Ice rinks are naturally cold, or they’re kept cold, at near-freezing temperatures. You’re going to need to stay warm enough, or you won’t enjoy ice skating very much.
Most ice skaters experience their first-ever ultra-cold feet during their first Learn-to-Skate lesson. You’re there on the rink learning or practicing forward swizzles, backward swizzles, one-foot glides, half swizzles, simple jumps, and whatnot. And your feet get very, very cold.
Related: How to Ice Skate for Beginners
Yes, feeling cold on the ice is expected, but when the cold gets too nasty, it’s time to do something about it. Below are 12 ways of keeping your toes and feet warm, dry, and comfortable so you can enjoy your LTS classes and public sessions more.
12 Tips for Keeping Your Feet Warm When Ice Skating
- Keep your body warm and your feet will stay warm.
- Skate well-insulated boots.
- Avoid tying up the laces too tightly.
- Wear leggings under your pants or ice skating dress
- Use foot warmers/toe warmers with adhesive.
- Wear hand warmers.
- Use electronic hand warmers.
- Wear insulating silk socks or calf liners.
- Warm up yourself before getting on the ice.
- Skate on well-dried ice skates and heat them up a little pre-session.
- Pour baby powder into the skates.
- Stay active while on the ice.
1. Get Yourself a Well-insulated Pair of Ice Skates
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned ice skater, wearing warm skates can make the difference between toasty feet and freezing feet.
Also Read: Best Ice Skates for Learners
Ice skates aren’t created equal. Some are really well-made and designed to keep the skater’s feet warm while on the ice.
Such options have thick, soft interiors that cradle the foot nicely while shutting the cold out. You can expect pricier boots to be better insulated for warmth compared to budget options.
2. Wear Leggings Under Your Ice Dress or Pants
Leggings are form-fitting, comfortable, and stretchy. They increase warmth while allowing for an unrestricted range of movement so you can push your limits to the max.
Many ice skaters wear leggings under their jeans or ice skate dress to keep their legs and feet warm. Some people prefer sweatpants, and that’s OK.
3. Keep the Rest of Your Body Warm.
Keeping your core, hands, head, legs, and neck warm is a highly effective way (though not always appreciated) of keeping your feet warm. Many ice skaters have cold feet because they didn’t warm up the rest of the body before getting on the ice.
So, how do you keep your body warm for winter ice skating? First off, fuel up right before leaving the house for the ice rink. Also, wear clothing that’ll keep you warm on the ice. Layer up as much as you need to per your body temperature behavior. Just don’t wear too many heavy layers that you can’t skate!
Throw on a helmet, a neck gaiter, gloves, a headband, leg warmers, and tights if you need to — just do whatever you can to make sure your core, hands, head, neck, and the rest of the body stay warm. When warm blood starts circulating from these warmed-up body parts, your feet won’t get cold that much.
4 Avoid Lacing Up Your Ice Skates Too Tight.
If you’re a complete ice skating beginner, it’s possible you laced up your skates a little too tight. When this happens, it cuts circulation to your feet and toes off. And what happens? Your feet get cold and your toes get numb.
This post isn’t about how to tie up your beginner ice skates properly. But I’ll quickly tell you how I do it to sidestep this problem. I realized that tying my ice skates too tight around the bottom got the toes too snug. And I usually ended up with cold, numb toes.
First off, wear ice skates that fit right for your foot shape. If they fit well, your toes should fit snugly but not too snugly in your skates.
What I do is make the first four holes less snug. Then, I make the boot portion around my arch/instep a tad snugger, but not too tight.
But as I proceed toward the ankle, I keep the fit nice and tight using the first two hooks. And as I move toward the top of the skate, I loosen things up a bit. That’s what works for me. Why not try it?
5. Use Foot Warmers/Toe Warmers With Adhesive.
Toe warmers stick to the bottom of your socks, and they’re a proven solution when it comes to warming up cold toes and feet. Toe warmers count on a chemical substance to release heat and distribute most of it to the soles of your feet.
However, toe warmers need to be exposed to air to work effectively. And it’s not like there’s enough air in most ice skate toe boxes. So, make sure to expose your toe warmers to air before you stick them under your socks.
I’ve yet to use this toe-warming method, but my husband has, and it works. He recommends the WORLD-BIO Disposable Insole Foot Warmers.
For around $20, you get 10 pairs of air-activated foot warmers/toe warmers. And your feet will thank you for that. $2 per pair isn’t the cheapest it gets, but they do the job.
6. Use Reusable Hand Warmers.
If you love winter sports and spend hours on the ice, using reusable hand warmers can make a huge difference. Not using these recyclable hand warmers can mean having to endure cold, numb hands that keep telling you they need to get off the ice rink and head home.
Disposable vs. Reusable Hand Warmers
Disposable hand warmers rely on powdered iron and other chemicals to release heat through exothermic reactions. But reusable hand warmers use a supersaturated sodium acetate gel to do the job. As this extremely saturated gel crystallizes, heat is generated, and your hands will love you for it.
Hold these hand warmers inside your figure skating gloves. Turn on the internal activation system, and it warms up. Within minutes, it gets hot enough, making it feel like you’re holding a mug of hot coffee.
They’re cheap, but the downside is that reusable hand warmers last between 10 minutes and 30 minutes. All you have to do to make the plastic bag reusable is to boil it in water or bake it in your kitchen oven once you get home. The best ones can generate heat for longer, but they’re pricier.
Also, these hand warmers are environmentally friendly — there are fewer of them in landfills. Plus, you won’t need to wait hours for them to charge as you would in the case of their electronic counterparts.
*When your hands warm up, your legs end up feeling warmer. But you can also put them inside the toe box of your ice skates after activating them.
Actually, putting reusable hand warmers inside ice skates is one of the most effective and practical ways to keep your feet warm when skating in cold weather. But they can get your feet too warm. I recommend the HotsnapZ Reusable Hand Warmers because they generate heat for up to 30 minutes,
7. Use Electronic Hand Warmers.
What if you could find a hand warmer that’s chargeable and also charges your smartphone when you’re out there away from the grid? A chargeable electric hand warmer does exactly that. These devices have an on/off power feature, and the best ones can keep your hands and feet warm for hours.
To make these devices work and produce heat, activate them. It’s not always a super-easy process for all devices, but it’s not hard to get them working either.
Many recommend the Celestron Elements 2-in-1 hand warmer and Charger. Some users have reported that the power button doesn’t work flawlessly, but the device does the job. It’s not cheap either, but it keeps you warm when ice skating in cold conditions.
8. Wear Insulating Silk Sock Liners.
Thick wool socks help fill up extra room in skates while keeping the feet warm. But wearing insulated sock liners keeps things even warmer.
Insulating silk sock liners are pretty thin — they’re not much heavier than the typical ice skating tights. But they have amazing foot-warming capabilities. They wick away moisture and also shine at temperature regulation.
I recommend these Unisex Terramar Thermasilk Over-the-calf sock liners. Note that these are sock liners and not socks. Wear them under your regular heavy wool winter socks. If you wear them without socks, they’ll rub against the inside of your skates and degenerate into pretty useless liners.
But how do the sizes of the Terramar Thermasilk run? My hub found that the size chart on the back of his package was pretty accurate. Below is the sizing guide he got: Small= 3-5.5, Medium=6-8.5, Large=9-12, and Extra-large (XL) =12.5-15. They fit true to size.
9. Heat Up Your Body Before Getting on the Ice.
Always warm up your body before an ice skating class or public session. Jump rope, walk briskly for some time, jog, or ride your fat bike to the rink. Develop your own ice warm-up routine and stick to it religiously to warm up the body pre-skating.
These simple, cost-free strategies get your heart working harder and pumping warm blood to all parts of the body, including the legs and feet. I find that I skate better and enjoy my pastime more if I heat my body up before getting on the ice.
10. Dry Out and Pre-heat Your Ice Skates.
Have you ever left your ice skates in the car after a session skating outdoors? I bet they didn’t dry out properly. And the next time you wore them, your feet got cold as heck. To prevent this from happening, always bring your boots inside and dry them out completely before the next use.
Pair up dry, warm skates with a pair of dry socks, and you won’t have a hard time keeping your feet warm while ice skating.
Here’s another idea that works. Walk to your rink’s bathroom and treat your skates to a stream of warm, dry air from the hand dryer. This little strategy preheats your ice skates, and you’re off to a warm and dry start.
11. Pour Some Baby Powder into Your Skates.
Well, I haven’t tried this feet-warming tip, but I e-bumped into an ice skater that suggested it. The person suggested putting some baby power on the feet and also under the socks. Baby powder absorbs moisture beautifully, keeping the feet warm and dry. Give it a try and see how it goes.
12. Don’t Stand; Keep Moving Around Instead.
One reason many beginners end up with cold feet while on the ice is that they don’t move around enough. It’s a tad challenging to move around as much as you’d like during an LTS class. When the ice skating coach takes forever describing balance and posture and stuff like that, you’re standing and listening.
Whenever possible, avoid standing in the same exact same spot too long. Honestly, though, this keep-moving-around advice applies mostly to public sessions rather than LTS classes.
Wrapping It Up
To keep your feet warm and dry while ice skating, fuel up and bundle up comfortably before each ice skating lesson. Also, wear thoroughly dried boots and socks. Wearing nicely-insulated ice skates also helps, and the same goes for wearing leggings under your dress or pants.
Aside from that, consider using electronic or reusable hand warmers. Wear foot warmers/toe warmers or silk-insulating socks. Pre-warm yourself before practice and pre-heat your ice skate boots under the hand dryer in the rink’s bathroom.
Using baby powder on your feet and having some under your soles might help. Warming up for some time before getting on the rink is also a good idea. And once you get on the ice, make sure to keep moving as that’s the only way to keep your feet warm throughout the session.
Happy winter skating!