Once upon a time, long ago, I bought a pair of Nashbar’s “Ragster” sandals. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a review of the same.
Since then, my Ragsters have been on all kinds of rides, on all kinds of surfaces, all over Kentucky and southern Indiana. They even went for a ride in Washington, DC.
Now, after more than a year and untold miles on the bike, they look a little worn, but they’re still holding up just fine.
The Ragsters are my go-to everyday commuting shoe. They’re blissful on the bike and decently comfortable off, a feat they accomplish by sacrificing a measure of stiffness (they’re not built for racing, but well over 90% of the riding I do isn’t racing). In fact, I would say that their only weakness is that, being sandals, they’re not really adapted for colder weather.
Thus, neoprene socks.
I have a feeling they’re really designed for cold-water dives — they look a lot like scuba socks, complete with “fabric magic closures” and those little bumpy dots on the bottom for grip. However, I ordered my neoprene socks (and a matching pair of gloves) with the intention of using them under my mountain bike shoes during the Gravel Grovel and other cold-weather mixed terrain adventures.
This week, we finally started seeing some cool mornings: temperatures in the upper 40s (Fahrenheit). I broke out my fall kit: wind vest, arm warmers, bib knickers, mesh-backed full finger gloves (which do the job in temperatures from about 40F to about 80F) … and, of course, the neoprene socks.
I wasn’t sure how they’d do. Would the socks fall down? Would they play nicely with the Ragsters? Would my feet get swamp rot and fall off by the end of my first class?
I’m glad to say that the answer is a resounding: “No. Yes. No.”
At this point you can call me a believer. The socks fit just right. They keep my feet nice and warm in the chilly morning air. On cooler days, I wear them over the tall socks that I think of as “knicker socks.” In the afternoons, when it’s too warm for the neoprene socks, I just peel them off and toss ‘em in a pocket (inside out, so they’ll dry). I tighten up the toe strap on the Ragsters a little and I’m good to go.
My feet stay warm, but not so warm they’re uncomfortable. Thus far, they haven’t developed swamp rot. I don’t feel like I’m spending the day sloshing around in puddles of my own sweat. In short, the neoprene socks are doing their job rather nicely.
I haven’t yet had a chance to see how they perform in a downpour or when dipped in a creek. I plan to orchestrate such an opportunity soon. It will also take some while to sort out the question of durability. At only $10, though, if they last even one season, they’ll have proven themselves an acceptable purchase. Winter kit can be pricey, and these are less expensive than bike-specific toe warmers or shoe covers and definitely less expensive than waterproof winter bike shoes (of which I already have an acceptable pair, but one which is not at all suitable for racing).
The company that sells these, LTD Commodities, also sells a pair of neoprene gloves with grippy dots. I bought those, too, but they probably won’t see use ’til we get a good, cold rainy day. The fit is solid, though, and I’m looking forward to trying them out.
Pix and an immersion-test review forthcoming.
Stay dry out there, and keep the rubber side down!