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Cold feet equals misery; here's how to keep your toes toasty

[This article was last updated on January 16, 2018]

Winter riding is challenging, and wet and frozen feet don't make it any easier. Your feet, right in the line of spray generated by the front wheel (especially without mudguards), can suffer more than any other body part. Overshoes, designed to protect your feet from the weather, are a top investment if you're aiming to ride through the winter, whether you’re a racer or commuter.

Put simply, overshoes are made from a weatherproof fabric designed to sit snugly over your shoes and keep the rain and wind out, preventing your feet from getting wet and cold. They broadly fall into two camps: those that are waterproof, and those that are just windproof.

Neoprene is a popular material for waterproof overshoes, and has the advantage that when water does finally get inside, your feet don’t freeze; the dampness stays relatively warm in there. Nylon and polyurethane are other popular materials, used sometimes in combination with neoprene, with a waterproof layer to add extra protection.

Overshoes aren’t perfect by any means. Ride in heavy rain and your feet will get wet sooner or later, but you can delay that from happening with good quality overshoes. The biggest chink in their armour is water getting in around the leg openings, soaking down your tights, and through the cleat holes in the sole. Overshoes with good weather protection, including taped seams, a Velcro strip around the ankle, waterproof zips and a taller ankle will delay the onset of wet feet.

Overshoes typically have a rear opening with a zip to seal them up, making pulling them on and off easy. For insulation in really cold weather, you want to keep the soles of your shoes as well covered as possible because a lot of heat can escape there. Some overshoes have much more sole coverage than others – it's something that's worth checking before you splash the cash.

Sizing is very important. It’s always worth trying on overshoes with your own shoes in the shop. Differently designed shoes with various buckles and ratchets can work better with some overshoes.

Typically black (to hide all the dirt) though other colours are available, some overshoes have generous reflective details to boost your night-time visibility — some are better suited to commuting for this reason.

As well as keeping the wet out, overshoes provide another layer of insulation, and some have a thicker material to provide more warmth on really cold rides. Generally speaking, the thicker the overshoe, the more it's going to keep the cold out. A trick some cyclists resort to on really awful days is two wear two pairs of overshoes for even more protection, although that will have an effect on flexibility around your ankle.

Toe covers are handy for days when it’s not cold or damp enough for full overshoes. Typically made from neoprene, they're ideal if your shoes are well vented, and are very useful in the autumn.  Another use for them, and one we’ll admit to have resorted to on more than a few occasions, is wearing toe covers under overshoes for a double layer of protection.

So, now you know what to look for in overshoes, here are 10 good examples.

Galibier Mistral Toe Covers — £11

Galibier Mistral toe covers 2.jpg

Galibier Mistral toe covers 2.jpg

The Galibier Mistral Toe Covers bring together strong protection, warmth and water resistance. They also come with an impressively low price.

I used to be a huge advocate of overshoes when the temperature drops, but I haven't regularly worn any for a year, instead using toe covers in all but the coldest conditions. They have one big advantage: you can just leave them on your shoes, so you don't need to constantly struggle into a set of thick overshoes because it's a bit cold outside.

Read our review of the Galibier Mistral Toe Covers

Ekoi Heat Concept Overshoes — £113.32

Ekoi Heat Concept Black Overshoes.jpg

Ekoi Heat Concept Black Overshoes.jpg

Ekoi's Heat Concep overshoes aim to keep your extremities from freezing in the cold  using a system of integrated heating elements and lithium polymer batteries. And do you know what? They work.

The heating elements in the overshoes certainly make a noticeable difference to the warmth of your feet on a cold ride. It was pretty easy to confirm this, simply by turning one of the overshoes on and leaving the other one off. At the end of two hours' riding in temperatures not far north of zero, it wasn't hard to remember which foot had been heated. It was the difference between losing feeling in your toes, and being cold, but comfortable.

Read our review of the Ekoi Heat Concept Overshoes

B'Twin 500 shoe covers — £19.99

These affordable B'Twin  overshoes are the slightly thicker version of the 700 Aerofit overshoes we've reviewed. They're constructed from neoprene that provides decent insulation on cold days, keeping both the wind and rain out, and they're half the price of most of the other overshoes here.

Read our review of the B'Twin 700 Aerofit shoe covers

Madison Sportive PU Thermal Overshoes — £15.99

Madison Sportive Aero overshoes.jpg

Madison Sportive Aero overshoes.jpg

Madison's Sportive PU Thermal overshoes are a great option for wet weather riding, with the added thermal benefits providing some much-appreciated insulation at times.

Although described as a mid-weight overshoe by Madison, they don't struggle when the temperature gets down to low single figures.

Featuring a fleece lining that fits snugly to your shoes in tandem with an unvented, taped waterproof top layer, these overshoes are surprisingly warm in all conditions bar freezing or below.

Read our review of the Madison Sportive PU Thermal Overshoes
Find a Madison dealer

SealSkinz Neoprene Halo Overshoes — £20

SealSkinz Halo overshoes

SealSkinz Neoprene Halo Overshoes incorporate a powerful LED light in the heel, a clever idea that I'm surprised has never been done before. Don't discount them as being a gimmick, they really do work well and are ideal for regular after dark cyclists.

Read our review of the SealSkinz Neoprene Halo Overshoes
Find a SealSkinz dealer

Sealskinz Waterproof Cycle Over Socks — £30.40

Sealskinz Waterproof Over Cycle Sock

Sealskinz Waterproof Over Cycle Sock

Less of an overshoe and more an oversock, albeit a waterproof oversock, the SealSkinz Waterproof Cycle Over Socks offer lightweight protection against wind and rain that fall somewhere between Belgian booties (over socks) and full-on neoprene overshoes.

Read our review of the Sealskinz Waterproof Cycle Over Socks
Find a Sealskinz dealer

BBB Arctic Duty overshoes — £49.95

At first glance you could be forgiven in thinking these are some sort of white water footwear. They're quite thick and rubbery rather than the svelte neoprene jobs we wear in warmer 'cool' weather. These are the wellies of the overshoe world. Not exactly sexy. What they lack in glamour and sophistication they more than make up for in their ability to deflect falling rain, road spray and even deep bow wave trips through flood puddles.

Read our review of the BB Arctic Duty overshoes
Find a BBB dealer

Sportful Reflex Windstopper Booties — £34.52

Sportful Windstopper Reflex booties

These Sportful WS Bootie Reflex overshoes employ Gore's Windstopper fabric and serve to keep your feet warm and keep out most of the rain and cold out.

They're not 100% waterproof, but on typically showery days they'll keep most of the rain out and it needs a decent spell of prolonged rain before saturation occurs. They cope just fine when it's not raining but the roads are slick with water.

Read our review of the Sportful Reflex Windstopper Booties

GripGrab Arctic Overshoes — £40

GripGrab Arctic Overshoes

The Grip Grab Arctic Overshoes are great for those properly cold days we sometimes get in January and February. They provide excellent insulation and very effective waterproofing. With 80% neoprene, these were always going to be warm, but we're also impressed by their ease of fit and adjustability.

Read our review of the GripGrab Arctic Overshoes

Velotoze - £14.99

Velotoze Tall Cover

Velotoze Tall Cover

Like a swimming cap for your feet, these divide opinion and can make your feet very sweaty indeed. These are, however, the most waterproof overshoes in this list.

When placed directly onto the shin, they prevent water from seeping down into your socks and also offer complete windproofing. When worn on top of oversocks, they form possibly the ultimate deep winter combination.

They're also surprisingly robust for what is essentially a thick balloon. They are the most fragile covers in this list though.

Read our review of the Velotoze shoe covers

Want more options? See the full road.cc overshoes review archive

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

15 comments

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Freddy56 [320 posts] 1 year ago
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Galibier's Barrier for the road and Endura's MT500 for CX or mtb. The Endura have the same rubber sole as the BB ones pictured but for £20 less and are bomb proof.

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stwjimmy [1 post] 1 year ago
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I have some Pearl Izumi WXB - nice and lightweight with a velcro fastener, which I love. But I ripped them and they're no longer made, nor can I find any others with velcro instead of a zip. Do they exist?

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TLem [1 post] 1 year ago
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stwjimmy wrote:

I have some Pearl Izumi WXB - nice and lightweight with a velcro fastener, which I love. But I ripped them and they're no longer made, nor can I find any others with velcro instead of a zip. Do they exist?

Check out Endura's overshoes. I have the Luminite II model with velcro fasteners and am quite happy with them.

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Johnnystorm [111 posts] 1 year ago
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stwjimmy wrote:

I have some Pearl Izumi WXB - nice and lightweight with a velcro fastener, which I love. But I ripped them and they're no longer made, nor can I find any others with velcro instead of a zip. Do they exist?

PX neoprene are all Velcro and ok for a tenner. Altura night vision are also all Velcro and have a nice wipe clean finish and are a lot thinner material than the thick neoprene type.

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BigRich [3 posts] 9 months ago
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Finding ones to fit  EU48.......

 

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offshore_dave [65 posts] 9 months ago
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Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes?
I find that it helps stop water ingress.

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes
offshore_dave wrote:

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes?

Pretty much, yes.

The Bontrager ones with the fleecey linings are brilliant - if you get cold feet with those on, it really is too cold to be out on a bike.

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Freddy56 [320 posts] 9 months ago
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BigRich wrote:

Finding ones to fit  EU48.......

 

Galibier have an XXL in their aquaChrono  which fit my 49s at a stretch, so be spot on for 48

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offshore_dave [65 posts] 9 months ago
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BarryBianchi wrote:
offshore_dave wrote:

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes?

Pretty much, yes.

The Bontrager ones with the fleecey linings are brilliant - if you get cold feet with those on, it really is too cold to be out on a bike.

 

I didn't mean for warmth but for water ingress.

I will check out the Bontrager ones as cold feet are an issue, even when dry.

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Reedo [30 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

What tights can I get to wear over the overshoes that will keep rain from running down into the overshoes?

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Chris Hayes [251 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

How come no one has combined the velotoze interface with the shin with a neoprene overshoe?   The biggest issue with all of these is water soaking through tights or spraying down the top of these overshoes.  

I have some Northwave winter boots, gore-tex lined, which are lovely and warm - BUT water gets in the top, can't get out through the goretex and then you're cycling in your very own puddle. 

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Shugg McGraw [28 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

I bought a pair of Velotoze but after putting them on I was too tired to go for a ride. 

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dmack [35 posts] 8 months ago
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offshore_dave wrote:

Am I alone in wearing my cycling tights over the top of my overshoes?
I find that it helps stop water ingress.

Makes sense to me!

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JeffB [9 posts] 6 months ago
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Chris Hayes wrote:

How come no one has combined the velotoze interface with the shin with a neoprene overshoe?   The biggest issue with all of these is water soaking through tights or spraying down the top of these overshoes.  

I have some Northwave winter boots, gore-tex lined, which are lovely and warm - BUT water gets in the top, can't get out through the goretex and then you're cycling in your very own puddle. 

Cut the wrist off washing up gloves and wear that as a seal from top of cycling boot to shin. You still have glove for washing up.
Or, buy the Velotoez and use until they rip, ( the first ride?), and cut/ use the ankle part on boots

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PaulosUk [1 post] 5 months ago
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I bought the Velotoze on a reccomendation. Ripped the first one putting it on.

Will have a look for some neoprene ones next!