It’s that time of year, short days, cold temps and plenty of wet weather. If your trails aren’t shutdown under a blanket of snow, the only things between you and year-round evening rides are a decent set of lights and proper cold weather gear. Lights, take your pick. Cold weather riding gear, lots of options. Except for feet. Most of my wet winter rides are limited in duration only by how long I can feel my feet. Wet trails mean deep puddles which means wet feet. The folks at Showers Pass have a solution. They have engineered a three layer waterproof sock consisting of a knit outer layer, a breathable waterproof membrane, and a Coolmax FX lining. In theory this means is that your shoes will still get completely soaked but your feet will be warm and dry inside these socks. They are sort of like having plastic bags over your feet, but they breathe, don’t identify you as homeless, and are actually pretty great looking in the forest camo color way. If you’re super-boring, there are non-descript solid colors and if you’re really dying for attention (from distracted motorists) you can snag a pair in hi-visibilty yellow.
Turning the Showers Pass socks inside out reveals a cushioned fleecy bottom with a lighter material extending up to the cuff. They have a little more volume than my normal winter socks but not enough to significantly change the fit of my shoes. If your shoes are already quite tight with a thin sock, this might be a problem. The size M/L fit comfortably snug on my size 10 feet (I am at the top of the size range) and the cuff stayed put during my rides. They don’t have quite the feel of a normal sock – you can feel there’s a little more going on – but I didn’t find them uncomfortable or weird at all. They are easily the warmest socks I’ve tried but do seem to breathe fairly well for what they are. I wouldn’t wear them out on a hot day with a chance of rain in the forecast. Compared to my go-to winter sock, the Giro Winter Merino Wool, the Showers Pass socks are considerably warmer and bulkier but don’t quite match the seemingly magic level of breathability of a merino sock. Fair enough, Showers Pass socks for cold and wet weather, merino wool for cold and dry weather.
I’ve never been the type to burn through a review without thoroughly testing a product. But these socks, well, I felt they required an extra level of commitment. Showers Pass claims they are fully waterproof. I don’t know about you, but I was having a really hard time wrapping my head around that claim. Maybe it’s simple, but for some reason it just wasn’t sinking in. So, I took them out on the wettest, coldest night ride I’d been on in ages. About half way through that ride, with another hour to go, I sunk my feet fully in the nastiest bog I could find. Almost unbelievably, my feet stayed completely dry and fairly warm despite temps hovering right at the freezing level. True story.
Look, if your idea of buying socks is a $10 Costco 6 pack, the MSRP of $36 might seem a touch startling. But, when you try to put a price on being able to feel your toes an hour into a night ride with a couple hours to go, well $36 suddenly sounds like a bargain. I love riding, I love riding at night, I love riding in the cold. I am not Wim Hof and I don’t love riding with cold feet and now I don’t have to. About the only thing I don’t know, is how durable these will be over the long term and if water will start to seep in as they age. With just a few weeks on them, I really can’t answer that question with certainty but the construction appears to be very high quality. I don’t have any real concerns that they’ll fall apart any time soon. My take, if you ride in the cold, wet forest, get a pair of these socks and get happy.