We've had some pretty amazing weather in OKC for the past week, so this post seems a little out of place. I'm not naive enough to think that winter is over yet. It seems like we always get a brutal spell of weather in February and even March.
For years I've been stubborn and I've tried to take the cheap way out, and for years I've struggled to keep my feet warm. I've tried multiple pairs of socks, thin socks, thick socks, wool socks, chemical handwarmers in my shoes, embrocation on my feet, socks over my shoes, plastic bags over my feet, plastic bags over my shoes, and probably some other things I can't even remember.
Up until this year, I usually stuck to wool socks (I'm a crappy vegan) on my feet, plastic bags over the outside of my shoes with holes in the bottom around the cleats, and a lycra shoe cover over that. That combo was cheap and somewhat effective. The bags would help keep the wind out. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it was ok. Even with all this stuff on my feet, on the coldest days I would be in pretty intense pain by the end of the ride due to cold feet. I remember one time I had to take my shoes off just to make sure my feet were ok. I didn't really know what to expect when I took my sock off.
This year I sprung for some Bontager RXL Waterproof Softshell shoe covers. We've had a pretty mild winter so far, but even on the coldest mornings and nights I haven't had pain from cold feet. The inside of the covers has a thick fuzzy material. It's almost like a faux fur you'd see on the inside of a hoodie. The outside is a windproof material. They are really simple to pull on over your shoes and zip up, if you get the right size. At first I couldn't find a numerical size, so I grabbed a large. They were too small and were nearly impossible to get zipped. Then I realize the size was on a tag inside the cover, and saw that for my shoe size I needed a XXL. I think the XXL is a little large for my simmons shoes. An XL probably would have been just right.
They call them waterproof, but I've had water get in them through the cleat holes in the bottom. If I bought them a size smaller, maybe that wouldn't happen. They velcro at the top and you can get them as tight as you want, so I don't think water gets in that way.
These covers, paired with wool socks, is a really great solution. Even when the sun comes out and the temps rise, my feet haven't gotten too hot in them. I'd much rather have warm feet than cold feet anyway.
Hands and feet are the hardest things to keep warm on the bike. The investment of nice gloves and shoe covers is totally worth it. They should last many seasons if you take care of them. If yo want to ride outside in the winter time, you'll definitely get your moneys worth out of them.