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Best winter MTB boots: Weatherproof mountain bike boots for winter riding

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Best winter MTB boots
(Image credit: Five Ten)

During the winter months, it’s a constant fight to keep your feet warm. The best winter MTB boots and shoes keep mud, rain, snow and sleet from freezing your feet and toes. Luckily, Bike Perfect has plenty of experience riding in rugged British conditions, testing the best winter MTB boots against the worst rain and cold. 

While winter riding isn't for everybody, lots of riders just can't stand being trapped inside all winter long riding on the best MTB smart trainers. Good winter footwear is essential for comfortable and fun rides when the conditions get nasty. Pair the best winter MTB boots with the best MTB jackets and best waterproof MTB trousers, and you'll be fully kitted for the upcoming cold weather. 

Check out our list of the best winter MTB boots, and scroll to the bottom to learn about how to choose a new pair. 

Best winter MTB boots 

Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex

(Image credit: FiveTen)

Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex

Wet weather flat pedal shoe

Price: $200 / £144 | Sizes: US 5-15 | Retention: Laces

Flat pedals win medals
Flat pedal shoe for gravity riders
Better for wet rather than cold

Using the brand's signature Stealth rubber, Five Ten has created a wet weather riding shoe for flat pedal riders. The brand has a reputation for making great shoes for gravity riding, so this is an option for those who don't have clipless pedals. 

Gore-Tex waterproofing is added to this high-top design to create a comfortable yet stable platform that will keep your feet dry and warm in wet conditions. Five Ten has modified the outsole for more off-the-bike grip in the toe and heel areas. The neoprene hook-and-loop ankle cuff keeps water and debris out of the shoe while adding a secure fit. 

Five Ten says these shoes are good for wet weather and they may add some warmth compared to standard riding shoes. However, they probably aren't the best for the coldest winter days. 

45NRTH Ragnarok

(Image credit: 45NRTH)

45NRTH Ragnarok

Performance and protection balanced to perfection

Price: $195 / £149 | Sizes: EU 36-50 | Retention: Single Boa dial, Velcro

Excellent balance of performance and winter protection
Designed to stay warm and dry fast rather than eventually drown
There are similarly performing boots for less money
Deep tread can fight with some pedals

45NRTH is a specialist winter biking kit company based in often brutally cold Minneapolis, so by its standards, the Ragnarok is a lightweight performance boot for milder months. For most of the world though, they’re a great boot for riding all year without losing out much on propulsion or trail feel.

When we say ‘performance’, they’re not race-shoe-stiff, but rigid enough that you can still get a stomp on up climbs without them drooping under the load. There’s plenty of space around the cleat holes to stop clogging, although the deep tread can make getting in and out awkward on platform-style pedals. The tread rubber apparently even has glass fiber shards electrostatically aligned to provide extra micro grip on treacherous surfaces. There are downloadable templates for accurate sizing and while the heels are snug, the toes are oversized to give warming wiggle room. They’re cut well enough for the single Boa dial to give a supportive, secure fit that makes the most of the sole stiffness and relatively low weight.

The perforated lower boot is also backed up with a breathable membrane and light insulation for core warmth. There’s a low rise wraparound neoprene collar and while 45NRTH doesn’t claim the boot will keep you dry in epic storms (no boot actually will) they retain warmth really well when damp and they dry quickly. That makes them really well suited to riders who are regularly out in the wet, and who’ll get more value from the relatively steep price.

Lake MXZ 304

(Image credit: Lake)

Lake MXZ 304

Premium materials create a premium product at a premium price

Price: $339.99 / €297.72 | Sizes: EU 36-50 | Retention: Single Boa dial, Velcro

Premium materials for extremely comfortable, minimal sweat, maximum height performance
Excellent sole grip and Boa fastener security
Available in regular or wide fits
Tall collar needs breaking in and leather needs looking after
Premium materials mean premium cost

Lake Cycling was one of the first brands to produce proper winter-focused mountain bike footwear and the 304 is in a long line of high-comfort, high-tech boots.

To ensure easy blood flow, the 304s use a specific winter fit with increased volume and there’s a wide fit version too, although Lake still advises sizing up with winter socks. Additional 200g Thinsulate lining in the toes and along the lower side combines with an Outlast liner that’s designed to regulate temperature. Your feet sit on a fleece, bubble wrap and reflective silver layer ‘Thermosol’ sandwich insole, while a chunky Vibram sole makes for no-slip walking when you can’t pedal any further.

Up top, there's a full wrap rubber toe bumper to protect the premium, super supple Pittards WR100 water-resistant leather upper. There is a flap and a Velcro stabilizing strap over the lower part of the Boa-laced boot which uses an oversized dial for easy gripping with fat-fingered winter gloves. The thick, tall collar completes awesome weather protection but the stiff feel can be intrusive when pedaling, especially when they're new. The leather needs looking after carefully and all the tech makes them super expensive. They feel fantastic though, with excellent warmth and minimal sweating making them great for epic days out. 

If the 304s look overkill or too tall, the MX145 and MX180 add lighter weight and armored enduro options to Lake’s comprehensive winter boot arsenal. The MXZ400 offers even more protection for extremely cold conditions. 

Fizik Terra Clima X2

(Image credit: Fizik)

Fizik Terra Clima X2

Lightweight and breathable, but not quite deep-winter ready

Price: $250 / £250 | Sizes: EU 36-48 | Retention: Single Boa dial, Velcro

Very breathable, lightweight and distinctively stylish
Flexible high control sole with a centralized cleat for gravity work
Floppy if you like to pedal hard
Expensive but versatility boosts the value

Italian brand Fizik always has a distinctive aesthetic and its new Clima X2 wet weather boot is a prime example.

While most brands hide their waterproof liner under a solid outer skin, Fizik mates it with a woven ripstop ‘sock’ which forms the top part of the upper and the stretchy ankle sock. This is then anchored to the sole with a velcro wrap strap and a short section of Boa-tightened lacing over the midfoot. Toe and heel are then protected with big PU-laminated bumpers while a Vibram Megagrip rubber sole gives excellent grip off the bike. The cleat slots are also extended to allow the more rearward pedal position that gravity riders prefer.

A stiffness rating of only 3 from the nylon reinforced base means they’re pliable enough for extended walking and excellent trail feedback. The cleat slots are also extended to allow the more rearward pedal position that gravity riders prefer. They’re noticeably soft and twisty when sprinting unless you use a big platform pedal so not the first choice for gravel/XC use. The stripped-back design means they’re 20 percent lighter than most of the competition and they dry fast too so they’re still great for more Enduro style autumn/spring/whenever it’s wet work. 

If you want a properly insulated boot from Fizik, the more conventional Terra Arctica X2 uses the same sole unit with a super breathable eVent membrane backed up by a fleece liner and insoles. A more solid upper means there’s just one Boa dial sorting out the snug security, too. 

Best winter mtb shoes: Shimano

(Image credit: Shimano)

Shimano MW7

Warm, weatherproof, and tough, but a long dry time causes riding delays

Price: $250 / £189.99 | Sizes: EU 38-48 | Retention: Single Boa dial, Velcro

Decent warmth and weatherproofing without losing trail feel
Tough construction but still comfortable straight from the box
Floppy sole is good for control but reduces pedalling performance
Weigh a ton when wet and take ages to dry

Shimano’s latest top-end winter shoes are a suitably tech-rich upgrade on its tried-and-tested frigid riding format. They provide a really good balance of trail feel and decent weather protection, but there are gaps in the armor and they take an age to dry.

The rubberized flap over the closing system and neoprene collar design has been a Shimano staple since its first DH boots (which also worked great in winter), and the MW7s are updated with a Boa dial lacing system. The wraparound design of the neoprene collar lets you adjust the tightness and it’s built into the external flap so water can’t sneak into the base of your ankle. This all tightens to a snug fit without any obvious pressure points. Combined with a noticeably malleable (stiffness rating 5) ‘Torbal shank’ sole, this close fit means decent ground feedback and bike control. A Michelin-branded outsole gives decent traction on foot while still leaving the cleat area clean, but there are no toe stud threads.

The reasonably splash-proof, rubber toe and heel, reflective detailed outer is backed up by a GoreTex ‘insulated comfort’ liner that seals the cleat slots as well. A fleecy insole adds coziness and the neoprene collar is naturally insulating. They’re sized for fat socks as standard, so that means a decent amount of thermal protection for all but the coldest days and they stay largely dry on most rides. If they do get wet, however, they weigh a ton and take an age to dry.

Northwave Raptor Arctic GTX

(Image credit: Northwave)

Northwave Raptor Arctic GTX

Stiff, lightweight, and snug fit, but a price to match

Price: $279.99 / £209.99 | Sizes: EU 37-49 | Retention: Single SLW2 dial with quick release

Super stiff sole with lightweight, firmly supportive upper is great for winter racing
Lots of fancy Gore-Tex fabrics for very efficient, minimal bulk weather protection
Snug fit and stiff sole won’t suit everyone
Fancy Gore fabrics mean a high cost

Northwave does a whole range of winter boots and shoes from the super warm Himalaya to the insulated Raptor TH Thermal race shoe, but we reckon the Raptor family are the best all-rounders.

The brand certainly isn't messing about with compromised power delivery, basing these boots on a triple-density carbon-reinforced sole with a stiffness rating of 12. While there’s no flex for walking, the sole does get toe studs and minimalist tread for short-run sections during winter races or CX sessions. 

The sole is backed up with a really rigid heel cup and a side-mounted dial-adjusted lacing system so you can really tighten them without pressure hot spots. The dial also gets a side-latch release for easy escape with fat winter gloves.

While it doesn't look bulky, there is extra insulation and thermal protection over the toe box. The X-Frame upper uses Gore-Tex’s waterproof and windproof Duratherm membrane for efficient climate defiance, and rather than a wraparound design that can leak, the tall Clima Flex collar uses a neoprene sock with a Gore-Tex ‘Rattler’ membrane for a snug but mobile fit. 

A four-layer, aluminum-backed, insulated and fleece-faced insole adds extra warmth, and considering their sleek looks and low weight, these are surprisingly warm boots. The rubberizing does reduce their breathability though, so they can get damp inside if you’re a heavy sweater, and the rigid sole also makes them more suitable for racers. If you don’t need extra insulation, the standard Raptor GTX has similar uppers but without extra insulation and a softer (stiffness 8) carbon-reinforced sole. 

Giro Blaze

(Image credit: Giro)

Giro Blaze

Sleek look and weatherproof

Price: $250 / £180 | Sizes: EU 40-50 | Retention: Cinch laces

Sleek design and materials 
Warm/protective cover over the main shoe
Definitely more of an XC/road aesthetic

The Blaze is Giro's dedicated winter mountain biking shoe rated for temperatures down to 14F/-12C. The core of the shoe is a moisture-wicking mountain bike shoe, and that is protected by a Primaloft synthetic sheath featuring 10,000 W/P plus 10,000 GM2 wind and waterproof ratings. The outer sheath gives the shoe an aesthetic similar to a standard shoe with a shoe-covering over it, but it's all integrated together. 

A high-loft fleece interior plus synthetic insulation keeps your toes warm during bitterly cold winter rides. There is reflective detailing on the heel and side panels, and the outsole features "Ice Grip" technology. 

The look of this shoe definitely gives off more cross-country or gravel vibes so gravity riders may look elsewhere. 

Bontrager JFW

(Image credit: Bontrager)

Bontrager JFW

Warm, grippy and fairly priced

Price: $169.99 / £149.99 | Sizes: EU 39-48 | Retention: Single Boa dial, zip

Decent price for cozy toe to calf protection whatever the weather
Good off-bike grip and on-bike control
Bit of a fight to get on/off, designed to be damp rather than dry in use
Radioactive Yellow color isn't subtle

The bottom half of this boot is shared with Bontrager's multipurpose Foray trail shoe so you get two replaceable toe studs and a soft and grippy Tachyon sole for off-bike traction. The nylon composite ‘Bronze’ sole has a stiffness rating of six so it’s comfy for walking in and gives good trail feedback on the bike. It will feel flexy compared to a race shoe if you’re revving it hard though. The ‘InForm Performance’ is also designed to be particularly roomy, but as Bontrager shoes are normally very snug, it’s actually just an average rather than obviously big toe box. 

Tightening is governed by a Boa dial winching a flap over the midfoot which leaves plenty of potential for toe-warming wiggle when needed. The insides are insulated and there’s a very tall, seam-sealed water-resistant neoprene cuff. Even with a side zip, you’ll need to use the heel pull to heave the boots on and off through the tight collar entry but that gives a super-snug feel as soon as they’re on. That much neoprene means they operate on a wet (through sweat or rain) but warm basis, but as no boots ever really stay dry for long, that’s a reasonable and very practical approach. The neon ‘Radioactive Yellow’ colorway makes sense for rides that include some road sections, but we can see a lot of mountain bikers wishing there was a more subdued option.

How to choose the best winter MTB boots

Do you need winter MTB boots?

That really comes down to you, your local weather and your riding habits. If your winter sees nothing more than overcast skies and the odd frost then, unless you are prone to cold toes, there probably isn't much need to invest in anything more than a cozy pair of socks.

However, if you are determined to ride throughout the year and your winters mean constant rain, muddy trails and even the risk of snow then a dedicated pair of winter MTB boots are going to be well worth the investment. Ultimately the best winter MTB boots are expensive, but if you are determined to ride whatever the weather, then you will be glad to have them.

How should the best winter MTB boots fit? 

Like with all the best mountain bike shoes, fit is very important but it's probably even more crucial when it comes to winter boots. That’s because any tightness will kill circulation and freeze your feet faster than riding in flip flops. To make matters worse, some boots just add insulation inside without increasing the external volume making them tighter for a given size. Others use a specific winter last with increased space - particularly around the toes for wiggle room - so your blood flow isn’t affected even with fat socks on. We’ve tried to describe fit as best we can, but as always, there’s no substitute for physically trying them on before you buy. 

What's the best waterproof material? 

Wet feet lose heat very quickly so waterproofing is potentially very useful in a winter boot. Even some level of water resistance to keep spray at bay goes a long way to increasing comfort when it’s cold. Don’t forget that feet sweat though, so unless the waterproofing is reasonably breathable, you’ll soon have damp toes whether it's wet outside or not. That’s why you’ll see a lot of Gore-Tex and similar materials being used on more expensive winter boots.

Are the best winter MTB boots sealed?

Waterproofing is only useful if the boot is well sealed enough to keep water from getting in and that can vary massively. Neoprene socks and sleeves at the ankle definitely help, but they only ever slow down flooding rather than stop it, unless you wear waterproof trousers over the top. However, the biggest fail in a lot of boots is gaps where tongues join or cuffs start, which can lead to water rushing in well below the level you think it should.

How much insulation do MTB boots have? 

The level of insulation varies dramatically across the best winter MTB boots. Some have barely any warmth-boosting beyond water-resistant protection, which keeps them light and tight for hard riding, yet if you’re aware of that and ready to double-sock for added warmth then they can be just as suitable. Others are double-skin, Thinsulate loaded monsters with thermal, foil-faced insoles ready to go sub-zero without shivering, however, these can be seriously heavy, so you’re likely to feel like your feet are stuck in a shed when you’re trying to grind out the last few miles of a long day.

Which retention systems are best? 

Another aspect of winter boots that you might not consider, but can make or break usability, are fasteners. Something that seems smart in the shop might be useless when covered in filth, and this can make boots come loose while riding or mean a long, increasingly angry fight to get them off at the end of a ride when you’re soaking wet and frozen. Zips are a prime example of reduced performance when they get gritty and icy, and exposed Velcro soon gets stuffed with junk and starts flapping rather than fastening. Boa dials actually work pretty well (they did start in skiing after all) but humble laces are still the simpler-is-smarter winners.

How important is the sole?

Winter doesn’t just bring colder, wetter conditions, it also makes things a lot more slippery. That means you’ll be walking a lot, and more likely prone to slipping in the process. Cue some winter boots like Lake having full-on walking boot treads with optional ice spikes or at least toe stud options for traipsing up steep hike-a-bikes or cyclo-cross runs. Soles tend to be softer too, which is useful for flexing your foot slightly and keeping it mobile and warm rather than rigid and frigid. If you’re still competitive at the dark end of the calendar, look for boots that still have a stiff, pedal-focused sole.

Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.

Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg