Lightning Review: Electric Socks

Illustration for article titled Lightning Review: Electric Socks

In honor of the upcoming Tahoe reader meetup on April 5th at Alpine Meadows, I'm going to be doing end of season reviews of some outdoor gadgetry that's been floating around the cabin. First up, these electric socks originally designed to keep North Atlantic fishermen warm.
The idea: Wool/Poly blend Socks with wiring and thin resistors that run from the D cells mounted in the top of the sock liner to under the ball of the foot. Sweaty feeling, and any activity causes sock droop as the batteries overpower the elastic. Yet, warmish. And $22.

Illustration for article titled Lightning Review: Electric Socks

Actually: These might make a good last resort, but the chemical toe warmers are a better bargain than buying a new pair of D cells every 6 hours. And let's not forget, warming the torso with proper layering, etc, warms the extremities. [REI and the Giz Reader Meetup, thanks to Adam for being the leg model]

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I've got a pair of them as well, I used them for winter cycling. They worked fairly well. They also don't fall down as much if you actually go outside and put boots or shoes on, to say nothing of pants. Chemical warmers work well too, but require a bit of oxygen to catalyze. These can be used with thick/sealed footwear such as waders, overboots or multi-layer winter boots and will still provide heat. Without air circulation, chemical warmers will simply stop working. Try it, put an opened chemical warmer in a sealed plastic bag - it'll cease the heat, and when you open the bag again, it'll resume until the chemical catalyst finishes reacting. Same goes for wet environments. It's a D cell, it's hardly going to electrocute anyone, but it will still provide heat when soaking wet. Chemical warmers will just stop reacting.

They're not a bad backup to have around the house if you live in a colder climate, but don't expect miracles. It's basically a windshield defroster for your feet.