A cosy winter boot, as long as you don't need to clip in and out regularly.
If you’re looking for a winter boot for mountain biking, with its Gore-Tex liner and meaty Vibram sole, the Northwave Kingrock Plus GTX is a full-on winter warrior. The membrane used is called Koala Gore-Tex, which is the result of a collaboration and simply means it has a fleece backing, which adds warmth and also promotes wicking. The liner only extends to the ankle, but the boot is topped off with a thick neoprene collar to keep out the wet, although you will need to wear a waterproof trouser to stop water running down the top.
The Vibram Wolftrax sole is straight off a walking boot, which offers a ton of off-bike traction. Northwave has offset the cleat to one side to boost heel and crank clearance, and the cleat box is one of the widest, allowing mud to escape easily. Unfortunately, it’s heavily recessed and we really struggled to clip in and out of our pedals, and even had a couple of moments where we didn’t release and ended up on the deck. We eventually raised the cleat using four shims, but as the axle/foot distance increased, we started to feel really disconnected from the bike.
Rather than a BOA dial, Northwave runs its own SLW2 dial with an additional Velcro strap. This micro lace system does distribute the pressure evenly, so there are no pinch points or hot spots, but it doesn’t actually wind in that much of the cable. It also releases using a little ratchet lever on the side of the dial– but when it got covered in dirt and grit it started to jam up. The Northwave Kingrock Plus GTX has two pull tags, so putting it on is easy, but getting this shoe off was a real struggle.
The Northwave Kingrock Plus GTX is fully sealed from the elements and has a ton of protection and grip, but be prepared to pack out the cleat if you want to clip out safely.