If you suffer from cold feet while you're out on the bike, the Louis Garneau Glacier Road Shoes could be just what you need. They're essentially road shoes with integrated overshoes and they're really warm.
I've never been into big winter shoes largely on the basis that they look so goddamn clumpy but, on the other hand (so to speak), I've got fed up of frozen feet two or three months a year so I was keen to give these a go.
Inside there you get a laced up shoe with a waterproof membrane. That shoe is fully lined – the front end with a brush-backed fleecy fabric that, although not thick, insulates well. Underneath your foot you get a thick, waffly insole that's aluminium-foil lined, and it provides plenty more warmth. I found the toe box quite roomy compared to usual so I could put an extra pair of socks on without things feeling too tight up there.
The outsole is Garneau's Erfo Air II which is made of glass-fibre-reinforced nylon. It's not the lightest outsole ever but it's stiff enough for efficiently getting the miles in. It's drilled for both three-bolt road cleats (Look, Shimano, Time etc) and for two-bolt mountain bike cleats like Shimano SPDs. Being stiff, it's not the best option if you have to walk more than the absolute minimum although a small amount of heel and toe tread provide a limited amount of grip.
Getting these on is pretty easy thanks to a heel loop and another on the tongue, then you just pull the laces tight and fasten them with a draw-cord toggle. The outer – the bit that looks like an overshoe – is laminated PVC and it's waterproof. It also has a Thinsulate lining for yet more insulation. The front a zip is highly water resistant and a flap goes over the top of it for extra protection. Then, over the top of that, you get a Velcro strap that adds security and holds everything in place.
So, all in all, there's a lot going on here. The pair I was using, size 46, weighed in at 966g which is quite a bit more than standard shoes but not as much as other winter options... and anyway, who cares? The most important thing is that they do add a lot of warmth. I've used these loads over the past few weeks and I've just been out for a ride with a Glacier shoe on one foot and, on the other, a standard shoe with a 3mm neoprene overshoe on top (the neighbours think I'm pioneering an avant-garde look; I just felt lop-sided and faintly embarrassed)...
The foot with the Glacier shoe on was considerably warmer, especially at the point where the cleat attaches to the sole; a lot of cold often gets in there, but not with the Glaciers. My feet have stayed warm in the Glaciers at temperatures about 2°C colder than the point at which they get uncomfortable using a standard set up.
When the temperature gets down towards freezing point, my feet have got cold despite the Glaciers, but it's taken far longer than normal for them to get that way. It might be 90mins rather than 30mins before I start wishing I was home by the fire. Plus, if you really need to, you can actually get a standard overshoe on top of these. That doesn't provide you with the easiest ankle movement ever, but it can be done.
Downsides? I found the heel section extended too high up the sides of my Achilles tendon for the ultimate in comfort although Dave, who has also been using a pair, had no worries on that front. Try before you buy to be safe.
As for waterproofing, these keep rain and spray out well although Dave did get wet feet on one ridiculously stormy ride. If it rains hard enough, water will eventually get in at the ankle, as it will with any overshoes. It'll soak into your clothing and permeate down. With no holes in the outsole, water will collect around your feet which is why Dave found himself emptying it out of his shoe when he got home. It must be said, though, that they were pretty extreme circumstances. He'd have got wet feet whatever he'd worn.
Winter road shoes with good water resistance and a very high level of warmth
road.cc test report
Make and model: Louis Garneau Glacier Road Shoe
Size tested: Size 46
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?
Louis Garneau say, "The Glacier RD shoes are the latest winter cycling shoe with a fiberglass-reinforced road outsole and aluminum-coated insole to provide protection and insulation from the cold. Thinsulate waterproof lining can accommodate heat packs between the laces and outer fabric. Adjusting strap on the forefoot enhances power transfer."
Yup, all true. If it's warmth you're after, these deliver
Solid. The bit between the inner and outer shoes isn't pretty –
Mat has worked for more bike magazines than anyone else in the known universe, dating back to a time when this was all just fields. He's been road.cc technical editor for four years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. When he's not cycling around Wiltshire, he's running around it, or possibly swimming (sadly, he's one of those 'triathletes'). Mat is a youthful 42-year-old Cambridge graduate, GSOH etc.