I'm a bicycle commuter in Toronto, Canada. My feet sweat more than most. In the spring, summer, and fall, I wear closed-toe sandals. But in the winter, I don't, and my feet become overheated and uncomfortable.

I did some research today. Now:

  • I'm considering putting underarm antiperspirant on my feet at bedtime. Both on the soles and between the toes: there are lots of sweat glands in both places.

  • I hear that thin wool socks also help[1][2][3] and hope to buy some.

What else should I do to keep my feet cool and dry?

  • Do my sneakers matter much? If so, what's best? Perforated leather? Mesh-and-synthetic-leather? Canvas? And how do you know? (Notes: I'm not concerned about water resistance or athletic performance. Also, I'm on a budget and am probably going to buy generic-brand shoes.)

  • Is there anything else that makes much difference?

  • I don't know why this got migrated here, I think it would have been better off on Bicycles. Especially because the OP states no relation to exercise, only commuting.
    – Baarn
    Dec 8 '12 at 9:05
  • 1
    @Informaficker It's acceptable here. It's something that can fit here or on Bicycles. We've had a few migrations from Sports because there has been some overlap with Fitness, and those migrations are done because they would get a better answer elsewhere. With this question, I can see this being applicable to other fitness and exercise activities. It can surely apply to people who are bicycling for exercise (and perhaps someone would be commuting via bicycle instead of driving for exercise).
    – Matt Chan
    Dec 8 '12 at 14:09
  • Followup: I bought some 70% merino wool socks a couple months ago. I paid $5 for two pairs. They seem to help keep my feet dry; I plan to buy more. Feb 19 '13 at 5:33

I'm also a bicycle commuter whose feet tend to sweat a fair amount, especially when I'm active. This caused both strong foot odor and recurring athlete's foot.

What's worked best for me:

  1. Shoes with plenty of ventilation.
  2. Merino wool socks.

Shoes have typically been "running" sneakers which have synthetic leather with plenty of mesh bits, and some retroreflective detailing. I haven't tried too many varieties, though. I know on days I wear something else, I can feel the heat and moisture difference.

The wool socks made the biggest difference. They don't stop the sweating, but they're breathable, wick moisture away, and don't feel wet when they get moist. Mostly I've been using short SmartWool cycling or running socks, but in colder weather I'll wear taller socks from them. SmartWool makes both "light" and "ultra light" athletic socks. The "light" are thicker on the sole than on the top, and generally worked best for me. The "ultralight" are less comfortable, tend to bunch a bit, have proportionally less wool, and just generally aren't as nice to wear.

Merino is the least itchy wool around, so other types of wool are likely to work less well. Avoid acrylic, it looks like wool but doesn't work the same.

After discovering merino wool socks, I will never go back to cotton. At least not if I'm doing anything vigorous.

The downside: merino wool socks are expensive. One good pair costs as much as a whole pack of basic cotton socks. Maybe just get one pair and see if you like them, first.

Other things worth trying:

  1. Don't wear the same shoes two days in a row. Alternate between two pairs. That makes sure they're totally dry when you put them on in the morning.
  2. Bring a spare pair of socks. Either swap them mid-day, or have a pair to wear during your ride and a pair to wear at work.
  3. Foot powder (or something like baby powder that's the same stuff). Typically this is talcum powder or corn starch based. Specifically made for keeping feet dry.

Like another answer has already mentioned, SmartWool cycling or running socks are great and will help your feet to "breathe" while exercising. Another sock brand is Lululemon. They have very high quality socks and I have personally used both their "Lululemon No Show Ultimate Run Sock" and the "Ultimate Low-Pro Run Sock". They can easily run you about $20 a pair though, but their outlets have awesome deals and people sell them online too for way cheap.

Another brand I could recommend is the DryMax available at e.g. Zappos. Seemingly pricy but well worth the $35 - $40 to keep thoes toes dry and warm!

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