The overshoe is a fixture of any experienced cyclist’s winter wardrobe, a simple but highly effective device for protecting your shoes and, more importantly, your feet from the worst ravages of winter. Like gloves and other cycling garments, they come in different weights, and while it may seem hard to believe for the uninitiated, a deep winter overshoe can be uncomfortably hot on a day too warm for its temperature ‘window’.
The lightest are intended to offer little more than improved aerodynamics for time trials. ‘Belgian booties’ are essentially no more than a large pair of socks, and ideal for cool, dry conditions. At the other end of the scale, a neoprene overshoe will offer insulation and protection from the rain, although claims for waterproofing for any overshoe are limited by the two large holes in the sole for cleats.
The reality of most overshoes I’ve tried is that, despite the manufacturer’s claims for longevity, overshoes should be regarded as disposable items. While it’s galling to throw away any garment after only a season, it’s an exceptional pair of overshoes in my experience that lasts for longer. Fabric and zips are placed under tension by pulling them, ermm, over shoes, and the sole is subject to wear whenever it comes into contact with the ground.
Endura’s Equipe neoprene overshoe is the best I’ve tried: windproof, waterproof, and mercifully free of zips, Velcro tabs, or any other fastening device, Simply pull the overshoe over the shoe. The tough and stretchy neoprene fabric has sufficient ‘give’ to survive the experience undamaged and the Kevlar-reinforced sole has proved tough enough to survive a winter of walks from the bike to the café counter.
It’s not what I wear all season, however (see the note above about weights and temperatures). On cool, dry days Etxeondo’s Ondo Road, made from Gore’s vaunted Windstopper fabric, has done the trick. While equipped with a zip and Velcro tab, I’ve avoided placing unnecessary strain on any of the fastenings by wearing a size larger than usual. They sag a little, but winter riding is about substance rather than style.