It only takes one miserable, trench foot experience sloshing around in a pair of icy shoes to realise how much better life becomes once wearing a pair of the best mountain bike winter boots. Toasty tootsie are just around the corner with one of the best mountain bike winter boots!
Baby it’s cold outside, but we’ve got the best mountain bike winter boots for autumn and winter riding to keep your feet warm and dry.
Obviously a winter boot is a substantial investment, but you’ll only be wearing it for a few months at a time, so it should last several years before it needs replacing. This also allows you to save your summer best mountain bike shoes from a frozen and grimy beating, and that should in turn make them last longer, too.
Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex
Kick-ass winter kicks
Weight: 850g | Sizes: 36-50 | Colours: Black | Rating: N/A
Pros: Ultimate flat pedal grip
Cons: Stiff to begin with
Five Ten is the kind of flat pedal shoes thanks to its incredible Stealth rubber compounds. Offering leech-like grip, with the advent of the Trailcross Gore-Tex you can now enjoy warm, dry feet when slopping about on winter trails. The famous Dotty rubber sole has been adapted with ridges at the toe and heel for additional hiking traction, and there’s an extended neoprene ankle cuff to keep water from running down into the shoe. This is fastened with a hook and look closure, while the shoe itself uses simple laces. But they’re not too long and don’t soak up water. If you want to ride year round and still get the best purchase on your flat pedals, these are the shoes for you.
Effective winter warmer
Weight: 960g | Sizes: 38-48 | Colours: Black | Rating: N/A
Pros: All of Shimano’s experience in a perfect boot – good blend of comfort, warmth and feel
Cons: Drying time
Shimano has always made some of the best winter boots for mountain biking, and we’ve rated MW series boots highly in the past. The latest MW7 has an insulated Gore-Tex liner for warmth and waterproofing with a wraparound neoprene cuff to stop water ingress from above. The BOA closure lets you easily adjust the fit depending on the temperature and also makes them easy to release, with no annoying laces hanging in a muddy puddle as you put them on or off. There’s a Michelin rubber outsole to help grip on slippery hike-a-bikes and the whole package is discreetly styled.
Flat pedal slipper
Weight: 1,100g | Sizes: 4-10.5 (37-45) | Rating: 9/10
Pros: Sticky sole, weather protection, comfort
Cons: Rather clumpy (until worn in)
When it comes to winter riding, flat pedal users have been poorly served, up until now. Step forward (ha!) Ride Concepts and these excellent TNT boots, giving relief from the elements to flat pedal riders. Although not explicitly targeted at winter – presumably to maximise their year-round audience appeal – they are impressively protected against water ingress. Which in itself really helps keep your feet from getting cold. That said, you’d be wise to pair these with some decent winter waterproof socks too. They have excellent feel on the pedals, although you do have to wait a few rides for them to bed in and loosen up.
Fizik Terra Clima X2
Sock it to filthy conditions!
Weight: 828g | Sizes: 36-48 | Colours: Black | Rating: N/A
Pros: Cleat pocket allows rearward position for gravity riding. Looks good. Light.
Cons: Expensive. Not the stiffest sole.
With a woven neoprene ankle ‘sock’ to keep out water, this Fizik Terra Clima X2 is an unusual, if not unattractive winter boot. They’re certainly light, and the extended cleat pocket means you can run your cleats rearward for a more stable, gravity-orientated stance. Vibram supplies the grippy rubber sole and there’s an excellent Boa closure to spread the load and allow you to make micro adjustments to tension. The price is high, but then Italian footwear is never a budget option!
The best mountain bike winter boots: what you need to know
How we tested the best mountain bike winter boots
When testing MTB footwear we normally focus on comfort and power transfer, but with winter boots, key features are water resistance and warmth. These are easy enough to quantify, but slightly more difficult to assess are the practical details, like how easy is it to get the boots on and off, considering your fingers may be cold and wet after a ride. Are the laces sticky and prone to getting choked up with grime? Can the soles handle muddy slopes when you are pushing? Do the boots still keep you warm when filled with water?
The only way to find that out is to live in them, which is what we did through autumn and a pretty chilly Scottish winter. As usual we used our Scottish squad of bearded mountain men and race whippets to put the boots through their paces.
The last thing you want to be doing in winter is fiddling with frozen laces or getting frustrated at ineffective Velcro. Speed laces, with sliding jams, are fine, but our favourite at the moment is the Boa dial system — it’s a simple twist to tension, easy to release on the move, and it rarely goes wrong.
There is no such thing as a winter boot that keeps 100% water out, because if you step in a deep pool, water will simply come over the top. Even if you avoided that puddle, rain and splashes will still be able to run down your leg and into the shoe. That said, it’s still worth opting for a Gore-Tex liner, or a similar proprietary membrane, because this holds the water next to your foot, where it stays warm, rather than allowing cold water to flush through constantly.
A flap over the lace system not only deflects splashes from this potential water entry point, it also means you aren’t going to be scraping mud away from your lacing system when trying to take the shoe off.
Lifting the height of the protection is a good idea to stop water ingress. Lighter and flexible is best as this stops it interfering with pedalling. The cuff is rarely fully waterproof, it’s only there to deflect splashes, rather than survive submersion.
As with all bike shoes, there is a variety of sole stiffness out there — stiffer for better power transfer, more flexible for easier wear off the bike. In winter you are more likely to be walking sections, so a more flexible outsole is preferable.
Since you’re trudging through mud and snow in the winter, it also makes sense to have a fairly aggressive tread on your shoe. Stud fitments are also useful if you are going to be attacking muddy inclines. Also look for soft compound rubber, as this will skate less on greasy rocks and roots.