CapoForma Cordura Shoe Cover
Booties, aka shoe covers, present a puzzle. Despite recent advances in technology and all the amazing new materials out there, it is really hard to find a pair that keeps the feets warm without getting too sweaty. And it is doubly hard to find a high-tech solution to what to wear when it's in the 40s and dry.
We've used and liked several brands of winter booties over the years, but all leave our feet wet, with two exceptions. Days when it's in the teens and days when we're merely sitting on the bike. For all other circumstances, wet feet are a problem. Next time you get cold feet on a winter ride, check your socks. Chances are they're soaked with sweat. Push the mercury into the mid-40s, and most of the high-tech booties are unbearably hot. Worst offender for us in the 40s are the neoprene covers. We can only wear these in the 30s or lower.
The oversock bootie has been a winter insulation solution since there have been socks. Take a pair of socks, pull them over your cycling shoes, cut out a hole for the cleats, go. Back when oversocks meant either destroying a pair of wool cycling socks or wool hiking socks, the option wasn't a popular one, unless you were a pro or starved your kids so you could look like one. Particularly because cycling socks were hard to come by and sizing up to fit over size 45 shoes was never a viable option. The only way to go with sock booties was if you happened to like shopping at Army/Navy stores and were totally a function over fashion kind of cyclist. Rag-wool booties is a look that can take some getting used to -- but if you're one of the fastest on your ride, you'll get imitators.
CapoForma isn't the first to the oversock party, but we're glad they added the item to their lineup. The Cordura Shoe Cover is made from 55% Cordura, 15% Polyamide, 25% Lycra, 5% elastic. In other words, durable (thanks to the Cordura) and stretchy (thanks to the Lycra). CapoForma goes with a short cuff on these oversocks, but the way the covers stretch, they actually almost reach the top of CapoForma's longest Euro socks.
We've done the oversock routine before. Since we tend to walk a good bit in our cycling shoes -- stairs, or the Mur de Grammont when it's littered with fallen cyclists -- we were tentative to start with these early in the winter. Didn't want to wreck them before we got some good pictures.
The people at CapoForma assure us that the oversocks don't wear out so much from the walking. They wear out largely from pulling them over cycling shoes and getting caught on sharp edges, like the edge of the cleat and the edge of the heel. They have a good point. Our previous pair of oversocks developed runs in them just like stockings. We used them until the runs turned into rips.
Being that we want any gear to last as long as possible, we carefully set up the oversocks for the first cutting of the cleat slot. We tried a razor blade on the line while wearing the shoe. It didn't work well. We cut some threads but didn't cut through. We then took off the socks, shoes, and reassembled the socks on the shoes while we weren't wearing them. Then we took a pair of scissors and cut the hole. Started in the middle of the cleat and cut toward the back and then cut toward the front. Once this is done, you push the extra material to the side of the cleats.
After several rides, the shoe covers are merely dirty. There are no runs, no rubs, no extra cuts, and the dirt kind of looks good. We've worn them on rides starting at 39 Fahrenheit and running into the low 50s. 39 was a bit chilly, even with wool cycling socks in the shoes, but we expected the temp to start climbing shortly after the ride started. And it did. The oversocks are definitely more comfortable than windproof or neoprene booties in the 40s, allowing our feet to sweat without overheating.
Since our current shoes hold us in with a mechanical ratchet, we weren't able to test out something that seemed to be a big benefit when using these shoe covers with Velcro-strap cycling shoes. The covers stretched over the shoes prevented the Velcro straps from slipping. This made the shoes feel more secure, particularly on rainy days.
We've sung the praises of white gloves and white bar tape; you know we're partial to the white covers. We won't bore you by repeating ourselves here. In terms of washing, doing in cold, with the delicates should get out most of the dirt. If some dirt is stubborn, try a little bleach in the next load.
Occam's Razor. The simplest solution is the best. The CapoForma Cordura Shoe Covers are among the simplest solutions to cool feet around. An updating of an old stopgap solution that calls for little specialized fabrication work and no high-technology fabrics. They're probably not the most durable shoe cover on the market, but they own a niche and there is nothing on the horizon that seems to do the job better in that niche.