It’s getting gold here in the mid-Atlantic. That means long-sleeve jerseys, layers, tights, and bandit-style neck/face coverings. Most of all, for me at least, it means cold feet and hands.
Last winter my extremity-warming strategy was simple and basically ineffective. On my hands I wore DeFeet fingered gloves. On my feet I doubled up on socks. That was pretty much it. Looking back, I have no clue how I survived some of the rides I did, like a century to Gettysburg and back in 15-degree weather.
This winter, I was determined to be more comfortable. So I bought Sugoi Zap Subzero lobster claw gloves and white Rapha oversocks. There are sure to be harsher conditions coming in the months ahead, but I think I’ve already done enough rides below freezing to give an accurate review.
First, the gloves.
Four words. They are fucking warm. The other day it was about 30 degrees, and my hands were actually sweating. I’ve never had that problem on a winter ride before.
My eTap shifters are not a problem with the lobster claw, since there’s only one paddle on each side and I can easily control my index finger through the fabric. Garmin buttons are slightly more challenging, but totally possible. I haven’t ridden these with my standard Shimano 105 shifting setup, but I could imagine the shifting being a little tougher.
The reflective stripes are a nice touch, and have come in handy (literally) on a couple night rides so far. More visibility never hurts, although I don’t know that cars behind me are looking at my hands.
Would I recommend? Absolutely.
On to the oversocks.
With Rapha stuff, looks are always most important, and these do look awesome. I’m all about white socks and shoes, and these carry that aesthetic to its logical conclusion. For whatever reason, I think oversocks look so much better with full-length tights than exposed shoes with socks over the bottoms of the tights. Maybe because they create one clean color block, rather than the weird segments of tight-sock-shoe? I’ve also enjoyed not having to choose socks to go with an otherwise all-black kit, and the reflective patch looks classy day or night.
But are they warm? Eh. With two pairs of socks underneath, my feet have still felt stiff and numb on cold rides. Maybe these have raised the temperature a tiny bit, but I can’t say for sure. It doesn’t seem like the fabric keeps much warmth in.
This version, unlike the older model, was pre-cut with cleat holes, so fraying isn’t an issue. Getting them on and off my shoes is pretty easy; it takes about 30 seconds per foot once you get the hang of it.
Would I recommend? Yes, with a couple caveats: if you get them on sale like I did, and if you are more concerned about looking Belgian than having super-warm feet.
Note: I don’t wear wool, so the warmest sock options are a no-go for me. I understand that this is probably why my feet are cold.