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Unless you're sporting full-on winter boots, good overshoes are essential. Sealskinz' All Weather LED Overshoes are up there with the thickest and weather-resistant-est ones on the market, with the bonus of lighting you up like a Christmas tree. However, if you're near the top of your size range, you'll struggle to get these over anything but the daintiest summer slippers.
The All Weathers come in two designs: the Cycle Overshoe and the Open Sole Cycle Overshoe (£50); the latter suits flat pedals as there's nothing to get snagged by pedal pins. These are the 'closed' road shoe variety, so I duly dug the summer shoes from the bottom of the wardrobe for some winter test-rides.
I know you're all dying to hear about the USP here – those flashing heels – and can report that they do catch the attention, particularly at night. A light makes you noticeable but a moving light doubly so, and when there's two of them you can double it again. UK law says pedals should be fitted with reflectors, but since almost no serious pedal has them, here's a way of making your heels semi-legal again.
In winter daylight they're less effective, but still worthwhile. My wife reported she needed to be within about 100 yards before she really noticed them; my cycle light was visible from much further. They aren't meant to be a replacement for proper tail lights.
The lights themselves are simple little button-shaped items that fit down a pocket on the heel and into a plastic ring. They stay securely in place. You give them a long squeeze to turn them on, a quick squeeze to scroll through the patterns (two flashing and one steady), and another long squeeze to turn them off. One of mine was a little easier to operate than the other. Once in place, I left them alone.
A 3V CR2032 lithium battery supplies the juice. These can be bought almost anywhere, and changing one is simply a matter of removing the red silicone cover. Sealskinz says you should get up to 240 hours on flashing mode and oh, how I wish I could tell you I've done 240 hours of riding this January.
It's not just about the gizmos though. These are quality overshoes with or without the lights. The YKK zips are robust, sensibly positioned and bearing an internal baffle – a good touch. The seam stitching is a work of art.
The soles are also tough. Every overshoe I've ever had has gone at the toe (on one memorable six-week tour I reduced a pair to shreds), but Sealskinz has gone as far as reinforcing the toes (and seams) with Kevlar. They're still looking good.
There's highly reflective detailing down the lengths of the zips, and a glow-in-the-dark Sealskinz logo for added side visibility. On that subject it's a shame they only come in black.
Unfortunately, summer shoes and the All Weather LED Overshoe weren't a warm enough combination for me, the old chilblains complaining loudly under the bed sheets for about a fortnight after the first sub-zero ride. Also, my winter bike throws a lot of spray over my toes, despite the full-length guards – and some of this got through. That's the nature of neoprene, of course. On the plus side, breathability is excellent.
I tested size L, which Sealskinz' size guide describes as UK 9-11 (EU 43-46). That should be fine for my size 11s, but they looked small right out of the box and while neoprene offers some stretch, it's not that much. No more than enough to just get these over my lightest road shoe, in fact.
Getting the zip over the ratchet on my Mavics was an interesting challenge, and resulted in a peculiar bulge (on the shoe... stop sniggering at the back). If I'd been buying I might have gone up a size, though the Sealskinz site is insistent the sizing is accurate. The four sizes should cover anyone from UK size 3 to 14, though I have my doubts!
If you aren't sold on the lights, the All Weather is available without for £15 less than this £55 LED version. Around £40 to £55 seems to be a popular pitch for winter overshoes. We recently tested the Castelli Diluvio UL Shoecovers at £50 and liked them, though I'd argue the Sealskinz are better finished. Hydra Tech's Pro Pioggia Winter Overshoes are new to the market, and at £40 offer a balance between race cut and weather resistance.
I haven't yet forgotten to remove the lights before putting these overshoes in the wash. I suppose it's only a matter of time. And even when you do remember, here's a pro tip – put them somewhere safe. Our cat had one down the back of the sideboard in no time.
Even if you do lose one or both flashy bits from Sealskinz All Weather LED overshoes, or they die in the laundry – or the cat – you'll still have a very good, robust and useful pair of overshoes.
Made-to-last overshoes with effective lighting at the heels, but a very tight fit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sealskinz All Weather LED Cycle Overshoe
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Says Sealskinz, "We designed the All Weather LED Cycle Overshoe to keep you seen and protected out on the road. Riding in the dark is sometimes unavoidable, and staying safe out on the road is so important. These overshoes will not only keep you visible, but they'll also shield you from the rain and cold."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
90% Neoprene, 7% Nylon, 3% Kevlar
Sizes small/medium/large/extra large
Integrated LED lights
Really well made, lovely stitching on the seams and a general air of quality all round.
These are good, thick overshoes, comfortable and well designed – so likely to last more than one year, which helps mitigate the outlay. They let a little water in at the toes (as neoprene does) but aren't warm enough over road shoes on really cold rides, for me at least. The trouble is, if you're the same you can't get them on over anything more robust.
I've only had one pair of overshoes last more than one winter (some indestructible Northwave jobbies) but I'm confident this will be the second pair.
The shape over a smooth shoe is very good, with no wrinkles or gaps. They're very snug, though – see sizing – and I need all the stretch. Over my ratchet-fastening shoes they look a bit odd.
According to the size guide these should fit, but I found them tight and a bit of a stretch to get on, though it helps to keep the fit smooth.
Thick and chunky means none too light.
No unwelcome pressure points, and warm over road shoes down to around zero.
An overshoe robust enough to see you through more than one winter is better value than two cheap pairs that fall apart, in my opinion. If you think the lights are a gimmick, you can save £15 and get the plain-old All Weather Overshoe.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
These are very easy to clean. Just remember to take the lights out!
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're designed keep the warmth in and weather out, and they do. Personally I'd rather wear more winter-orientated footwear than summer shoes with covers, even as chunky as these, but that's an individual choice.
The lights are simple, work well and aid visibility, but if you're skeptical they are available without.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent construction and materials. Zip baffle. Yes, okay, I like the flashing lights.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The less-than-generous size.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
We recently tested the Castelli Diluvio UL Shoecovers at £50 and liked them, though I'd argue the Sealskinz are better finished. Hydra Tech's Pro Pioggia Winter Overshoes are new to the market and £40. They offer a balance between race cut and weather resistance.
Sealskinz' own All Weather Overshoes do the same job as these, minus the electronics, for £40.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes (for autumn/spring)
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
There's lots to like here: the excellent construction, good looks, and the strong zip with a nice baffle. I even fell for the pulsating disco heels. For me, they aren't deep winter-warm enough in combination with summer shoes, though, and you won't get them on over anything chunkier.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,