As much as we'd like all our rides to be warm and sunny, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. The Pearl Izumi PRO WxB and Giro Blaze midweight shoe covers are made for those cool but not freezing cold days where rain threatens. I tested a pair of each this winter and spring, in everything from pouring rain and snow to dry, blustery days.
Pearl, Giro and many other companies make heavy-duty booties for full-on winter conditions; these pairs are for spring and fall — or even cool summer days when rain is in the forecast.
The Giro Blaze is a fairly traditional booty, with nice touches like a reflective pull tab on the rear that makes it easier to get the things off and on, and make your feet more visible to drivers behind. The material is snug and stretchy, and water-resistant but not waterproof. The reinforced sole proved rugged over months of testing.
The new Pearl Izumi PRO WxB shoe cover has two unique features — the breathable, waterproof fabric and the Velcro rear entry panel that opens completely. While the fabric isn't a hard sell — and it works well, by the way — I was initially unconvinced by the nontradtional entry. For one, it looks a little clunky compared with the Giro's rear-zip, for instance.
The Giro Blaze (left) can fend off spray but can't keep out pouring rain. The Pearl Izumi PRO WxB, however, holds off rain like a champ
|Pearl WxB||Giro Blaze||advantage|
|Warmth||Down to freezing with wool socks||Down to freezing with wool socks||draw|
|Price||US$49 / £39||US$44 / £33||Giro Blaze|
|Ease of use||Number fingers, no problem||Better than average with pull tabs||Pearl WxB|
|Durability||Breathability+waterproof doesn't = durable||Nary a tear in months of use||Giro Blaze|
|Overall||Breathability+waterproof = longterm comfort||Great for cool days, not for wet ones||Pearl WxB|
On cold, dry days, the two overshoes are virtually indistinguishable in terms of warmth and comfort. I did several rides with one brand and the right foot and the other brand on the left, then did skin thermometer measurements on each foot at the end of cold-weather rides. There was no difference.
In terms of warmth, the Pearl (left) and Giro (right) are indistinguishable on dry days. Note that both can handle road spray as above without saturation
On days where there was a light rain or just occasional road spray, the two again performed similarly.
But on days where the rain just poured, the PRO WxB clearly emerged as the winner, keeping out the rain but breathing enough to prevent the shoes from turning into sweaty, overheating pits. The Blaze, by contrast, would end up waterlogged after 30 minutes or so of steady rain.
In terms of durability, however, the WxB is a little delicate. I have numerous little tears on the soles of each shoe cover. The Blaze pair, however, looks like new, top and bottom. Hopefully Pearl designers will beef up the sole portion in the next iteration.
Finally, that weird Velcro rear entry on the Pearl WxBs... really works well, especially on lousy weather days. One of my most-loved pair of super-cold-day booties is Bontrager's RXL Waterproof Softshell Road Shoecover, with a shearling backing that has great loft — but getting those things on and off is an absolute chore, especially when your fingers are frozen. The Pearl WxBs by contrast, are a piece of cake to get in and out of. There are no zippers to jam with road grit, and you can easily adjust the fit with the wide Velcro patches. So, fashionable? Probably not. Functional? Absolutely.
If you need a pair of shoecovers to keep the rain out, get a set of Pearl Izumi's PRO WxBs. Just go easy on walking around in them, and if in doubt, go up one size for an easy fit.
The wide-open rear entry looks a little weird, but it works very well — especially on foul-weather days