$189 (but currently on sale at verseo.com for $119)
Weight: 5 oz. (pair) Verseo.com (search for "insoles")
It’s 2011, and although we don’t yet have flying cars, we do have the next best thing: heated insoles with a remote control. The product name really says it all, but to be clear, these are removable insoles that warm up your boots and feet with a key fob that looks like most remote entry keys for your automobile. Just trim the soles for a perfect fit, drop them in, and select medium (100°F) or high (111°F) heat. I couldn’t resist smiling the first time I tested them out in sub-zero temps, even after being told to ‘wipe that smug grin off my face’ by my tentmates as they trudged in circles in a futile attempt to warm up. For the record, these also warm up your down booties quickly too, but I opted not to mention that to the rest of my group.
The manufacturer claims six hours of continuous heating on the medium setting, but I rarely left them turned on for more than fifteen minutes at a time. The insoles have integrated lithium-ion rechargeable batteries; you literally plug the heels into the wall, wait about two hours, and you’re good to go. They continued to function superbly over the course of three days in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, even after extended use during cold mornings and long stops to watch wildlife. These should work just as well in all of your ski, snowshoe, and mountaineering winter boots. Although I didn’t get a chance to test these on a resort-style trip, I would surmise they are truly ideal for days where you could spend extended periods of time on lifts or in lift lines.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support offered by the insoles. I have annoyingly flat feet, and I always have to buy aftermarket insoles if I expect to be comfortable. Although the polyurethane soles aren’t as thick or cushioned as some of the other brands I used, I skied sixteen miles through Lower Geyser Basin with nary a complaint. I was concerned they might feel stiff due to the amount of electronics spread throughout, but that proved to be a non-issue as well.
I know heated insoles don’t really support the “I’m a tough outdoorsy-type” image, but these are just too good to pass up. If you don’t get them for yourself, consider them for the significant other that avoids trips in the snow “due to inevitable frostbite and/or misery,” or something of that ilk. The price point may be higher than what you spend on some summer boots, but if Mother Nature’s coldest season is forcing you to be a denizen of the Great Indoors for four to six months of the year, I can guarantee they will make a material improvement in both of your life.
And a final note: as far as my number one-most guiltiest pleasure in the backcountry...let’s just say that what happens at the top of Yosemite Falls, stays at the top of Yosemite Falls.