Tribord Neoprene Boots
Review by Ken
What to wear, what to wear? That is the question on the minds of probably every cyclist before they hit the road. Typically the decision of what to wear when you ride comes down to whether or not the item fulfils some practical or necessary requirement. Sure, fashion plays a strong part but let’s save the controversial debates over the merits of orange vs blue pin striping for later.
Often there are padded shorts for comfort, gloves for grip, breathable waterproof jacket for those rainy days out, and cleated shoes to maximise efficiency of pedalling. These are just some of the typical things you might find in many cyclists wardrobe. In fact, many of the typical cycling clothes translate over to handcycling very well. But what about those pesky cleats?
If you know anything at all about hand cycling, you’ll know that your feet don’t really do anything at all (that is, if you have them. And if you don’t, well, the rest of this is just pure entertainment for you). Typically your feet just stick out front, hanging on, and enjoying the ride. Of course with some mountain bikes your feet typically stick out back, but that’s splitting hairs really.
So, what does the avid handcyclist do to accessorize and protect their feet? I had that very question until a riding colleague suggested neoprene diving boots and once I tried them, I never looked back.
When I started riding, I simply used regular shoes on both the road and in the mountains. Amongst the issues that I found were that regular shoes were heavy, and every time I hit a bump my foot would thrash about which, for me, was very painful. Additionally, on my road bike, they didn’t quite fit into the footrests easily and securely and I’ll admit I was often worried about the possible interaction with my feet and a fast spinning spoked wheel. And then I rode in the rain with shoes… Not only did they get soaked through, but they got incredibly heavy with all the water, very cold and exceptionally uncomfortable.
Once I switched to neoprene boots, I found that riding was much more comfortable. My feet not only fit into the footrests easily, but I could also slip them into the securing straps and that eliminated the fear of contact with the wheel, but also made me feel more connected and engaged with my bike.
With the light weight boots, my feet also stopped getting bounced around as much and a surprise perk came with the mountain bike. Where previously it was easy to have branches and brambles snag the laces on my shoes an pull at my feet, with the boots, those same plants simply slide right off.
Rain and mud are fantastic as well. I’ve ridden in both, and the waterproof neoprene keeps both rain and mud on the outside and the tight fitting seal around the ankle prevents either of those from dripping in.
Ideally, when fitting the neoprene boots, you want a snug fit which can make putting them on difficult if you have any issues with your feet. Luckily, they are flexible enough that the can be rolled on, to a degree, and peeling them off is exceptionally easy by rolling off.
The neoprene boots are entirely waterproof and that waterproof nature means that they don’t breathe – at all. So, your feet will get damp from sweat but not near as much as if they were exposed to a rain shower. Since the booties don’t breathe, they will stay very warm, though. Damp and temperature, as well as some issue with putting the boots on and taking them off can be improved by wearing socks. Personally, I wear an Alpaca blend sock (review coming soon) that is incredibly soft to the touch, keep my feet exceptionally warm, and also stay fresh.
Care for the boots is very simple as well. Firstly, after each ride, turn them inside out and hang them up to dry. I’ve found that a trouser hanger with clips works perfectly for this job. Allow the inside to dry fully before turning them inside in. Personally, I just leave them inside out when I’m not using them. The outside can be washed simply by wiping with a damp cloth and leaving them to dry.
The boots I tested are Tribord, and can be purchased form Decathlon. There are three versions that differ in the thickness of the sole from 2 – 5 mm. I found that the middle thickness of sole, 3mm provided the best balance in flexibility and resistance to obstacles. At roughly £12 per pair, they are a great, inexpensive alternative to regular shoes for many types of handcycling and after four months of use, are showing little wear and I expect they will hold up for quite some time. Available in EU sizes, 34 – 49.
Light weight and compact
Keeps your feet warm
Thin sole means that if you can walk with them, you will feel everything you step on, and a lot of walking will wear the sole out
Snug fit could be an issue if you have any pain considerations
Your feet will get damp (but less so than if it rains, and at least it’s warm)
This review is completely independent and based on individual experience. It is not sponsored by any retailer or manufacturer and the opinions shared are solely those of the reviewer.