Note: Because this review covers four separate products, we have altered the usual formatting to cover the products one by one. Each of the individual review sections contains our typical Hot! - Not! takes, as well as the cost.
How Obtained: Sample from company
Colors: All products except sock: Black; Multiple colors available for socks
Availability: Company website, online, retail
RBR Sponsor: No
Tested: 60+ hours
Halo Neoprene Shoe Covers
Hot! - Best shoe covers I have used: warm, excellent resistance to water intrusion, super durable, bonus safety light
Not! - Ankle opening too big for a good seal
SealSkinz Halo products are foul weather apparel with visibility enhancements via small, battery operated lights. The Halo shoe covers incorporate a removable light pod at each heel. The pod contains a 4-lumen red LED and a red rubberized cover that provides water protection for the unit.
The pods sit in a sturdy pouch at the heel and snap into a ring to ensure proper rearward orientation. There is even a drain hole at the bottom of the pouch to let water out. The lights operate on one CR2032 coin cell battery and have two modes that are cycled through by pressing the center of the light: solid (rated >120 hours) and flash (rated >240 hours).
While most bike lights are fixed to a single point on the bike, the Halo lights move up and down with every pedal stroke. This motion grabs attention more than a stationary light as our eyes are tuned to detect movement. The lights themselves are quite bright, but not bright enough to call daylight-visible. They are great for night riding and are a nice addition to your overall visibility when combined with a dedicated tail light. And since shoe covers will most likely be used in poor weather conditions, it is certainly a great time for improved rearward visibility.
The Halo Neoprene Shoe covers are constructed of a mid-weight waterproof neoprene and seams are tape sealed to keep the water out. The toe and heel of the shoe covers are reinforced with Kevlar and have two openings, one each for the cleat and heel. Typically, shoe covers have a zippered opening at the rear but the Halo light placement required relocating the zipper to the outer side of the ankle. The side entry is a little awkward, but after a couple times I figured out the procedure and it was no problem. There is a very generous guard flap under the zipper that protects the shoe and foot from rubbing, and a Velcro closure at the top. There is a silicon ring at the ankle cuff to help seal out water, but while the covers were the perfect size for my shoes, the ankle opening was too big to seal even with the Velcro closure.
Thanks to a super wet Oregon winter, I was able to test out the Halo Shoe Covers in some truly nasty weather and I can say that they performed wonderfully. The waterproof neoprene and seam tape kept the water out and feet dry until the unavoidable water intrusion through the sole cutouts and ankle opening. Normally, wet feet in cold weather is a bad combination, but the neoprene does an excellent job of holding in body heat so extended wet and cold rides were possible.
Durability has proven to be excellent. The covers have gone through numerous machine washings, being blasted with hoses, and covered in road debris. I have found in previous shoe covers that the taped seam seals seem to come apart quickly, but the Halo tape looks as good as new. The Kevlar reinforced zones on the sole have held up well to lots of walking and pushing off.
Overall the Halo Shoe Covers have excellent build quality, durability, and provide excellent water protection and heat retention. These have become my go-to wet/cold weather shoe covers and I highly recommend them just on their merits as a shoe cover. The Halo lighting system is an added bonus that improves visibility out on the road and makes these great shoe covers even better.
Halo All Weather Gloves
Hot! - Great quality and function waterproof glove
Not! - Integrated Halo lighting not as user friendly as Halo pods and cannot ride on bar tops
The Halo All Weather Gloves are a mid-weight insulation, waterproof glove that includes all the features expected in a quality cycling glove: touchscreen friendly index finger, curved last for natural fit, nose wipe on thumb, padded and grippy palm, adjustable wrist closure, extended wrist coverage, and reflective accents. When I pulled these gloves out of the box my first thought was how good the build quality looked. And after a tough winter they have held up great.
I have tried a lot of different waterproof gloves over the years and the Halo All Weather gloves fall right in with the best. In heavy rain they bead up nicely, keep my hands dry for about 45 minutes before some water gets through and by the hour mark they are pretty much waterlogged. In lighter rain my hands stayed dry for much longer. Gloves just have too many seams to keep heavy rain out for an extended amount of time. On long, wet rides I always bring a second pair of gloves to swap to when the rain inevitably gets in the first pair.
The mid-weight insulation kept my hands comfortable down to about freezing. A nice feature of the glove is an anti-slip liner that does not move around in the glove. When taking off gloves a lot of times the liner will pull out with your hand, but this liner will not budge. It also makes the glove feel more stable on the hand as the liner does not move around in the glove.
The Halo lighting feature of the All Weather glove is different than the Halo Shoe Cover pods (though they do make a glove with pods, the Halo Glove). Instead of a removable pod the gloves use a three LED strip sewn into the glove backing under a clear protective window. Wires run down to the CR2032 coin battery located in a small pocket at the wrist and this is where you press to cycle through modes, though I found it difficult to press the right spot every time. Changing the battery is a bit more difficult than with the pods, but not a big deal as you don’t have to change the batteries very often (up to 200 hour run time). I did not have any problems with the wires, but long term durability of the wire connections is a concern as they are just soldered to a circuit board with no strain relief. Due to the non-removable electronics the gloves cannot be washed.
The Halo lights provide good side visibility when riding on the hood or in the drops. Riding on the bar tops aims the light right at your face and using the thumb wipe to swab your face is blinding. While the improved side visibility is a nice feature, I'm not sure this outweighs the risk of accidentally blinding yourself. That said, as a waterproof insulated glove this is an excellent product and Sealskinz has many glove options that I would expect to be great.
Waterproof Cycling Cap
Hot! - Waterproofing keeps head warm and dry
Not! - Slightly undersized bill lacks coverage in extreme conditions
I use cycling caps constantly in the cold and wet parts of the year for warmth and to keep the rain out of my eyes. Classic cycling caps are made of cotton and some newer caps use synthetic materials which breathe better, but both materials are not great for warmth when wet. The SealSkinz Waterproof Cycling addresses this shortcoming by shedding the water instead of absorbing it.
The cap consists of an outer shell with a waterproof membrane and an inner mesh liner. This results in a cap that has slightly more bulk than a classic cap but still fits under my helmet easily. It only comes in two sizes, but an elastic hem means each version fits a wide range of head sizes. The cap's stiff bill is slightly shorter in length and width than my other caps, but still provides excellent coverage with the exception of strong crosswinds where I found rain drops could be blown into my eyes from the side more than with other caps.
The waterproof qualities are excellent and even after hours in the rain my head was still warm and dry. Breathability is on par with my other caps, which is to say not great as my head puts off a lot of heat, but this is a foul/cold weather cap so the extra warmth is welcomed. The SealSkinz Waterproof Cycling Cap might be a bit pricey compared to your typical cotton caps, but its wet weather performance is superb and is a great addition to the wet weather kit quiver.
Waterproof Cycling Socks
Hot! - Waterproofing keeps cold water out
Not! - Not breathable enough for hot feet so sweat can accumulate
Cold, wet feet can make a bike ride really miserable. While shoe covers can keep water out for a while, it is inevitable that water will eventually get into your shoes. That is where waterproof socks save the day. Unlike shoe covers with multiple holes for water entry, socks only have one hole and that is to put your foot into. The SealSkinz Waterproof Cycling Socks have a silicon-free elasticized band at the sock cuff to create a seal to your leg that keeps water out.
Construction is merino wool for the interior liner, waterproof membrane, and nylon outer. While the sock does have a good amount of stretch and a soft interior, the general feeling when you first put it on is that of a neoprene wetsuit bootie that holds its own form instead of conforming to your foot. It is not uncomfortable, but just a very different feeling and it quickly goes away once strapped into your cycling shoes.
The waterproof performance has been spot on. The tradeshow test of waterproof socks is standing in a bucket of water and I can say that these socks passed that test (until I got bored of standing around, about 15 minutes). Real world performance is just as good. On cold, wet rides my feet were toasty warm and dry. When pushing the pace I did get some sweat accumulation inside the socks, but heat retention was good and I will take 'warm and wet' over 'cold and wet' every time. If your foot comfort is the limiting factor in your cold and wet winter rides the SealSkinz Waterproof cycling socks might be worth a try.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys road, track and 'cross racing. He's also a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon's full bio.