Shimano GF800 GTX review – the flat pedal winter boot we've been waiting for?

Rich Owen has been testing Shimano's new flat pedal winter boot to see if it measures up

Shimano GF800 GTX winter boots on gravel
(Image: © Rich Owen)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Comfortable, grippy and protective, the GF800 GTXs keep the your feet drier than any other flat pedal MTB footwear we've tested and have become my go-to riding shoes for foul or winter weather.

Pros

  • +

    Shrugs off cold, wet weather

  • +

    Decent pedal grip

  • +

    Comfortable

  • +

    Sturdy toe and heel

  • +

    Easy and quick Boa fastening

Cons

  • -

    Snug fit makes pulling on an effort

  • -

    Slightly baggy ankle cuff

  • -

    Small amounts of water can make their way to your feet

Why trust BikePerfect Our cycling experts have decades of testing experience. We\'ll always share our unbiased opinions on bikes and gear. Find out more about how we test.

Shimano announced the launch of a new range of trail/gravity orientated MTB shoes a few months back and one model that caught the eye was the SH-GF800 GTX – a winter boot for flat pedals enhanced by Gore-Tex protection. As I (mostly) ride on flats, this model piqued my interest, as while there are plenty of winter MTB boots for clipless pedal riders, the list of foul weather footwear options designed for flat pedals is very short. Arguably the best previously existing option, the Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex, is a wet weather rather than a winter boot, and we've been disappointed by the Leatt 7.0 HydraDri boot.

A single Shimano flat pedal winter boot viewed side on

A Boa fastening system is an upgrade on laces – particularly in foul conditions (Image credit: Rich Owen)

Design and specification

The GF800 GTXs feature Shimano's newly reformulated Ultread rubber outsoles in a compound called GF which is specially formulated for flat pedal shoes. Shimano say the GF rubber used for the GF800s is different again, and has been specifically designed to deliver "optimal performance in cool and cold weather, enhancing pin engagement and shoe-to-pedal connection". The hexagonal tread is tightly spaced near the arch of the foot, but the spacing gets roomier nearer the toe and heel for improved walking grip.

The outsole of the Shimano flat pedal winter boot

While there's more testing to do, I've been impressed with the grip from the Ultread sole so far (Image credit: Rich Owen)

While the stitched and glued upper panels are designed to keep the worst of the weather out, there are ventilation holes in the toe section and outer face of each shoe. A waterproof flap partially covers the 'lace' section, but rather than laces the GF800 GTXs have been specced with a wired Boa closure system – which Shimano says was selected for easier operation with gloved hands.

A Gore-Tex 'sock' lines the interior of the shoes which is designed to help keep the elements at bay as well as giving maximum foot comfort. There's insulation between the sock liner and the outers which should help keep things warm when temperatures start to bite. The interior of the ankle section gets extra padding with an extra padded lip above heel to help stop feet from lifting. The ankle section finishes with an elasticated cuff (designed to keep the heat in and splashes out) with looped pullers at front and rear to make getting the shoes on and off easier.

Upper view of the winter boot

A stretchy waterproof flap covers the lower part of the 'lace' of the lace section, while trail pants cover the ankle cuff (Image credit: Rich Owen)

Performance

Most of my testing in the GF800 has been in ridiculously wet conditions which has given me plenty of opportunity to see how they measure up on sodden rides with trails with the consistency of watery blancmange.

The Shimano boots did a sterling job of restricting mud resembling all seven types found on the Bristol Stool Scale to the outsides only and despite my efforts to smash through every puddle I could find, only minimal amounts of moisture found its way through to my feet. I wore trail pants rather than shorts for each ride, but none of pants I wore were designed to be completely waterproof.

On the rides when it the temperatures were around freezing, my feet were comfortable most of time, but I did get cold toes on long climbs in sub-zero winds.

On the bike, pedal grip felt secure and vastly improved from previous Shimano flat pedals shoes I've ridden in (their GR9 shoes have a good reputation, but I've not tested them). Grip is not quite as locked in as the best around from the likes of Five Ten, but it's still very good – even on the coldest rides when rubber compounds can stiffen up.

My size 43 EU (US 10, UK 9) test boots were an accurate fit for me. But despite my fairly narrow feet, getting them into the GF800 GTXs on was a bit of struggle right from the off. Handily, the pull loops at the front and rear of the ankle make the job do-able. Once on and Boa-ed up, the Shimano boots immediately felt snug and comfortable – just what you need for foul weather riding – though the cuff wasn't tight enough to fit securely around my ankle.

The GF800s have worn well and are showing no problematic signs of wear after three months of hard use. I've had no issues with Boa fastenings and they're a massive upgrade on trying to prize apart sodden, crusty laces at the end of a ride. Mick Kirkman, who's testing them for MBR.co.uk, had to send his test pair back though after stitching that holds the Gore-Tex liner in place came away while pulling the boots off and on. The stitching on my boots is completely intact though, so hopefully Mick just initially had a rogue pair.

A very muddy boot on a very muddy trail

Despite being outwardly covered in gunge, my feet have remained comfortable inside the GF800s throughout testing  (Image credit: Rich Owen)

Verdict

If you're looking for new riding footwear that will keep your feet comfortable and more-or-less dry over winter, then look no further than Shimano GF800 GTX winter boots. They come with a pretty hefty price tag, but they're the best flat pedal boots I've ever used for proper winter riding.

If a flat pedal boot isn't for you then over on our New Year bike sale bargains article, you'll find a carefully selected choice of some of the best mountain bike and gravel bike shoes around, with nice big discounts, including the Five Ten Freerider Pro and the Fox Union shoe too. There are great deals on bikes and a wide range of kit from the best mountain bike helmets to clothing and consumables.

Tech specs: Shimano GF800 GTX winter boots

  • Price: $220 / £219 / €219
  • Weight: 890g per pair (size 43 tested)
  • Sizing: EU 38 (US 6, UK 5) to 48 (US 13.5, UK 12.5)
  • Colors available: Black, Khaki
  • Rival products: Trailcross Gore-Tex, Leatt 7.0 HydraDri boot
Rich Owen
Editor, BikePerfect

Rich Owen is the editor of the Bikeperfect.com team. He's worked as a journalist and editor for over 24 years, with 12 years specializing in cycling media. Rich bought his first mountain bike (a rigid Scott Tampico) in 1995 and has been riding MTB for almost 30 years.

Current rides: Merida One-Forty 6000, Banshee Paradox, YT Jeffsy Core 3, Saracen Ariel 30 Pro

Height: 175cm

Weight: 69kg