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I commute to work by bike, very often in casual shorts and waterproof North Face sneakers. Provided I don't want to change my clothes (in particular I don't want to get SPD etc.), is there a good way to keep my feet dry when it's raining?

In particular, would shoe covers be of any help? My impression is that most of the rain gets into my sneakers by streaming down along my ankles/socks, which is why I have doubts if shoes covers would be of any help when I cycle in shorts (but I've never really used them so please correct me if I'm wrong).

In case it's of any importance - if I wear the same clothes and just go for a walk/jog, then my feet stay dry for much longer. Ideal solution would allow my feet to stay dry for a similar amount of time when I cycle.

  • I have, in the (somewhat distant) past, used neoprene shoe covers (with a rise about 6-7" from the base of the foot to the top) over canvas shoes. Mostly this was in cold weather where the intent was to keep the feet warm, so I don't recall a lot of details about how dry things stayed, but my vague recollection is that they worked to at least a degree. Note that the covers need to rise above the tops of your socks to be effective. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 26 '15 at 21:40
  • I have big shoe covers - they're lightweight nylon overtrousers and are not waterproof, but they are very light and shed water. They're long enough to go down over the tops of my boots, and elasticised so don't drag in the chain. There are thicker and heavier materials (think the yellow sou-wester fisherman material) but that's stiff and heavy. As for your shoes, I wear proper leather boots and not cloth sports shoes. Mudguards help keep your upper body clean, but you'd need full-sized ones . Another help is to not pedal through puddles, stop and point toes upward to catch splash on sole. – Criggie Aug 27 '15 at 1:15
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    Another approach is to consider some kind of gaiter. Some cover only part of the shoe, but I also have some intended for ski touring that cover the entire boot. The latter may not work with a more flexible shoe, such as sneakers. (BTW, cycling in speakers is a recipe for foot pain, get some shoes with a stiffer sole) – andy256 Aug 27 '15 at 3:06
  • @Criggie or just get both feet up when he hits a puddle! – andy256 Aug 27 '15 at 3:08
  • You can keep a pair of rain pants in your bag and tie the bottoms in a way such that the rain runs off around the shoes. – Batman Aug 27 '15 at 4:29
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if I wear the same clothes and just go for a walk/jog, then my feet stay dry for much longer

Do you have mudguards (fenders) on your bike? If not your feet are in the spray from the front wheel and will get wet unless you wear over-boots. Or gumboots.

For cycling when the roads are wet mudguards make a huge different to your comfort. You'll stay dryer because the rain will only hit you from above, rather than spraying up from your wheels as well.

Gary.Ray's answer deals well with the actual shoe cover question. What I would add is that plastic bags and rubber bands work well as a short-term solution for one trip, but they don't last long. But that might help you decide whether shoe covers are worth having at all.

  • Yes, fenders will reduce the amount of water hitting your feet by about a factor of 4. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 27 '15 at 12:25
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The main thing that would determine whether or not a particular brand or style of shoe cover will help would be the closure around your ankle, above the top of the shoe.

A standard, non-cycling over-shoe or shoe cover like those made by Totes and other manufacturers will usually cover most of the shoe, but the opening is wide and water will run down your leg into the shoe.

A cycling specific shoe cover will usually have some kind of opening in the back that zips closed. When you place your foot into the cover it zips partly up your leg and will stop most of the water from running into your shoe. I personally use neoprene covers, but covers of other materials may work just find as long as they close relatively tightly against your leg. If the closure is not quite tight enough, wearing an old-fashioned terry cloth sweat wrist band above your ankle and under the shoe cover would help absorb any water that leaks in. I have a set of 2" wide reflective bands with a terry cloth backing that I occasionally overlapping the top edge of mine if I think the rain will be torrential.

Since you are wearing a shoe that is not cycling specific, you will likely want to visit your local bike shop or outdoor retailer to try the covers on. If you buy online based on the size of your shoe you will likely want to order a size up at least to account for the additional sole support and padding in a normal shoe.

  • Thanks for your input Gary, could you confirm if you use your neoprene covers also while wearing shorts? If so, do they basically touch your skin? Is it comfortable? (I ask because when my uninsulated water-proof shell touches my skin directly it's rather uncomfortable) – Łukasz Grabowski Aug 26 '15 at 21:41
  • I have, and they are comfortable enough for my commute. If your shell is uncomfortable, the sweat band option, or socks just long enough that the shell sits over them is an option. – Gary.Ray Aug 26 '15 at 21:47
  • And look into Fenders like Moz says, if you frame will accept them. – Gary.Ray Aug 26 '15 at 21:47
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I used to ride in almost exactly the same gear as you (gym shorts rather than casual shorts), so I know where you're coming from.

The mudguards (US: fenders) help a little, but not if it's actually raining while you're riding, as you basically ride into the rain drops.

It's not the shorts, cycling tights/running leggings will do the same. Even waterproof overtrousers are of limited help as the headwind from riding tends to push them against your shin. And you get so hot you'll be almost as wet from sweat ("breathable" kit doesn't work too well with a film of wtare on the outside while you're actively sweating ). I haven't tried shoe covers but would only consider them in the winter -- in summer (even UK summer) I'd rather get rained on than boil.

One thing that I found was that after riding for 40 minutes in waterproof shoes I could at least wring my socks out and sometimes pour the water out (you can't always stop pedalling for puddles, e.g. a little dip on an uphill). In hot weather (sometimes with sudden downpours) I wore sports sandals, and the water just went straight through and out the other side. Now I've got SPDs I've got ventilated shoes (even on the sole) and the water can't accumulate.

My suggestion: Go for shoe covers when it's cold, but in warmer weather choose shoes that can't fill up with water (also maybe no socks). Either way a change of shoes/socks on arrival is probably appropriate, even though you have a .ac.uk homepage listed and can probably wear what you like.

  • ...*choose shoes that can't fill up with water* - YES. While wearing shorts any solution is going to let water into your shoe. Your waterproof shoes will just fill up with water. Not to mention that by the time you apply all of this extra equipment you are essentially hauling another pair of shoes! – jqning Aug 27 '15 at 14:45
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Like you say, your feet get wettest from the rain running down your legs and into your shoes. The only way to stop this is a shoe cover system that seals at your ankle. I don't know of a commercially available system like this but if you are truly serious you could make something with bags and rubber bands.

Suggestions about fenders are well and good but on more than one occasion I've had the wind just right that an entire fender-load of water poured into my shoe.

You are fighting a losing battle. The better bet is to keep dry shoes at work or carry some with you.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. – andy256 Aug 27 '15 at 11:27
  • @andy256 You must be reading a different question than I did. Is there a good way to keep my feet dry when it's raining... would shoe covers be of any help? – jqning Aug 27 '15 at 12:48
  • Compare this answer with your own earlier answers to other questions. The others are much higher quality than this one. In my opinion, it doesn't answer the question, so I flagged it. But the strength of our community here is that it's not just my view that counts. After flagging, our peers get to review it and decide. That's how we maintain the quality of the posts, and hence the site's value. So rather than comment to me, I suggest you either explain how it answers the question well, or improve the post. Regards – andy256 Aug 27 '15 at 13:10
  • @andy256 the answer with the most votes right now recommends a neoprene shoe guard with a terry cloth sweatband over the ankle. Over a North Face sneaker! This solution could only be upvoted by people who have never tried it. I'm sorry it's getting upvoted it's a terrible idea. If someone sends me a picture of this setup and demonstrates its effectiveness I will personally outfit OP with the same. – jqning Aug 27 '15 at 13:50
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Although I personally wear overshoes and SPDs, the best you can really expect in a prolonged downpour is that water enters your shoes slowly enough your feet can warm it up - they'll still be wet eventually, but not cold.

I suspect the best system for casual clothes is actually to stick a rain cape/poncho over the top - the cycling-specific ones are designed to attach at the wrists, so they cover you completely.

You should still get mudguards if you can, both to stop your front wheel spraying your feet, and because it's much better for your drivetrain.

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