The popularity of toe covers seems to be on the rise these days, from the pro peloton right down to you and me. They seem to suit conditions which are just a little too wet and cold for bare shoes, but not enough to justify the bulk and faff associated with a full winter overshoe. Spring, autumn and mild winter days in other words.
At a glance, the GripGrab Easy On toe covers look like they fit the bill. The neoprene upper is windproof and capable of shrugging off some mild road spray. Underneath, the toe cover is reinforced to prevent wear and tear when walking around. Together with the sturdy looking seams, the Easy On covers look like they'll last a good few seasons.
In use, they extend about halfway up the forefoot, covering up all the vents that most road shoes have around the toe box. Any sole vents are covered up too, which probably has the biggest impact on warmth. People have for years been taping up these vents on their shoes – the toe cover is simply a more professional, albeit more expensive, way of doing this.
A word about sizing. The size XL tested, which is claimed to fit shoes up to size 45, was only just able to clear the cleat on my size 45 Giro Empires. The cleat holes on these shoes are further back than most, but the cleats weren't position as far back as they could have gone. As such, my recommendation is that anyone on the limit of the claimed size range should consider sizing up. The uppers fit my shoes well, with no excess material anywhere, making for a sleek and unobtrusive look.
So do they work then? Well, yes the do, but don't expect any miracles. I found that the toe covers extended the range of temperatures at which I was comfortable riding without overshoes down by 3 or 4 degrees. It's not a massive difference, but just enough that I could set off on cold morning rides without having to decide between frozen feet at the start of the ride, or sweaty feet at the end. They're never going to replace a proper overshoe when it's really raining or properly cold, but if you've already got all the winter kit, then these are a useful addition to the year-round cyclist's wardrobe. In fact if you live somewhere where the winters are on the mild and wet side you might not actually need overshoes - at least one of the road.cc team told me he never really finds the need for overshoes any more, but then we're based in the mild west... and maybe he has hot feet too.
The biggest advantage of the Easy On toe covers over an oversock for example, is that you can leave them on when taking off and putting on your shoes, reducing pre-ride faff. As winter has truly arrived these past few weeks, I've just left them on and have taken to putting my overshoes on over the top. A little-added warmth at the toes without much extra bulk or faff – perfect...Well-made toe covers useful for intermediate conditions or worn under an overshoe when the weather is really poor