The thing about cycling is being prepared to ride in just about any weather conditions. Overshoes have become increasingly more popular for many riders. From thick Neoprene extreme weather overshoes for the cold Winter rides, to lightweight windproof shoe covers. We have put the pro-performance level Northwave H2O Winter Overshoes to the test. We originally started testing the Northwave H20 Winter Overshoes in January on some very cold subzero days including commutes and longer weekend rides. Then continued testing into February and early March when the weather was wet or windy. Here’s how I got on.
The first thing that stands out about these overshoes is – well lets face it, its that they are super-bright in Fluoro Yellow. But we do love a bit of Hi-Viz at AATR. The Northwave H2O actually come in 4 different colours, Fluoro Yellow, Fluoro Orange, Green Fluoro which are part of the Northwave – Be Visible, Be Safe product range making them an excellent option for commuters. Or for the more conservative rider there is a Black option. For a ‘Winter’ overshoe, the H2O are very lightweight and have a minimalist construction. The outer layer is a smooth, coated Polyurethane that is designed to be windproof and waterproof whilst remaining aerodynamic. This does make them a tight when trying to fit over your shoes, especially if you have a ratchet fastening system like on the Northwave Sonic SRS. But a pro-level overshoe that claims to be waterproof needs to fit closely. Once on, there are 3 closure points on the Northwave H2O overshoes. There is a wide Velcro strap which fixes underneath the, across the sole of your shoe. A lateral zip which is unusually on the outside and a second Velcro fastening on the cuff around the calf. These are the newer H20 overshoes which are 22cm high instead of the 19cm predecessor.
The coated outer layer offers excellent protection against the wind and the combination of fastenings do a good job of keeping the rain out, although testing in a downpour, it is hard to be convinced these are 100% waterproof as there was a degree of water intrusion. But this could of course be a factor of having an open sole area. Like the rest of the overshoe, the zip is a little tight when trying to close over your shoes and I have heard of cases where the zip has actually come off but I can only imagine this is down to too much force being applied. There is a strong nylon thumb loop at the base of the zip but I think these would benefit from a larger zip puller for better leverage. The zip puller has a camlock, meaning it stays securely in place when its closed. It has a reflective trim and like the rest of the overshoe the zip is designed to be wind & waterproof with fully taped seams. The Northwave H2O overshoes have an elasticated cuff around the calf with a Velcro closure to hold them up during the movement of the foot and leg when peddling. Underneath, the toe and around the heel are reinforced with a rubber to make them harder wearing around the contact points when not clipped into your pedals.
The inside of the Northwave H2O Winter overshoes is lined with a ‘semi-thermal’ fleece lining and this is where I think these overshoes are let down. The name of them is H2O ‘Winter’ overshoes which suggest that they are up to keeping your feet warm when riding in the bitter temperatures of a UK Winter. OK so by the standards of some European countries our winters are relatively mild, but I would have still expected by the name alone that these overshoes could provide a good level of insulation in freezing conditions. On testing sadly this was not the case. As I stated at the beginning of the review, we first tried the Northwave H2O’s in January on a couple of 30-40 mile rides when the temperature was around minus 2 or 3°C. On both rides after around 20 miles my feet were suffering with numbness and by the end on one ride I couldn’t feel my toes at all which was disappointing.
So I continued to test them into February and early March. On windy rides the overshoes performed really well and provided an excellent barrier. Rides on rainy days really did vary but the H2O overshoes generally kept my feet dry except on a commute when I probably shouldn’t have been riding in such a downpour.
Northwave H2O Winter Overshoes Review Conclusion
It has only been in the last couple of years that I have taken to wearing overshoes when cycling as I was always happy with wearing simple toe covers, with the view of ‘if it’s raining, I’m going to get wet’. But there are definitely advantages to wearing a good set of overshoes on cold, wet and windy days – and the Northwave H2O Winter Overshoes are a good set of overshoes. From a pricing point they have an RRP of £29.99 but with Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles offering around 25% discount (at the time of this review), they are worth the money. They look great and feel comfortable when riding. The fastenings are secure, although the close fit can cause some zipping up frustration – just don’t force it. The H2O overshoes perform their basic windproof duties excellently and waterproof duties well. Sadly they are let down by their insulating capabilities for cycling on very cold days. In fact I would forget about the ‘Winter’ in the name and would suggest these are best suited to cold rides in early Spring or the Autumn. All in all I enjoyed wearing them and feel they are a good option for overshoes.