The search for comfortable feet in winter
I suffer with cold feet in winter, fellow sufferers will know how bone gnawingly awful it is to have feet so cold you lose the feeling in them and it actually feels like you are pedaling with ice blocks surrounding your feet. Cold feet sufferers will also know how annoying it is when a person who has all year round warm feet tells you to “put a thicker sock on”. Buying bigger sized shoes to put more sock layers on doesn’t work either as usually the cleat is then in the wrong position even at it’s extreme adjustment, I’ve tried it I know. I’ve also tried kitchen foil, plastic bags, pop socks and those chemical hand warmers you can get for feet, all to no avail. Once the temperature dips below 5 degrees I know I’ve got around 10-20 miles before it’s so miserable I head for home. The pain however doesn’t stop there as once back in the warm the blood gradually being allowed back into the capillaries of the feet brings intense pain and a lengthy wait until your feet are defrosted enough to stand in a hot shower without screaming.
So the Spatz GRAVLR has a big task to overcome. I admit I didn’t mention this when I contacted Tom at Spatz to see If I could get a pair to try. The overshoes have been ridden in conditions around 1 degree to 12 degrees over numerous rides. They been ridden in rain, drizzle, frost and through all manor of gloopy wet muddy trails that my local area can provide. So how did they do?
The GRAVLRs are made from “aero armour” which is a very stretchy smooth surfaced material which is reassuringly thick but not at all heavy. They have kevlar reinforcement to stop abrasions on the toe and ankle and this really works, there have been no tears or marks even though they’ve been through some tough conditions. They have a sort of quilted panel on the inside next to your shin to keep the warm blood flowing down to the toes. The side zip is robust and is glove friendly with a velcro flap to keep it neat. Underneath the foot area there is more kevlar reinforcement on the velcro flaps.
The Ride I got a tip from Tom about putting on the overshoes, “set the Achilles heel first, then pull the toe over” which was top advice. The overshoes are designed to be fitted so It does take a couple of tries and practice to perfect the process, but once worn in it became easier to do. To do an effective test I wore standard socks and a pair of shimano XC5 shoes.
Once on the overshoes were pretty much unnoticeable as the fit was tight but not constrictive. Once the velcro under the shoe was set it never moved, even after some walking (into a bakery or two and up and down grass and mud slopes) Clipping in and out was unaffected and the overshoes didn’t need any readjustment during any of the rides.
Did I get Cold feet? On rides between 5-10 degrees I could have ridden on for as long as my energy could last, my feet were extremely comfortable in feel and temperature. On the coldest ride which was around 1 degree where in my normal set up I’d have been suffering after around 10 miles The GRAVLRs kept my feet comfortable for longer, In fact I could still wiggle my toes and had feeling in them after around 30 miles, they were cold but this is a massive improvement to how my feet normally feel. This is a complete win for me! In all temperatures and some really gritty wet conditions my feet stayed dry. The construction of the overshoes keeps the wind chill and damp at bay and together with that panel on the shin this the secret of their success.
If you don’t suffer with cold feet I think you will find the GRAVLRs an excellent way to allow you to ride into deep winter with warm, dry comfortable feet. If you do suffer then these overshoes are an excellent part of your arsenal to keep going for longer in deep winter weather.
the Spatzwear website says “these revolutionary knee length overshoes will transform your wet/cold riding experience” and riding along cocooned in these neoprene long length overshoes I’d pretty much agree.
for more info see Spatzwear.com
As with all my tests, this is an impartial and real world review. I’m not sponsored and I’m just an average rider like most of the cyclists out there. I do inform anyone who sends me things to test that It will be an honest review good or bad.