Keep From Getting Cold Feet (Minimalism in Snow)

I often get asked about wearing minimalist footwear in winter. "How do your feet not freeze"? So thought I'd talk about some thoughts and tips on this topic, to help answer those questions. Here are my thoughts!

Feet in Snow
Night Hiking in Snow Wearing Minimalist Sandals

Keep Ice (Snow) Off Your Skin

A hiker should keep snow from your direct skin for extended periods. This will more than likely cause frostbite. The best way to prevent this is to put a light barrier, in between your skin and the elements. I found that wool works best for this.

Wool (even more so Merino Wool) is a great insulator and it helps keep moisture from staying on your skin. It is very important that your feet do not get soggy for a long period; once they get wet. Give it a try, if you have not already!

Hiking Across Glaciers and Snowfields

Speaking of wool! I have used socks over my feet to grip the ice for years. I found that the small fibers grip the snow and ice very well!

Long socks also protect your skin around the ankle. Extreme skin damage can be caused by walking across snow, and breaking through to ice below. The skin will break down little-by-little, with each step. They also double as a boot gaiter.

Just make sure to have the sock size, larger than the outside of your footwear. This is more possible wearing very minimalist shoes or sandals.

Crossing an Olympic Mountain glacier in wool socks (even enjoying a candy bar break) *credit Steve B.

Ultimate Minimalist Footwear System for Winter Hiking

Over the years and hundreds of miles, I have found a system, that keeps me from wearing boots. It is important that you train your feet to be in cold weather. Everyone's starting point is different, so proceed gradually and with caution.

My Winter Footwear System:
*Contains affiliate links

Article by Barefoot Jake

*Test what works best for you in a controlled environment, before heading into the backcountry.