There’s a saying in Scandinavia that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. It’s a neat adage that overlooks the fact that Scandinavian weather conditions are sometimes, objectively, bad – but it also speaks to the seriousness with which the people of the region approach their apparel. Gripgrab – a Danish manufacturer of cycling gear from near Copenhagen – have spent 20 years making clothing that’s a match to the weather conditions, and in their latest product they’re shooting for a waterproof gravel shoe cover.
What they’ve come up with is the Explorer, a knit style overshoe that is broadly based on classic ‘Belgian booties’, and specifically adapted from GripGrab’s road-going ‘Flandrien’ model.
Gravel riding demands more of your overshoes, though. In comparison to the flat, sleek soles of road shoes, off-road equivalents have tread to accommodate for. At the toe, you need reinforcement for hike-a-bike moments. At the heel, you need traction, so the shoe cover needs to be out of the way. And, in GripGrab’s vision, you’d also want it to be waterproof and warm.
The Explorer was launched a couple of weeks ago, just in time for the European winter, and features a three-layer construction – an “insulating inside knitted layer, a fully waterproof membrane and a robust outer knitted layer,” they explain. It’s zipless and minimalistic, and there’s a helpful video on the website for the best practice to install them. It’s a snug fit with enough give to accommodate BOA dials, with the length reaching halfway up the shin, right into the UCI non-compliance danger-zone.
In my past experiences with off-road leaning shoe covers, I’ve tended to be frustrated by failing zips, or fragile uppers, or wear on the underside. The Explorers seem promising in this regard. The injection-moulded TPU toe caps are textured for grip on the underside, and seem extremely solid. There’s also reinforcement in the middle of the shoe, helping protect the sole (and knitted sections of the shoe cover) from damage when walking.
As I’m based in Australia, conditions are very much not appropriate for putting these to the test yet, but I’ll tentatively say that they seem like they’ll be pretty impressive. Time will tell – but if you’re in the northern hemisphere and looking for a shoe cover along these lines, head to GripGrab.com for more info.
RRP: €89.95 / US$89.95 / £79.95