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Deer Gear: A Better Cure for Cold Feet

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December 17, 2013

Deer Gear: A Better Cure for Cold Feet

By Lawrence Pyne

ThermaCELL's electronically heated insoles ($130; thermacell.com) aren't perfect, but they are the best cure I've found for my biggest late-season deer hunting problem: cold feet. When temperatures drop into the teens, my toes burn with the cold unless I'm wearing heavy felt-lined boots. If I have to hike to my stand or want to do some still-hunting, however, pac boots make my feet sweat, which guarantees my toes will be cold when I stop.

The best thing about ThermaCELL's heated insoles is the fob-like remote and built-in control board and battery. Unlike chemical toe warmers, which start out hot and gradually cool down, these let you wirelessly select "No Heat" when you don't need any supplemental warmth, then either "Medium" (100 degrees F) or "High" (110 degrees F) heat when you do, all without clumsy external batteries or switches.

That allows me to wear a favorite pair of lightweight, moderately insulated knee-high rubber boots when on the go, with the assurance that I'll be able to ramp up the heat if I take a stand or stop for whatever reason. And even if I'm wearing heavier boots, the control board acts like a thermostat and temporarily shuts off power to the heating element when it reaches the selected temperature.

It's genius—though not without a few flaws.

For starters, the molded, cushioned insoles are much thicker than the insoles that come standard with most boots. I can only use them with light socks in boots that are large to begin with. Otherwise the fit is way too snug.

They could also be a little warmer, and the battery life is disappointing. The lithium-ion unit built into the heel of each insole recharges quickly, but in my experience it does not come close to the advertised five-hour run time at medium heat. Of course, I could say that about my GPS and smart phone, too.

And they're pricey, at about $130. If the battery lives up to its promised 500 charges, that works out to only about $0.26 per use, which is about one-quarter what chemical toe warmers cost. At this point, though, that's still a big "if."

But my biggest complaint is with the remote. It doesn't confirm what setting the insole is at. Sometimes it's off when I want it on and on when I want it off. A positive on-off switch, or even better a setting and battery level indicator, would be a huge improvement. So for now I'll have to wait for the perfect cure. Until then, these are pretty darn good, and I'm thinking of buying a second pair so I can swap them out on all-day hunts.

Comments (4)

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from jjas wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

So let's see.....The insoles are too thick, they could be a little warmer, the battery life is disappointing, they cost too much AND.....you don't like the remote.

I think I'll just pass and save my $130.00.........

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from BuckNut35 wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

I really appreciate the honest review...especially the negatives. It tells me that F&S hasn't sold out. It's obvious that you like the product overall, despite it's flaws, but by pointing them out, you tell me what to watch out for. Thank you.

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from RS08 wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

get a spray can of anti perspirant and hose down your feet. works for me w/hikers and a thick pair of wool socks down to -20 or so at work. and theres lots of standing around with little to no movement

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from wittsec wrote 17 weeks 3 days ago

Originally invented to get grooms to the alter. I love the concept but I'm going to agree with jjas on this, improvements need to be made before I fork out that kind of money.

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from jjas wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

So let's see.....The insoles are too thick, they could be a little warmer, the battery life is disappointing, they cost too much AND.....you don't like the remote.

I think I'll just pass and save my $130.00.........

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BuckNut35 wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

I really appreciate the honest review...especially the negatives. It tells me that F&S hasn't sold out. It's obvious that you like the product overall, despite it's flaws, but by pointing them out, you tell me what to watch out for. Thank you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RS08 wrote 17 weeks 5 days ago

get a spray can of anti perspirant and hose down your feet. works for me w/hikers and a thick pair of wool socks down to -20 or so at work. and theres lots of standing around with little to no movement

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wittsec wrote 17 weeks 3 days ago

Originally invented to get grooms to the alter. I love the concept but I'm going to agree with jjas on this, improvements need to be made before I fork out that kind of money.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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