Wet feet and mountain biking go together as well as anchovies and yogurt. What do you do when the weather gets nasty and you still want to hit the trails? You just slip on a trusty pair of waterproof mountain bike shoes, of course.
Be aware that there is a caveat to them, but we have a slick solution for you that’s actually less expensive than buying another pair just for rainy days. First I’ll tell you about the problem and then lay out the solution for you.
The Problem With Waterproof MTB Shoes
Due to the style of most cycling shoes, very few of them do a great job of keeping your feet dry in wet conditions. Low cut footwear–no matter what material they’re made of–have a habit of letting water in.
Higher cut options, like those made for winter wear, have drawstring tops to keep your feet drier, but unless you do a combination of things, you’ll likely get some moisture inside and they will be hot in mild to warm temperatures. If you’re winter riding that’s fine, but most of the year you’ll want to try this instead.
Lake’s MXZ winter boots have a good reputation for keeping your feet dry as well as warm. This is due in part to the built-in neoprene cuff which is designed to keep moisture from running down your leg to your foot.
Shimano’s Sh-Mw7 (cheaper than Amazon at that link at the time of this writing) shoes can be adjusted very tightly around the ankle to keep water out. They’re also great for winter weather like snow and ice, but if you’re worried about water in warmer temperatures, you need to look for something less insulated or your feet will sweat a lot.
Regular MTB Shoes With Waterproof Covers
You can buy covers to wear over the shoes you normally wear, even those designed for clipless systems (they have holes that allow the cleats to clip in). Gore-Tex overshoes like these simply over your feet and fasten with a hook and loop closure for a tight fit.
They have their advantages and disadvantages. They do protect you from a lot of the water, but your feet can sweat if it’s really warm out. And if they don’t fit right they can actually hinder your cycling. You need to make sure they’re thin enough to not impede pedaling, but sturdy enough to withstand wind and weather.
Check out the pro tip for keeping your feet warm and dry with covers starting at the 50 second mark of the below video. Instead of one thick pair of neoprene ones like most cyclists wear they recommend layering a thin pair of waterproof overshoes followed by a thin pair of neoprene ones.
You layer clothing on other parts of your body, right? Why not the feet?
If you opt to leave the cleats off your shoes, you also run the risk of letting water in through the holes in the sole. There is a simple remedy for this–place a thin piece of plastic, like a credit card (or a junk mail ‘pretend’ credit card like the ones that come with applications) in the bottom of your shoe, then wear neoprene socks. The card blocks the moisture from getting in, is almost impossible to feel, and the waterproof sock keeps any moisture that does happen to get in from getting to your skin.
Sealskinz socks are another weapon against wet feet, especially when paired with either a good winter/waterproof shoe or a good cover. Some cyclists swear by waterproof socks and SPD sandals while cycling. In warmer weather, this can be a great way to minimize wet feet and speed up drying time.
To sum it all up, when it’s really wet out, it’s hard to keep your feet totally dry. The best bet is a good pair of winter-weather MTB shoes paired with waterproof socks, unless it’s hot outside. Then, try the sandal/sock/cover combo for the win.
Related Reading: 5 Stores With Deep Discounts On Mountain Bike Shoes