- 3 / 5 Bee's Knees -
In terms of having exciting winter apparel items to test this season, I can’t be anything but grateful. Atop my list of tantalizing items of which I had high expectations for were the Mavic Thermo Plus shoe covers. Like the loyal family dog from your teenage years, Mavic has earned the confidence of consumers including myself as a result of their consistent quality and integrity especially in regards to their various wheelsets. Because of this, the bar was set high for Mavics self-proclaimed “…warmest, strongest, most robust road shoe cover” offering.
As a Duluthian, the allure of any product that describes itself as distinctly robust is somewhat irresistible. The nature of our city, roads, environment and climate is such that goods must be engineered to a higher standard. Therefore, the Thermo Plus covers were an instant attraction. Given the claims made by Mavic, my expectations were as follows. Mavics Thermo Plus covers were to be their warmest, most durable and most element-impervious shoe covers available while either meeting or exceeding their competitors offerings.
Priority number one for a proper winter shoe cover is of course heat retention. In its most basic application, these shoe covers promote exceptional warmth over generous ride times in cold and dry conditions. In extreme climates or for extreme weenies the use of a chemical heat pack within a specially designed toe pocket can extend the duration and comfort of your venture. This may be a nifty feature for some but I found it to be generally impractical considering the comfort of my fingers and face dictated the extent of my ride. Regardless, this unique feature is there for your use, impractical or otherwise. A more practical characteristic inherent to the covers black color is a significant warming effect which is experienced in daylight during pitstops. A quick visit to McQuade Harbor along my Two Harbors ride provided a much-needed view of Lake Superior and a rapid warmup of the covers which quickly diffused heat into the shoes. Finally, the arena in which I was hoping these covers would excel in (and certainly the world that I live in) is the grounds of a pathetically wet, messy, dirty and sloppy Minnesota Winter.
Although the Thermo Plus covers minimal moisture protection didn’t come as much of a surprise, I was nonetheless disappointed. The Thermo Plus covers offer very little protection from moisture. Riding through the wintery remnants of a cold Spring day exposed a serious lack of water repellency. Within a short period of time (maybe as little as 10-15min) the covers became completely saturated and subsequently soaked up any water slung their way. Due to the somewhat sealed design of my shoes, the moisture never crept down into my feet. However, the breathable water-soaked covers acted like a pair of air conditioners placed over each foot and had the inverse effect of their purpose. The material did dry relatively quickly due to its breathability, however, no sooner were the covers dry than more water would re-saturate them. For the most part, any contaminants remained on the surface of the covers but some dirt-steeped water did soil the shoes beneath. Simply put, any expectation of serious water repellency and elite element protection from Mavics Thermo Plus covers will leave owners disappointed with their performance.
Since water shedding wasn’t an area where the Thermo Plus covers shined, surely there must be other features which justify Mavics bold claims of robustness…and really there are. The most unique feature is the aforementioned toe pocket that allows for the use of a heat pack. In line with the element of robustness, little touches are found throughout the covers which reflect promising design. The Velcro ergo-access panel allows for one handed shoelace/boa tightening during riding. A handful of silicone strips are placed around the elastic ankle band thereby keeping things in place. Where silicone is missing, but should be employed, is directly behind the heal. At this point, the fabric tends to ride down and becomes susceptible to tearing when you unclip and step on the ground. Contrary to an unprotected heal, the toe has a reinforced rubber scuff guard to protect this potential wear spot. Finally, a zipper cover is employed to prevent snagging and discomfort.
It’s a bit troubling to conclude this, but the Thermo Plus covers fell short of my expectations primarily because of the lack-luster water protection and heal that wouldn’t stay in place. In cold dry conditions, the Thermo Plus shoes covers are a pleasure to use and promote nothing short of amazing warmth. In more inclement weather where water, dirt, slush and grime are a factor, these covers will suffice on shorter rides. After the material became saturated, you can count on some cold digits in no-time. Honesty, if these covers were water impervious and the heals stayed in place, Mavics most robust shoe cover would earn a flawless rating without hesitation. As-is however, the characteristic of element protect is imperative yet not achieved. With some minor revamps, Mavic could afford cyclists the warmest, most versatile cover available.