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  1. #1
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    Favorite shoes/boots?

    I'm looking at picking up a fat bike, hopefully in January, for snow biking. One question I have is what's some good footwear? I'm in east Idaho, where the temperature can realistically be anywhere from 30 to -30F, though I doubt I'd venture out if it's below -10 to be honest. I don't even care to go out and shovel the driveway at that point. Oh, I already have good warm wool socks for work so that part's taken of already.

    So, what shoes have you tried that you really like or would buy again?

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  2. #2
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    Are you running flat pedals or clipless?
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  3. #3
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    45NRTH Wolvhammer have enabled me to ride longer and in colder temps than I would have expected. Prior to getting the Wolvhammers, I was riding flats in Sorel Caribou pack boots on really cold days.

  4. #4
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    Flats.

    Rode clipless for years, till I messed up my ankle in a nasty crash last year. Switched to flats, and I much prefer them now.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Are you running flat pedals or clipless?
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  5. #5
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    Flats and L.L.Bean snow sneakers. Very comfortable only drawback is no laces. Velcro. But it works very well.

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  6. #6
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    Another vote for 45NRTH Wolvhammer, they're pricey but have a nice stiff sole for riding and I've never had cold feet since I got them. I was using a good pair of Rocky hunting boots that were plenty warm hiking or snowshoeing but left me with cold toes on the bike. It can be a long ride if your feet start to freeze when you're still an hours ride away from home!
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  7. #7
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    5 replies already, and two strong recommendations for the Wolvhammers already. Sounds like they might be a solid choice then.

    I don't mind paying that if they're that good, TBH. I really don't like cold toes. Thanks for the replies so far!

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  8. #8
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    I got the Columbia Bugaboots last year, and they are awesome as well. Couldn't justify paying for the Wolvhammers cause we only get deep snow once a year here in Ohio, but they were great in everything else. Remember to buy a size bigger to allow for an air pocket to form and trap heat. I would just wear the thin weight REI Merino wool socks and the boots. The Omni Heat inside layer of the boots seemed to work well
    " ...the moonlit swamp Krampus is a king among bikes." - geraldooka

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by clintj View Post
    5 replies already, and two strong recommendations for the Wolvhammers already. Sounds like they might be a solid choice then.

    I don't mind paying that if they're that good, TBH. I really don't like cold toes. Thanks for the replies so far!

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    Maybe, my feet get cold in them, they are hit and miss for the 20F range for me, sometimes they work ok, but the ball of my foot still usually gets cold over time. I can usually stand a few hours in them, but just like most clipless shoes, the distance between the foot and the cleat is too short and still allows a lot of heat-transmission out. Might not be so bad without a cleat, but IMO you can do a lot better with other normal hiking/snow boots. I have wolfgars for when it gets significantly colder, they seem to work better. I haven't gotten a situation where they are cold, but I haven't been out extensively in them, except for some single digits. I wore my wolfhammers, plus used my electric heaters, in a 100 mile race last year. It was about -10 at the start and finish. My heaters worked for a good 6-8hrs or so, but then I had the same problem with the ball of my foot. I kept curling my toes and pushing to try and keep blood flowing, and I could feel my toes the entire time, but my feet were cold-soaked and I ended up with some nerve damage. For a few months after, I couldn't feel the tips of my toes. I knew it wasn't frostbite pretty early on, but it took a few months before I had full feeling back in my toes.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  10. #10
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    That's more food for thought. Of the suggested ones so far, who's tried them in subzero weather?

    Our snow season can last a few months in a good year, with some of the resorts opening their Nordic areas in November and staying open as late as March or even April in great years. We've got state parks with good trail networks, too. So, these will definitely get some use.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by clintj View Post
    That's more food for thought. Of the suggested ones so far, who's tried them in subzero weather?

    Our snow season can last a few months in a good year, with some of the resorts opening their Nordic areas in November and staying open as late as March or even April in great years. We've got state parks with good trail networks, too. So, these will definitely get some use.

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    Snow boots with felt liners are the gold standard most of the time. Resin pedals will help to keep your feet warm.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  12. #12
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    I think there is something about the mechanics of pedaling that leads to cold feet. Perhaps since you are always pressing on the front of the foot. I can walk around for hours in sneakers during the winter. But an hour cycling around 0C with my Wolvhammers and I'm reaching for the heat switch.

    Sometimes I find getting off the bike and walking a little helps. But then my upper body starts cooling off because I'm dressed for moderate exertion not low exertion.

  13. #13
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    Clipless with Bontrager OMW boots.

  14. #14
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    +1 on the Bonty OMW. Brown Santa dropped it off last night, that I won on ebay for 135 shipped. It beneficial to try them on first before you buy. I wear a 42 (Sidi & Bont, Shimano) and sized up to a 43, glad I did.
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  15. #15
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    I was blessed with the warmest feet you can imagine and I have yet to use anything other than my normal MTN bike shoes I ride in the summer so far this season. I duct tape the toe mesh shut so no wind can get through, and stick some toe warmers in and I'm good down to mid 20's if I'm riding in the trees. However, I have a sweet pair of the newest Lake's and they freaking rock and I would highly recommend them. But it sounds like most people here are happy with whatever they bought, and it's nice to have options. I'm sure you'll love whatever you get and enjoy the fatty!!!!

  16. #16
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    I like the Wolvhammers with some Darn Tough wool socks for snow riding.

  17. #17
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    I've been really happy with Keen Detroits with J.B. Icelandic -40 socks.

    Super comfy for N. Michigan winter weather which can vary wildly anywhere from dry negative temps to cool wet conditions......in a matter of hours.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ELECTRIC_YETI View Post
    Flats and L.L.Bean snow sneakers. Very comfortable only drawback is no laces. Velcro. But it works very well.
    I tried on a pair of the Snow sneakers and they seem to have good support, but unfortunately they didn't fit me well. The sneakers also are available with laces, which I preferred since I wear gaitors. I also was concerned about the sole of the shoe holding up to the pedal pins and the fact that it is not a particularly aggressive sole got me to return them rather than try another size. Can anybody chime in on the longevity/toughness of the sole in regards to pedal pins on flats?

    I am currently wearing a pair of Danner boots and manage the cold with different sock thickness. Since I'm generating heat as I pedal I haven't found I need Sorel boots as yet.
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  19. #19
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    The snow boot approach is looking most practical to me after thinking about it. One, the snow can get really deep here in the hills. Targhee averages something like 400 to 500 inches over the season. I've yet to find a way to keep snow from finding it's way in when I break through the surface (short of a few wraps of Gorilla tape haha), but mid to hi top boots seem the most effective combined with Velcro cinches on pant cuffs. Two, the kids like to snow tube when we can and proper boots for that would be a plus. I usually wear my work boots for that with Wigwam socks, but they're not windproof or exceptionally waterproof. They get the job done, though. Same with clearing the walks and driveway after a bad storm.

    I'm also most likely to find something local with those so I can avoid a couple of rounds of ordering to check size and returning the ones that don't fit, too.

    Again, thanks for the great input! A new bike shop just opened right down the road that carries Norco, so I plan to see if I can demo a Bigfoot in a couple of weeks when the snow gets deeper and better packed down. That'll make a nice little brother to my Sight.

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by gecho View Post
    I think there is something about the mechanics of pedaling that leads to cold feet. Perhaps since you are always pressing on the front of the foot. I can walk around for hours in sneakers during the winter. But an hour cycling around 0C with my Wolvhammers and I'm reaching for the heat switch.

    Sometimes I find getting off the bike and walking a little helps. But then my upper body starts cooling off because I'm dressed for moderate exertion not low exertion.
    Yes, it's also been found that your calf muscles act as a "second heart" when running, aiding in pumping blood. Riding puts very little real pressure on your foot and limited rotation, so the body isn't forcing blood to the foot with the movements of running or hiking, so it just sits there and cold-soaks. Having the front of the boot continually blasting into the wind is not optimal. Having your foot on a heat-sink (pedal) doesn't help either, although there is usually enough insulation between your boot and flat pedals that this isn't a huge issue, but every little last bit helps sometimes. Also, buy the boots/shoes a few sizes bigger, I am guilty of this and only got one size bigger with my lakes, which was nowhere near adequate for full winter wool socks or adding a chem-heater.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by clintj View Post
    I've yet to find a way to keep snow from finding it's way in when I break through the surface (short of a few wraps of Gorilla tape haha)
    Snow gaiters. I got the biggest and baddest OR ones I could find and they work awesome for this. We can tromp around in waist deep snow no problem. I use them when the snow is not a big concern as part of my wardrobe, just because of the wind protection and a bit more warmth, worked great a few nights ago with a lot of puddles that would freeze on contact.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by clintj View Post
    That's more food for thought. Of the suggested ones so far, who's tried them in subzero weather?

    Our snow season can last a few months in a good year, with some of the resorts opening their Nordic areas in November and staying open as late as March or even April in great years. We've got state parks with good trail networks, too. So, these will definitely get some use.

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    I've ridden the Wolvhamers plenty in subzero F temps in MN with cleats. My feet tend to sweat heavily so once they get wet after about 1.5-2hrs my toes might start to get chilly. Usually I ride in a thinnish snowboard sock. If it's really cold I might layer in another thin merino sock. I'm generally never too far from the car or a house where I ride so I have bailout options if things go south. I did a 5 hour race last year that was right around 0F and I stuck disposable chemical warmers to the tops of my toes. When I felt cold I flexed my toes up against the warmer and was fine. I should note that I have the old Wolvhammers with the zippers that have been said to be the warmest. The newest ones with the Boas are supposed to be warmer than the in between version with the pull laces.

  23. #23
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    I just ordered two pairs of the Columbia Bugaboot Omni IV (in 2 sizes and will choose the best fit when they arrive) and am very hopeful they will be a great replacement for my well-worn Keen Summit County winter boots. The Keen Summit County's are great, reasonably warm and not too stiff of a sole so you can feel the pedal with your foot, but the sole on the Columbia seems better for traction on ice. Im not sure the Columbia will pedal as well, however, as it seems stiffer.

    I got a good deal on a pair of Wolvhammers, but returned them because the stiff sole didnt seem like it would work well with flat pedals and I cannot ride clipless pedals where there is a potential for ice or where you have to get on and on the bike in snow. I would love it if 45 north would make a wolvhammer type boot for flat pedals - put a five ten like sole in the middle under the ball/arch with lugs/cleat sockets on the toes and heel for ice.

    Winter snow boots, gaiters, flat pedals, and chemical warmers when necessary have worked for me in the Northern Rockies .

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Snow gaiters. I got the biggest and baddest OR ones I could find and they work awesome for this. We can tromp around in waist deep snow no problem. I use them when the snow is not a big concern as part of my wardrobe, just because of the wind protection and a bit more warmth, worked great a few nights ago with a lot of puddles that would freeze on contact.
    OR Crocodile gaiters, several years of happy use here. They can turn short snow boots into deep snow boots. Great product.
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  25. #25
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    Lake MXZ 400 are really warm and comfortable. They are noticably warmer, and more comfortable, than the (first-gen) Wolvhammers IMO - and somewhat easier to get on. By far the best winter riding boot for my feet. Mine are size 50 in both and they are about equal in terms of volume.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbhammercycle View Post
    OR Crocodile gaiters, several years of happy use here. They can turn short snow boots into deep snow boots. Great product.
    Those are the ones. I even had a little problem after 5 years with the velcro or strap, took them to a alterations shop and got them good as new. I have a brand new set floating around actually that I just don't think I'll ever need.

    Just to answer the OP a little more directly,

    I'd buy the wolfhammers again, they are my warmer-winter weather boots, IMO they aren't super impressive, but a good step up from my lake 302s. The strap works ok and is fairly secure.

    I would not buy the lake 302s again, piss poor design. They've rectified this a bit with the 303s, but these (and all of these type boots) really need a buckle or ratchet type mechanism at the top of the boot, not the dumb floppy velcro thing that they come with. These have had a pretty big following over the years, but I think it's mainly because they were the only kid on the block for so long. I find the insulation is weak and the distance between the footbed to the cleat is way way too short. You lose a lot of heat out the bottom. I also had the sole delaminate and had to use a healthy amount of shoe-goo to fix it.

    Another big issue with these (and other) clipless shoes is that if you use them clipless, and walk on salted surfaces, or even just live in a marine environment, it's entirely possible you might rust-out the bolt-inserts in the shoe. They don't make the boots so you can access these, you have to cut out part of the sole to do it. It can be done, but it's a major PITA and requires re-doing the BOA system too, which isn't exactly a walk in the park either. This is honestly an issue with all shoes like these, but it's an unacceptable design feature. Ok with summer shoes that won't be getting nearly as wet nearly as often, but not for winter stuff. These kinds of boots are likely to be kept and last a lot longer too due to not being used year-round. About the only thing I really like the Lakes for is they make good DH boots when I use tape to help close the top cuff. Not crazy warm in that situation, but it adds some good protection for DHing.

    I got the Wolfgars for about the same price I paid for Wolfhammers I think. I think these boots are great, they are more like a ski-boot with an inner liner and then hard shell. I've never really gotten cold feet in this kind of combo, but I have had hot feet in them, so it's reserved for single digits or less.

    I'm building up an iditarod bike just for the race from Knik to McGrath, that's getting resin pedals and I'll probably be using something like sorels with it, not planning on anything different at this point. I may consider the wolfgars, but I need more time on them to really get a good idea and the conditions for the race may be the final determination, as far as what is forecast.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  27. #27
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    I've now checked out all the suggested models online, and those Columbia ones are looking pretty good. -25F rating, good sole tread for hiking and snow play time, and I've had excellent luck with their winter gear here. The only thing better outdoors at work is the Arctic series Carhartt gear we get through our warehouse.

    One thing gives me pause with the Wolvhammers, and that's the clipless ready sole. I've yet to meet a shoe in over 20 years riding that could keep that area from leaking water in at some point without taking extreme measures. Wear, age, friction, and abuse eventually make them leak at some point, in my experience.

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  28. #28
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    Temperature ratings on footwear are pretty fanciful and not the least bit objective, so you might take a lump of salt with that -25 rating.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by clintj View Post
    I've now checked out all the suggested models online, and those Columbia ones are looking pretty good. -25F rating, good sole tread for hiking and snow play time, and I've had excellent luck with their winter gear here. The only thing better outdoors at work is the Arctic series Carhartt gear we get through our warehouse.

    One thing gives me pause with the Wolvhammers, and that's the clipless ready sole. I've yet to meet a shoe in over 20 years riding that could keep that area from leaking water in at some point without taking extreme measures. Wear, age, friction, and abuse eventually make them leak at some point, in my experience.

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    I use silicone to fill the gaps around the cleat, also to try and protect the bolt-holes in the shoes from water, I've been jsut fine with momentary immersions, where you dip and quickly pull out. If you foresee having to ford a stream at all or encountering overflow sections where you absolutely have to get through, consider carrying some trash bags or they make some very lightweight and packable waders that you put over everything (boots, etc.) that can do this. I can get you the name of them if you are interested, buddy used them on the iditarod.

    Also, I look for a lot different things with flat-pedal boots and SPD boots. I'd want to get the flattest-sole possible with the flat-pedal boots. The lugs on something like the wolfhammers are not really optimized for this IMO.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by clintj View Post
    I've now checked out all the suggested models online, and those Columbia ones are looking pretty good. -25F rating, good sole tread for hiking and snow play time, and I've had excellent luck with their winter gear here. The only thing better outdoors at work is the Arctic series Carhartt gear we get through our warehouse.

    One thing gives me pause with the Wolvhammers, and that's the clipless ready sole. I've yet to meet a shoe in over 20 years riding that could keep that area from leaking water in at some point without taking extreme measures. Wear, age, friction, and abuse eventually make them leak at some point, in my experience.

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    I have those from last year, and really liked them (as mentioned above)...the deepest snow I had them in was 6-9"; lowest temps were right around 0F and for the most part it kept out of my boots unless I fell down.

    Only complaint it that the soles are stiff, but they probably need to break in more. i ride flats with mid sized pins. I think for the money, they are great. Can be used in other situations as well
    " ...the moonlit swamp Krampus is a king among bikes." - geraldooka

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  31. #31
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    On the coldest days, I still use my Sorels on flats. I put double felt insoles under the heavy duty felt liners to further insulate my feet from the cold. When I worked at a ski area many years ago, I replaced the felt liners in my Sorels with ski boot liners to make them extra warm for standing in the snow all day every day, but I think that would make them too stiff for biking.

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    FYI - Trek has last years Bonty OMW boots for 170.00. These boots has the Vibram sole and still removable liner.. Good deal, since the new models are 300 bucks.
    The size 43 I bought on "the bay" was 135.00 shipped. The seller had 2 of them. now he has one 43 with a best offer.

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  33. #33
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    I live in Michigan and have used a pair of these with flats the past couple winters and been able to avoid getting cold feet.

    https://www.backcountry.com/vasque-s...-boot-mens?s=a

    They have a fairly rigid sole for pedaling and even with 400g of insulation aren't too wide or bulky so they don't rub on my chainstays and crank arms.

  34. #34
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    FYI - REI brand gaiters are 50% off.
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  35. #35
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    Just a note too, 45Nth has insulated gaiters. Not the 1000 denier cordura like the Crocodile Gaiters, but still on the tougher side. Might be an option for someone looking for more warmth.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  36. #36
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    I live in north Idaho. I use a combination of 3 different shoes. I run flats
    cold out but not super cold,freezing to above freezing 5.10's with a shoe overboot
    freezing to around the 0 mark, I use my leather hunting boots that have a rubber rand around the bottom. they can be slick but work extremely well.
    below 0 I brake out a pair of thin pack boots.

    But my leather hunting boot work pretty good.

  37. #37
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    Here are my thoughts and experiences:
    First of all, good call on going flat in the winter. They are superior for winter riding. I liked them so much that I now use flats in the summer as well.
    Don't bother dropping big $$$ on 45 Nrths if you are riding flats. They are nice and all, but you don't need to spend that kinda cash to get something that works well. Also, in my experience riding flats, stiff soles are redundant, especially in the winter. YRMV.

    When I first started to ride in the winter I put a lot of thought and money into my footwear. Since I was a clipless rider at that time, I bought both Lake 302's (high tops) for the colder cold days and some Shimano MW81's (low tops) for the warmer cold days. They are both decent shoes, but both suffered from cold cleat issues and occasional icing when conditions were just right (or wrong). While I will still use the Shimanos for an occasional 40F road ride, both pairs of shoes have been relegated to the old bike shoe pile for some time now.

    When I went flat, I bought some 510 Impacts. The Impacts were plenty stiff and warm down to 0F, and if I paired them with gaitors I could get another -10 out of them. (I should mention that I am lucky to have warm extremities, and as long as my feet don't get too warm, they don't sweat too bad.) The Impacts also had decent grip on snow. Unfortunately, they met their demise due to sole delimitation at the toe. (510 has since alleviated the delimitation issue with new stitching.) After the Impacts, I went with 510 EPS mids. Like the Impacts, they are warm and stiff enough. They are also more waterproof and have full stitching around the sole. They'd be perfect if they didn't act like bowling shoes on packed snow. While I will use them until they wear out, I cannot recommend them due to this flaw. I will get new Impacts when the EPS's wear out.

    When it gets -5F or below, I wear my old, nearly-worn-out pac boots- the kind with the removable felt liner. They work great, and I had them lying around. Anyone can buy them on Ebay for around $50 used. I like the Sorel Mark V model, as it has a relatively soft durometer lugged sole that works well with pinned pedals. I never feel like I want for stiffness while wearing them either. I should mention that when I ride with these boots, I rarely see other riders. If I do, they are not using clipless!

    The takeaway? 1) Wear comfortable shoes or boots that are appropriate for the weather and your level of aerobic activity while riding flats in the winter. You probably have some lying around that will work. 2) Have at least two pairs- one for for warmer cold and one for colder cold. 3) I also think that composite pedals are a great solution for the winter; my next pair will be Chesters or the like. 4) Wear lofty wool blend socks. While I love my darn toughs 95% of the time, I have two pairs of "puffy" wool blends that only get use on my bike. They trap more air, offer more cushion and ultimately keep my feet warmer and drier.
    -Chris

  38. #38
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    Just picked a pair of last year's Wolvehammers online for $199. I've had a few near zero degree rides with them in Carrabassett Valley, Maine and so far I'd say they're the best $200 bucks I've spent on cycling gear in quite a while !!


    Quote Originally Posted by clintj View Post
    5 replies already, and two strong recommendations for the Wolvhammers already. Sounds like they might be a solid choice then.

    I don't mind paying that if they're that good, TBH. I really don't like cold toes. Thanks for the replies so far!

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

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