Warm Feet Revisited

Posted on Jan 10th 2011 | Bike Life, Blog, Learn,

As we all get settled into our winter commuting routines, I figured now is a good time to revisit our winter riding footwear choices. Here’s a little review we did last year on what works for us. One of the first priorities to be concerned with while riding or commuting in the winter is warm feet. We’ve tried a variety of different shoes, boots, covers, and socks. Yes, you can always jam toe warmers into your boots but if you commute daily the cost of warmers really starts to take a toll on the wallet. Below you will find reviews of three different types of winter boots.

1. Pearl Izumi Barrier GTX – Worn by Mark

Having used both the Lake winter boots and the Pearl Izumi boots I can point to a couple of distinct differences. First and foremost the Pearl Izumi boots do not come up as high as the Lake boots, however, Pearl Izumi boots use a GORE-TEX® outer layer as opposed to Lake which uses leather. This may increase the overall water resistance, but that is about it. The zip up the center of the front, although waterproof, still allows cold wind through. The Pearl Izumi boots have a lugged sole similar to a standard mountain bike shoe. They definitely have a stiffer sole than the Lake boots, but the overall warmth seems to be about 5-10 degrees less than the Lake boots.
For an additional barrier from the cold, I like to use a shoe cover or toe cover over the top of my boots. For extreme cold, I use the Planet Bike Blitzen which uses a windproof fabric and microfleece lining. When the weather is too cold for my “summer” shoes but too warm for my winter boots, I use the Planet Bike Comet neoprene shoe cover. And when I just need an extra little barrier for my toes, I use the Planet Bike Dasher toe covers.

2. Answer Kashmir – Worn by Heath

These boots have good closures and a high neoprene cuff which helps with layering and keeping the snow out. When you’re off the bike they offer good traction on the ice. The steal cleats are a nice touch.

With a pair of wool socks, these things are good to about 20 degrees. Add a good pair of shoe covers and some gators and the toes will stay toasty down to 0 degrees. When temps go below 0 degrees I add a sock liner under the wool socks and a small plastic bag over my toes to help with wind protection.

3. Lake MXZ302 – Worn by Chris and James

I was impressed with these boots from the day I pulled them out of the box. Before you wear them make use of the included Nikwax packet and treat the leather. You will be thankful in the long run as it will prolong the life of your boots and help with all-weather protection. The high neoprene cuff ensures warmth and dryness if you ever need to portage through deep drifts. A combination of the BOA® lacing system and leather Velcro flaps over the front of the boot allow a nice tight fit and increases the probability that your foot will be dry when you get to your destination. The Vibram® sole allows the boot to fit more like a real boot and less like a cycling shoe allowing increased comfort when you want to walk around off of the bike.

I wear a pair of wool socks in them and have no issues. If it gets below zero, I put a pair of cycling socks on under the wool socks and stay warm until about -15. Riding in snow and slush, I have had no issues of my feet getting wet at all. My toes don’t get that cold on the commute with wool socks, but if I go for a longer ride, I will unclip and move my foot and toes around for a little bit to get the blood flowing back to them and then clip in and do the same with the other foot.