There are many places in the world that have no need for them but where I call home, boot dryers are critical for comfort and arguably- safety. A child of the Northwest- I wasn’t fully prepared for the amount of precipitation that I would be living with in Cordova. With over 148 inches of rainfall each year- if you go outside much you’re going to get wet.
The importance of quality outdoor gear is paramount when living in the rainforest. Even then, more preparation is crucial. Our average temperature range throughout the year is a 38° low and a 48º high: prime temperature range for hypothermia. It can be difficult to ensure that you end your ride with dry gear, but you can be prepared and least start with dry feet and hands.
Drying shoes can be done a number of ways. The lowest tech of which involves just leaving them sit in a warm, dry place. This doesn’t necessarily work well if you have to head back out in a couple hours, even the next day. Loosely stuffing the shoes with newspaper does help absorb the water, speeding up the process a bit. Though I’m sure some have done it- I would not suggest putting your shoes in the oven or dryer. Because they aren’t shrinky dinks, they shouldn’t be in the oven as the plastic and rubber could melt. Also- if you have fancy shoes with real leather, the higher temp isn’t good for them. You’ll end up baking them, which can cause cracking. I’ve dried my sneakers in the dryer and that works fine, but cycling shoe soles are much harder, and if you run clipless- you’ve got a metal chunk in there potentially messing things up.
So be a grown up- get a boot dryer. I’ve had one of mine for nearly 15 years and it still works wonderfully.
We have two different model dryers in our house and I’ll compare them here:
This was my first dryer. The tubes are long enough to fit rubber boots, and you can get extensions that will allow waders. There is no fan, so it relies on science. Through convection, the warm air rises and pushes moisture out of the opening of the boot. Super mellow heat, it’s safe for all your shoes- and effective. Also check out their other models- some with multiple drying tubes and for drying things like your water bladder, which can get pretty gross.
It’s made in the USA and will last a long time. It comes with a 25year warranty. With no moving parts and a lower cost- if you are looking for something that will just work- this is your best bet.
This dryer doesn’t have a switch- if it’s plugged in it’s on. Not a huge deal as it only uses 36W and is totally silent.
I got this one last year. Working outside all year, my winter gloves would get wet and would take days to dry- even with the Peet Dryer. This unit uses a fan and you can select if you want hot or room temp air. It works on a timer as to prevent running constantly. It’s very effective and I like that you can dry four items at a time. The forced air (at least the heated forced air) works really well to dry insulated rubber gloves and really wet items. The timer can be set for up to 3 hours and then it’ll shut off.
The heater will reach 105º, which shouldn’t do damage to any fabric or material. I don’t know the watts it uses, but the fact that most items will dry in a couple hours means that it won’t need to run overnight.
As if they were children- I don’t have a favorite between Peet and Maxx. They both do well and I’m happy to have them. Peet being the first in the household- it’s been roughed up a little- the base broken and repaired, but it’s still working well. Maxx came into the picture and I find myself using it more because of the four-place drying tubes. If you’re in the market- I’d suggest finding one of the 4-way options (Peet offers them as well.)
If you’ve got more time than money- then go with Peet. It’ll work well for many years and though it takes a little longer (overnight as opposed to a couple hours,) it’ll work. If you find yourself needing to head back out and want to have dry shoes and gloves before you do, go with the forced air MaxxDry.
I haven’t used the drop-in style heaters that are available- some even 12v, so I haven’t covered them here. I can see they’d be a great portable option for traveling.
So that’s my two cents. I highly recommend getting one if you haven’t been able to tell. Because wet and cold feet is a shitty way to start your day.