GS, but now have a V-Strom - so not quite the same cylinder configuration - my guess is that I have lost that advantage.

    My hiking boots are great for summer/mild weather riding, but are too fitted for much insulation value from real heavy socks (I have them sized for summer hiking socks), and I know my feet will get cold.

    I was hoping to try a pair of the waterproof gore-tex/leather hunting boots from a place like Cabelas, Danner, etc... hoping waterproof means windproof as well (I may be ignorant about this). I'm comfortable investing up to around $150 for the pair, knowing I can always wear them for other purposes if they don't work out for the bike. I like the idea of "adjusting" the insulation value with different socks, so I may lean toward trying a pair of the 400g insulated boots.
    #7
  8. P B G

    P B G Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    10,001
    Location:
    Greater Chicago
    I have a pair of Danner 10" strikers that I use for hunting, and have been impressed with their waterproof performance, but I don't believe mine are insulated.

    I have alot of wool and performance sock layers that I mix and match for what I need.

    A hunting boot will not provide the same level of protection as a motorcycle boot. Which is something to consider.
    #8
  9. blackfoot36

    blackfoot36 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    NE Illinois
    My 2 cents: I'd go with the 600g in a pair of boots that had a bit of room for thicker socks. I've had to do quite a bit outdoors & have had minor frostbite on my toes as well- I've NEVER found the right boot for warmth under active AND inactive periods off the bike. My feet tend to sweat, even when they're freezing cold- go figure. Having said all that, I seldom have real trouble riding my bike in sub-freezing conditions while wearing my normal (roomy) riding boots & thicker wool socks with, or without, thin artificial silk socks as a base layer. I guess the point I'm making is that my feet will react differently than your's may, so if you try out the 600g you originally thought of, and they work- great. If not, you'll still have a decent pair of boots for other winter activities & for riding can either layer or look for heavier insulation with a better frame of reference. Since you're not looking for motorcycle-specific boots, you're likley to spend less and will surely have a bit more selection (and something that could be worn in more situations). I've found that waterproof generally equals windproof, but that nylon seems to be colder than leather & that goretex "breathing" is likely more a technical desription than one that is physically noticeable. BTW, as a personal preference (learned the hard way), I like motorcycle boots with armor for the added protection which for me is worth the added $.
    #9
  10. barnyard

    barnyard Verbal tactician Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    13,482
    Location:
    central Mn
    Others have alluded to it, but it should be plainly said, it kind of depends on how sensitive you are to cold.

    I wear 200 gr Thinsulate Danners down to about 0ish, then move to 1000 gr. The 200 gr are perfect for riding, the 1000 too clunky.

    Also, instead of getting a pair a bit bigger for thicker socks, I buy boots that fit correctly with my normal socks and when it gets really cold, I had thin liner socks.

    Tom B
    #10
  11. ultane

    ultane sqeezin the bag

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,335
    Location:
    The dry side of the blood brain barrier

    I agree with P B G. My Danners won't provide the same protection that My SIDI discoveries will to my lower extremities... That being said, the SIDI's just don't keep my feet warm, no matter what thickness of smartwool I wear. Plus, when wearing the SIDI's, shifting is not as easily as with the Danners, and the Danners are much better for hiking around when Gretchen and I get lost in the wangs.

    Minnesota's observation about the GS is correct... Gretchens Jugs do help keep my feet warm...








    I may be wrong, just ask my X...
    #11