I have booties, and wool socks. I get really cold extremitites, and when I ride in the winter my hands and feet get REALLY cold. I wear ski gloves, or really thick gloves and liner gloves, and no matter what I do to my feet they are always cold.
Mad Dog, what does loosening the tops of your shoes do? I wear SIDI's so the top of the shoes is the little click strap, and if I loosen that, my shoes will fall off
try using ziplock bags over your normal riding socks... they have worked wonders in a pinch for me. I usually dont have any problems with my feet though. I have used the baggies on really cold days and they were great
I have considered the electric socks too. I have some really nice thick wool socks and a larger than normal pair of riding shoes to fit them under and my feet still get cold. Have tried neoprene, fleece, gortex socks, neoprene shoe covers and my feet still get cold. Poor circulation sucks.
Mad Dog must be a ski area local
I used to spend a lot of time in ski boots and the "warmest" pair of socks I've used was a pair of women’s hoses, yeah the thinnest nylon hoses. The reasoning is just as Mad Dog says, except it's not so much as "breath" but circulation (altho breathing, reads keeping things dry, is also really important). Notice all those bulging blood vessels on your feet...strap your shoes on too tight and those blood vessels are crushed and you get no blood in the feet. No blood = no heat. Thick socks gives you a false idea of how tight your shoes are actually on. In the case of ski boots, they pack out to the shape of your feet after a while. The insulation is built in so all you really need is just something to take the moisture away from your skin.
So, in your situation, maybe use a pair of full leather hiking boots (Sno Seal or mink oil them to make them repell water) and a pair of really wide platform pedals w/ some not-too-thick socks. This is the combo I used when I was commuting in Steamboat (this area of CO usually gets over 150" of snow over the course of the winter, and you REALLY don't want to be clipped in while riding in snow/ice). I don’t have any circulation issues so I was able to get away w/ a pair of spring ski gloves most days for a commute of about 3 miles each way. The only time when my hands/feet got cold was when it was sub zero.
Also, like the other thing Mad Dog says: when your hands/feet are cold, check to make sure you have a hat on. I have WAY too much hair on top of my head and can usually get away w/ not wearing a hat while skiing (but I've been frost-bit on the tips of my ears so I wear one anyhoo). The idea is most of your heat will escape out the top of your melon since there's so many blood vessels in your scalp. So something like a beanie or scull cap under your brain bucket...?
Thanks for the clarification-by breathing I meant allowing your feet to circulate blood and havea cushion of air to insulate. I wear my wifes "old lady" nylon socks in my snowboard boots instead of wool or thick cotton. My feet stay warmer and drier. The hat trick is from many years of dirtbagging in the Sierras and Mojave.
I used them for winter Hang Glider flying. They did work, but not that well. They use a "C" size battery and have a strip of heat tape on the sole. The battery is too bulky and tends to droop the socks to the ankles. The heat tape is a pain, literally. Pod harnesses work alot better to keep feet warm flying.
For winter biking I use a a loose fitting pair of insulated hikers, on platform pedals and thick smartwool socks .