Author Topic: shoe covers for cold weather  (Read 5672 times)

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Offline driftlessregion

shoe covers for cold weather
« on: December 08, 2011, 10:42:56 pm »
What's the best shoe cover for riding in cold weather?

Offline John Nelson

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2011, 11:25:01 pm »
The best ones are really expensive. Do you do expensive?

The neoprene ones work pretty well for not much cost. Combined with toe warmers, they can keep you warm in very cold temperatures.

If you are using mountain bike shoes with cleats, the shoe covers have the potential of interfering with clipping in and out unless you cut the hole in the bottom pretty big (because the treads hold the shoe cover away from the cleat). If you are using road shoes, that's not much of a problem.

Offline waynemyer

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Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2011, 03:07:16 am »
You haven't mentioned the conditions in which you cycle. I am quite tolerant of cold weather, so that said...

In my experience, Sugoi booties are some of the best going. Good for wind and rain, have stood up to three years which is two and a half years more than I expected. The chink in the armor with any bootie, however, is the cleat. Any clipless cleat is a big ol' heatsink swinging in the breeze.

Above freezing, I don't really give a flying foo. No body parts are going to fall off and it's all only just discomfort. Below freezing, I use Hotronic M5 (I think they call them E4 now). It's just enough heat to keep the body from shutting down blood flow. You can also switch them into overdrive wherein the system will dump a ton of heat into the ball/toebox, enough so to reverse painfully cold toes.
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Offline staehpj1

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011, 11:00:10 am »
Really tacky, but in a pinch plastic bags extend the comfort range a good bit.

Offline Tandem4Rider

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 02:11:32 pm »
I use these: http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1080301_-1___#ReviewHeader

Reviews are mixed.  I've had mine for some time and they work fine and have not come apart.  My feet sweat in them they are that good, in my experience.

I've stopped riding below 25 degrees (F), so I must admit I can't speak to their abilities in those temps.

Offline Ron Scott

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2011, 08:14:10 pm »
The best ones are really expensive. Do you do expensive?

Tell us what is expensive...

Offline staehpj1

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2011, 09:17:01 am »
It really makes a difference how cold we are talking about.  Are we talking 40F, 20F, 0F, or -20F?

Offline bogiesan

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2011, 11:24:28 am »
What's the best shoe cover for riding in cold weather?

Probably whatever the other guy is wearing.

I have neoprene booties. They achieve nothing except some water protection. If you need to keep your toesies warm in sub-20F, you must have adequate insualtion and you must add heat. Even pedaling at a nice clip (risking wind chill on the exposed bits) you cannot get enough warm blood into your toes to keep you comfortable for long.

I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline staehpj1

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2011, 03:25:17 pm »
What's the best shoe cover for riding in cold weather?

Probably whatever the other guy is wearing.

I have neoprene booties. They achieve nothing except some water protection. If you need to keep your toesies warm in sub-20F, you must have adequate insualtion and you must add heat. Even pedaling at a nice clip (risking wind chill on the exposed bits) you cannot get enough warm blood into your toes to keep you comfortable for long.
Below -20F!!!  Do you actually tour in those conditions?  I could see myself getting stuck with those conditions on an XC ski or snowshoe tour, but if I experienced -20F on a bike tour, I'd be looking for a room to wait for warmer weather.

At home I wouldn't dream of riding in -20F, I would hike, trail run, snowshoe, or XC ski, but riding a bike in those conditions wouldn't even occur to me.

My hat is off to any braves souls who would tour in -20F or lower.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2011, 03:40:32 pm »
What's the best shoe cover for riding in cold weather?

Probably whatever the other guy is wearing.

I have neoprene booties. They achieve nothing except some water protection. If you need to keep your toesies warm in sub-20F, you must have adequate insualtion and you must add heat. Even pedaling at a nice clip (risking wind chill on the exposed bits) you cannot get enough warm blood into your toes to keep you comfortable for long.
Below -20F!!!  Do you actually tour in those conditions?  I could see myself getting stuck with those conditions on an XC ski or snowshoe tour, but if I experienced -20F on a bike tour, I'd be looking for a room to wait for warmer weather.

At home I wouldn't dream of riding in -20F, I would hike, trail run, snowshoe, or XC ski, but riding a bike in those conditions wouldn't even occur to me.

My hat is off to any braves souls who would tour in -20F or lower.

I'm guessing his "sub-20F" quote is really below 20F.  The "-" is just in there to separate the sub from the 20F.  I really doubt anyone bikes in minus 20F temperatures, no matter what they might say.

I use neoprene booties.  Plus Lake mountain bike winter boot shoes.  And wool socks.  This combination is OK for an hour down to about 15-20F.  After an hour, my toes are cold.  In the mid 30s F, road shoes and neoprene booties and wool socks work for about 2 hours.

I've heard good comments about those chemical heaters that you activate and then put on top of your shoe toebox inside neoprene booties.  Not tried them yet.

Offline staehpj1

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2011, 03:56:47 pm »
I'm guessing his "sub-20F" quote is really below 20F.  The "-" is just in there to separate the sub from the 20F.  I really doubt anyone bikes in minus 20F temperatures, no matter what they might say.
My bad! 

Offline dombrosk

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2011, 08:36:50 am »
I've been bike-commuting through the winter for six years now in Minnesota, riding about an hour each way.  Here are a few things that help me stay happy.

1.  Exact temperature matters.   I dress very differently at 35 than at 20 degrees.  Above 20 I think in 10 degree bands, once it gets below 20 then every five degrees makes a difference.

2.  Warm feet and hands have a lot to do with warm ankles and wrists.  Those are the places that blood flows through to get to our fingers and toes.  For my ankles, I've taken to wearing smartwool nordic socks that come up over my calf quite a way, then pulling my tights on over the socks to create a double layer.  Below 30 I'll usually add rain/wind pants on top of that.

3.  Above 30 I ride in my leather Keen bike shoes, adding neoprene toe covers which are the bottoms of old worn out shoe covers that I cut off.  (Thanks LBS for that tip!)  Sometimes I'll add Showers Pass shoe covers over that, especially if it's damp out.   Yes, the shoe covers don't breathe, but for an hour that's not been an issue for me.

4.  Below 30 for many years I wore Shimano gore-tex 'winter' shoes which had little insulation but were somehow quite warm, adding the toe covers and shoe covers as needed. 

5.  The chemical 'toe warmers' really do work, as do the hand warmers.  But it has to get down close to or below zero for me to need those.

6.  Last year I picked up a pair of Lake winter shoes at an end-of-season sale... I'd heard they were magical and that's been my experience with them.  Last week I rode in 5 degrees with just my medium-weight nordic socks and the Lake shoes and was fine for an hour.  With both fingers and toes, I find it's really important to do a lot of wiggling around to keep the blood flowing.  Because I could only find road style shoes in my size I bought them, but they are not easy to walk in so if buying full price for touring/commuting I'd go with the mountain style shoe.

7.  Although it's not about warm feet, staying upright is a big part of a happy, safe, bicycling experience, and if you live in a part of the country that has ice/snow, consider the nokian studded tires. They understand winter riding in Finland!

Riding in the winter seems crazy until you try it... and the best way to do that is to keep riding through the fall to gradually acclimate and adjust your gear.  But having an owl 10 feet in front of me,  silently pacing me in my headlight beam through a soft falling snow in the pre-dawn darkness is worth having to wiggle my toes.

I think of bike commuting as the tour that never ends.  Happy riding in all seasons!

Offline solsrch

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2011, 06:50:15 pm »
I'll commute down to the teens, so below that I don't have any advice.  I'm with the 10 degree band theory.  I'm not a big fan of the neoprene booties, although I used them for years since I didn't see many options.  I was forced out of them when I started using mtb shoes and have shifted to the Gore covers that are insulated but don't have a sole.  A lot of heat gets sucked off the bottom of my feet (although less with the mtb soles than my old road ones).  To combat that, besides the smart wool heavier socks I shift to a "warmer" insole.  I got them at a sporting goods store - they're intended for boots.  Anyway, they aren't too thick to fit my shoes and they cut down on the heat loss through the bottoms of my feet.

Still waiting for the first snow here in DC to try my new tires.  Got my first studded bike tires in 1992 and they changed my life.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2011, 03:40:29 pm »
I'm not a big fan of the neoprene booties, although I used them for years since I didn't see many options.  I was forced out of them when I started using mtb shoes

Neoprene booties go over mountain bike SPD shoes.  You just need to get the booties a couple sizes bigger than the shoes.  I have the Lake winter boots in the SPD mountain bike version.  Size 10.  I use size 13 Performance neoprene booties over them.

Offline JayH

Re: shoe covers for cold weather
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2011, 11:43:43 am »
I doubt the booties have an effect on TIME ATAC cleats or Eggbeaters as they are pretty small, but the Speedplay cleats sometimes interfere with the booty holes cause they are larger.   

I have a cheap beatup pair of PI booties that are all frayed but work for me.  I have a larger Serratus pair that I got from MEC that are for rain but both are somewhat windproof. Many cycling shoes breath a lot cause they're made for warm weather so just cutting the wind is a good step for most conditions...  Then when you're talking real cold, the neoprene booties come into play.  After that, a 3mm neoprene full body wetsuit.. :)


Jay