|Newsletter - 2012 Archive|
Shoe Covers – A Quick Evaluation
Tracy Barill mused in a prior newsletter post about shoe covers – whether there were any that were easy to put on, kept your feet warm, and actually worked to keep out water.
The short answer is no, but there is one shoe cover that comes close: the MEC Cycling Shoe Covers (Unisex), Product Number 5009-241 (http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Cycling/ShoeCovers/PRD~5009-241/mec-cycling-shoe-covers-unisex.jsp). Of the various shoe covers I have used over the past 40 years, I would rate these the highest for water-repellency, provided you wear them correctly. They don’t rate as high overall as my personal favorite shoe covers – the mtb covers made by Adidas – which are superior in terms of fashion sense, snugness of fit, and comfort around the ankle, but the MEC’s will keep your feet dryer for much longer.
How to wear shoe covers: this is really important, as there is no shoe cover made that will keep your feet dry for longer than about 40 minutes. The most you can hope for is that your feet will at least be warm after a couple of hours, and this is just a product of how wet it is times how windproof the covers are. The MEC covers are made of a stiff, heavy waterproof nylon; the material exhibits good wind-resistance, but water can still get in thu the seams. Holes will also develop at the areas that bend (like the front of the ankle) after a couple of years. So your feet will get wet, but you can minimize this as follows:
- Wear the shortest socks you’ve got.
With your feet soaked, they will more easily feel the cold. With the MEC covers, your feet will be soaked within an hour, but they should remain reasonably dry for about the first 40 minutes if you follow the advice above.
Adidas mtb shoe covers, on the other hand, will generally keep your feet dry for maybe ten minutes (the material is not that waterproof). Pearl Izumi covers don’t work at all; they are much better for making your feet more aero in a time trial.
The MEC covers do have certain disadvantages. For one, the material they use is very stiff at first. Used with short socks and tucked under the tights, the stiff material plus the velcro will rub against your bare ankle, causing redness, rashes, or blisters to form. The cheaper velcro MEC’s (probably Chinese) manufacturer uses tends to lose its “adhesiveness” faster than Adidas. The velcro tabs go to the inside, so they are more likely to rub against the cranks. The covers tend to work their way down the shoe, so when off your bike, your heel will be stepping on the back of the covers, right on the bottom tab of the velcro closure. They tend to be a little “baggy.” And the material is so stiff that frequent bending will cause holes to be formed, limiting their effectiveness against water entry. And they are just not very stylish.
Although fairly useless in the rain, my preference is for the Adidas shoe covers. Here’s why:
- You can’t get them locally, so they are more unique, more Euro, and more elitist. My usual supplier is eBay and they often come from the UK.
Although I used the really thin time trial version of the Adidas covers (with zippers instead of velcro, and meant more for keeping your shoes clean than for rain) during Paris-Brest-Paris, I used the MEC covers for the Eleventh Hour 200 because it was raining heavily at the start. My feet took longer to get wet, but once it stopped raining, the windproof material kept my feet from drying.
Shoe covers are great for keeping your feet warm in cold, dry weather, or in snow, as long as you keep your feet dry. But they do tend to pick up snow if you walk thru it. I wear shoe covers all winter because the bike tends to throw off lots of road sand and grit, and I abhor dirty shoes. Shoe covers are much easier to clean than cycling shoes, and dirty shoes reflect poorly on your character.
It’s a good idea to keep a whisk broom at the end of your ride to brush the sand off the booties and your shins. I keep whisk brooms on a nail in my carport, in the bike room at work, and in my car. Good whisk brooms are hard to find; they are not as readily available as they used to be, but they make shoe cover removal much tidier! If you don’t brush off your shoe covers, you’ll get road sand all over the floor when you take them off, or when you next put them on, after they have dried and all that sand is still stuck to the covers, ready to come flying off. I get my whisk brooms from the dollar store, cheap Chinese-made brooms where the straw too easily breaks off, but they work. I would imagine you could get a REALLY good one at a store that sells baseball stuff; umpires use them to brush off home plate. A shoe brush would also work.
February 9, 2012