I have poor circulation to my hands and feet, but my feet especially. When the weather turns cold, I usually go straight to full shoe covers and give the toe warmers a miss. Mostly, this is because I’ve found toe warmers to be about as useful as teets on a bull.
What you get with most toe covers out there is the front section of a neoprene bootie. It’s just a short tube with a hole cut into the bottom for the cleat. They’re pretty simple. Warm? Not exactly. Windproof? Technically it will stop some of the wind, but from what I’ve used in the past, they’re not a lot better than using nothing at all.
Enter the toe warmers from the French producer of high-end goods, Mavic. Toe warmers are pretty simple objects, so how different from the norm can they be? Are they better?
What’s in Mavic’s bag
These certainly look better. They have more elements and appear to have had more design behind them than a standard toe cover. There’s quite a lot to look at with these toe warmers, so I’ll just start at random.
Branding. There’s lots of it. Ergo Tab. Exo Grip. Warm Shell ST. A snowflake…
Ergo Tab. This is the easiest to figure out – a pull tab to make it easier to get the toe warmers over the shoes (and off again).
Exo Grip. “External elastic gripper with silicone for maximum grip and elasticity”, says Mavic.
Warm Shell ST. It’s what they call the fabric that these toe warmers are made from. It doesn’t say anything about it, but, so I guess we’ll just see it it’s a warm shell and has enough “ST” for your cycling needs…
The snowflake? I should think these would be warm, then. Like, snowy temperatures, warm.
Not listed on the roll-call on the side, but a feature that looks as promising as any that are, is the “synthetic toe cap and TPU front pad for walkability”.
How do they work?
First of all, I have to say that compared to your standard toe covers, these look like a million dollars. Especially when paired with a pair of Mavic shoes as the branding blends really well, but they still work with any other brand. They are also a nice snug fit due to the fabric used, which isn’t as thick as a basic neoprene.
These are also a bit longer than other toe warmers that I’ve had, contributing to their ability to stay on the shoe, but also providing more cover, and therefore more warmth. Keeping all that fabric in place is the elastic band with the grippers printed on the inside, which just adds to the good fit.
The Ergo Tab works a treat. Yes, you can pull regular toe covers on without a pull-tab, but this does make life easier. This is even more important for these because the fabric used is reasonably thin and close fitting, so grabbing a bit of fabric would be more frustrating without it. Especially if you have gloves on.
One feature I was looking forward to is the reinforced toe area, with a synthetic front cap (I’m not sure what part of these toe warmers is natural…), and slightly more built-up pads underneath. The reinforced toe is useful for a couple of reasons: keeps water and wind off of the tip, and keeps the tip in better shape as it repeatedly hits the pedal when clipping in. The built-up underside is good in theory as that is the spot that will be in contact with the ground each and every time you take a step as you roll off from the cleat.
I am using these with a pair of Mavic Avenge shoes (now the Ksyrium Elite shoe), which not only look great together, but the pads on the bottom line up with the toe pads on the shoe. Makes sense, right?
Sure, but somehow I have a small wear mark on each shoe with one of them wearing all the way through already, just to the side of these pads – at least while the shoe is not on my foot. It’s the same location on each side, so there is something going on. Could be that the toe warmers settle in that spot when riding and have been wearing between the shoe pads and the road. We’ll see how long these stay in one piece out front. (edit: a year on and they are no worse for wear, so apparently I was doing somethign wrong…)
Ok, and now for the whole point of toe warmers? Are they any good at keeping your toes warm?
Now, this is highly temperature dependent, as toe warmers only work until a certain point. Chilly, but not too cold. They are kind of like gilets, but for your feet. One thing they won’t do is cause your feet to overheat, but I can say that they do a much better job at keeping the blood in your toes in a fluid state in colder weather than a standard pair of toe covers. The other thing to consider with these is that because they are relatively thin, you could actually layer them under a pair of full shoe-covers if the temperature dips low enough.
Yep, these are pretty good, and I’d not hesitate to recommend giving them a go. The only thing I am weary about is the premature wear I’m getting on the “reinforced” toe. With that said, a collegue who has put these Mavic toe warmers through more km’s than I have says his are still as good as new (and is quite fond of them generally), so maybe I’m doing something wrong (comet to think of it, these might have joined me on a slightly adventurous ride that may or may not have included some gravel… and, see above edit – they’re fine).
Anyway, these are a good fit, great looking, and easy to get on and remove. They stay in place, cover more area, and most importantly, perform very well at keeping your toes warm when you need to.