I started riding on snow and ice during the winter of 1996-97, my first in Alaska. That first year, I went riding one afternoon at -5F, and froze my toes so badly that I spent 20 minutes face-down on the carpet of a crappy little apartment, groaning and sweating from the pain as warm blood returned to my feet. I was afraid to pull off my socks and look at my toes for another half-hour.
I've been trying—and usually failing—to keep my toes warm ever since. It was only in recent years that I started thinking of myself as a winter rider, after having marginal success at keeping my toes from freezing. I've tried neoprene shoe covers, chemical warmers, multiple sock combinations, riding in pac boots rated to -93, and wrapping my toes in everything from aluminum foil to plastic bags.
But I think I've found my Holy Grail—the one piece of footwear that can keep my toes happy. The Neos Navigator 5. Holy shitballs, do these things feel good.
I first heard about Neos overboots about three winters ago, but was reluctant to blow the cash on something that didn't look substantial enough to overcome my poor circulation. Meanwhile, I threw away three times as much money on various failures.
I finally broke down and bought a pair a couple of weeks ago and, from what I can tell so far, I have finally found the solution. They're insulated, waterproof, lightweight, rated to -20, and they'll work with my snowshoes on those rare occasions when I venture outside without a bike. I don't even have to put on cold shoes when I get back to my car: I wear regular shoes inside the Neos, so when I kick off the boots, I'm already in walking shoes.
I’m almost looking forward to a sub-zero ride so I can see how they do in real cold instead of this relatively balmy 15-degree stuff.