Riding in cold weather 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. The best cycling overshoes, designed to protect your feet from the weather, are a top investment if you're aiming to ride in all weathers, 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.
Cycling 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 cycling 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, the best cycling 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 cycling overshoes, here are 19 good examples.
The Spatz Roadman overshoes might look odd, but if you ride in wet and cold conditions typical of UK winters, these take comfort to new levels.
Tester Matt writes: "The Roadman overshoes will not stop heavy, torrential rain seeping down through bib tights, and water getting in through the sole of some shoes. However, the difference compared with ankle height overshoes is dramatic, and the same is true for winter boots in my experience – in wet weather they will also end up soaking inside and this can impact warmth. Another benefit over winter boots is that the Roadman 2s will dry out in a few hours, rather than days.
"They do keep your feet dry on virtually all rides, especially where standing water is the main factor, as almost all the spray being thrown onto the overshoe's waterproof fabric simply rolls off, but the best feature of the Roadman overshoess is the warmth they provide. In reality, it is impossible to keep your feet dry in the worst British weather, but if you can keep them warm you can keep riding in comfort.
"I have tested the overshoes on some incredibly long rides in temperatures close to zero, with rain and standing water, and my feet have stayed warm every time. Even on dry days below zero, they've kept my feet warm in normal 'summer' shoes and mid-weight socks."
These might look like something pulled from a sci-fi convention wardrobe, but the Spatz GravlR overshoes provide quite possibly the best winter protection going. The price might make you wince, though, and I wouldn't recommend them if you do a lot of walking on rides.
The hydrophobic neoprene repels water, while inside there's a thermal layer for extra warmth. Whereas most overshoes are ankle height, Spatz takes things higher, finishing at the top of the calf. They certainly look, erm, different, but then we cyclists are hardly the height of fashion at the best of times, whatever we like to believe.
Tester Matt says: “The GravlRs give the best protection of any overshoe I've used – or any winter boot, for that matter. On extremely wet days water can still seep in (you can never stop it completely), but what sets them apart from anything else is their warmth, even damp. With temperatures close to freezing and my socks wet, the GravlRs still kept my feet warm. The problem with all the winter boots I have used is water will too easily go over the top and into the shoe, where it then stays and results in your feet getting cold, but this doesn't happen with the GravelRs, or at least it is delayed significantly.”
The Castelli Diluvio UL Shoecovers are made from waterproof neoprene to keep your feet dry, they extend high to make sure your ankles stay warm in most conditions, and they're very stretchy for a close and comfortable fit.
Whereas the Diluvio Pros, below, are made from 4mm-thick neoprene, the Diluvio ULs are 3mm thick, as are the Diluvio C (£45) and the Diluvio 2 All-Roads (£45).
First things first: do the Diluvio ULs keep the water out? This might make or break the deal, particularly for UK readers. The good news is that water doesn't get through the neoprene at all and the seams are sealed. Fabulous; we're up and running!
'Pioggia' is the Italian word for 'rain' and that tells you what these overshoes are all about. They're made from a polyurethane-coated fabric that won't let water through. And when we say that it won't let water through, it really won't. Believe us, water doesn't soak through here.
The waterproofing extends to the front seam which is internally taped to prevent leaks and the zip is waterproof too. Well, it's about as waterproof as zips get; virtually nothing gets past it.
The polyurethane-coated fabric used for the main body is very stretchy so you can get a close fit all round and it moves easily with your ankle as you pedal. It's lined with a thin fleece layer to provide extra warmth.
These Lusso Thermal Toe Covers offer impressive warmth, are really well made, and are small enough to easy fit in a jersey pocket when the day heats up. The price is great, too.
Toe covers themselves aren't that complex a product, most are just a piece of neoprene with a hole for your cleat, but that hasn't stopped Lusso spending a lot of time on the details.
The upper part of the cover is a Windtex thermal material, which for its lack of bulk is surprisingly warm. Riding in near freezing temperatures with the Lussos covering the vents at the front of your shoes, your toes are noticeably warmer than parts of you that are exposed to the wind.
Sportful's Speedskin Silicone Booties — overshoes to you and me — keep the wind and water out brilliantly but only really work on milder days because of their lack of insulation.
The Speedskins started life as a time trial overshoe, developed more for controlling airflow over the bumps and buckles of your shoes, but with the addition of taped seams and a silicone coating over the Lycra they are some of the most weatherproof overshoes around.
The material is near-impenetrable by both wind and water – riding on wet roads caused them no issue at all. They finish quite high up your calf so that cuts down on a lot of the spray hitting your tights and soaking down in through to your socks that way. That's something that inevitably happens when you are riding in persistent heavy rain, but no overshoe is immune to this.
Castelli's Diluvio Pro Shoe Covers are full-on winter-ready booties – warm, waterproof and with a svelte-yet-thick fit around the shoe that very likely come from input from Team Ineos; Castelli credits the team with asking for a warmer overshoe for training in cold and wet conditions. They're expensive, though, and for such a high-wear product that might be an issue.
Shoe covers are an essential piece of winter cycling kit, no question. You need them to do their job, and you need them to do it well. Happily, the Diluvio Pros are brilliant performers for the cold and wet winter months, featuring a 4mm-thick neoprene fabric that is as adept at insulating your feet as it is protecting them (and your shoes) from water ingress, from road spray and rain.
Caratti's Neoprene Windproof Toe Covers are the perfect riding companions as the transition between seasons takes place. They cover the vents of your summer shoes first thing in the chilly morning and slip easily into your jersey pocket if things warm up a little.
Toe warmers have quite a few uses. This time of year, they are a nifty solution for those early morning rides when you know that the temperature is going to warm up while you are out, or when things are really brutal – think snow and freezing temperatures – they can be an extra layer above or beneath a pair of traditional overshoes.
The 3mm neoprene construction offers some impressive windproofing and even if you do get wet feet they hold in a lot of heat to stop you getting cold toes.
The Lusso Windtex Stealth overboots offer a large working temperature range across a myriad of different weather conditions. And don't let that Windtex name fool you – these booties will also keep the rain at bay for way longer than you'd expect of a fabric this light and thin.
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.
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.
SealSkinz LED 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.
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.
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.
Like a swimming cap for your feet, these divide opinion and can make your feet very sweaty indeed. These are, however, very, very waterproof.
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.
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David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. 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, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.