Heated Electric Socks

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Heated Electric Socks for Motorcycling

Written September 19, 2006; updated November 1, 2006.

My whole life changed when I got my Gerbing electric socks. After I got my Widder electric vest and gloves, I found that my cold feet were the limiting factor keeping me off the bike in the winter, or causing me to stop more often.

Everybody's body is different, and so is everybody's bike. I've read postings from people who say they don't need their electric vests until it's 50 or 45 degrees or whatever. Me, I'm reaching for the dial as soon as it drops below 60. In the cold, my hands and feet go first. Also, my bike at the time (a Suzuki GSX1100G) had poor wind protection for my feet, so heated socks were a real turning point in comfort.

Everybody's riding area is different too. In the Midwest you will get the same weather for 200 miles around. But in California in the winter you can get everything from 70 degrees in the Central Valley to 45 crossing the Sierras within an hour of each other, so no traditional type of clothing would work for my feet or my torso. If it was warm enough for the cold, I'd be miserable when it was warm. It had to be adjustable electrics.

Gerbing's original model of electric socks are tough to walk on, because you're stepping on little wires. They have a new sock on their web site since I last looked: a "comfort" sock with no wires on the bottom, so you can walk more comfortably. I haven't tried them. To make the standard pair better for walking, I sometimes wear them inside-out. This way the wires aren't against my skin. This reduces the heat level and slows down the warm-up time, but it's much better for walking. You need a layer of clothing between your skin and a heated vest, but that advice doesn't apply to socks.

The rest of my electric gear (vest, gloves, controller) come from Widder Enterprises. I find that I have no problem connecting the socks, vest, and gloves to a single Widder electronic controller using appropriate Y adapters and plugs. The resulting heat balance works for me at all settings, but some people might find this makes the socks too hot in relation to the other parts. As for me, my dogs need me to bring the heat. (If Pat Widder offered a heated sock product I'd buy it. Pat is a good friend to the long-distance riding community and I like his other products just fine.)

I find the Gerbing socks are a little fragile. I've had the same one fail twice, at the place where the power-supply wire meets the very fine heater wire. Field repairs are impossible: you can't just strip and crimp the NiChrome heater wire. Maybe that heat-shrink stuff with solder inside is the answer.

For a while I thought I needed arm chaps, but a windbreaker over my fleece and under my riding jacket blocks enough air movement that I'm all toasty now.

 


This page was last edited April 26, 2008.