Cycling socks and overshoes

Today I’m going to deal with a part of cycling not often discussed. That part of your body down there. No, not there, further down! Your feet!

You see cold and wet feet are an unpleasant and miserable part of being a cyclist that isn’t necessary! With winter on the way many cyclists are just going to accept that it’s part of the cycling experience. Yet, as any more seasoned cyclist will tell you, it is a problem with a simple solution.

What can you do?

  • Wear two pairs of socks! If you have cold feet putting on an extra pair of socks before you set off will make a big difference. If you only have a short commute then this is a great option.
  • Put a plastic bag over your socks or shoes – no joke! Works surprisingly well.
  • Extra pair of shoes – just accept that your shoes and socks are going to get wet and change into a dry pair when you get to your destination
  • Get waterproof overshoes (also known as booties and shoe covers) – great for keeping dry but not perhaps for those that are more fashion conscious
  • Get cycling socks – these can provide extra warmth, keep the water out and at the same time prevent odours.

I’m going to talk a little bit more about the last two. Starting with the cycling socks.

Cycling socks

A quality pair of wool socks is what gets me through the winter. They are good for keeping warm and do a much better job than other materials at keeping my feet relatively dry. If you’re in the market for some look for Merino wool ones. I recently heard the SmartWool socks are particularly good.

I have also been recommended SealSkinz by other riders on numerous occasions and will almost certainly be investing in a pair this winter depending on how bad the weather is. They are apparently the most waterproof socks you can buy and do a great job of keeping your feet dry and sweat free. They are a bit pricey but you get plenty of years use out of them so they are worth it.


goretex overshoeAs for the overshoes the one everyone recommends is the Gore overshoe. It does very well at keeping your shoes dry and also is far easier to remove than most of the other makes as it unzips right down so you can just slip your shoe in. Great for in the morning when your in a rush. It is also well made with quality manufacturing so will last you a long time.

Alternatively one that is a bit cheaper is the Endura MTB series overshoes. They cost just over £20 and are good at keeping water at bay and providing warmth for your feet more so than most other overshoes.

Overshoes are most effective when worn in combination with waterproof socks. One thing to watch out for is that they do wear out very quick if you walk in them.

What you choose to wear will largely depend on what kind of cycling you are doing. If you have a long one hour cycle commute into work then it is perhaps worth investing in SealSkinz and overshoes. If however you are only cycling for about 15 – 20 minutes then just wear an extra pair of socks and change into different shoes when you get to work. Also don’t laugh at the carrier bag idea, if caught in heavy rain it works well! But whatever you do don’t keep cycling around with cold feet as it will put you off cycling in winter.

See also:

Join 10,221 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.


9 Responses to Cycling socks and overshoes

  1. Balint 23/10/2009 at 5:42 pm #

    I’m using an Endura Road Overshoe and I’m very satisfied with it. My commute is 2×1 hour long and it helped a lot to keep me dry on more than one occasion.

  2. Andreas 25/10/2009 at 10:13 am #

    I have read a good review of the endura road overshoe so thanks for recommending it to others

  3. Geoff 27/11/2009 at 7:23 am #

    Endura MTB Overshoes; fell apart on the bottom within a few weeks, maybe used on 4 seperate rides. It appears that you’re only allowed to cycle with them and not walk with them. Even the distance across train station platforms and from a cycle lock up into the office.

    Seems to be a common problem, as others have reported the same and Endura should probably recall them,

  4. Andreas 27/11/2009 at 9:19 am #

    Heard lots of stories of people walking in them and they just get completely destroyed. They are literally only for cycling in.

  5. pat r 28/12/2009 at 6:31 pm #

    hi i have used sealskins for 4 years .from walking on dartmoor to long bike rides . they are great and will last if looked after by regular cool rinsing in clean water . a tip i wear a realy thin cotton sock underneath to prevent wear .

  6. Samuel G 24/01/2010 at 9:38 am #

    Hi Andreas, I’m surprised to see no mention of what i believe to be the most important factor in keeping your feet dry when cycling – full length mudguards and a mudflap. In my experience 90% of spray comes from below, not above!

  7. Andreas 24/01/2010 at 10:58 am #

    Pat – thanks for recommending Seal Skinz I’ve contacted them to see if we can put together a review for the blog.
    Sam – I agree mudguards are a great addition to a bike during the winter months. I only just put my mudguards back on the other day and I wonder what had took me so long!

  8. Mika 03/02/2010 at 12:52 am #

    I like these ones;

    They are made with some sort of wicking coolmax, I have never heard of that material but usually with ordinary socks my feet are really hot and sweaty after. However with these socks they seem to be more dry and cool after a long ride.

  9. Big Softy 27/01/2012 at 12:57 am #

    Personally, I swear by Sealskinz waterproof socks for wet weather.
    They’re a bit pricey, 25 quid and up, but a fantastic investment in comfort.
    They’re breathable, keep my feet warm and dry, and last for years. I’ve got 4 pairs that I’ve been wearing for the last 3 years whenever rain is forecast.
    They also do great waterproof gloves too.
    Dry, therefore warm, hands and feet make the journey so much easier.

Leave a Reply