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Giro Xnetic H20 shoe cover review

Giro’s knitted Xnetic H2O shoe covers are a very modern, waterproof reboot of a classic old-timer's answer to cold feet but how well do they work?

Giro Xnetic H2O shoe covers
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Giro’s Xnetic H2O over socks give maximum-stretch, minimum-sweat waterproofing for milder conditions, but they’re pricey and can’t compete with neoprene in colder temps

For

  • - Snug, super-stretch fit
  • - Good breathability
  • - Easy to adjust Boa dials through the material
  • - Long length for extra protection
  • - Reflective cuff

Against

  • - Lose warmth in the wet
  • - Delicate fabric
  • - High price

Pulling old socks over cycling shoes to try and add some warmth to frozen toes dates back to well before the derailleur but the introduction of neoprene overshoes made the idea extinct decades ago. Giro has used its latest super stretchy Xnetic H2O waterproof knitted fabric to revive the classic look though and for milder rides they offer comfortable - if pricey - protection with a classic retro look. 

We've been putting them to the test over the past few months to discern whether this retro design is comparable to today's best cycling overshoes, or whether it's a design that should remain in the history books. 

We were bowled over by the performance of the Giro Xnetic H2O socks that we reviewed recently, but the Xnetic H2O gloves, made using the same materials, left a lot to be desired, so how did the Giro Xnetic H2O shoe covers perform in our testing? 

Giro Xnetic H2O shoe covers

The Xnetic H2O material provides a sock-like construction that hugs the shoe closely, without being constrictive (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Design

We’ve still not got much detail about the tight knitted Xnetic H2O fabric from Giro. What we do know is that by sandwiching the RainGuard waterproof membrane between an outer protective knit fabric and a ribbed, hypoallergenic inner liner, Giro has created a super stretchy, seamless sock that fits really well.

Giro then dipped the sole area and lower sides of the sock in an extra layer of rubbery reinforcement for durability, and the cutouts for the cleat and heel tread get an embroidered reinforcing ring around the edge. The upper looks like a conventional sock with a stealth reflective Giro logo on the side of the foot and a collar silvery reflective thread woven in a centimetre from the top.

Giro Xnetic H2O shoe covers

The openings beneath are reinforced, and wide enough to deal with the larger tread blocks found on gravel shoes (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance

While the soles are relatively stiff, the super stretchy upper construction makes them much easier to pull up over a shoe than a thick neoprene boot. There’s even enough stretch to be able to twist some extra tension into tightening dials if you need to cinch your shoes up mid-ride. They don’t add any blood flow constricting pressure either and the thin material can run underneath or over tights. While there’s no silicone gripper, the doubled-over cuff gives a good seal against trickles. The mid-calf height also gives more leg protection than anything else we’ve tried besides Spatz Pro 2 overshoes, and if you’re using them against bare skin, they’ve got a naturally soft and cosy feel.

While we’ve struggled with sweat levels in the Xnetic H2O gloves, reduced foot perspiration means the oversocks wick well enough to keep your feet dry from the inside out and they’re certainly a lot better than neoprene in that respect on longer rides. In addition, the rubber membrane does a really good job of keeping wind and wet from the outside getting in, so on moist-but-mild days, they do a great job of keeping your feet dry. While the cleat hole is big enough to work with the front tread blocks of most of the best gravel bike shoes, the extended sole overlap is enough to stop water seeping up and round from underneath too.

While keeping your feet dry on the inside obviously has some thermal benefit, the fact that the outer knit sucks up and holds water (rather than just shrugging it off) does mean overall heat loss is faster than a neoprene alternative. That means they’re more comparable in warmth to a thin soft-shell or aero shoe cover, and as soon as you’re starting to get concerned about there being ice on the roads, you’ll be wanting a thicker cover. 

While they work over gravel/XC shoes, the knitted material is still pretty delicate - even with the extra rubberised protection - so even a short push up a hill (I was on a single speed in slop before you start tutting) was enough to put a small hole right through to the membrane.

Giro Xnetic H2O shoe covers

The tall leg offers great coverage, while the doubled-over cuff helps to prevent water ingress from above (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

Their snug, super-stretchy fit, tall height, decent breathability and skin facing comfort make the Giro Xnetic H2O overshoes excellent protection in milder conditions. However, what they gain in reduced sweating vs neoprene, they lose in wet weather thermal protection. The knitted fabric is delicate too which makes the high price even more of an issue if you trash them accidentally, so be careful when walking.

Tech specs: Giro Xnetic H2O shoe covers

  • Price: £59.99 / $54.95 / €69.95 / AU$99.95
  • Colours: Black
  • Sizes: M, L, XL
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