NEOS: Worth it or not?
In my most recent Geared for Birding column I brainstormed ideas for wet-condition footwear. One option I mentioned were NEOS:
Dry & Packable
Travelers wanting to conserve precious luggage space and weight won’t be happy with regular rubber boots, whether cheap or deluxe. Their very nature makes them bulky and relatively heavy, deal-breakers for many. Enter Neos overshoes (www.overshoe.com), which offer waterproof protection and work boot traction in a packable, relatively lightweight package. The only thing these have in common with old-fashioned galoshes is the concept of wearing them over normal shoes for added protection from the elements. Modern design, materials, and fasteners elevate Neos to the realm of top-flight, functional outdoor gear. Like Muck Boots, Neos come in many models offering differing heights, degree of insulation, sole type, etc. I have a simple, uninsulated pair (the Voyager model) that fit very nicely over my sneakers or light low-cut hikers. With good socks, I’ve worn these in pretty gnarly winter conditions while maintaining plenty of foot comfort. They collapse down nicely to pack away and when I’m not traveling I leave them in my car for unexpected forays into wet or snowy terrains.
I recently got an email from a faithful reader Bruce in Michigan regarding his more negative experiences with NEOS, and wanted to pass along his comments:
Just read your article on best bets for getting wet. As always, I find your articles helpful. I do have some comments about the NEOS that I think would be of interest to some birders. They are quite noisy and do not keep you dry. A friend and I both purchased a pair and find ourselves reluctant to wear them, especially if we are with other people. When we are sloshing through water, the extra noise is not an issue. However, when on wet trails, tall grasses loaded with dew or other situations where I would like to wear them, I find the noise both distracting and interfering with listening for bird sounds. The other issue I have has is either I am very unlucky, or they are not waterproof. I know they are supposed to be, but that has not been the case for me or my friend. I have returned 2 pair, which have been quickly replaced, with me paying for return shipping. The third pair also does not keep me dry. They are fine in wet grass, mud, etc. However, if I go in a shallow pond or stream, the water soaks right through. Don't know how many others have had this experience. I bought them mostly for travel convenience, but have been greatly disappointed with them.
I really appreciate getting responses from readers, whether in agreement or offering a different opinion on the topic at hand (send any commentary to me at Bill.Schmoker@gmail.com). If you have tried NEOS, what do you think of them? Please respond by commenting!