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Winter boot protectors

Besides having good winter boots, there are other winter boot protectors and accessories that protect your footwear such as ice grips, ice cleats and shoe protectors.  By adding one or two of these items to your winter wardrobe, it helps you:

  • Prolongs the life of your winter footwear
  • Decreases the chance of falling over and injuring yourself while walking outdoors.

What are overshoe protectors?

These boot protectors are sometimes called, "overshoes" or "galoshes". They are one-piece molded rubber slip-ons that go over your shoes and act as a waterproof barrier protecting them from snow and salt stains. Made of soft rubber and/or PVC waterproof materials, they are molded to fit over your regular or dress footwear.

It's believed that this type of distinctive footwear goes all the way back to the middle ages!

Normally, you don't need overshoes if you are wearing proper winter or snow boots although you can if you wish. You'll have to buy a larger pair of overshoes to fit. However, if you want to wear non-winter work or dress shoes to work but don't want to get them ruined then buying overshoes or overboots is the solution. Remember dress shoes generally have smooth soles so therefore offer little traction for you when walking outside in cold weather. The potential to slip, slide or fall is much greater. 

Style and sizes  

Overshoe sizes come in the usual small, medium, large and extra large sizes. You buy these overshoes the same way you would buy your regular shoes or go to the next size if you are a 1/2-shoe size e.g. 8 1/2 then you would be a size 9 overshoe.

These rubber overshoes come in different styles, these are:

  • Style 1: Shoe rim only - Covers only up to 2" with just the rubber rim fitting around the shoe  
  • Style 2: Overshoes  - Covers the shoe completely to the ankle
  • Style 3: Overboots -  Covers the shoe to the lower calf. 

They all have non-skid soles which make walking easier and helps minimize slips and falls on icy or snowy ground.  Regardless of the style, they are all made of flexible rubber and are close fitting. The most common colour is, of course, black but I have seen them in other colours though not that often.

Although these winter boot protectors are generally worn over your regular winter footwear, there are other types where you can wear them by themselves. 

For both for safety and comfort, these winter boot protectors are a worthwhile investment. Traditionally worn more by men than women, they are available for the whole family.

What are ice grips?

Another winter boot protector are traction aids. These lightweight traction devices are another kind of slip-on device over your winter boots. Most brands are made up of a waterproof upper skeleton of rubber or thermal plastic with steel coils or stubs on the sole part that provides extra traction between your winter boots and the icy ground.

Most often you'd wear them over your regualr winter boots for better gripping power. I've not worn them over a rubberized shoe protector which are over my boots so can't comment on that but it should be possible if you want to.

Shoe grips, Ice Cleats or Ice grippers

Number One on my list of NOT to do in winter is fall on ice. That really hurts and the resulting bruises are spectacular in colour, duration and size. 

That's the purpose of these ice grippers; it adds extra gripping power to the soles of your winter boots. There are lots of names for these winter walking aids. You'll see names such as:

  • Traction aids
  • Boot grips
  • Ice cleats  
  • Ice grips
  • "Yak Trax" (it's popular brand name).

Some ice gripper models have replaceable spikes as well. Sizes range form extra small through to extra large.

I once fell while cross-counrty skiing and the bruise lasted three weeks, was purple, green and black in colour, went from just above my knee to the upper part of my leg and covered most of the front side. And it was sore to the touch.

How to use ice grips and ice cleats

These winter boot protectors are easy to put on. You slide them on over the front of the toe of your boot, then pull them along the side and over the heel of your boot. Once indoors, you just peel them off. If you walk a lot in winter, these ice grippers are ideal to help keep you from falling on ice and hard compacted snow and injuring yourself. Falling on ice definitely hurts! 

Cleaning overshoe protectors and traction aids

Because of the flexible rubber nature of these overshoes, wiping with with a damp cloth is enough to clean them. Use a little vinegar on the cloth if a salt stain is proving to be a stubborn one to remove or lessen. Leave both the overshoes and the ice grips to dry naturally on a boot tray. You may have to brush off any accumulated debris that could become caked on the spikes. When the winter is over, remember to put them away clean so they are ready for the next winter season.

More about winter footwear

With overshoe protectors, you don't have to worry as your winter footwear is protected. However, if you wear your winter boots by themselves, you'll need to properly clean and care for them so they last a good many winter seasons. When you dry out your winter boots and shoes, (and natural air-drying is best) there are some other items you need to consider. This includes a boot dryer to help dry your boots, a boot stretcher and a shoe tree to help preserve their shape.

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