With wind and waterproofing claims, could the Sportful Neoprene All Weather Booties be the ones to keep your feet warm this winter?
I was excited to see a pair of Sportful Neoprene All Weather Booties land on my desk. Cold feet can, in my experience, make or break a ride. I’m never sure which is more painful, losing the feeling in your feet or the feeling returning. Both can be excruciatingly painful, so my personal aim every winter is to ensure that I never lose radio communication with my feet in the first place, and thus I am on an eternal quest for the best overshoe on the market.
Of course an appropriate pair of socks will go a long way towards keeping feet warm, but there’s only so much merino wool can do, so it’s down to the outer layer to truly keep the wind and water-induced chill factors at bay.
As the name suggests, the All Weather Bootie is made using a neoprene as the base fabric. Constructed using just two fabric panels has kept joins, which can be vulnerable to weather encroachment, to a minimum, and where the fabric has been connected at the front of the forefoot, a glue has also been used to restrict possible water entry.
At the rear of the bootie a zipper, with additional stormproof flap, continues to the heel cup, while tough protective fabric has been applied to the toe, sole and heel areas to give protection to the overshoes in the areas that can suffer from wear and tear.
Nice touches have been added to the Sportful Neoprene All Weather Bootie in the form of a easy-pull-on loop at the heel, as well as reflective detailing at the front and rear.
Pulling the Sportful Neoprene All Weather Booties on I was immediately impressed with the fit. The small/medium was perfect over a size 40 road shoe. In fact, they would have made a great pair of thermal aero overshoes (if winter-racing watt gains are your thing). Normally overshoe snugness at this level can require such endurance and perseverance – first of all getting them on over your shoes and then dealing with the shoe closure that you’ve inevitably sprung while doing so – that it counts as a pre-ride warm up. So I was really grateful for the stretchy neoprene and the finger loop at the base of the zip to pull the overshoe over the heel. My Boa dial shoe closure did come unfastened, but the wide opening allowed for easy access and retightening.
Thanks to living in Manchester, which they don’t call the Rainy City for nothing, I was able to ride the Sportful Neoprene All Weather Booties in early autumn in rain of almost biblical proportions and, with the tempreature having dropped to single digits, I was able to give the Sportful Neoprene All Weather Booties a good run for their money. In downpours like this, with no front mudguard, there isn’t anything on the market other than wearing a pair of boats on your feet that can keep back the tide of water constantly being driven against overshoes. To be fair, the Sportful Neoprene All Weather Booties did put up a reasonable fight when surface water on the road was minimal. But after a couple of hours’ riding when puddles became unavoidable, the water did eventually breach.
However, rather than a sudden gush of cold liquid, it was over an unnoticable period of time so that although I realised my feet were wet through, they were never cold. Even at the end of the ride when I was banished from entering the house until I had accomplished the dishonourable task of disrobing in the doorway (seriously is there any other sport that has this level of grounding?) when I was able to pour water out of my shoes, my feet were still a nice pinky colour rather than the whiteish blue that riding in the rain normally leaves them.
It’s only been a couple of outings, but so far so good in terms of the durability, something that the Sportful WS Bootie Reflex overshoe suffered with in the past, although I suspect this is partly do to the minimal walking I’ve needed to do in them.
The snug and well-fitting Sportful Neoprene All Weather Booties provide excellent thermal and windproofing qualities, which continues even when water does eventually breach.