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
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
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.
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,
Unfortunately they seem to be out of stock at the moment, but the rest of
Ekoi's range of overshoes is well worth a look.
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 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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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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.