RAVAL SHOE COVERS
89g XL Black €35 (also available in other colours)
Raval’s ankle Length Shoe Covers are a neat take on a familiar format. They’ve done the job well on road and cycle-route, and may well go further. They have, what I see as, some nice touches. Coming from the Latvian companies base in Riga, you’d expect them to be proof against ‘Baltic’ weather. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that shoes and socks will have a big impact on performance of any shoe cover when it comes to keeping your tootsies warm.
Pros: well-made, easy to put on and take off.
Cons: no reinforcement in key contact areas.
First up, Raval make most of their shoe covers to order, so get in touch with them if you’d like something other than black – their website shows a hi-viz version that would light up the dullest day, for example. Raval also offer a top-calf length version.
Made form ‘Sealand’ water-repellent fabric, these shoe covers have the usual cutaway sole – with elasticated hem and fixed instep strap – to accommodate SPDs. They’ll fit equally well on civvy shoes, of course. Like many others, too, they have a reflective stripe at the back, and are secured with a combination of zips and Velcro straps. Unlike some, the zip runs the full length from top to bottom; easy to use.
The netting lining is designed to help temperature control. That’s not unknown, but takes a different approach to breathability compared to, say, the Proviz Reflect360 Shoe Covers, with their tactile soft fabric inner.
The seams are not sealed, but that is rarely a deal-breaker, in my opinion, for overshoes of this type. Some real mudlarks, might prefer Neoprene models – but with open soles things will never be totally waterproof.
So, we have a pretty high spec. However, there’s no additional reinforcement at key contact areas, such as heel, toe, or hems. Not a problem, but suggestive of road, utility, leisure use, as opposed to gravel or single-track encounters with brambles and thorns.
Erring on the side of caution, I went for XL. I generally use shoes in the vicinity of 9-10 (UK sizes) or 42-44 (European sizes). Worth mentioning here is the fact that my default cycling shoes are touring/MTB type SPDs, which generally come with a more prominent heel than civvies, racing slippers, or retro leather touring shoes.
A second factor to consider is how easy shoe-covers are to put on. Sitting at home – easy enough – but at the roadside on tour or commuting to work? Well, my personal preference is for that little bit of extra give. There’s sufficient, but less so than in the heavier fabric of the DexShells Heavy Duty counterparts.
Care is pretty easy. Even after the filthiest commute along the puddle-riddled, mud-pie that is one section of the cycle track along the canal towpath, A wipe with a clothe has been effective in removing accumulated gunge. The netting lining definitely helps to keep things airy and day-on-day use has not caused nasty niffs. Even so, I’ve bunged them in on a cool 30C was with liquid detergent to get them looking dandy again. Drip-dried indoors in around three hours, too, even with only a light spin.
There aren’t any washing instructions, so I guess these could be put in with the general wash. I err on the side of caution. Up to you.
Let’s start with getting them on. Easy as pie, with less hauling than models without the full-length zip. Removal is equally easy. This ease has a corollary; the fit is not as tight as models like the DexShells Heavy Duty Overshoes. Likewise, the seal around the ankle is not as tight.
There’s no doubting that the fabric is waterproof when it comes to precipitation. They’ve survived hefty rain for three hours – and, incidentally, it was only when hitting the biggest puddles that any hint of dampness was felt. Of course, waterproof socks and over-shoes are, well, belt and braces. Mind you, the Velcro seal at the ankle top is looser than elasticated ones, so a water-tight seal is harder to achieve.
With the temperature around 4-6C they certainly helped keep my feet warm (cotton socks) for most of a forty miler, with a touch of chill tingling the toes at the end of the two-and-a-half-hour jaunt. Mind you, I’d go for merino, if I were out for longer. On an hour-long commute, with waterproof socks, at zero degrees, feet have remained comfortably warm. Granted, the late November-December testing period has not produced really warm days, so temperature control is not easy to assess. In my experience, the light fabric and netting lining should keep things pretty temperate, but time will tell when summer returns.
I’ve not deliberately ridden through the bramble patch. My gut feeling is that road and cycle-path are their natural habitat.
I recently tested DexShells Heavy Duty Overshoes – which come in a little more expensive than the Raval Shoe Covers. They’ve been great during wet autumnal rides, but may be a bit too much when the warmer weather comes. They feel more robust, too. On the other hand, donning and doffing are not quite as easy, in my opinion.
More similar are the ProViz Reflect360 Shoe Covers. Like Raval’s these are a lighter shell fabric, although the lining is different. They offer excellent reflective presence, of course, but are a little more expensive.
There are plenty of shop brands coming in at a good deal less. Whilst these do a perfectly good job, I’ve often found them more liable to wear and tear, especially around the hems. Likewise, those secured by a hook and loop system instead of a zip can do a perfectly good job, but tend to have a ‘baggier’ fit.
There’s no doubt that these are well-made and make a useful addition to the cycling wardrobe. Equally, they are, in my opinion, best suited to road and cycle path, as opposed to prickly single-track. They’d certainly be suitable for use all year round and won’t add much weight to your touring kit. Well-worth a look.