Login | January 23, 2021

Winter cycling shoes

Pete’s World

Published: January 11, 2021

If your favorite cardio activity is cycling, as is mine, then you probably know that winter can oftentimes be a real pickle with respect to granting you your outdoor riding time. And as I found over my many years of winter cycling, the biggest obstacle to getting those cold winter rides under my belt usually came down to ten very small but very critical appendages - those cold intolerant little piggly-wigglies.
Yup, upper and lower torsos can typically stay warm and comfy through nearly any temp range when you layer - and to a slightly lesser extent, ditto for the fingers. But those poor toes, which are usually locked into a kind of motionless solitary confinement atop the pedals, they can quickly become the killjoys of most winter cycling endeavors.
Now if you missed it, my 11/19/2018 column titled The Foot Facts of Winter Cycling provided several tips on how to keep those tootsies toasty during your winter riding sessions. So let’s take that information and couple it with today’s - what I consider the best winter cycling shoes to put those tootsies into.
First though, I have to say that I take winter cycling pretty seriously, and I’ve come to realize how much a high quality winter shoe/boot can help to make winter riding an “enjoyable” experience. Thus, my shoe recommendations reside on the high end of the price spectrum - $175-$450 - so don’t freak out from sticker shock.
45NRTH (https://45nrth.com)
I’ve been using their Wolvhammer boot for years and I can’t stop raving about them. The company has an offering of three different models: the Wolfgar, rated down to -25 degrees F; the Wolvhammer, good down to 0 degrees F; and the Ragnarok, more of a fall, spring and mild winter cycling boot that’s rated down to 25 degrees F.
Lake (https://lakecycling.com/collections/cold)
Lake’s been around for a lot of years, and though I’ve never used their winter cycling shoes I’ve had many a colleague and client who have - and all hold this brand in high esteem.
Lake’s offering of various types of winter mtb, X and road shoe/boots is truly impressive, so much so that I haven’t nearly enough space here to cover their myriad of models. But know that they have heavy hitters which function as dead-of-the-winter mtb boots, an array of wonderful, lighter weight high-top shoes for mtb, X and slushy road riding, and a series of lighter weight low-top winter cycling shoes.
Northwave (https://www.northwave.com)
Much like Lake, Northwave has a really mind-numbing offering of winter cycling shoe/boot products. I will tell you that I’ve used Northwave road cycling shoes for years and I love them, so I can vouch for the fact that they make long lasting/high quality products.
They have expeditionary-looking mtb boots, high-top mtb, X and winter road shoes, along with some really cool winter/fall low-top cross and road shoes. Heck, they even have a gravel grinder model.
Sidi (https://www.sidi.com/en/75-cycling)
These are the warm-weather mtb shoes I’ve been riding in for well over a decade, so I’m quite familiar and quite happy with their products. And though I don’t use their winter shoes, I know folks who do, and the reviews are quite good. Now Sidi doesn’t make the big sub-zero type boots, nor do they have a wide selection of winter shoes like Lake and Northwave, but they do offer two great cold weather shoes with insulated uppers and gore-tex outer coatings - the Mtb Frost Gore 2 & Road Zero Gore 2.
Okay, so the four aforementioned companies are companies that I’m pretty familiar with, but by no means are they the only guys on the block who produce these high-end specialty products, there’s also Fizik, Mavic and Shimano, all of whom have been getting great reviews on their winter cycling shoes.
So if your goal this 2021 winter riding season is to keep those piggly-wigglies warm and toasty, then flip back to my 2018 column and then spend a snowy Sunday afternoon doing a little product surfing.
There’s some awesome winter cycling shoes out there just a click away.