Gore Bike Wear Oxygen II Overshoe Review: A Terrific Cycling Shoe Cover for Your Winter Cycling Needs
Why Would I Want to Cover My Bike Shoe With a Bootie?
As I talked about in my review of the Gore Bike Wear Mistral IV cycling gloves, moving to Maryland from Florida left me ill-prepared for the rigors of winter cycling and triathlon training. In the apparel department, my winter cycling wardrobe consisted of the same items that were in my summer cycling wardrobe: short-sleeve cycling jerseys and cycling shorts.
A cycling bike shoe cover? The thought of such a mysterious item never even entered my mind. Booties are for, well, babies, I always thought. And so cycling booties must be for . . . cycling babies?
Winter Cycling Apparel
I Am Not a Baby. Or Am I?
Fast-forward to my first long ride in the cold weather of an Eastern Shore winter. The bad part about feeling your toes start to go numb (is that phrase an oxymoron?) is that they are in a position on your bike where there is no way to block them from the wind. If your hands start to go, you can tuck them in behind the handlebars to block the wind for a while. Your toes, on the other hand, are sticking out there, taking the brunt of the wind head-on, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Or is there? As I was riding, I began to think, "How do people do this? My toes are going to break off and I have 15 miles to go before I get back home and inside to thaw out. What if they made . . . I don't know, some kind of biking . . . shoe . . . cover, you know, like a cycling . . . bootie, or something?" Uh-duh.
Welcome to the Internet, May I Help You?
After a long, hot shower to defrost my feet, I got right to work on the Internet, settling in to begin what I imagined was going to be a long and arduous search for the elusive "cycling bootie."
This long search took approximately .20 seconds, according to Google. I had pages filled with information on winter cycling apparel, shoe covers, cycling booties, winter cycling gear, etc.. Apparently, somebody thought of the shoe cover before I did. Good news for my next ride.
Gore Oxygen II Cycling Overshoe
Winter Cycling and Running Socks
Gore Oxygen II Cycling Overshoe
After doing a ton of research on the subject and talking to a couple of experienced winter cyclists, I settled at last upon Gore-Tex's (or 'Gore Bike Wear's', as they call their cycling apparel line) Oxygen II Overshoe.
Well, I thought, at least they call it an 'overshoe' instead of a 'bootie'. Sounds more manly.
This shoe cover is very lightweight and has Gore-Tex's patented 'Windstopper' membrane. When I first started using the covers, the weather was in the 30s and I didn't have any problems whatsoever. I wore DeFeet Blaze wool socks (I use these for winter running also) over a thin cotton sock which I could pull over my Long John's to keep the cold air from breaching my layers.
When the temperatures started dipping into the 20s, however, I found that my feet needed more protection, especially on the longer rides. The Oxygen II can only do so much when the shoe it is covering is designed to breathe, complete with ventilation holes in the sole, and not to provide warmth.
I tried a couple of ideas before I found one that worked well. If the temperature is below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, what I do now is put on my long, thin cotton sock, pull my DeFeet Blaze over top of that, then pull two plastic grocery store bags over my socks (I tuck the tops of the bags underneath my Gore-Tex Paclite cycling pants), which I then put in my shoe, covering it all with the Oxygen II.
This set-up has kept my toes warm on 35-40 mile rides at 22 degrees Fahrenheit. I don't know how much colder I will be able to go without another layer in there somewhere, but up to this point I have had no issues whatsoever with cold feet or toes while riding.
And always remember, if there's not snot running down your face, you're not working hard enough.
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