Malevolent skies and the bite of a northerly wind are two of the biggest enemies of the winter cyclist. If you want to cycle in relative comfort right through the coldest months then it is imperative that your protection is built on solid foundations and as a cyclists feet are one of the most vulnerable parts of the body to cold and wet, wearing a decent pair of cycling overshoes is the key to a happier place.
Even if it is not raining, your feet are defenceless against standing water or slurry on the road kicked up by your wheels and those of the rider in front of you. Wet is one enemy, but the cold is its cruel accomplice and if your feet are unprotected then they will be assailable from all sides and will quickly succumb..
Overshoes – not the most glamorous of cycling gear, but arguably one of the most important as cold feet make for a miserable ride. So what makes a good overshoe? A snug fit is essential: the more close fitting the overshoe, the better it will perform. If they are too loose it will feel like you are wearing two heavy bags on your feet and they are liable to let water seep in as soon as you hit the first puddle. A good fit serves a dual purpose, keeping both your feet and your sparkly clean cycling shoes clean and dry too! In my experience, the tighter the better, even if wrestling them on and off will make you look like a contortionist trying to squeeze into a box!
Extra warmth can be obtained with boots that have a thermal lining – ensuring that the hardened winter cyclist can venture out even when the mercury is struggling to rise above 0°. In deep winter, a neoprene outer is an affordable option if you want a good degree of wind and water resistance. Neoprene, however, is not going to allow your feet to breathe, so you may elect to chose a overshoe constructed out of a fabric like Windstopper combined with a thermal lining, which together will provide warmth in the harshest cold, especially if the conditions are relatively dry.
Overshoes are not infallible however. Heavy downpours or standing water on the road will inevitably lead to water seeping into your shoe via the vulnerable areas around the sole and where your tights meet the top of the overshoe. Good fit is one thing, but to withstand the onslaught of rain opt for a model that has taped seams, robust zips, a high cuff and a velcro strap to tighten above the ankle. They will not defeat a serious onslaught but they will delay the inevitable that little bit longer!
The elastic ‘sole’ of the overshoe is also important – seeing as this is going to be constantly pulled over your shoe, check that the construction of the shoe is strong and that, at the very least, the toes, straps and heel are reinforced with an über -strong textile such as kevlar or a material that is resistant to abrasion. Toes and heels have a tendency to wear through or bad construction can see the sole parting company from the upper, so check the material used in the sole is robust and has a strong bond with the upper part of the overshoe.
Overshoes are not necessarily a cycling accessory that one associates with sartorial flair, but increasingly there are designs to suit all tastes . Often the ‘look’ of the overshoe is down to the logos and hi-viz details that the manufacturers have incorporated. All overshoes will come with some sort of reflective logo or strip – usually down the back along the line of the zip or on the outward side. Seeing as your feet are invariably rotating in a circles, a well positioned hi-viz feature is really going to improve your all-round visibility, so don’t be too dismissive of the more flamboyant designs you might usually dismiss. And if you really, really want to make a splash, then there are several manufacturers who offer overshoes in hi-viz colour for the cyclist who wants to make an emphatic sartorial statement!
Here are our picks of five of the best cycling overshoes on the market to give you an overview on the array of designs available, but let other members know if you have a particular overshoe that you rely on to keep your feet dry and warm over the winter months!
Prendas Prendas ‘Air Tunnel’ Winter Overshoes
The guys at Prendas Ciclismo tell me that their winter overshoes are a ‘top, top seller’ and riding these in temperatures around 5 ° I can understand why. Firstly, thanks to the ‘Air Tunnel’ fabric they are very lightweight – which is not always the case with a winter overshoes, especially neoprene. They are also warm, which impressed, especially given the fact that the windproof material is not particularly thick and they also offered good protection against light rain. A snug fit and a ‘dazzling’ hi-viz vertical strip down the zip line (to quote a fellow rider) all combine to make for a good quality overshoe and they are ‘Made in Italy’ to boot – hence the Italian flag hanging from the ankle line! Pair these with the ‘Air Tunnel’ winter gloves and you’ll be well protected from the elements this winter.
Available exclusively from Prendas Ciclismo
Sizes: S,M, L, XL, XXL Price: £29.95
Endura Road Overshoe
This is what happens when glam rock meets road cycling! Whoever thought that road cycling was immune to a bit of bling hadn’t encountered these eye-catching metallic silvers concoctions on their travels! Your cycling friends may snigger when you first roll up sporting these on your tootsies, but it will be you that has the last laugh as they are a top notch pair of booties. The neoprene upper is snug, water repellent and extremely warm and the kevlar sole is robust and easily stretched over the shoe. Two reflective strips, coupled with a reflective logo ensure good visibility and the overall design and the quality of the construction shine through – quite literally. At the price, this is a hard act to follow and for those of you with slightly more conservative tastes Endura also offer a plain black version. But if you really, really want to stand out in the peloton . . .
Available to buy online from Chain Reaction or visit the Endura website for stockists.
Sizes S,M, L, XL, XXL RRP: £25.99
Craft Siberian Bootie
Scandinavian winds call for Scandinavian clothing solutions and the aptly named Craft Siberian bootie offers protection against the very coldest of northerlies. Constructed with 3mm neoprene, the Siberian bootie ticks a lot of boxes – a high ankle with a velcro strap, taped seams and a kevlar reinforced toe and heel are all plus points. The overshoes tested were medium size and, on Size 9 shoes, were tight and the zip to the side made them a bit of a struggle to put on – but the fit was snug and tight and though not tested is overly wet conditions, they felt warm and the spray from standing water did not permeate. A robust but an understated and stylish looking overshoe.
Available to buy online from Chain Reaction or visit Craft Sportswear for UK stockists and the Craft website for more details.
Sizes: XS,S, ML, XL, XXL RRP: 40.00
Gore Road Windstopper® Softshell Thermo Overshoes
These neon yellow overshoes are certainly Showstoppers and your cycling friends will see you coming a mile off. Bulky, due to the thermo lining, but lightweight thanks to the soft shell material, you can tell even before you pull them on, that these are going to keep your feet snug as bugs. Gore’s renowned Windstopper Soft Shell fabric, which is used in many of their winter garments, provides the warmth and water resistance required in winter, but breathability too, which is not the case with rubber and neoprene. OK, they are not the cheapest, but Gore products couple high performance, innovative textiles with well thought out design. These incorporate a study zip, a velcro fastening, abrasion resistant material on the base and if the neon yellow is not going to get you noticed, then the subtle hi-viz strip on the zip line and the Gore logo on the outward side of both edges certainly will. Easy to pull on, one drawback is that, unlike neoprene based overshoes, these will need washing on a regular basis. A very high quality product, which is reflected in the price, and for those of you who crave the Gore protection, but without the zing, you will be happy to learn that a black version is also available.
Available to buy online from Wiggle or visit goreapparel.co.uk for stockists
Sizes: S,M, L, XL, XL Price: £59.99
dhb Windproof Overshoe
Wiggle’s in-house clothing brand, dhb, offer overshoes for every occasion, from their neoprene toe cover for those days when your shoes alone will struggle to protect you from an autumnal chill, right through to their Extreme Neoprene Overshoe with a tough 3.5mm hide that will keep the most severe wind and wet at bay in deep winter. The Windproof Overshoe is marketed for cooler autumn and spring weather, but if you want an overshoe that effectively protects your tootsies from the wind on winter days when the mercury is higher that the seasonal average, then these are well worth considering.
The polyurethane membrane is breathable – so no overly hot, sweaty feet (as can be the case with even thin neoprene) and worn on early morning rides in temperatures between 7°- 12°C they have provided sufficient warmth and protection. The price is very attractive and even more so given their sound construction and overall quality. No glaring hi-viz logos or branding on these overshoes – just a simple classic look, with a reflective strip following the line of the (robust YKK) zip. The base is made of kevlar which should provide a decent amount of wear and tear, though only time will tell how effectively.
The material is relatively stretchy and easy to pull on and off – the Large size (pictured) on my Size 11 shoes were easily pulled on and zipped up and the fit is tight. OK, they are not waterproof like neoprene, but I for one appreciate the breathability these overshoes afford and they do provide a decent enough level of water resistance against light drizzle and road spray. It comes in a good range of sizes too, which will accommodate the majority of foot sizes of both sexes. Overall, a good quality overshoe for 3-Season cycling.
SIZE XS: 37-39 S: 40-42 M: 42-44 L: 44-46 XL: 46-48
Price: £19.99 Available to buy online from Wiggle