Great for showery weather in milder winter conditions, Northwave's H2O winter shoe covers are a good option for keeping your feet dry, and your shoes protected.
The H2Os are essentially a liner for your shoes and are, as the name suggests, designed for wet weather. They perform largely as you'd hope – keeping water and road muck off your shoes, and therefore your feet dry. On several rides that I'd definitely describe as wet, I found them extremely effective.
The downside to the H2Os is the thickness – or rather, thinness. They're quite thin, lacking a neoprene layer, which means that they don't help keep your feet warm when the temperature drops below double figures. If you do suffer with cold extremities then these shoe covers probably won't be for you on cold days, despite the thin internal fleece layer.
This isn't a reason to ignore the H2Os, though, because sweaty, hot feet are also an issue – so if your primary concern is to keep rain and dirt off your shoes and you've got a pair of thicker thermal shoe covers for the really cold days, these are definitely worth a punt. They also feature a high cut on the leg, granting additional protection too.
As well as all this, the shoe covers come with reflective sections, which are a snazzy and effective method of keeping you visible in dim and wet weather. I found this was great when the shoe covers were relatively clean, but when covered in dirt from the road it was less good. Of course, the reflective panels can't reflect light when they're blocked – but it's something to be aware of if your commute or rides take you on less-than-clean paths and roads. For the record, they also come in a fluoro yellow or orange colourway without reflective panels if that's your preference – but I'd note that these won't overcome the mud issue either.
Fitting them onto your shoes isn't the easiest job in the world – you have to pull the shoe covers up onto your calves, then put your shoes on before fitting the H2Os over the top. They're then secured using strong Velcro tabs around the base of your shoe and at the back (in tandem with a zip up the ankle). It's a snug fit, with the reinforced underside of the toe area fitting flush with your shoe.
The reason for this fitting method is, presumably, the lack of flexibility in the H2Os' polyurethane, polyamide and polyester fabric makeup. It does stretch, but only a tiny bit. This makes the fit important, and thankfully they're true to size. XL was perfect for my size 11.5 shoes, and getting them on and off is made easier by a large and sturdy tab at the heel of each foot.
The great thing about the fabric mix is also that they wash easily – in fact, you needn't use detergent; a simply rinse off with a hose when still wet from your ride will suffice in most instances. It's testament to their toughness that you don't need to treat them delicately to look after them.
Finally, at £30 these 'water resistant' (but I'd call them nigh-waterproof) shoe covers aren't too bad in terms of value for money in my view, considering the quality of the fit, fastening and features. The H2Os, as far as I can see, will last for more than one winter season – making them a sensible option for everything but the coldest of winter days.
Good, tough, near-waterproof shoe covers – great quality from Northwave
road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave H2O Winter Shoecover Reflective
Size tested: XL, Black/Silver
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Northwave says: "Be safe under low visibility conditions! Wearing Northwave's high visibility apparel is a smart and wise choice whether you move in the chaotic city traffic or in the low light extra-urban roads. This way, car and truck drivers can easily recognize the cyclist's presence and maintain the right safety distance. Northwave's high visibility line stands as the perfect recipe to get the ideal mix between road safety and a catchy item."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Materials: Coated Polyurethane with internal fleece and rubber
- Closing system: Rear reversed zip with camlock puller, velcro adjustment on calf and sole
- Reinforcements: Rubber on tip and heel
- Tech: Rear reflective zip, full garage zip, velcro on sole, fully taped inside, rear eyelet for esy fit-in
These are tough and sturdy, with extra rubber pads for reinforcement. Zips and velcro also live up to the fabric's resilience.
They're very, very good - my only real criticism is the relative lack of thermal performance; but that's not their raison d'être.
See construction - not much chance of these flaking out on you.
Fit is snug - so snug that they can be a slight faff to put on. But that does make your foot profile smaller in the pedals.
True to size, but the lack of flexibility in the fabric does leave you wanting just a few more millimetres when fitting.
You don't notice them on your feet, but they are reassuringly heavy enough that you have faith they won't tear or break.
At the ankles they're slightly tight, but not uncomfortably so.
£29.99 isn't too bad - have a look in the end-of-winter sales and see if it pops up.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Wash well with just a rinse on most occasions.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good fit around the shoe, great water resistance that borders on full-blown waterproof.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Can be a faff to fit, and can even feel compressive against the body of your shoe.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I would, but not for wrap-up-warm cold conditions.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding