PROVIZ REFLECT 360 SHOE COVERS
124g XL (as tested) £39.99
Aimed at the commuter and road rider, the Proviz Reflect360 Shoe Covers/Overshoes have performed with great aplomb and seem to offer a real plus, in the form of their trademark reflective technology, for those night time forays. Steve’s been impressed, though there are places you may not want to take them.
Exactly where ‘Shoe Cover’ meets ‘Overshoe’ and whether they’re the same might be a matter for the forums, but Proviz designate these as Shoe Covers on the packaging, and as both on the website. Pedantry aside, these have performed very, very well in the context for which they are designed - commuting, road riding - but I’d not take them into the undergrowth for a joy ride.
Materials and spec
PU-coated fleece, which sounds chunkier than it is, aims to keep extremities warm and dry. Actually, the fabric feels delicate - hence a reluctance to run too close to abrasive surfaces or thorns and their relations.
That said, the shoe covers stretch effectively allowing it to slip over your footwear. Secured by a zip, itself secured by a Velcro tab, and with a loop at the heel, closure and fine-tuning are straight-forward.
The open sole, held in place by familiar Velcro tabs, has a reinforced hem.
Of course, the most striking feature of these is the Reflect360 panels that grace the outer side of each foot. In daylight they form a sort of stretched Yin and Yang effect, but at night …. well. Reflect360 carries me back to the day the science teacher ignited magnesium. There are additional reflective strips on the seams for the ankle zip.
In accordance with the size chart, I opted for the XL size. A smooth, snug fit for both Shimano SPD touring shoes; more comfortable for slimmer road shoes and commuting brogues. Preference for the former shoes on most occasions means that, next time, I’ll be going XXL. That said, the size chart on the Proviz website seems pretty much spot on.
Donning is easy. Subtle stretchiness invites you to pull them firmly on and zip up without the fuss of positioning Velcro flaps in even a vaguely accurate position. The ankle is is held close by a Velcro tab, no doubt enhancing waterproof credentials at the same time as preventing unwanted unzipping.
Initially I made double-take at the taut stretch over one or two raised eyelets on the trainer-type touring shoes, but any concern proved unfounded. With a broader rubber sole than sportier shoes, the heel tested the fit pretty much close to the limit, but the shoe cover was not phased. Needless to say, when riding in slimmer road or smarter work shoes, there was no such worry.
Described as waterproof - there’s the obvious proviso with clipless compatible shoes that the sole will never be completely waterproof - I gave them a minute under the watering can. Happy to see the droplets finally rolling off with not a smidgen of dampness. Proviz also say they’ll keep your feet warm. Since I broke the ice on the watering can in prep for the test, and went off with wet shoes on a quick hour twenty-miler in a wind chill of minus two, I can confirm their claim - mind Merino socks probably played a part.
A good stretch along mucky country lanes left them bespattered with the usual detritus. Nice to know, is that a quick wipe with a damp cloth restored pristine cleanliness. Mind you, try to keep the reflective panel away from oily components. Removing that took a good deal of elbow grease.
Commuting in civvies may have drawn the occasional sideways glance - trousers tucked into the ankle - but at least I arrived at the interview with clean shoes. I deliberately paired these with toe-clips and flat pedals without severe serrated edges - be a shame to fray the hems around sole.
Of course, Reflect360 technology offers unrivalled all-round visibility when the headlights catch it. Whilst there may be some debate around the merits of blatantl and the more subtle designs, there’s little doubt that the pure white heat of Reflect360 on feet swirling round at even a steady cadence gives great presence, especially when passing junctions and at roundabouts. Frankly, motorists seem to pick these up quickly and a couple have commented on just how prominent I was - neither were being complimentary; “What you got on your feet you idiot?” “Get on your Christmas tree!” You can’t expect the humble overshoe, or shoe cover, to inspire much in the way of wit.
Whilst not tough enough for the rigours of thrashing through thickets and along the rocky road, these are thoughtfully made and extremely functional, with a number of nice touches to make life easy. Above all they are, in my experience, genuinely waterproof and comfortably warm on cold winter days. They clean easily and pack away tidily. Working well as shoe covers, they will also power-up your presence after dark, whether on the commute or on one of those mid-winter evening training jaunts.