While this winter has on the whole been relatively mild, New York City has not gotten off scot free. I, along with other teammates who have an aversion to 2-hour long trainer sessions, have logged plenty of base miles in at- or below-freezing temperatures so far this year. We even started the 2016 racing season at 28 degrees.
Having grown up in the ‘Windy City’ of Chicago, it’d stand to reason that I’d be well-adapted to cold temperatures. Not so. I’m the guy who trains in a long sleeve jersey and two jackets. I wear leg-warmers under long, thermal tights. I eschew the streamlined cycling glove for trusty – and terribly bulky – ski mitts. My ‘keep-the-feet-warm’ system has five parts: a wool ski sock, a toe-cover, an over-sock, neoprene booty, and a second toe-cover. To my more sartorially-astute teammates, I’m surely considered a hopeless winter cycling fashion victim. While my methods generally yield the desired results, there’s one element I still don’t have fully dialed in: the feet. It’s always the feet that always seem to fail me on cold rides. My five-part bricolage of a system has a hard time keeping them warm beyond the two hour mark in 30-35 degree temperatures. So, I was looking for ways to improve on my approach, both functionally and stylistically. Enter the Garneau Thermax Cycling Shoe Covers.
I first tested them in a sub-freezing format of nearly two-and-a-half hours. To be absolutely precise, it was a one-hour, forty-five minute race in Central Park in temperatures ranging from 28-30 degrees and north east winds of 8-10 mph, followed by a 45-minute spin home in the same conditions. Through it all, I didn’t have a single complaint about my feet. The robust, well-insulated material of the Termax Cycling Shoe Covers kept my feet cold-pain free.
Garneau touts the fact that these shoe covers are equipped with a patent-pending top zip opening that carries a dual benefit. First, it provides added aeration. Secondly, it allows riders to adjust shoes bearing a dial closure while riding. Neither of these things represent ‘pain points’ for me, but what I consider to be especially nice is that the zipper is equipped with a tassel that would make it easy to open and close while wearing thick cycling gloves. Also, I noted that the zipper fits snugly into a groove at its closure point that prevents the tassel from dangling around. It rests firmly and squarely against the shoe cover.
I found the shoe covers are true to Garneau’s sizing chart. I wear a EUR 43/USA 9.5 Garneau Course Air Lite and found the M size to fit perfectly. There is no bunching of the material at the point of articulation at top of the foot. For those riding in temperatures in the teens and low 20s, it’s worth considering sizing up to accommodate any oversocks and/or toe covers worn underneath the Garneau Termax Cycling Shoe Covers.
Materials and Construction
The main body of these shoe covers is made of 3mm Neoprene Extreme fabric. This impermeable material helps block the cold and trap heat. While I have not yet subjected the shoe covers to moisture during a ride, I did test the water-resistant properties of the fabric in my kitchen sink. The water beads off nicely. Though neither a scientific test, nor a perfect substitute to putting the shoe covers through their paces on a wet ride with spray coming off the front wheel, it’s a good sign nonetheless. There is nothing about the construction of the Garneau Termax Cycling Shoe Covers that compromises protection. The heel seam zips closed. There is sealed tape over the seams. The under sole is reinforced Kevlar which ensures durability when walking for any amount of time in the shoe covers.
The high-cut ankle cuff is exceptional. In fact, ‘ankle cuff’ is a bit of a misnomer; ‘low calf cuff’ would be more apt. I measured the base of the ankle to the top of the cuff at 9.25 inches. The top of the cuff actually reaches the low part of my calf. I like this a lot. First, it’s added protection around and provides for a more protective transition from shoe to cycling tights or leg warmers. Also, there is silicone elastic at the cuff, which ensures a snug fit around the lower calf area to prevent any water from seeping in and to ensure a snug overall fit. I didn’t experience any sort of sagging or shifting in the shoe cover during the entirety of my ride.
Garneau incorporates a minor, but thoughtful, feature into the Termax Cycling Shoe Covers by using reflective tape on the rear puller strap. It’s a small piece of material, and certainly shouldn’t be relied upon as the only visibility enhancement a cyclist uses when riding, but it’s a nice, complementary feature to lights and any other hi-viz gear one may use.
The Termax Cycling Shoe Covers look darn good. There’s a Velcro strap that keeps ensures the heel seam zipper will not come undone unintentionally and overall the Termax Cycling Shoe Covers are robust without being bulky. I raced in them, and didn’t give them a second thought.