NEOS Overshoes — Why Didn’t I Start Using These 10 Years Ago?

Post by blogger | December 2, 2009      

For years I’ve been walking by the Neos overshoes display at trade shows, thinking to myself, “now those could be useful, but let’s get over to the ski boots.” Yet in the end necessity breeds motivation. We’ll be on Denali with clunky ski boots that don’t exactly make the best camp shoes. Down or synthetic booties are nice for quick exits from the tent, but what about sitting around cooking, or digging a snowcave in a storm, or waiting around for several days at Kahiltna base for a flight out, or just hanging out watching the sun creep along in that weird arctic arc while you’re standing on a slushy glacier? Yeah, some camp boots are needed, and NEOS overshoes seem to fit the bill.

Neos overshoes lineup, from left to right, Trekker, Villager, Voyager, Adventurer (our fave).

Neos overshoes lineup, from left to right, Trekker, Villager, Voyager, Adventurer (our fave).

NEOS makes a bunch of models so evaluation for Denali is a process. I narrowed down my choice by picking four uninsulated models for evaluation, reasoning that mixing and matching insulation would be better than having it permanent inside the boot. For example, we’ll have booties for sleeping and tent life, so those will work inside the NEOS, as will our ski boot liners, or just a few pair of socks and a footbed when temperatures are Alaskan tropical. And if we want to travel light, we can always leave the overshoes in a cache and just take our booties.

NEOS Adventurer overshoe.

NEOS Adventurer overshoe.

The uninsulated NEOS divide into two classes: Those with more of a conventional sole and beefed rand, and those with only a minimalist sole. Trekker and Villager models have the lighter sole. Trekker is 20 inches high, making it a bit much for use with pants that will gaiter over it. Villager is 10 inches high, making it slightly low cut but perhaps functional. That’s the model I’ll test this winter and possibly use on the mountain. I’m also using them as my day-to-day overshoes kept in my truck (they’re perfect for that.) The pair weighs 24.2 ounces.

For the rest of our crew, who are younger and no doubt more agro than I, our thinking is the NEOS models with more of a conventional sole will hold up better. The Voyager model is a bit on the short side at 11 inches high, while the Adventurer at 15 inches provides enough height to easily handle snow with pants pulled down over or tucked into the drawstring top. Weight for a pair is 33 ounces. Thus, the Adventurer it probably is. No wonder they named it that.

We’ll be testing NEOS this winter to be certain they’ll work. But I’m pretty sure they’re the ticket. We’ll report on this again as our get-ready progresses.

Beyond Denali, let me testify that these things are a great product. You like wearing sandals or athletic shoes all winter? Just keep some NEOS handy and don’t look back. No more wet feet after digging your car out at the trailhead. Christmas gift idea? You bet. And since Overshoes Online is helping us out with this, I have no problem plugging them, so, click here for overshoes!


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36 Responses to “NEOS Overshoes — Why Didn’t I Start Using These 10 Years Ago?”

  1. George Ciavola December 2nd, 2009 10:45 am


    I used a pair if NEOS on a Ruth Glacier trip a few years ago with booties inside for shoveling details, etc. and they worked great! I believe i used a pair of uninsulated ones which I borrowed from a friend and with the booties had no cold feet at any time. Sure beats walking around in tele boots!

  2. Mark W December 2nd, 2009 10:54 am

    Dedicated winter boots around here aren’t often necessary, but Neos seem to fit the bill for practicality. Might have to check ’em out.

  3. Caleb December 2nd, 2009 10:59 am

    These look pretty nice Lou. At the least, for around the house work in winter. What type of insulation do they have in the sole?

  4. Zalta December 2nd, 2009 11:06 am

    Lou – have you ever tried mukluks…..they are amazingly light, warm and pack well. I have had a pair of the alpine mukluk for 7 years now and have taken them on several hut trips. They are also great for snow blowing or walking in knee deep snow. The sole is a soft rubber which seems odd at first but you soon learn that it has great grip on snow and ice. Also the moose hide outter is a great natural water repellent.

  5. Lou December 2nd, 2009 11:07 am

    Caleb, the sole is fairly thick. With a bootie inside it’ll be great, but you could always throw an insole inside your bootie, or something like that.

  6. Andrew December 2nd, 2009 11:11 am

    Or, you could just put your boot liners inside of stuff sacks. Zero additional weight, zero cost and it helps your liners dry out.

  7. Lou December 2nd, 2009 11:39 am

    Done the stuffsack thing for years. It’s okay, but not great. They’re slippery and not durable. But we can always leave the NEOS in a cache if we want and go the improv route to save weight. They’ll for sure be fantastic to have lower down on the glacier, and not too shabby at high camp if we haul ’em up there.

  8. Porter December 2nd, 2009 10:53 am

    These are perfect for yurts and snow caves over down booties. Use them all the time.

    Also, used them as overboots at the mount washington observatory.

  9. Clyde December 2nd, 2009 12:30 pm

    Back in the days of Frostline Kits, I made my own overboots on the sewing machine. Ironically, they are still the best ones I’ve ever seen. Apparently it’s such a miniscule market, nobody in the outdoor industry has bothered coming up with a good design. The NEOS always struck me as too heavy and bulky but perhaps the newer models are getting better. I have some Steger Arctic Mukluks that are great for shoveling the walk but I still prefer mine overboots with down booties for backcountry.

  10. Lou December 2nd, 2009 12:37 pm

    Clyde, the NEOS are really high quality as far as I can tell. Taped seams, heavy duty coating on the fabric, sole appears to be well bonded. It appears you could actually use them as waders, that’s how well made they are. The thinner sole models are not at all bulky, and even the thicker sole Adventurer is really quite minimal for what it provides. Sure, there are probably slightly lighter less bulky options, but we’re talking about living on a glacier for 3 weeks, so something more than minimalist is required. We’re saving weight a bunch of ways, so we have some flexibility in gear choices. Good glacier boots is something I’m insisting on.

  11. Dave Watson December 2nd, 2009 1:03 pm

    Used the insulated ones with spikes (forget the name) for a couple of Everest trips. Awesome! Had down booties inside them. Booties had to be taken out each night to dry out as the NEOS didn’t breath all that well. Super warm and comfy. Had many offers from other climbers to buy them from me. I did eventually sell them to a Brazilian.

  12. Lou December 2nd, 2009 1:15 pm

    I was thinking a Gortex model would be perfect. But they don’t make any in Gortex. They’d probably be too pricey for most of their market. Since they’re unlined and open wide, they should be easy to sublimate dry. Or we can use our VBL system even while wearing the overboots. I’m of the opinion that a synthetic insulated bootie would be a lot more functional than down, anyone know of any? All I can find is down.

  13. Ben December 2nd, 2009 1:32 pm

    MEC Expedition booties. They’re the goods.

  14. Clyde December 2nd, 2009 3:01 pm

    Lou, check out the 40 Below Camp booties. I have used his K2 overboots for climbing with crampons but don’t think they’ll work with Dynafit. Joel is a great guy BTW. I’ve wanted to try his vest out but that would mean having to go someplace really cold.

  15. JBest December 2nd, 2009 3:28 pm

    Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) also has low cuff synthetic booties, called the Mec Hut Booties 2. I think they are similar to what you are looking for Lou.

    I use them for hut trips in the winter and tent based trips in the spring. They keep the snow and water out even in wet snow on the Coast if you take care of them. For the worst conditions, I sometimes throw a stuff sack on over them, but it usually isn’t neccesary.

  16. Gray December 2nd, 2009 4:07 pm


    Integral Designs has some Primaloft Socks, that would probably work well.

  17. Pete December 2nd, 2009 4:59 pm

    You you check out the booties made by Wild Things in North Conway, NH. They make extreme cold weather suits for the US Military, and they have booties as part of the system.

  18. Andrew December 2nd, 2009 9:14 pm

    I had just the opposite experience – I started out using overboots and now never do. If it is a really miserable day, you’ll be in your sleeping bag, so overboots mainly work when you are paddling around basecamp, but then they aren’t really warm enough to do anything, so you put on your liners, but then your liners can’t breath, so they get all wet again. I like booties for huts and such, but didn’t think they were worth their weight for expedition type trips. The true, burly climbing overboot type can be nice, but modern ski boots are plenty warm, especially for something like Denali. Plus, they don’t work with Dynafits and it is a hassle to buckle your boots.

    The thing that really turned me off on overboots was that they were just another heavy, bulky item to pack. It may not seem like much now, but when you pack your whole kit together, especially at the pace you are currently adding gear, you are going to be so heavy you won’t be able to move, or, you’ll spend most of your time hauling all your gear to basecamp. Plus, the overweight luggage fees (both on the major airlines and the Air Taxi) are killers. My last flight up there cost $625 round trip and I got hit with a $435 ONE WAY fee for excess baggage, and that was with trying to cut everything down. On the way back, it turned out to be cheaper to just throw stuff away in Talkeetna rather than pack it back home.

    But then again, liners in a stuff sack isn’t very bloggable. 😉

  19. Adam December 2nd, 2009 10:01 pm

    I’ve used NEOS on several occasions, the one and only thing I hate is they build up condensation on the inside from the heat of your foot, so, they end up not being very dry, other then that, they work well.

    Here in Talkeetna we got blasted with a big storm, skiing should be good in a few days when the weather clears…Hope to meet you guys when you show up in town.

  20. Halsted December 2nd, 2009 11:36 pm

    Boy Lou, I have the feeling that you’ll be the most tricked-out group on the mountain with all this free gear…. :blush: Talkeetna may never be the same after you guys rock it… 😉

    Back in the day, Carman Uptown Sewing supergators and overboots worked wonderfully in January in the Wind Rivers (-38f). And those where on leather double boots, and that system worked in Ramer bindings (so did Forrest Mountaineering overboots – just two tiny slits and the toe and heal bail fit perfectly)… :cheerful: I guess, there might be fit issues with the Dynafits… :pinch:


  21. XXX_er December 2nd, 2009 10:39 pm

    Neos are popular in xc ski racing because you can wear your xc ski boots inside your neos, the puffy ones look like moon boots

  22. Lou December 3rd, 2009 4:29 am

    Andrew, oh yea of little faith. I could blog all day about liners in a stuff sack! And don’t worry about luggage fees, I’m hauling our whole junkshow up there behind my Duramax, and our gear pile will be very carefully designed to be state-of-art in terms of weight once it’s on the bush flight. As for if we really need the overboots or not, your opinion is appreciated and points taken, but we’ll bring them to basecamp and play it from there. I’ve spent a couple of months on glaciers, including AK, and always found I wanted more than just camp booties. Others concur.

    One total agreement is it’s too bad the NEOS are not Goretex. Though there might be a remedy to that since gear has been known to be modified around here once in a while (grin).

  23. Nick December 3rd, 2009 12:19 pm

    I ordered a pair of the Wild Things military synthetic happy booties a few days ago. Lou, we can check them when they get here, hopefully before this weekend. As for the NEOS, I’m looking forward to being able to get out of my ski boot liners and still be able to walk around and work in camp. If we end up not needing them, we can always stash them at the bottom.

  24. Andrew December 3rd, 2009 12:59 pm

    In that case, I’d like to support the trip by sending you a cast iron Dutch Oven. There’s $100 in it for WildSnow if you can snap a few photos of it in action at 17.2 (you have to supply your own charcoal, lighter fluid and beef).

  25. Steve December 3rd, 2009 4:16 pm

    Some friends and I have been using NEOS in combination with Sierra Designs down booties on ski-camping trips for several years. Don’t remember the model, but the shorter ones. I’ve been really happy with them. They cinch up tight for wading in deeper snow, and I haven’t had a problem with condensation. Then at night I stick them under the head of my pad to prop it up just right and I know where they are if I need to make a frigid nature call. For what I’ve done, they’re worth the extra weight.

  26. Lou December 3rd, 2009 4:37 pm

    Andrew, carrying two Dutch ovens would be too tough, so I’ll have to pass on your offer of a second one.

  27. Nick December 3rd, 2009 6:48 pm

    “Andrew, carrying two Dutch ovens would be too tough, so I’ll have to pass on your offer of a second one.”

    LOL. Given the trend on these gear lists, I am waiting for the mobile generator with 10,000 ft of waterproof extension cords….

  28. Jonathan December 3rd, 2009 9:57 pm

    I like the 40 Below synthetic booties. They’re very minimalist in that they don’t have any footbed allowing you to use your own. I run the booties in my boot shells while my liners are out drying. But I have seen the MEC expedition booties in action and they look pretty good.

  29. Kevin December 4th, 2009 8:16 am

    i used neos for three winters while working with a wilderness therapy school. they work great. they fell apart after three winters of intensive use.

  30. Lou December 4th, 2009 8:21 am

    Thanks for the info Kevin. That’s sounds like adequate durability. Heck, my knees fall apart after ONE winter of intensive use, so a boot that does three times better than that is fine by me! :angel:

  31. Gary Closius February 21st, 2010 9:57 am

    I’m getting ready to take my Venturing Crew (co-ed part of Boy Scouts) on a snowshoeing trip in the White Mts of New Hampshire. For those that do not have good winter boots which would you suggest for use over our regular hiking boots that will work with snowshoes (most kids will be using rentals) THANKS Gary

  32. patb March 19th, 2010 1:52 pm

    Just ran across these online:

    They could work well for your crew!

    Thanks for a great site!

  33. Lou March 19th, 2010 4:15 pm

    Pat, funny you should leave that comment today, as I’m sitting here working with the Boot Gloves, making some mods for Denali and getting a review ready.

  34. Mireille May 15th, 2010 10:00 pm

    I’m thinking of buying of pair of Neos Adventurer. I was told you wore them over regular shoes. But from comments above it appears that you can also wear them with booties. If only booties are worn inside the boot, does it provide enough support? Which booties would you recommend?

  35. Lou May 15th, 2010 10:12 pm

    Mireille, wearing booties with them works for short walks but indeed doesn’t provide enough support for covering lots of ground. As for which to use, since the Neos trap lots of foot moisture, get a bootie with synthetic fill which won’t mat down like feathers.

  36. Mireille May 15th, 2010 11:46 pm

    Thank you Lou for replying. I’m not into heavy sports like you, and this type of gear is all new to me. I’ll use it mostly to walk the dog, hiking on uneven ground, deep snow, icy conditions, and also snowshoeing and of course walking in the slush, rain, etc. I’m concerned that the shoes I plan to wear in my Neos may not be warm enough in very cold weather. So, the idea of the booties interested me as it could be an alternative on those very cold days…. and it would feel like slippers…. hummy…. Here we get everything from heavy snowfall, freezing rain, rain, slush… mild to very cold weather… and fairly humid weather except when very cold. I’ve read all the ones suggested above, and some have better soles, high, low, etc…….. so somewhat confusing. But your suggestion about synthetic fill makes sense and narrows it down quite a bit …. So, the MEC appear to be the best one for me…. they have the high Expedition Booties, or the short Hot Booties 2…. i think the short booties would probably be fine for me. What do you think? Thanks so much. I really appreciate your input…..

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